July 20, 2019

On the Le Batard-gets-political/ESPN controversy. New column; plus 4 ways Heat have had winning summer, is everyone wrong about Dolphins?, why 2019 could be best sports year ever, Greg Cote Day countdown, latest Back In My Day (Apps!), Moon Landing & more

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

Moon1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 20. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. The United States' Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the moon  on July 20, 1969. I remember watching as a boy. That was a time of widespread protest against the Vietnam War across the country, and the Moon Landing felt a little bit like healing, a reason for Americans to feel good about their country. 2) It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Gcday 7Greg Cote Day countdown: 7 days: We began a 10-day countdown to Greg Cote Day on Saturday, July 27 at Hammond Stadium, home of the minor-league Fort Myers Miracle, and it's now seven days to go. I'll be meeting fans, throwing out the first pitch, singing the national anthem and playing left field. All but that last thing are actually true. Will I see you there? Tickets are going fast. Well, I don't really know if they are or not. In any case click HERE for the link to buy yours. (Click image for larger version).

DanlLE BATARD REBUKES TRUMP, ESPN'S NO-POLITICS POLICY. NEW COLUMNThis isn’t the first time Miami-based ESPN star Dan Le Batard has defied his network and faced consequences. It happened in 2014, when the radio and television host was suspended two days for buying billboards in Cleveland that needled LeBron James — "You’re Welcome, LeBron. Love, Miami" — after he’d left the Heat. That was playful. This isn’t. Le Batard on Thursday took on the president of the United States and his own network’s no-political-talk policy in a fiery, four-minute rebuke of both Donald Trump and ESPN management’s stick-to-sports edict. His voice emotional, Le Batard called it "deeply offensive" that a Trump crowd chanted "send her back" at a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday night, a chant directed at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee who now is a U.S. citizen representing Minnesota. Le Batard accused trump of instigating racial division and called the chant "un-American." And called his own network's stick-to-sports policy "cowardly." He was back on the air Friday (no mention of the controversy), but faces a possible suspension. I dive into the whole thing in today's latest column. To read, please visit Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy.

Priley4 REASONS HEAT HAS HAD WINNING OFFSEASON -- AND RILEY MAY NOT BE DONEThey could close the summer ledger right now and claim victory. What was supposed to be a dead summer in South Florida for Heat activity ended up delightfully noisy. Pat Riley (pictured) somehow maestro’d a four-team trade to get genuine star talent in Jimmy Butler despite being salary cap-strapped. The Heat essentially got Butler for Josh Richardson, a swap that by itself makes the Heat better and competitive in an Eastern Conference now looking refreshingly wide open. Three other ways the Heat won: Unloading Hassan Whiteside. Declining to give up too much in order to get Russell Westbrook. And saying no to Chris Paul. Now, might Riley still find a way to land Bradley Beal? I explore all of this in my recent column. To read it, please visit The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason.

BfloresPILING ON! ESPN LATEST TO CALL DOLPHINS THE WORST. BUT, IS EVERYBODY WRONG?: The idea of the Miami Dolphins as snakebit in their recent history has only been underlined, not alleviated, this summer. The NFL season is right around the corner, but for this team what’s around the corner always seems to be a blindside punch waiting to land. Training camp is mere days away — rookies report Sunday and veterans next Wednesday — but the Fins are losing before they ever hit the football field. Miami lost a defensive tackle candidate, Kendrick Norton, to a terrible truck accident that caused his left arm to be amputated. Days later assistant head coach Jim Caldwell announced he would take a medical leave of absence and miss the entire 2019 season to address health issues. Now — and this should be a piling-on penalty — ESPN has calculated in its new NFL Future Power Rankings that the Dolphins not only are No. 32 (dead last) right now but will be for the next three years. I explore all this, and say why I think Miami will be much better than expected, in my recent column. One reason for my optimism, new coach Brian Flores, is pictured. To read our latest column, please visit What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins?

2019WHY 2019 IS LOOKING LIKE SPORTS' BEST YEAR EVERYou know it when you are watching it, not just watching but feeling it. Sports has that power. Suddenly, what might have been an ordinary, forgettable competition blooms into something epic, something that will leave its mark on the history of that sport, and on your memory. We have  been full of that stuff in sports this year, and the calendar is barely half done.That's why I think this shapes up to be the greatest. Tom Brady's sixth Super Bowl. Tiger Woods' Masters win. First-time champions in the NBA, NHL and men's college basketball. League-changing NBA free agency. U.S. women winning a record fourth World Cup. The Angels' no-hitter the night they honored a fallen teammate. Right through to Sunday and Novak Djokovic's epic five-hour Wimbledon win over Roger Federer. Oh, and the Cricket World Cup! (Yes, cricket...) And so much more. I explore fall of this -- the wonder and joy and surprise of sports -- in my recent column. To read it, kindly visit: Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever.

Our previous most recent columns: On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Heat's Run At Westbrook Is Riley's All-Out Gamble To Win Now and Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': APPS!: This video includes quite a bit of chatter leading into the new Back in My Day and a little bit afterward. The actuall BIMD kicks in around the 3:10 mark:

THE LIST: FIRST-TIME NBA, NHL CHAMPS IN SAME YEAR: What happened this year in basketball and hockey is a rarity, and one of the many reasons I like 2019 as the best sports year ever (see above). The only times since 1970 that the NBA and NHL have had a first-time franchise champion the same year:

Year        NBA champion                    NHL champion

2019       Toronto Raptors                  St. Louis Blues

2006       Miami Heat                         Carolina Hurricanes

1999       San Antonio Spurs               Dallas Stars

1991       Chicago Bulls                      Pittsburgh Penguins

Select other recent columns: Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / 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 / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / 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 / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  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 / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / 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

July 15, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 in a wide-open week and what else lands where; plus our Serena column & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 15. Football season almost here, so it's the perfect time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Serena denied again, Heat lose out on Westbrook, USWNT is polarizing but that's good, U.S tennis finds next star in Coco Gauff & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our columns from past week: Tennis (2), Heat (2) and Soccer: On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Heat's Run At Westbrook Is Riley's All-Out Gamble To Win Now and Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing.

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 loses out on Westbrook, but is the loss really a win?: Heat once seemed the frontrunner to trade with Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook, the last available big prize of summer, to pair him with Jimmy Butler. Then Houston swooped and got Russ instead. Why? Miami wouldn't part with both Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Smart. Sometimes the best trade is the one not made. Meantime, Heat narrowly missed Summer League playoffs with Saturday's 101-100 OT loss to Pelicans after resting a bunch of guys including Herro. Which tells you how inconsequential Summer league really is.

2. TENNIS: Epic Wimbledon men's final after Serena fails to tie majors record: Wimbledon's championship weekend began Saturday with Serena Williams gunning for her 24th career major to  tie the all-time record -- and failing miserably in a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Simona Halep. Sunday it was Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in a heavyweight men's finale -- Djokovic winning in a tiebreak after a 12-12 fifth set to end the longest men's final in tournament history. Epic!

3. SOCCER: Celebration (mostly!) of U.S. women's team continues: Winning the World Cup, a ticker-tape parade in New York City, honored at the ESPY Awards, and now a five-city Victory Tour starting Aug. 3 in Los Angeles with a friendly vs. Ireland. Heady days for Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and crew. Hasn't been all cheers though as conservatives try to come to grips (or not) with a team of strong women who rep LBGTQ rights, equal pay and other progressive activism. If you aren't proud of this team, hey, that's on you

4. MARLINS: Second half of season underway for Fish: Marlins are 1-2 since the All-Star Break in midst of a six-game homestand. At 34-57 (.374), Fish are on pace to finish 61-101. And you are officially having a bad season when the big drama is whether you'll loss under 100 games. MLB trade deadline is end of this month. Bats, please.

5. GOLF: British Open closes majors season this week: Golf's 148th British Open -- snobbily called "The Open," officially -- begins this coming Thursday in Northern Ireland. Rory McIlroy from the host nation and Brooks Koepka are co-favorites at 8-1, followed by Dustin Johnson at 12-1. Tiger Woods slid to 16-1, perhaps because he hasn't played for five weeks and because, despite winning The Masters, public trust that he's truly back is fragile as balsa-wood stilts.

6. MLB: Baseball back to work after All-Star break: Baseball is back to work following its All-Star break. The AL won the All-Star Game for the seventh straight year and nobody cared, not even the AL. In the Home Run Derby the Mets' Pete Alonso outslugged the Blue Jays' Vlad Guerrero Jr., although I use "outslugged" generously. I mean, are we supposed to be impressed these guys can go yard against 40 mph "fastballs" tossed by their Dad?

7. INTER MIAMI: Fort Lauderdale complex gets green light: The city of Fort Lauderdale voted to officially green-light Inter Miami's development of the former Lockhart Stadium site as their training facility and temporary stadium. Allows construction to start on the 18,000-seat stadium to serve as their home for MLS matches the first two seasons starting next spring, until their permanent ground at Miami Freedom Park is built if it ever is. Now all they have to do is build the New Lockhart in well under a year. Good luck, fellas!

8. ESPN: Big winners and the one big loser at The ESPYs: ESPN's annual awards show to celebrate ESPN the sports year crowned NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo and U.S. soccer's Alex Morgan as best athletes, and Morgan's USWNT as best team. (They needed a best hair category for Megan Rapinoe). The night's big loser? Tracy Morgan as host. He will never emcee another awards show. Ever. I mean, not even at a local Rotary club.

9. DOLPHINS: Assistant coach taking the year off for his health: Fins assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, 64, announced he is taking a leave of absence for the 2019 NFL season to address an undisclosed health issue, but will serve as a consultant. "I will be stepping back due to some medical complications that require my full attention," he said. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Kendrick Norton, who suffered a career-ending amputation of his left arm in a truck accident, was reportedly at fault in the crash and cited by police, which seems a bit cruel to us. Best wishes for both men.

10. CRICKET: England wins its first Cricket World Cup crown: It was England vs. New Zealand Sunday in London for the ICC Cricket World Cup crown, with both countries seeking their first title. England was generally seen as a (very) narrow betting favorite to do what its women's soccer team failed to do last week -- and the Brits did so dramatically, winning in a Super-Over, the sport's equivalent of a penalty-kick shootout. Yes, we're talkin' cricket!

Missing the HB10 cut: The World Series of Poker main event's final table is down to five as play resumes Monday night in Vegas with Hossein Ensan still holding the chip lead. I don't know why, but "Hossein Ensan" sounds like a rank in the Navy ..... Angels toss no-hitter on night they honor pitcher Tyler Skaggs who'd died suddenly. Magical ..... The NBA is now the NBL.A., because it's all about Clippers' Kawhi Leonard and Paul George vs. Lakers' LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That should be the Finals. Start it tomorrow. Two-on-two, of course ..... Manny Pacquiao, 40, and unbeaten Keith Thurman fight this coming Saturday. I'm probably rooting for Pac Man, if only to derail any unfortunate momentum for another Pacquiao-Mayweather fight ..... In UFC, Jorge Masvidal wants to fight Conor McGregor. Based on what I know of each, can they both lose, please? ..... Ice Cube's Big3 basketball league is underway. That's where old former players try to show a disinterested NBA they've still got it. It's called the Big3 because "Has-Beens On Parade" sounded a bit harsh ..... The Tour de France continues. Current leader is a kid on an old Schwinn with baseball cards in the spokes ..... The FINA World Aquatics Championships are underway in South Korea. Sorry, but my contract says I only have to feign interest in swimming for two weeks once every four years ..... The WNBA All-Star Game is in two weeks. I'll watch, but only if one team includes Megan Rapinoe dribbling with her feet and lobbing a pass that Alex Morgan heads into the basket ..... Update: Countdown now 2,534 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / 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 / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / 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 / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  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 / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / 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

July 13, 2019

Serena denied again in hunt for record. New column; plus Heat loses on Westbrook, but why that could still be win for Miami; also, if you find USWNT polarizing that's on you, not them; U.S. tennis finds new star in Coco Gauff & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 13. Happy 80th birthday to Mavis Staples this week, one of the great voices and messengers of my life, an American icon. 2) Always football season around here, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. wins Women's World Cup with column, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

SerenaSERENA DENIED AGAIN IN PURSUIT OF MAJORS RECORD: Serena Williams (and older sister Venus) introduced themselves at what is now the Miami Open on Key Biscayne, circa late '90s. Now, 21 years later, at age 37, Serena is fighting younger opponents -- and time -- in pursuit of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major titles. She has 23. She could have equaled the record Saturday in the final at Wimbledon but was dominated by Simona Halep in a 6-2, 6-2 loss -- her sixth straight time trying and failing to get from 23 to 24. "I'll keep fighting," she said afterward. Her next chance: the U.S. Open commencing in last August. For my column on Serena, from the teenager we first met to the warrior still slugging it out, kindly visit On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again.

TeammatesHEAT LOSE OUT ON WESTBROOK. BUT WAS IT REALLY A LOSS? NEW COLUMNThe Miami Heat and Pat Riley lost out on Russell Westbrook on Thursday night -- but it might have been closer to a win than a loss. Sometimes, the best trade is the one not made. Yes, the Heat would have been better or at least more dynamic and interesting in the short term by pairing Westbrook with recently acquired Jimmy Butler. But at what cost? That was the line Riley smartly drew. Giving up the young core of Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and June top draft pick Tyler Herro, and more, was too much for Westbrook, whose mega-contract would have grown more and more onerous. Miami in four years would have been paying $47 million to an aging 34-year-old player. So Westbrook reunites in Houston with James Harden instead. Star-chasing is fine, but not to add a veteran while pilfering your own future. Likewise, Miami must be wary of trading for  Bradley Beal if that comes with the John Wall baggage and also costs that young core. And wary of trading for Chris Paul if it drains you of money to be a player in 2021 free agency. I discuss all this and more in my latest column off last night's Westbrook trade to Houston, not Miami. To read it in full, kindly visit Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win

UnitedCHAMPION U.S. WOMEN'S TEAM MAY BE POLARIZING, BUT THAT'S GOOD: Sometime during the victory celebration along the “Canyon of Heroes” in New York City on Wednesday, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe was handed a Daily News cover that depicts the Statue of Liberty cleverly holding the Women’s World Cup championship trophy instead of a torch. That wasn’t what made Rapinoe hold the newspaper with a smirking frown on her face, a sort of #SMH (shake my head) expression. It was the bold headline in big block letters: UNITED WE STAND. "Really?" Rapinoe’s look seemed to be saying. "Really!?" Later that night — as if on cue — one or more persons walking around full of hate vandalized six Rapinoe posters at the subway station near Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan. Police are investigating it as a possible hate crime. The posters read, “Dream With Us.” Either that message, or perhaps the fact Rapinoe is gay, led the vandals to scrawl “shemale” and “screw that [bleep]” over her face. United we stand? The preceding is in the intro to my column off the parade. Rapinoe and her USWNT teammates are excellent on the field -- World Cup champs -- and loud off it, loud for LGBTQ equality, racial justice, pay equity. That makes them polarizing to some. If so that's on the offended, the "Shut up and play" crowd -- not o them. For that column in full, please visit If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them

RwestHEAT'S PURSUIT OF WESTBROOK IS RILEY'S ALL-OUT, URGENT GAMBLE: [Note: This was my column from earlier in the week, when Miami appeared to be the favorite to land Westbrook]. Did you not think he was going to go out swinging? That he was going to sit quietly in the corner? That a long basketball career full of noise was going to ebb with a whisper? Then you don’t know Pat Riley. Haven’t followed his career real closely. Riley making something of nothing this summer for the Miami Heat — trading for star Jimmy Butler and now angling for an even bigger star in Russell Westbrook — is less surprising than if the Heat’s president had stood pat, OK with mediocrity and the hope something might happen a couple of summers from now, maybe. Instead, the Heat’s godfather is flexing all of the creativity and ingenuity in his toolbox in an impatient desperation to be relevant again, now, not later. Riley is 74 now. When my grandmother was that age she used to like to say “you don’t buy green bananas.” You don’t trust tomorrow. Carpe diem. That's the gist of my recent column. Full for the full read, please visit Heat's Run At Westbrook Is Riley's All-Out Gamble To Win Now. Pictured, Westbrook in a Heat uniform, via clutchpoints.com.

Coco"LOCO FOR COCO!" HAS AMERICAN TENNIS JUST DISCOVERED THE 'NEXT BIG THING' IT SO BADLY NEEDS?: The U.S. winning the Women’s World Cup was the biggest accomplishment in sports the past week, but it wasn’t the most amazing. The continuing reign of Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and the rest of those American stars was expected. What has happened the past week in London, at Wimbledon, was the surreal opposite of expected. Surprise is one of the great joys of sports, the rise of the underdog one of the great delights. The rare moment when someone you had never heard of becomes a star, and you can only imagine the trajectory that lay ahead. Her name is Cori (Coco) Gauff. That's the start of my recent column. To read it, kindly visit Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing. At 15 Gauff was the youngest Wimbledon qualifier of the Open era, and youngest to win a match since 1991, before losing in the fourth round Monday to former world No. 1 Simona Halep. It gives hope that American tennis has found its next big star, and I write why that is so needed: On the men’s side, John Isner, aged 34, is, at No. 12 in the ATP rankings, the only American in the top 30. No U.S. male has won a major since Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick in 2003. For the women, Serena Williams is 37 now and sister Venus is 39. Someone must take the baton. Sloane Stephens currently is the highest American woman in the WTA rankings at No. 9, and by winning the 2017 U.S. Open became the first U.S. major winner not named Williams since 2002. But Stephens already is 26, an age by which Serena already had won eight majors. That is to say, Stephens’ career arc suggests a very good player, but one who must accelerate and find another gear to reach and sustain the next-big-star level. Coco Gauff has famously said, "I want to be the best ever. I want to be better than Serena." Tennis is infamously noted for its early flameouts and burnouts, the phenom at 17 and done by 23 type. It will be interesting to see if Coco Gauff can rise above that and fulfill the potential she offered a tantalizing hint of at Wimbledon.

A handful of other most recent columns: Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again. Also: U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / and It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field.

Cuckoo"CUCKOO FOR COCOA PUFFS!": : Watching Delray Beach 15-year-old Cori (Coco) Gauff play Wimbledon the past week and writing about her in my latest column (linked above), I was drawn by her nickname Coco to recall the "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" cereal commercials of yesteryear. They began after the introduction of the "Sonny the Cuckoo Bird" mascot in 1962. In the TV ads, Sonny attempts to concentrate on normal tasks but ends up coming across some reference to Cocoa Puffs and is enthusiastically distracted. Fast fact: The actual cuckoo (pictured right) is a mostly grayish-brown European bird (Cuculus canorus) that is a parasite given to laying its eggs in the nests of other birds which then raise the offspring.

Select other recent columns: Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / 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 / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  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 / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / 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

July 08, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): U.S. women, Kawhi, All-Star Break, Loco for Coco ... see who's No. 1 and what else lands where this week; plus USWNT wins World Cup. My new column & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 8. Soccer Sunday in America! "Let's gooooo States!" 2) Always football season around here, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. beats England and Morgan sips tea, sorry Lebron no Kawhi, Riley and Tallon's big summer, happy Fourth with Seeger video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

U.S. wins Women's World Cup! New column: The reigning queens of soccer over came everything and everybody to keep the dynasty going and win a fourth World Cup and second straight today in France. My new column: Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again.

UsfansFive of our other most recent: U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence. Also: Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses LeftKawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron and It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JULY 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. SOCCER: U.S. women top Netherlands for World Cup crown!: The favored American women chased and caught a fourth U.S. World Cup championship and second straight on Sunday in beating the Netherlands 2-1 Sunday in France. "Let's gooooo States!" By the way, "nether" is an adjective meaning "lower in position." As in nether world, or nether regions. I'd go back to Holland if I were them. England and Sweden met Saturday in The World's Saddest Game, a 2-1 consolation win by the Swedes for third place.

2. NBA: Clippers steal Kawhi from LeBron: Waiting for Godot was a 1953 Samuel Beckett play in which two men wait for the arrival of someone who never shows. Waiting for Kawhi was a 2019 drama in which three basketball teams, the Lakers, Raptors and Clippers, waited for someone who would arrive for only one of them. Most media thought LeBron James' Lakers would get him. ESPN's Jalen Rose called it "99 percent" he'd stay in Toronto. Wrong. Wrong. Leonard chose Clippers, who also traded for Paul George. Clippers and the LeBron/Anthony Davis Lakers are now 1-2 in betting odds for '20 title. And the NBA just got interesting ... well, in L.A., at least.

3. MLB: Home Run Derby, All-Star Game on deck: Many now see the Home Run Derby as the star of the All-Star Break, and it's tonight/Monday in Cleveland, with Christian Yelich, Pete Alonso and Vlad Guerrero Jr. 1-2-3 as betting favorites. Tuesday night is the All-Star Game itself and, well, who cares, really. Marlins fans get to see pitcher Sandy Alcantara (if he gets in), but also have to endure seeing Yelich and J.T. Realmuto in somebody else's uniform.

4. TENNIS: Loco for Coco! was the story of Wimbledon so far: Halfway through the fortnight in London, it was 15-year-old Cori (Coco) Gauff of Delray Beach who was the talk of the tournament. Little-known and ranked 319th in the world, Coco won three straight matches (starting with Venus Williams) and reached a fourth-round match today/Monday vs. No. 7-ranked Simona Halep before finally losing, 6-3, 6-2. Even though the dream ended, what a magical run for Kid Coco!

5. SOCCER: U.S. men fall to Mexico in Gold Cup final: Regional men's rivals U.S. and Mexico played Sunday night for the CONCACAF Gold Cup title at Soldier Field in Chicago, and the Americans fell, 1-0, failing to generate the same big win the U.S. had earlier in the day. The American men and Mexico are intense adversaries who had been even at 2-2 with one draw in their previous five meetings. Mejico was a slight betting favorite last night and showed why. 

6. DOLPHINS: Tragic accident for Dolphins player from UM: Dolphins defensive tackle Kendrick Norton, a former Hurricane, had his left arm amputated due to injuries suffered early Thursday morning in a career-ending -- but thankfully, they say, not life-ending -- auto accident. Our best wishes for his fullest possible recovery.

7. HEAT: Miami kiddies ballin' in summer play: Heat went 3-0 in the tournament in Sacramento and is now 2-0 in the full Las Vegas Summer League after Sunday's win over the Jazz. Top draft pick Tyler Herro has mostly impressed, averaging 19 points in the five games so far. This is just gravy, though. Far as I'm concerned, Heat already won the summer by trading for Jimmy Butler and getting rid of Hassan Whiteside.

8. MARLINS: Fish wrap first half of season today: Fish are 33-55 (season pace: 61-101) entering entering the All-Star Break, with pitcher Sandy Alcantara repping the Marlins.  Miami resumes play Friday at home vs. Mets. Marlins have been as bad as we all figured, but with young talent beginning to shine and show signs of a brighter future. In fact three Fish prospects were in last night's Futures game: 2B Isan Diaz, OF Monte Harrison and P Sixto Sanchez. 

9. SOCCER: Brazil beats Peru for Copa America crown: Who'd be the kings of South America? Brazil is a big betting pick over surprise-finalist Peru in Sunday's Copa America title match in Rio de Janeiro, and rolled to a 3-1 win. A comfortable win but not nearly as lopsided as their group-stage meeting, when Peru got crushed 5-nil in a Brazilian samba.

10. CYCLING: Tour de France is underway: The biggest race in cycling has begun and betting favorites to win at the July 28th finish are Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas and Jakob Fuglsang. Fast fact: I'd never heard of any of them. I'm more interested in who wins the Lance Armstrong (Urine) Cup given annually to the first cyclist caught doping.

Missing the HB10 cut: President Trump spoke on the Fourth of July about the U.S. Army "manning the air" during the Revolutionary War, and has been widely mocked. In Trump's defense, he was only off on the invention of air travel by 120 years ..... India and Australia looking good in the Cricket World Cup, and thus exhausts my CWC knowledge. Fast fact: A Sri Lanka-South Africa was interrupted by a swarm of bees ..... The new definition of basking: Florida Panthers president/GM Dale Tallon on a dais, flanked by Joel Quenneville and Sergei Bobrovsky ..... NBA's Vegas Summer League saw a few games postponed by that 7.1-magnitude earthquake. Come to Florida, where at least our natural disasters come with a warning ..... Update: Countdown now 2,541 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: 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 / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  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 / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / 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

July 01, 2019

The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Heat/Jimmy Butler, U.S. World Cup run, Luongo retirement all battle for week's top spot. See who's No. 1 and what else lands where; plus the Rapinoe and Butler columns, radio today, Raconteurs video & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 1. Radio today in addition to Tuesday. Le Batard Show. ESPN Radio. Tune in now! 2) Welcome July, month of independence! See ya next year, June bug. 3) Always football season around here, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. women roll into World Cup semifinals, Roberto Luongo retires, Udonis Haslem takes flamethrower to critics, Willie Nelson's "Immigrant Eyes" video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Click here for My Heat/Jimmy Butler column.

MeganrapMEGAN RAPINOE OWNS THE WORLD CUP, AND IT'S GLORIOUS! NEW COLUMN: Megan Rapinoe is not afraid of a fight. Not afraid of expectations, any opponent, criticism, controversy or the president of the United States. It is her World Cup now. She is the most important athlete on the planet at the moment, a woman in full power, on a mission, carrying her team, taking on the world. And it is a rather awesome thing to see. Rapinoe has scored all four U.S. goals in the knockout stage of this World Cup to lead America into Tuesday's semifinal vs. England. But she has been just as noteworthy off the field, standing up for equal rights, social justice and equal pay. She is outspokenly anti-Trump, polarizing for that, but unabashedly unapologetic it. She is on a mission, a woman in full power, and she will not shut up. For myy latest column, please visit: It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field.

Other columns from this week: An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires and Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire. From previous week: Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / Heat, Riley Need To Have Hit Big With Herro / Heat Can Only Watch As Seismic Talent Shift Quakes NBA / And O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him.

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. SOCCER: U.S. women blast into World Cup semifinals: U.S. faces England  Tuesday in the Women's World Cup semifinals, after eliminating host France 2-1 in the quarters -- the American side once again led by Megan Rapinoe. It's Netherlands vs. Sweden in the other semifinal on Wednesday. America's fourth World Cup title and second straight is close enough to taste now. On my count: "Let's gooooo States!"  

2. HEAT: Miami, Jimmy Butler agree to terms: A lot going on! Heat are getting Jimmy Butler in a three-way sign-and-trade that sends Josh Richardson to Philly and sees Hassan Whiteside go to Portland. Meantime, Heat No. 1 draft pick Tyler Herro out of Kentucky and Georgetown's undrafted Trey Mourning -- Alonzo's son -- headline Miami's 12-man NBA Summer League roster. Games start July 5 in Las Vegas, after a three-game tournament in Sacramento starting Monday. Heat's five-game preseason schedule opens Oct. 8 at home vs. Spurs. In other team news, Udonis Haslem, on Instagram, took a flamethrower to critics who say he should retire. He may yet, but doesn't want you telling him what to do.  

3. PANTHERS: Luongo retires; Cats sign Bobrovsky: Busy time for the Cats, led by Luongo -- third-winningest goaltender in NHL history -- announcing he's calling it quits after 19 seasons including 11 in two stints with Florida. Decision not a shock, but still seismic news. Farewell, Lu. The Panthers wrapped up their four-day developmental camp for young guys including No. 1 draft pick Spencer Knight, and Monday signed their top free-agent target, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

4. NBA: 'Special K's' free agency begins Sunday: Gentlemen, start your spending! NBA's wheelin' and dealin' all started Sunday and call it the "Special K's" free agency, with Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant (reportedly to Brooklyn) and Kyrie Irving (also Nets-bound) the three biggest available prizes, and Kemba Walker (headed to Celtics), Klay Thompson (staying put) and Kristaps Porzingis (to Mavericks) perhaps next. Should be an exciting offseason -- even in Miami, presuming the Jimmy Butler thing goes through.

5. SOCCER: U.S. men in Gold Cup semifinals, Copa America to semis: A couple of nice men's little sideshows to the Women's World Cup. The oft-maligned U.S. men's national team beat Curacao 1-0 Sunday night to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, after sailing through group play at 3-0 by a combined 11-0 score. And the Copa America is down to the semifinals, highlighted by a Brazil-Argentina heavyweight match Tuesday. Viva futbol!

6. MARLINS: Alcantara selected for ASG as Fish head on road: Marlins fell to Phils in Sunday's matinee to wrap a six-game homestand, now it's six straight on the road heading into the All-Star Break. Miami's best bet to be picked as an All-Star reserve? No clear frontrunner. I liked Brian Anderson -- but it was young pitcher Sandy Alcantara getting the nod today.

7. HORSES: Gulfstream's Summer Of Speed tops summer schedule: Gulfstream's 14-race Summit of Speed was led by the $250,000 Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes, won Saturday by favorite Stormy Embrace for the second straight year, earning an automatic entry into November's Breeders’ Cup Grade 1 Filly & Mare Turf Stakes. Saturday's card marked Gulfstream's biggest race day of the summer meet.

8. TENNIS: Upsets begin fortnight at Wimbledon: The sport's third of four Grand Slam majors began Monday in London and runs two weeks. Defending men's champ Novak Djokovic is men's betting favorite ahead of usual suspects Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Women's pick is Ashleigh Barty ahead of Serena Williams, with 2018 winner Angelique Kerber only the fifth pick. Serena needs one more major win to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 favorite, but can she? She's 37 and last won a major in early 2017, now fighting much younger opponents but also time. Two big women's upsets Monday: Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams both ousted.

9. INTER MIAMI: MLS expansion team after U.S. men's star: While they're trying to build stadium(s), the 2020 Major League Soccer arrival is also trying to build a roster. Latest speculation: David Beckham's team is after U.S. national team rising star Tyler Boyd, a 24-year-old winger currently leading the American's Gold Cup charge. Inter Miami has his "discovery rights," which are, well, like first dibs.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp dates: New head coach Brian Flores will lead Miami through 11 practices starting July 25 through Aug. 6, prior to the first preseason game Aug. 8. All practices will be at the Davie/Nova Southeastern HQ except for an Aug. 3 scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium. Bring your sunscreen. But at least you won't be wearing 40 pounds of equipment.

Missing the HB10 cut: Yankees swept Red Sox in London. Teams totaled 50 runs in two games, giving Brits the mistaken impression baseball is an exciting sport ..... Baseball named its 16 All-Star Game starters, excluding the two pitchers. The Democrats have more presidential candidates than baseball has starters ..... Bob Ley retired from ESPN this week after 40 years. He was kind enough to have us on Outside The Lines several times. Terrific guy ..... Some sentences are so absurd they need no elaboration. So: Breakdancing is headed to the 2024 Olympics ..... A Kansas City radio station fired host Kevin Kietzman for saying Chiefs coach Andy Reid "fix" either his players or his family. Reid has lost one son to a drug overdose and has another son who has had addiction problems. Ouch ..... Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo was named NBA MVP, deserved it and gave an emotional acceptance speech, after which the classless Rockets embarrassed themselves with tweets saying James Harden shoulda won ..... Australia banging in the Cricket World Cup. Updates as warranted ..... The Tour de France starts in six days. It was more fun when everybody was getting suspended for doping ..... Vanderbilt wins College World Series ..... O.J. Simpson: "I did it!" No, not that. He just meant he's on Twitter now ..... Answer: The U.S. championships in taekwondo and fencing are both going on. Question: What are two sports nobody except participants and their families will watch? ..... Somebody check on LaVar Ball to make sure he's OK. Been almost a week since he's said anything stupid ..... Update: Countdown now 2,548 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

THE RACONTEURS HAVE RETURNED TO SAVE ROCK 'N ROLL: Jack White, Brendan Benson and The Raconteurs are back with their first new album in 10 years, Help Us Stranger, and here is the (almost) title track, "Help Me Stranger":  

Select other recent columns: Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big ThingU.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  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 / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / 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 / 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 / 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 10, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): There's a surprise in the No. 1 sport and see what else falls where this week; plus will Dolphins be too good for Tua? (latest column), happy birthday to world's most famous Duck & more

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

Dduck1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 10. Happy birthday, Donald Duck, born on yesterday's date in 1934. 2) Always football season, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, here: Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins will be better than expected, Inter Miami casts for Luis Suarez, Fins wrap up offseason, Marlins draft bats, Schnellenberger snubbed again, latest Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Todd Tongen and Dr. John & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Will Dolphins be too good for Tua? Latest column: A bright new coach, interesting quarterback battle with upside, really good receivers, strong defensive tackle rotation, productive linebackers, better than average secondary -- too many positives for Miami to be god-awful in 2019. Meaning it may be difficult to be bad enough for the No. 1 overall 2020 draft pick and grand-prize Tua Tagovailoa. To read my newest column, visit Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019.

Other most recent columns: Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez and Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season. Also: For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / Drama Kings: How NBA Became America's Most Interesting Sport / Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

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. SOCCER: Inter Miami aims high, guns for Luis Suarez: Inter Miami, the MLS expansion team set to debut in 2020, wants the Barcelona striker Suarez to be its signature star, a massive get if they can make it happen. Suarez has scored 25-plus goals seven straight seasons for Liverpool and then Barca at the highest levels of futbol. He might instantly be the biggest star in MLS. Might also be the biggest score of David Beckham's career.

2. NBA: Can a Golden State miracle deny Toronto?: Toronto won on road Friday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead over reigning champion Golden State in the NBA Finals, and now the Warriors face a must-win to stay alive in Game 5 Monday night/tonight in Canada. They hope to have Kevin Durant back ... but will it be enough? Meanwhile, a dumbass Warriors minority owner was banned for a year for shoving the Raptors' Kyle Lowry in a courtside incident.

3. SOCCER: U.S. debuts Tuesday in Women's World Cup: Month-long Women's World Cup is now underway in France, with the reigning champion United States team led by Alex Morgan up front and Hope Solo in goal playing its first group match on Tuesday vs. Thailand. Americans will be expected to win; no Thais allowed. (Sorry). U.S. are a narrow betting favorites to again win it all but host France and Germany will be stout challengers. On my count: "Let's gooooo States!"  

4. NHL: Boston forces Game 7 in Stanley Cup: Boston had to win and did, 5-1, in St. Louis Sunday night to force an NHL Final Game 7 Wednesday in Beantown. St. Louis seeking its first-ever Stanley Cup but odds swing now to the Bruins. Somebody will win the Cup. Somebody won't win. But the big loser might be the NHL and its officiating, whose controversial calls and non-calls have shadowed this Final.

5. MARLINS: Recently hot Fish back home, and back to losing: In mid-May the Marlins were 10-31, threatening the 1962 Mets for historic futility. Since then they've been 13-9 -- but have now dropped four straight with Sunday's blown-lead loss as they continue a nine-game homestand. Meantime Miami went offense in the MLB Draft, starting with top pick J.J. Bleday, a Vanderbilt corner outfielder who led NCAA Division 1 with 26 homers this season. Fish went bats with first five picks before finally taking a pitcher.

6. TENNIS: Nadal, Barty take French Open crowns: It was Rafael Nadal winning his record 12th French Open title Sunday in Paris over vs. little-known Dominic Thiem in the men's final, after Thiem upset Novak Djokovic in a five-set semifinal. In Saturday's who's-that women's final, No. 8-seeded Ashleigh Barty won her first Grand Slam title by beating unseeded Marketa Vondrousova. Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old who lives in Aventura north of Miami, reached the semifinals before falling.

7. GOLF: U.S. Open rolls this week at Pebble Beach: The second of four men's golf majors begins this Thursday at Pebble Beach in Cali, with Brooks Koepka (13-2 betting odds) and Dustin Johnson (7-1) the near co-favorites. Masters champ Tiger Woods (10-1) and Jordan Speith (14-1) are next. Jack-chasing El Tigre has won three U.S. Opens, but none since 2008, and no USO top-10 finish since '10.

8. HORSE RACING: Sir Winston wins Belmont Stakes: A memorably wacky Triple Crown season in thoroughbred racing ended fittingly Saturday in New York. After a disqualified winner rocked the Kentucky Derby and a riderless horse in the Preakness, the Belmont went to a 10-1 longshot as Sir Winston beat favorite Tacitus by a length. Only one horse, War Of Will, ran in all three TC races, a continuing problem for the sport.

9. DOLPHINS: Fins minicamp wraps up offseason work: This week's mandatory Dolphins minicamp ended the team's offseason program. Next stop, ready or not: Training camp in late July, then exhibitions, then the season. Meantime the one pressing question -- Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen? -- remains unanswered, and likely won't be until August.

10. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Three ex-Canes on Hall ballot, but no Howard: Former Miami Hurricanes defensive stalwarts Jerome Brown, Ray Lewis and Dan Morgan are on the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame ballot revealed this week, but once again, championship coach Howard Schnellenberger was illogically denied. The problem: the Hall's minimum winning percentage requirement unfairly penalizes coaches like Schnellenberger who take on challenges such as turning around a moribund Louisville program and starting FAU football from scratch.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dwyane Wade spoke at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High's graduation ceremony. D-Wade is everywhere. It's the "Don't forget about me!" withdrawal phase recently retired athletes tend to go through ..... Four-star prep offensive lineman Jalen Rivers commits to Miami. Sorry kid. Only five stars rate the HB10 ..... Golf analyst Hank Haney got in trouble for saying South Korea had taken over the LPGA and predicting "somebody named Lee" would win the Women's U.S. Open last week. The winner? Jeongeun Lee ..... We're down to eight NCAA Super Regional baseball teams playing to reach the College World Series, but since none are from Florida, it isn't happening ..... UCLA beat Oklahoma for the women's softball title, thanks to somebody's walkoff single ..... Hurricanes' Michelle Atherley won a bronze medal in the heptathlon to lead UM performers in the NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Track & Field Championships ..... Panthers girding for June 21 NHL Draft and free agency to follow ..... Tom Brady tried to patent "Tom Terrific" to (he claims) stop people from calling him that, all the while drawing the wrath of Mets fans on behalf of original Tom Terrific Tom Seaver. Dumb story, but anything that gets folks made at Brady has my attention ..... 24 Hours of Le Mans is next weekend. My word for two straight days in a car? Hell ..... Cricket World Cup continues. Top seeds Jiminy and Buddy Holly still in it ..... Update: Countdown now 2,569 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup ..... R.I.P., Todd Tongen and Dr. John

Other select recent columns: End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / 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 / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / 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

June 03, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): NBA Finals, Canes ousted in NCAA Regional vie for top and see what else falls where; plus your Warriors/Raptors poll result, a column four-pack, our 'Rocketman' review & more

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 3. Happy new month, y'all! 2) Check our review of the new Elton John biopic, "Rocketman," below. 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): Marlins on a run, NBA Finals with polls, Bill Buckner dies, ranking Miami's top 25-and-younger players, Back In My Day (Food Trucks!), Sheryl/Bonnie/Mavis video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our past week's quartet of columns: Marlins, NBA Finals, Bill Buckner, Miami's top young stars: For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / Drama Kings: How NBA Became America's Most Interesting Sport / Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness / And Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

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. NBA: Warriors even Finals heading back west: Toronto, an underdog entering its first NBA Finals, won Game 1 but saw Golden State even the series Sunday night despite no Kevin Durant (again) and 6-for-17 shooting from Steph Curry. Three-word analysis on the opener: Pascal Bleepin' Siakam!?! Now, after Game 2: What, you didn't think the Warriors were actually going to lose the series did you!?

2. CANES BASEBALL: UM season ends in NCAA Regional: Ranked No. 20 nationally in Gino DiMare's first year as head coach, Miami saw its season end Sunday night in a 5-2 loss to Mississippi State in the NCAA Regional in Starkville, after the Canes had hoped to be named a regional host but were denied. It marked UM's 46th postseason appearance after missing out the two previous years, but an ultimate disappointment for a program once defined by trips to the College World Series in Omaha. 

3. NHL: Bruins lead Blues in Stanley Cup Finals: Boston wins opener, St. Louis ties series, then Bruins take 2-1 command Saturday night with a 7-2 road rout entering Game 4 Monday night. Boston has raised Lord Stanley's Cup as recently as 2011, while the Blues are in the Finals for the first time since 1970 seeking their first championship ever. Sorry, Bruins, but everybody outside of New England is rooting for those 'dogs on skates from the Midwest.

4. MARLINS: Fish on road as team prepares for MLB Draft: The Fish, a sub-dreadful 10-31 at the season's quarter mark, went on a nice little 9-5 run to end May, and have begun June with back to back 9-3 wins in San Diego to make it 11 wins in past 16 games. Road trip continues Tuesday in Milwaukee. Meantime look for the Marlins to target a big bat with their first pick (fourth overall) as the three-day MLB Draft begins today/Monday. Two names to remember: Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday and Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn.

5. SOCCER: U.S. defends title as Women's World Cup nears: The United States is defending champion in the month-long Women's World Cup commencing in France in four days, this coming Friday, with the first U.S. match on June 11 vs. Thailand. The veteran American squad led by Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are betting favorites to repeat at 2-1 odds, but host France (7-2), Germany (11-2) and England (7-1) all are top contenders in the 24-nation field. I'm entirely neutral, of course. "U.S.A! U.S.A!" "Let's gooooo States!"

6. DOLPHINS: Mandatory mini-camp closes offseason: The Fins stage a mandatory three-day mini-camp this Tuesday through Thursday to end their offseason work, then it's around six weeks off (how will we ever survive!?) until the start of full preseason training camp. Big question: Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick? Second-biggest question: Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen?

7. TENNIS: French Open reaches quarterfinals in Paris: No. 1 men's seed Novak Djokovic and betting favorites Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep all were still alive entering the midpoint of tennis' latest major, but top women's seed Naomi Osaka was ousted in the third round -- and so was Serena Williams, who was after but fell short of a 24th career major that would have tied Margaret Court's all-time record.

8. SOCCER: Liverpool takes Champions League title: In Madrid Saturday, Liverpool rode an early penalty kick to a 2-nil triumph over underdog Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final. It was the sixth Euro crown for Liverpool and first since 2005. Tottentham was playing in its first Champs League final.

9. HORSE RACING: Belmont to close wild Triple Crown season: The Belmont Stakes closes thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown calendar this coming Saturday with Tacitus at 11-8 odds and Preakness winner War Of Will at 2-1 the clear betting picks in the tight nine-horse field. The triumvirate of races was doomed from the start when Country House was awarded the Kentucky Derby by controversial disqualification and did not enter either subsequent race, quickly erasing any possibility of a Triple Crown. Country Mouse is more like it.

10. CRICKET: Yes, that's right. Cricket, dammit!: Cricket is very popular in South Florida with those from the West Indies especially, and I don't have to tell them the six-week-long ICC Cricket World Cup is now underway in England, with the host nation the betting favorite at 2-1 odds and India (11-4) and Australia (4-1) chasing. Bumper sticker: I Chirp For Cricket!

Missing the HB10 cut: The teenage sons of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade reportedly will play basketball for the same Los Angeles-area high school next season. "We quit," said every other school in the district ..... Astros star Carlos Correa is out six weeks after injuring a rib during a home massage. Moving on! ..... The SiriusXM PGA Tour radio channel suspended analyst Hank Haney after he poked fun, entering this weekend's Women's U.S. Open, at how South Korean  players tend to dominate the LPGA tour. (Quick aside: Hank ain't wrong, by the way) ..... The 2020 College Football Hall of Fame finalists ballot will be released Monday. Once again look for Howard Schnellenberger to not be on it, because the Hall continues intractable in its dumb qualifying rules ..... Six Hurricanes qualified to compete in the NCAA Divison 1 Outdoor Track & Field Championships later this week in Jacksonville ..... Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee ended in an unprecedented eight-way tie when, oddly, all eight kids misspelled "cat" ..... Panthers prospect Juho Lammikko won a gold medal with Finland in the IIHF men's ice hockey world championships in Slovakia ..... A week passed without Inter Miami announcing a new soccer stadium site, so the count remains for now at three ..... Update: Countdown now 2,576 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

POLL RESULTS: YOU PREDICT WARRIORS BUT WANT RAPTORS: In separate polls we asked who you predict WILL win the NBA Finals, and who you WANT to win the Finals. And results were split. And 77.78 percent of you predicted Golden State would win (most of the votes cast before the series began). But 58.82% of you wanted Toronto to win.

RocketmanTHE ELTON JOHN BIOPIC 'ROCKETMAN': WEIRD BUT WORTHY: I've been an Elton John fan since my teens. No one else in music or pop culture has been as steadily important to me. So I walked into the theater Friday night predisposed to love Rocketman, the new biopic of his life (well, of his early years and early stardom through rehab in the early '90s). I walked out of the theater having liked but not loved the film. That's partly because I wasn't sure exactly what I had just seen -- which itself might be a positive viewing experience to some. (To most, judging by the 90 percent Rotten Tomatoes score the film is garnering). Rocketman is part movie, part biography, and a big part musical. Not just musical as in a lot of his songs are heard. I mean musical as in dancing and choreography. I can so see this biopic ending up as a Broadway production. It is largely based on fact but with much creative license taken as well. A "true fantasy," as the film describes itself. The performances are strong, especially Taron Egerton as Elton, but there are times the production seems a bit disjointed. Times when dialogue turns to song rather jarringly. (Another nitpick: No mention of or reference to his longtime bandmates, Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson). Despite the flaws and the film being all over the map stylistically, though, I highly recommend it for Elton fans and also for appreciators of a cinema experience that is outside the norm. Rocketman takes chances. And that's a good thing.

Other select 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.

Other select 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 Bereft; Wade 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

May 27, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where this week. (Toronto!?!); plus 2019 Sports Fan Misery Index (latest column), 50,000 Names (Memorial Day) & more

Memday1) It's MONDAY, MAY 27. It is Memorial Day in America. Please hesitate to wish someone a "happy" Memorial Day, bearing in mind it is a day to remember and honor our servicemen and women who lost their lives serving in the United States Armed Forces. Below is a video honoring those soldiers. 2) 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The new Sports Fan Misery Index, genuflecting to Warriors' greatness, getting to know Tyler Gaffalione, new Raconteurs video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

MiseryLatest column: Miami sports suck right now. But oh do we have company!: Dolphins: No championship in 45 years. Panthers: Last won hockey playoff series 22 seasons ago. Marlins: Haven’t made postseason in 13 years or had winning record in 10. (Even the reliable Heat missed the playoffs). So how bad do we have it in South Florida pro sports? I did the research and was stunned to find, for example, that the Fins' 45-year title drought doesn't even make the Top 20 for such futility. If misery loves company, this your column, Miami, as we present the new Sports Fan Misery Index encompassing the 123 franchises in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. To read, please visit Take Heart, South Florida. We're Bad, But Hardly Alone.

Other most recent columns: 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.

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. NBA: Finally, a Finals! It's Golden State vs. Toronto!?: Golden State's long wait to know its NBA Finals opponent is over after sweeping Portland. And that opponent, unexpectedly, is Toronto, which rallied from 15 down at home Saturday night to oust top-seeded Milwaukee and reach its first Finals. Meaning we now must all accept the dreadful hashtag #WeTheNorth. All hail, Kawhi Leonard! For now. King Warriors and Steph Curry are heavy favorites in Finals that start Thursday. Defending champ Golden State playing with extra rest is like Warren Buffett getting a raise.

2. NHL: Boston-St. Louis Finals begins Monday: The Boston Bruins are favored to continue that city's recent across-sports dominance vs. the underdog St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals beginning Monday. The Blues were last in the Finals in 1970, and, as we know in Miami, anything that happened even before the Dolphins' first Super Bowl win is officially ancient history.

3. MARLINS: Signs of life for the Fish, sort of: Miami won a season-best six games in a row before dropping the first three games of a four-game set at Washington. Marlins are at Nationals again today before returning home vs. San Francisco. For Miami, odds of finishing worse than the '62 Mets are now suddenly and seriously in jeopardy.

4. TENNIS: Nadal, Halep favorites in French Open: The French Open began in Paris Sunday with Rafael Nadal favored to win his 12th men's crown in the event and Simona Halep the betting pick to repeat her women's title. An odd sight: Serena Williams only the fifth favorite among women. Then again it's a major she has won "only" three times, and not since '15.

5. AUTO RACING: Pagenaud wins Indy 500 roars at the Brickyard: The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 happened Sunday with defending champion Will Power (still love that name) the betting favorite, but ti was Frenchman Simon Pagenaud who lifted the milk bottle. It's the only day on the American motorsports calendar when IndyCar reigns and NASCAR must curtsy.

6. INTER MIAMI: OK, so now they're building three stadiums!?: The David Beckham/Jorge Mas team set to debut in Major League Soccer next year is building a new Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale to play the first two seasons while their permanent Miami Freedom Park home is built. Now they've secured land in Overtown for a potential stadium as well -- perhaps a fallback if the Melreese site falls through? This team better be a beautiful baby, because the pregnancy has shall we say not been smooth.

7. UM BASEBALL: Canes disappoint in ACCs, await NCAA fate: Splitting two games in the ACC Tournament, and blowing a five-run lead in the second, wasn't what coach Gino DiMare had in mind for his 16th-ranked Canes. Now Miami awaits its postseason destination in the NCAA Division 1 Selection Show on Monday. Of course UM will get in. The question: Will Miami host a regional?

8. DOLPHINS: Six workdays left before training camp: Miami has remaining OTA practice days May 28-29 and 31 and then a mandatory minicamp June 4-6. Then it's off for a few weeks before the start of full training camp in late July. All of it leading to what is expected to be a dreadful season!

9. SOCCER: Ticket snafu shadows start of Women's World Cup: The quadrennial event kicks off June 7 in France (two of the 24 teams have been training in SoFla), with the defending champion United States playing its first match June 11. But before any of that there's outrage from fans over ticketing. Say you bought four tickets to Game X. Well, they might not be together! I mean, seriously?

10. SOCCER: Liverpool favored in Champions League final: An all-England Champions League final this coming Saturday In Madrid finds Liverpool a solid betting pick over Tottenham. Some of that is Liverpool seeking its sixth European crown and Tottenham its first. More of it is Liverpool with nine wins vs. only one loss (with four draws) in past 14 league matches vs. the Hotspur.

Missing the HB10 cut: Gabreille Union said on late-night TV that Dwyane Wade was surprised to learn a carton of milk didn't cost $20. Welcome to The Real World Of Rich-Guy Retirement, D-Wade! ..... Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard left to be head coach at his alma mater, Michigan ..... Congrats to the Canes' Estela Perez-Somarriba for winning just the second individual national title in women’s tennis in UM history ..... A Bills player is wearing O.J. Simpson's No. 32 for first time since 1976. Begging the question: Why?!? ..... All-NBA teams came out and LeBron James, for the first time, was relegated to third team. Oh the indignity! ..... A 19-year-old top baseball prospect skipped the MLB Draft to sign with Japan. Dear MLB: Pay your draftees more or see a trend ..... It's Finland vs. Canada Sunday in an expected gold medal game in the IIHF men's ice hockey world championships in Slovakia. Four Florida Panthers represented their country and one is skating for gold: Juho Lammikko of Team Finland ..... WNBA's 23rd season is underway. I'll check back in around the Finals ..... Former NFL star Chris Long admitted he regularly smoked marijuana and got away with it. Roger Goodell is looking into retroactive punishment for retirees ..... Several female squash competitors were outraged after they were given sex toys after a tournament in Spain. We're going to leave it at that and move on! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,583 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

IN HONOR OF MEMORIAL DAY AND OUR FALLEN SOLDIERS: I post this same video every year on Memorial Day. "50,000 Names" is a George Jones song released in 2001. It is specifically about the names carved on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial but, more broadly, it is a tribute to all who have given their lives in service in the U.S. Armed Forces. To anyone reading who has lost a loved one, we remember yours and all of our fallen heroes today.

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 01, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins the pitched battle for No. 1 and what else lands where; plus our Florida Derby column, my NCAA bracket (ouch), your verdict on Marlins expectations (ouch again) & more

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

April11) It's MONDAY, APRIL 1. Farewell, March. Welcome, April. Hello, spring! 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): Marlins Opening Week and season-expectations poll, Super Saturday in South Florida, my NCAAA bracket & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our column from Florida Derby: A horse once for sale for $16,000 in a claiming race wins the Florida Derby and a spot in the Kentucky Derby. You needn't be a fan of horse racing to appreciate what happened Saturday at Gulfstream Park. To read my latest column, visit Maximum Security, Maximum Results.

Marlins Opening Week columns: From Opening Day loss: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins. And previewing the season: The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think. (A column that looks a lot better today, at 2-2, than it did at 0-2, by the way).

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. MARCH MADNESS: Men's NCAA tourney down to its Final Four: It'll be Michigan State-Texas Tech and Virginia-Auburn next Saturday in the coveted Final Four in Minneapolis, playing to reach the college basketball championship game. Meanwhile how's your bracket's health? Are you drowning in the pool or still swimming? Is your title-team still alive? Mine (Virginia) is in an otherwise forlorn bracket. It's April Madness!

2. MARLINS: The Marlins win again! The Marlins at .500!: After consecutive losses to open the season, Fish bats woke up with 16 hits in Saturday's 7-3 win and won again Sunday 3-0 to level the four-game series vs. Colorado. A gem start by Sandy Alcantara and a JT Riddle home run were plenty.  Mets are here for three starting Monday, meaning Marlins Park will be unusually populated and you won't be sure by the sound of it who the home team is.

3. HEAT: Playoff shot teetering as 'Last Dance' nears end: Heat are an even 38-38 after Saturday night's win over the awful, Zion Williamson-winning Knicks in Dwyane Wade's last game at Madison Square Garden. Miami is clinging to the 8th and final East playoff spot with six games left in the regular season starting tonight at Boston. Wade is down to two home games left (Wednesday and April 9) unless a playoff series favors us with a D-Wade curtain a call.

4. HORSE RACING: Florida Derby crowns champ at Gulfstream: Maximum Security, off at 6-1 odds, surprised even his own trainer by comfortably winning Saturday's 68th Florida Derby, a major Triple Crown-season prep race. Win earned Max a spot in May's Kentucky Derby, not bad for a horse available 10 weeks ago for a paltry $16,000 in a claiming race. (Read my column from the race here).

5. TENNIS: Two new champions in 1st Miami Open at HRS: Australian Ashley Barty beat Karolina Pliskova on Saturday for the women's title of the Miami Open -- the first held at Hard Rock Stadium after the move from Key Biscayne. It was a low-watt matchup in terms of starpower. Not so in Sunday's men's final, with all-time great Roger Federer easily beating American John Isner, the defending champion, 6-1, 6-4. HRS earned rave reviews as first-time tennis host. Still miss the ambiance of Key Biscayne, though.

6. MOTORSPORTS: Homestead loses NASCAR finale: Major NASCAR schedule changes will see Homestead-Miami Speedway lose the prestigious season-ending championship race to Phoenix beginning in 2020. Homestead will have an early-season March race instead. Too bad. Big loss for South Florida.

7. HURRICANES: Spring football practice nears midpoint: Coach Manny Diaz's Canes are six workdays into their 15-practice offseason schedule. The definition of being a maniacal UM football fan: You passionately care about a Canes practice ... five months before the seasons starts!!  

8. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from playoff race (as usual): For the 20th time in 25 NHL seasons your Florida Panthers will be watching the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV. Cats never recovered from a bad start and stars like Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov didn't have enough help. Three more games, all at home tonight, Thursday and Saturday, end the sad season.

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women ousted one win shy Sweet 16: Great season including a No. 4 NCAA Tournament seed for Katie Meier's UM women, but a deep run in the NCAAs remains elusive for the program. A 57-55 loss to Arizona State meant Canes again fell short of the Sweet 16, an achievement last earned in 1992.

10. NFL: Owners meet, adopt one notable rules change: NFL owners meeting in Arizona mulled 16 possible rule changes for 2019 and approved a handful. The only one of real significance: Making pass interference a reviewable call subject to instant replay -- a major victory for head coaches, who backed it by a 32-0 vote. Coaches say it was needed. Wonder how they'll feel if it's their team hurt by a reversed call? 

Missing the HB10 cut: The Miami Dolphins traded defensive end Robert Quinn to Dallas for a 2020 6th-round pick. Mostly, they traded his way-too-big salary ..... Fins have 25 days until the NFL Draft, meaning 25 days to please not talk themselves out of selecting a quarterback 13th overall ..... Tiger Woods was eliminated from a match-play event after missing a 4-foot putt. Who's he think he is, Greg Cote? ..... Bryce ($430 Million) Harper hitless on Opening Day. BUM!! ..... Lakers are shutting down LeBron James for last six games due to a groin strain, a fitting finish as LeBron's first season in L.A. ends with a groin and groan ..... Greg Schiano resigned as Patriots defensive chief after two months. Is it me, or does everything seem to be shrinking around Belichick and Brady? ..... Um, is Inter Miami's "new Lockhart Stadium" built yet? Started? Tick-tock! ..... Nova Southeastern men's basketball lost 91-81 to Saint Anselm in NCAA Division II quarterfinals. Title dream done, but still big season for coach Jim Crutchfield and the Davie college ..... And in other news, four teams have reached the men's NIT Final Four, and nobody cares ..... Lawyers for Patriots owner Robert Kraft are seeking to prevent a video from being shown in trial related to his being caught at a Florida "spa" in a prostitution sting. Sure, because the video is pretty pointless other than being, you know, EVIDENCE! ..... Rolling Stones postponed their April 20 Miami concert because of Mick Jagger's health issues. So it's true what they say, fans. You can't always get what you want ..... Update: Countdown now 2,638 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

BracketUPDATED: MY NCAA BRACKET ENTERING FINAL FOUR: Men's NCAA Tournament enters is through the Elite Eight and onto the Final Four, and my bracket in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com is down to one team standing. I went 0-for-2 Sunday, needing Kentucky and Duke and getting neither. That dropped me from 59th place to 82nd among 215 players in the show pool. The only bright side: I have Virginia alive and winning it all. Only 10 of the 81 teams ahead of me also have Virginia, so if the Cavaliers cut the net I'll have a chance for a respectable finish. #BigIf.

POLL RESULT: MARLINS EXPECTATIONS ARE REALLY LOW: We asked, "How many games do you predict the 2019 Miami Marlins will win?" Top answer with 59.52 percent was 60-to-69. Then it was 21.43% for 59-or-fewer, 11.90% for 70-to-79, and 7.14% for 80-or-more.

Our other most 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

March 25, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins the fierce fight for No. 1 and what else lands where; plus Heat playoff poll (vote now!), our Beckham's Miami soccer odyssey column, Haiku Challenge news & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 25. Happy 72nd birthday to Elton John. 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. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual March Madness Haiku Challenge announcement, Diaz's re-branding of Canes football, Tannehill's legacy and your verdict on his Dolphins era & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Haiku Challenge update!: Entries closed at noon Friday in our 14th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. Thanks to all who played along! We'll announce the winner here in our blog ON TUESDAY MORNING. Also tomorrow, we'll share how we're doing thus far in our NCAA Tournament bracket. Spoiler alert: It ain't pretty.

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. MARLINS: It's Opening Week for Fish and MLB!: Marlins finished 15-13 as one of the bigger pleasant surprises in baseball as they concluded their spring schedule Sunday vs. St. Louis, with a big team vs. top prospects fun game today. Opening Day is Thursday at Marlins Park vs. Colorado. Might still be a long season for a young, rebuilding team, but March suggests it might also be a team with some fight, and one easy to like.

2. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women gunning for Sweet 16: Miami, a No. 4  seed in the women's NCAA Tournament, won its opener and but lost 57-55 to No. 5 Arizona State on campus Sunday evening -- denying UM its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1992. But for coach Katie Meier, this team and 25-9 season were a big success, especially compared to the men's team's struggles.

3. HEAT: Hot Heat host huge home game Tuesday: Miami and Dwyane "Last Dance" Wade are 36-37 after winning nine of past 12 games and can get to .500 at home Tuesday vs Orlando. Heat hold the 8th and last East playoff spot with nine games left in the regular season, but the Magic is only one game back in 9th. So expect a playoff feel Tuesday. Or desperation, at least.

4. MARCH MADNESS: NCAA tourney reaches Sweet 16 round: The Sweet 16 pairings were completed on Sunday and all four No. 1 seeds advanced -- with Zion Williamson and Duke needing a lucky late bounce to survive UCF. Notable so far in the men's NCAA Tournament: Biggest by-seed upset: 13-UC Irvine beating 4-Kansas State. Biggest controversy: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo berating a freshman player. Biggest disappointment: My bracket.

5. TENNIS: Miami Open suffers two big losses on women's side: The first Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium, after leaving Key Biscayne, suffered a double-hit Saturday when No. 1-ranked Naomi Osaka (loss) and eight-time Miami champ and fan favorite Serena Williams (withdrawal/knee injury) both left the tourney. That's a major disappointment to an event already without injured men's star Rafael Nadal.

6. INTER MIAMI: First two seasons in Broward gets OK: Fort Lauderdale city commission unanimously approved a Jorge Mas/David Beckham plan to build a new Lockhart Stadium at the current site and for Inter Miami to play its first two MLS seasons there while the team's permanent home at the Melreese Miami site. Hmm. Um, that's less than one year to build a $60 million, 18,000-seat "new Lockhart." Chop chop, fellas. Beckham, let me know if you need to borrow my weed wacker!

7. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN: Sharks in Division II quarterfinals: Nova Southeastern basketball has reached the men's NCAA Division II Elite Eight and faces Saint Anselm College of New Hampshire this Wednesday. The Sharks are now three wins from the school's first national championship and first for coach Jim Crutchfield.

8. PANTHERS: Cats on brink of elimination from playoff contention: Florida is 10 points off playoff pace with seven games left in the regular season starting Monday at Toronto -- not officially eliminated yet, but all but. Cats may need to win the last seven games for any shot, and even that may not be enough. Not gonna happen, puckheads.  

9. HURRICANES: Raves for new QB as spring football digs in: Teammates are raving and the media is swooning over new Canes transfer quarterback Tate Martell. Dear Everybody: We are three games into 15 spring practices. It's March. Can he beat Florida -- or at least win the starting job -- before we anoint him?

10. DOLPHINS: Countdown: One month 'til draft!: The NFL Draft is April 25-27 in Nashville, so today begins the one-month countdown. That's one full month of incessant speculation on whom the Dolphins might select 13th overall, on top of the month-plus of honking and blather Your Friend the Media has already put out there.

Missing the HB10 cut: Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he is "truly sorry" for being caught at a Florida "spa" in a prostitution sting. I wonder if this story will have a happy ending. Wait. Too soon? ..... Ouch. UM baseball has lost five in a row and tries to avoid being swept at home today by No. 5-ranked North Carolina State. Honeymoon over, Gino DiMare ..... NFL owners meeting in Arizona this week will include a vote on 16 possible rule changes for 2019. One wild one: An alternative option to the onside kick giving teams a 4th-and-15 play from their own 35-yard line. That's really interesting. So it has no shot of approval ..... ESPN and UFC signed a massive agreement for the Worldwide Leader to champion UFC fights. Sorry, Disney. No interest ..... Angels' Mike Trout signed a record $430 million deal. Should we start a GoFundMe page for poor Bryce Harper? ..... Seattle opened MLB season with two games vs. Oakland in Japan, and Ichiro played and then retired in front of fans who idolize him. That's about as perfect and ending as sports can deliver ..... Florida Derby is next Saturday at Gulfstream, a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown season. So it's almost time to fake interest in horse racing ..... Funniest thing about that college admissions scandal? That we're all shocked that rich people would try to buy advantages for their spoiled-brat kids ..... Update: Countdown now 2,645 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

DwadeWHAT OPPONENT DO HEAT FANS WANT IN THE PLAYOFFS' FIRST ROUND?: Miami holds the No. 8 East seed with 11 games left in the regular season, entering tonight, but the hot Heat -- winners of three straight and eight of past 10 -- still have a plausible shot at the 7th seed or perhaps even the 6th. That's why Miami is in realistic play to face any of the current 1-2-3 seeds. (Indiana or Boston rising to 3rd is possible, but unlikely enough that we don't include them in our poll. The question is which of the 1-2-3 teams you'd most want Miami to end up facing in the first round? Vote based on which team the Heat might have the best chance to win the series against or which series might be the most fun to watch -- your call.

BecksinterNEW COLUMN: INTER MIAMI? INTERIM FORT LAUDERDALE AS BECKHAM'S WILD RIDE TAKES DETOUR: Nothing has been easy (or fast) in David Beckham's six-year odyssey to realize his dream of Major League Soccer in Miami, and the latest example is Inter Miami having to play its first two seasons at a yet-to-be built new Lockhart Stadium at the old site in Fort Lauderdale. That's assuming they can built the new Lockhart stadium in about 10 months, with 2020 preseason games starting in January. And "only" two years in Broward assumes the massive Miami Freedom Park project including the new stadium on the Melreese golf site will be ready by 2022. For my newest column, please visit Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour.

Other most recent columns: Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / The 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.

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.

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Twitter @gregcote