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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 27, 2019

The evolution of sports into big business and Miami's role. New column; plus Heat young players are chopped liver, says ESPN; also, struggling Heat, Kraft arrest, AAF, 'Greg Cote Monday' ESPN podcast & more

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

Bhm1) It's WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27. I co-hosted LeBatard Show a day earlier than usual this week on ESPN Radio. Visit Greg Cote Monday for the best-of podcast. 2) Black History Month is February. It was first celebrated at Kent State University in 1970 and was officially recognized nationally in 1976. We spent hours one weekend wandering the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis a couple of  years ago. An irreplaceable trove. Well worth your time and effort! 3) Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10. Le Batard TV show premiere with Riley, Zion Williams Shoegate & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

THE TOP 50 'BREAKTHROUGH MOMENTS' IN SPORTS-BUSINESS HISTORY: A new book, The Sports Business Handbook, says it's been around 50 years since we began to understand that "sports Thedecision Williamsbusiness" was about more than games and results -- that it also was about deal-making and law and business and marketing and administration in what has become a trillion-dollar industry. "Fifty years ago was around the first time people really started focusing on those off-field things," said author Rick Horrow. "Before that if it wasn't in a box score, it wasn't reported or talked about." The Miami Beach-born Horrow, who hand a hand in shepherding the original Miami Arena into fruition back in the day, includes in the book a chronological list of the top 50 "breakthrough moments" in sports business. I write of this in my latest column; please visit The Evolution Of Sports Into Big Business to read. Two of those beyond-sports moments mentioned have strong South Florida ties: the emergence of the Williams sisters Serena and Venus in tennis, and LeBron James' 'The Decision' that brought his talents to South Beach and the Heat. (I found it interesting that the first and most recent moments listed both were about social justice involving the national anthem: the raised fists on the medal stand during the 1968 Mexico Olympics, and Colin Kaepernick kneeling. Horrow's book has spawned a "symposium tour" that begins Thursday at Harvard University. A stop in Miami  is expected this summer. The book is out next week, and available now at mascot books.com.

Our other most recent columns: Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done / Zion Should Say See-Ya Duke and Shut It Down / Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye / Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' RebuildStain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed / He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too / Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins.

WinadeESPN UNDER-25 LIST SNUBS HEAT: ESPN today tossed out a list of top 25 NBA players under 25. Greak Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo is on top, the usual suspects follow, and the whole list is here, based on a mix of right now and "future potential." Next Superstar Rankings, they call it. What jumped out at me, Mr. Miami, was the absence of any love for any Heat player. The list is a by a panel of three experts with 25 votes each. That's 75 votes, total. Number given to any Heat player: Zero. I thought either or both of the two legit candidates, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo (pictured right), might at least have been tossed the crumb of a No. 24 vote something. Nada! (Josh Richardson just missed the poll's kiddie pool at age 26, if you wondered). It's one more gloomy indication that Miami is a team without a current (in-his-prime) superstar and also apparently a team without a future superstar on the roster, at least so says ESPN.

WHAT'S RIDICULOUS IN SPORTS: A quick Tuesday three-pack...

Spo(*) Heat losing at home to Phoenix -- If Miami misses the NBA playoffs, last night's loss will be presented as Exhibit A. Rock bottom. Zero excuse available for a 124-121 home loss to a league-worst Suns team that had lost 17 in a row coming in, and is blatantly tanking for Zion Williamson. Great games by Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk, wasted. Miami has now lost six home games in a row, once unheard of. The season is turning depressing for Miami, although at least Dwyane Wade's long farewell lends an emotional heft and a reason to keep watching.

Kraft(*) Arrest of Robert Kraft -- So the Patriots owner is caught up in a police prostitution sting out of a happy ending massage parlor "day spa" in Jupiter. There are real criminals in this case. They are whomever is involved in the alleged human sex trafficking that may be in play here. Arrest them and throw 'em in jail. But clients unaware of any trafficking who simply went there for what they thought was private enjoyment? Cops have better stuff to do. If a restaurant is selling stolen steaks, you arrest the owner buying them, not the diners.

Aaf(*) Alliance of American Football -- The new spring AAF just finished its third weekend and already it has had to be bailed out financially and seen a coach quit. Ratings have dived after initial curiosity made Week 1 numbers encouraging. The whole venture is just one network's content initiative, and it's stumbling early. The question: Will the AAF even survive to welcome a rebooted XFL as competition a year from now? "LOL," says a grinning NFL.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 28, 2019

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

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 28. Football is at its crescendo and so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cooperstown polls on Bonds/Clemens/A-Rod/Rose, your verdict on Super Bowl want-to-win/will-win & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's Super Bowl Week in America!: It's L.A. Rams and New England Patriots in the buildup to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta next Sunday, and the Saints stuck back in New Orleans, and the NFL building a super-sized asterisk to attach to this game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2019

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

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23. Football is at its crescendo and so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Championship Game picks, analyzing Hurricanes' soft 2019 football schedule & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

Other most recent columns: This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's a Rams-Patriots Super Bowl!: Rams upset Saints joust for the NFC crown and then Patriots upset Chiefs for the AFC title in conference championship games Sunday. Would have/should have been a Two Old G.O.A.T.s Super Bowl -- Tom Brady, 41, vs. Drew Brees, 40 -- but an official's missed call screwed New Orleans. Home teams had won 10 straight conference championship games before both home teams lost Sunday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2019

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

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from yesterday's Le Batard Show. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Divisional-Round Playoff Picks & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

Our other most recent columns: Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need. Also: From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

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

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Will new OC from 'Bama mean Jalen Hurts, too?: Hmm, well this is interesting! Manny Diaz hires Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos to be the Canes' new offensive coordinator, and now it seems the Tide's transfer-minded QB Jalen Hurts may follow. As two-for-one package deals go, that's a goody!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,717 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 27, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus the good, bad and ugly of Fins' 3rd preseason loss; also, fantasy football poll, 4-Man Outfield, Fins in fantasy Top 300, The List, your Stanton verdict & more

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

Mccain1) It's Monday, August 27. R.I.P., John McCain, the war hero, great statesman and independent thinker who passed away last evening at age 81 from brain cancer. 2) Football's back so it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Stanton back in Miami with poll, me back from vacation, Herald endorses alien-abduction survivor, Canes' recycled uniforms, R.I.P. Aretha & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday and updated-Monday feature -- back for the first time since August 5 after three weeks' vacation -- is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Countdown 6 days until UM football season opener: It's No. 8 Miami vs. No. 25 LSU next Sunday in prime time on ABC in a neutral-site season opener in Arlington, Texas and the only football game in the nation that day. Canes' most anticipated season in years has a chance to be special but starts with a major challenge. This ain't no soft opening, folks.

2. DOLPHINS: Tannehill sharp again but Fins fall to 0-3 in preseason: Miami played its starters much of the game Saturday night at The Rock. Ravens did not. Baltimore won, 27-10, dropping Miami to 0-3 in fake games. The good news? Comeback-strong Ryan Tannehill is a sharp 29-for-39 this preseason for 247 yards, one TD and zero picks. 

3. HEAT: Wade, Haslem re-signing with Miami seems nearly certain: Isn't official yet, or announced, but you'd probably be safe to bet on Heat legend Dwyane Wade and franchise lifer Udonis Haslem, both free agents, each signing again with Miami. Welcome back, fellas.

4. MARLINS: Miami ends its Braves jinx: Rebuilding Marlins had lost nine in a row to Atlanta before winning two straight prior to Sunday's series-ending loss up there. Now it's two straight at Fenway against the best team in baseball. Fish are fighting to avoid a 100-loss season. Current pace: 65-97.

5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: And we're underway!: Week 1 of Division 1A college football began Saturday night with four minor games. There are three opening-week Top 25 matchups. Beside Miami-LSU, they are No. 14  Michigan at 12-Notre Dame next Saturday, and 20-Virginia  Tech at 19-FSU a week from Monday. 

6. FIU: Davis' second season launches in 5 days: FIU Panthers begin second season under Butch Davis this coming Saturday at home vs. Indiana (and three weeks later face the Hurricanes). Can Cats build on success of last year's 8-5 record?

7. FAU: Kiffin 2.0 opens with brutal opening test: Colorful, attention-getting Lane Kiffin's second season with the FAU Owls begins this coming Saturday with a bang (and very likely a loss) at No. 7 Oklahoma. Owls ended last season 11-3 with 10 straight wins, so Kiffin is the King of Boca Raton until further notice.

8. TENNIS: French Open tells Serena how to dress: The French Open instituted a new dress code pretty much specifically designed to prevent Serena Williams from again wearing her skin-tight "cat suit." Some saw it as an affront to women's right. Um, let's save our outrage for causes that are actually important, shall we?

9.YOUTH BASEBALL: LLWS crown decided Sunday: Hawaii defeated South Korea on Sunday ("U-S-A! U-S-A!") for the Little League World Championship title. From what I've seen of some of these "kids," let's check those birth certificates, OK?

10. GOLF: Another week with Tiger not winning: The PGA Tour's Northern Trust in New Jersey wrapped up Sunday and somebody won but it wasn't Tiger Woods.

Missing the HB10 cut: A Los Angeles restaurant jokingly presented Astros pitcher Justin Verlander a $1 million lunch bill after he beat the Dodgers. Um, what'd be the 15 percent tip on that? ..... Jemele Hill and ESPN are parting ways. Meaning she can now criticize Donald Trump without fear of admonishment or suspension ..... Update. Countdown now 2,857 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

BaldolPS3: BALTIMORE 27, DOLPHINS 10: A FEW POSITIVE SIGNS AMID OVERALL BLIGHT: Ryan Tannehill (11-for-16, 115 yards, 110.2 rating) looked sharp -- again -- including a 75-yard TD drive finished by a Danny Amendola catch last night. But there isn't a lot else good to say about a 27-10 loss to Baltimore and an 0-3 fake-game record -- especially because, while Miami treated the game as a dress rehearsal, the Raven sat most of their key players. Overall the Dolphins were dominated in possession time, allowed 223 hyards rushing, had eight penalties, were 2-for-12 on third down conversions, and the backup QB stunk again. Oh, and the offensive line gave up five sacks. We thought last night would be true gauge, with both teams playing starters and trying to win. We wrote so here: Unveiling: The Dolphins Are About To Be Revealed. Instead the Dolphins tried harder to win, making the result all the more jarring. Perfect snapshot of the night: Fins linebacker Kiko Alonso getting lost and running toward the Ravens sideline before sheepishly being turned around, embarrassed, and making the long trek across the field to his own sideline. Kiko and his team. Befuddled. And without much time left to discover answers. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL POLL: WHO'S YOUR NO. 1 OVERALL PICK?: My two fantasy league drafts are almost here. Yours probably are, too. IN the poll below are the top 10 projected players, via ESPN.com, based on a PPR league, with the list alphabetical, not by ranking. Vote who among these top 10 would be your No. 1 pick. Click here for ESPN's complete top 300. To save you time, Dolphins making the list are: RB Kenyan Drake (42nd), WR DeVante Parker (94th), WR Kenny Stills (102nd), WR Danny Amendola (112th), RB Frank Gore (206th), QB Ryan Tannehill (220th), WR Albert Wilson (225th), TE Mike Gesicki (247th) and RB Kalen Ballage (277th). I thik Amendola would be my first pick among Dolphins receivers. And I like Tannehill as a backup. Anyway, who's No. 1 overall? Vote now!

POLL RESULT: WE'D HAVE CHEERED A HOMER BY YANKS' STANTON: We asked, "Should Miami fans have cheered if the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton hit his 300th career home run here this week at Marlins Park?" And the vote was 

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

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

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .906  116 463 89 143   67  27-4-23     .309

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .879  129  505 84 141   82  27-1-32    .279

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .728  123 484  52 133   69  13-2-16     .275

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

THE LIST: UNBEATEN AND WINLESS DOLPHINS PRESEASONS: With Miami now 0-3 in the preseason, we were curious how rare that unbeaten and winless preseasons (including no ties) have been in the Dolphins' 52 seasons -- and how that correlated to that year's regular season record. Well, there have been a total of only eight, and there is a correlation to season success:

UNBEATEN (5x)

Year (Record)        Coach/QB                Regular season

1976 (6-0)             Shula/Griese            6-8, no playoffs  

1979 (4-0)             Shula/Griese            10-6, won division, 0-1 playoffs

1981 (4-0)             Shula/Woodley         11-4-1, won division, 0-1 playoffs 

1998 (4-0)             Johnson/Marino       10-6, 2nd in division, 1-1 playoffs

2009 (4-0)             Sparano/Henne        7-9, no playoffs

WINLESSS (3x)

Year (Record)        Coach/QB                Regular season

1966 (0-4)             Wilson/Wilson Jr.     3-11, no playoffs

1989 (0-4)             Shula/Marino           8-8, no playoffs

2012 (0-4)             Philbin/Tannehill     7-9, no playoffs

Note: QB refers to most regular season games started that year. 

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 16, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who won week's pitched battle for No. 1 (surprise!) and what else lands where; plus Viva La France!, MLS Miami vs. Melreese (my column, your poll verdict), 4-Man Outfield (final first half) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 16. Thanks again to Ari Odzer and NBC6 for featuring us in this David Beckham/soccer report. Enjoyed it. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS Miami soccer vs. Melreese golf drama and poll, Heat's interest in Carmelo Anthony, World Cup semifinals, Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

BeckhamDOS COLUMNAS EN BECKHAM/MLS MIAMI: We had two columns last week on the Beckham/Mas group's continuing bid to build a stadium in Miami for their Major League Soccer expansion team. The most recent: Beckham Group's New Theme Song: It Don't Come Easy, following Thursday night's postponement of a vote whether to allow the stadium referendum on the November ballot. (David Beckham and Jorge Mas are pictured at that meeting of the Miami City Commission). And prior: Let The Voters Decide, exhorting commissioners to approve the referendum. (We also had a blogpoll on this matter. Results are below).

Other recent columnsWhy 'Melo To Miami Would Be Strange MarriageLeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth ApplaudingLeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-OnMLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDDATED): 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: Major Wednesday vote to steer MLS Miami future: David Beckham and Jorge Mas will have one last shot Wednesday to convince the Miami City Commission to place the Miami Freedom Park/soccer stadium item on the November ballot. Even if voters then approved it for the Melreese golf sight, the city would have to green-light the project. Beckham's stardom and Mas' billions vs. a bunch of golf moms hardly seems fair, but Beckham/Mas aren't out of it yet.

2. WORLD CUP: Viva La France! Viva La France!: France defeated Croatia 4-2 today in Russia for the 2018 World Cup championship, after Belgium beat England 2-nil Saturday in the Game Nobody Wants, a.k.a the third-place match. As a totally impartial journalist, I was wearing a jaunty beret and shouting "Viva la France!" today vs. the dirty, shoving Croatians who thugged their way past the Brits in the semifinals thanks to a cowardly referee afraid of yellow cards. 

3. MLB: Home Run Derby, All-Star Game on deck: All-Star Week festivities rolled out Sunday at Nationals Park in D.C. with the Futures Game and all-star softball. Tonight comes the Home Run Derby, albeit a low-watt version compared to last year's sizzler at Marlins Park. (When the star sluggers pass -- talking to you, Aaron Judge -- baseball is stuck with what the NBA's Slam-Dunk Contest has become). Then Tuesday is the 89th All-Star Game, featuring Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and a bunch of other guys.

4. HEAT: Miami woos Carmelo Anthony: Miami reportedly is pursuing likely soon-to-be-free agent Carmelo Anthony, which sounds exciting until you remind yourself he's a 34-year-old defensive liability with fitness issues coming off the worst shooting season of his career. The good news? Most seem to think he'll sign with Houston. In other news, the Heat's youthful Summer League team finished 4-4 with Saturday's loss to Boston.

5. TENNIS: Joko's wild on Championship Weekend at Wimbledon:  In Sunday's men's final Novak Djokovic dispatched little-known Kevin Anderson, who may have been too tired to lift a racket after he beat American John Isner in a grueling 26-24 fifth set semifinal. It was Djokovic's fourth Wimbledon crown and first major title in just over two years. Angelique Kerber beat Serena Williams in straight sets in Saturday's women's finale. So, to summarize, within a few days, Serena was denied a record-tying 24th career major and missed her baby's first steps.

6. DOLPHINS: Finally! Training camp is upon us!: Fins rookies report this Wednesday and veterans report a week later, with the first full-squad practice scheduled for July 26. Then we begin to see on the field who's right: A confident team convinced it is playoff-bound. Or a skeptical national media that thinks a 6-10 team has had a tough offseason and is headed for more woe. Meantime the team may move its training camp to the main stadium site beginning in 2020.

7. MARLINS: Fish slide into break with strong first-half finish: Offering up a positive spin as the Fire-Sale Fish closed the first half of the schedule Sunday here vs. the Phillies with a rally-win on an 8-run fifth inning: After starting 20-39 Miami went 21-18, five teams have worse records at the break, and the Marlins are now on pace to lose only (!) 94 games. The slow ascent from abysmal to mediocre has seldom felt better!

8. SOCCER: Ronaldo changing uniforms: Portugese star Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the greatest active player on Earth (sorry, Messi), is taking his club-team talents from Real Madrid to Juventus on a crazy $117 million transfer fee. Juventus will pay Ronaldo $140 million over four seasons. (Um, they do realize h's 33 ... right?)

9. GOLF: Brkitish Open begins this week: Golf's next major begins this Thursday at Carnoustie. This is once again where we chew over whether Tiger Woods is finally "back" and ready to at last win his first major in 10 years, raising the volume when he shoots a solid early round, only to concede by the weekend it ain't-a gonna happen.

10. BIG3 BASKETBALL: BIG3 coming to Miami this week: Eager to see a  bunch of guys who retired from the NBA because they got too old or too slow but then decided to squeeze out that last ounce of octane in the tank? We got you covered! BIG3 basketball comes to the downtown Heat arena with four games this coming Friday night. This is where the joke goes about the Gatorade pail being filled with Geritol.

Missing the HB10 cut: John Cynn, 33, of Indianapolis, beat a field of 7,874 dreamers to win the $8.8 million grand prize in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys, but do put a deck of cards in the crib ..... Manny Pacquiao continued to not go away by knocking out WBA welterweight champ Lucas Matthysse last night ..... It's Miami Swim Week, where a bunch of models wearing almost nothing parade around. Wait, it isn't that every week in Miami? ..... The 26th ESPY Awards are this Wednesday night in L.A. Because there just are not nearly enough awards shows! ..... The Tour de France was a lot more interesting when every stage featured PED suspensions and spent needles all over the course ..... Update. Countdown now 2,899 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup ..... Thank goodness all 13 were safely rescued from that flooded Thai cave. Currently trapped even deeper in a flooded cave but with no hope of rescue: Papa John's stock.

POLL RESULT: MOST FAVOR MELREESE SITE FOR MLS SOCCER: We asked, "What best reflects your thought on the use of city-owned land near Miami International Airport?" Three choices were offered. Your verdict: 50.17 percent voted "Build Miami Freedom Park and the new MLS soccer stadium there"; 27.27% voted "Keep Melreese golf course there as it has been since 1961': and 22.56% voted "Let Miami voters decide with a ballot referendum in November."

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

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

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .864   94  371  58 103   55  18-1-23     .278

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .823   82  318  60  93   43  16-2-11     .292

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .693   90 351  38  94   49   9-1-10      .268

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 09, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 02, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Hotbutton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote