March 21, 2018

Who's next? Which of South Florida's Big 7 teams is closest to being champion? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Miami Open column on Serena loss, latest Back In My Day video (Handwriting!), Hurricanes QBs & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21. We'll be back with our NCAA Bracket updates when the Madness resumes on Thursday. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, my NCAA Bracket update, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner revealed & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

New: Column from Miami Open on today's loss by Serena Williams: To read, click Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company.

Other most recent columns: On Hurricanes' QB battle, state of Dolphins: The most intriguing question in South Florida sports right now is whether Malik Rosier will hold on to the Miami Hurricanes' starting quarterback  job against very tough competition. We have begun to find out as Tuesday opened a month of spring practice under the aegis of third-year coach Mark Richt. I explore the QB situation in my latest column after speaking with Richt just before spring sprang. To read that column click Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation. Our previous column was on the offseason struggles of Miami's pro football team. To read that one click Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

WhoWHO'S UP? WHICH OF OUR BIG SPORTS TEAM WILL BE CHAMPION NEXT?: We like to do this poll every year or two (or when we think of it) as a pulse-read on how South Florida sports fans are feeling about their teams. The presumption behind is that we all might have a favorite team but nobody is a fan of only one sport. Chances are you have at least a casual awareness of even the teams you care about least. Anyway, usually this poll involves only what I call our Big Five teams -- the four main pro teams plus Hurricanes football. This time I've expanded by two,adding Canes men's basketball and David Beckham's Miami Major League Soccer franchise set to kick off in 2020. Vote as honestly as you are able, not for the team you hope wins the next championship, but for the team you genuinely feel is most likely to. Ready? Do it.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': HANDWRITING!: Our latest Back In My Day the gradual extinction of handwriting as now it's all emails and texts. Video includes the rare use of  a prop on the dismount:

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: 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.

Select additional columns: Can Hurricanes Answer The Doubters? / Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? / Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season / Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History / As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Fins Must Find Their Future / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 19, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins mighty battle for No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Match Madness update: My bracket still strong after Bloody Sunday and our Haiku Challenge winner; also, my newest column (Dolphins) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 19. Hope ya'll had a fun and safe St. Patrick's Day weekend! 2) Pleased to meet so many of you recently at the LeBatard Show event at J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood. Great place, great time, great people. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My NCAA Bracket updates, March Madness Haiku Challenge, The List (UM hoops), new Back In My Day video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HaikuWE HAVE A MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE WINNER!: Our blog's 13th annual Haiku Challenge drew a robust 128 entries this year, of which 80 qualified for consideration as proper haikus (17 syllables) and on topic. Our winning entry was from Michael DeFerrari. His haiku: "Winning a bracket / justifies my existence / picks don't fail me now." Judges appreciated the classic 5-7-5 structure, liked the simplicity and allusion to the disproportionate importance placed on winning, and were smitten by the apparent nod to the 1979 Herbie Hancock album and subsequent colloquialism, "Feets don't fail me now." (Michael, email me at gregcote@miamiherald.com and we'll work out a prize). Appreciation as well to honorable mention haikus from Jay Krupa, Trevor @trashmanT, Harrison Gillming, Marshall Aldrich, Garrick Piche, Rob Frye and Ryan Rodenhauser. Thanks to all who played! Haiku!

Latest column: On Dolphins scrambling to make up losses: This has been a rough offseason and free agency for the Miami Dolphins, led by the departures of much starpower in Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry and Mike Pouncey. In my newest column, I pose the three questions that measure the state of the Dolphins. You might not like answers. To read, click Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES / MARCH MADNESS: Miami one and done as Sweet on deck: Your bracket busted yet? Chances are Bloody Sunday did it, with five upsets in eight games. Hurricanes men got bounced in their opener by Loyola-Chicago and UM women were ousted quick by Quinnipiac. The Madness pauses a few days now before resuming Thursday with the Sweet 16. Kansas and Villanova are the only No. 1s left, with Loyola and Syracuse (a play-in team) the double-digit-seed survivors in the Glass Slipper Division.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins busy as NFL free agency underway: Ndamukong Suh followed Jarvis Landry out the door, but Miami bagged two receivers in veteran Danny Amendola (from the Patriots) and young, fleet Albert Wilson. Fins are now talking about signing running back DeMarco Murray. Hmm, like defensive end Robert Quinn, whom they traded for, I'd be more excited about Miami getting Murray if this was, like, 2014. 

3. PANTHERS: Cats hit road as playoff fight intensifies: After Saturday's loss to Edmonton the Cats stand ninth in the jockeying for eight East playoff spots, now five points off pace but with three games in hand. Florida now plays seven of its next eight games on the road in a closing stretch that will likely determine whether the Stanley Cup playoffs invite South Florida or not.

4. HEAT: Miami sits pretty for playoffs, but can they climb?: Heat is a virtual lock to make NBA playoffs with a dozen games left. Only question is whether Miami can climb from 8th place for a more advantageous first-round draw. Fourth place and home-court advantage is only three games away, but it'd take a strong finishing kick starting Monday vs. Denver. 

5. TENNIS: Serena back as Miami Open begins: Not tired of brackets yet, are ya? The women's draw was Sunday and the men's is Monday as the Miami Open gets underway in its final iteration on Key Biscayne before (unfortunately) moving to Hard Rock Stadium in 2019. Simona Halep was seeded No.  1 but the big intrigue on the women's side will be how wild-card entry Serena Williams performs (starting Wednesday) in her first major tournament since maternity leave.

6. MARLINS: Fish say they want to hear from fans: Two-thirds through spring training the Marlins are a surprisingly decent 12-8-2 after Sunday's loss to the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton. Meanwhile, the club has started a "Dimelo Miami" gimmick, dimelo being Spanish for tell me. They want to hear from fans. Uh oh. Be careful what you wish for, Fire-Sale Fish.

7. UM FOOTBALL: Richt's Canes to open spring practice: Mark Richt's Hurricanes aim to restart the momentum when spring practice begins this Tuesday after last year's break-through 10-3 season that included ACC Championship Game and Orange Bowl appearances. Atop the spring watch list: In a quarterback competition flung wide open, Will Malik Rosier reaffirm himself as the starter?

8. SOCCER: Peru-Croatia in Miami for tuneup: I know a lot of Peruvians live in Miami. Not sure if we have a "Little Zagreb" section of town or not. Anyway, plenty of futbol fans will turn out this coming Friday night at The Rock for a World Cup tuneup friendly match. U.S. men sadly didn't qualify, so we take what we can get.

9. CANES BASEBALL: UM avoids being swept at Duke: Hurricanes beat Duke in Durham Sunday, 8-2, to avoid being swept by their ACC rival. Still been an uphill climb overall, though, for Miami, now 9-10, in Jim Morris' final season. If this is a team capable of reaching the College World Series, tick tock fellas, time to start showing it.

10. HORSE RACING: Florida Derby looms into view: Less than two weeks until the March 31 Florida Derby at Gulfstream, one of the last major prep races before the Kentucky Derby opens Triple Crown season. Still waiting for a superhorse and betting darling to emerge and capture imaginations. Maybe Hallandale Beach will be the stage?

Missing the HB10 cut: Once again the NIT is happening, and nobody is really sure why.

Mm ViitaleUPDATED. MY NCAA BRACKET: STILL REALLY SOLID, EVEN AFTER BLOODY SUNDAY
:
 We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and -- hard to believe -- even afgter Bloody Sunday, I stand tied for second place overall. And the leader's championship pick is, while mine (Villanova) is not, so I'm still well in this thing entering the Sweet 16:

Next / Sweet 16 -- After a three-day pause the Madness turns Sweet beginning Thursday. Kansas and Villanova are the only No. 1s left. With UMBC ousted, the designated Cinderellas left are 11-seeds Loyola-Chicago (which slayed Miami) and Syracuse, the latter off a play-in game. 

Day 4 / Round of 32 -- Correct on only three of eight games (37.5%) on a Bloody Sunday in which Cinderella went nuts. There were five by-seed upsets, including No. 1 Xavier falling to Florida State. Alas, one of the games that went according to form saw the UMBC fairy tale end. For the tournament as a whole I have been correct on 36 of 48 games, or 75%. (Updated: More than half of all in my pool, 68 of 131, already have seen their title-pick eliminated, led by Virginia with 22, North Carolina 16, Arizona 11 and Michigan State 10).

Day 3 / Round of 32 -- Correct on seven of eight games (87.5%), another big day, missing only on Loyola's upset of Tennessee. For the tournament overall I have been correct on 33 of 40 games, or 82.5%.

Day 2 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 12 of 16 games (75%), a dip from Day 1 but still not bad. Went two out of three on by-seed upsets, nailing No. 9 Kansas State over No. 8 Creighton and 9-Florida State over 8-Missouri, but missing on 10-Providence over 7-Texas A&M. Our other misses: Like all of you, I didn't see No. 1 Virginia losing in a stunner. Also missed on losses by Arkansas and Wichita State. Overall, survived the Round of 64 with 26 teams still alive, or 81.3%. 

Day 1 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 14 of 16 games (87.5%). Very pleased. That includes two out of three on by-seed upset picks. I was right on No. 11-Loyola over No. 6-Miami (sorry, Canes fans) and 9-Alabama over 8-Virginia Tech. This just didn't feel like the March for Miami to make a run, as I wrote in this column. The upset misfire was 10-Oklahoma over 7-Rhode Island. Our only other miss: 13-Buffalo's bracket-busting stunner over 4-Arizona.

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: 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.

Select additional columns: Can Hurricanes Answer The Doubters? / Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? / Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season / Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History / As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Fins Must Find Their Future / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 12, 2018

Why do damned Dolphins keep giving away their best players!? New column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), can March Madness save the season, Haiku Challenge update & more

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

Gang1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 12. I was pleased to meet so many fans at Saturday night's LeBatard Brothers 'Mas Miami' event at Blackbird Ordinary. Lots of fun, as suggested by the photo at right, in which I am surrounded by Dan LeBatard, his artist brother Dave (Lebo), Zoo Miami's Ron Magill and a lovely, photobombing fan of the show. Y'all are the best. Click on image to see enlarged version. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your verdict on Landry trade, Thrilling Thursday in SoFla sports, intimate portrait of Ichiro & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Why do the damned Dolphins keep giving away their best players?: First Ajayi, then Landry, now Suh. The Dolphins curiously keep parting with their best players. I explore in my newest column. To read, click Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? Also, the ongoing FBI probe into corruption has scandalized this men's college basketball season and shadowed dozens of schools, Miami included. That is why Selection Sunday arrived as medicine for the sport. For that column, click Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season.

HaikuMarch Madness Haiku Challenge advisory!: Our blog's 13th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge is ready to unveil, because other than peanut butter and jelly what goes together better than American college basketball and Japanese short-form poetry! We'll unveil entry details and rules right here on Tuesday morning, so prepare to get creative in 17 syllables for your chance at a (not so) fabulous prize!

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

Hot1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Selection Sunday sets NCAA bracket: Gentlemen (and ladies), start your brackets! Selection Sunday set the field for the men's NCAA Tournament, with the women's field coming Monday. Villanova is the early betting favorite to win it all, followed by Duke and Virginia. The onset of March Madness means you'll spend the next three weeks pretending to work while sneaking peeks at your smartphone for scores and at your bracket for holes. Do like me. Assume your bracket will suck. It makes the eventual disappointment easier to take.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins trade Landry for not much in return: Jay Ajayi, now this. Dolphins keep giving away talent as if talent weren't the whole point. Miami is trading productive but soon-to-be-pricey slot receiver Jarvis Landry, arguably its most popular player, to the Browns in exchange for fourth- and seventh-round draft picks. If this trade were a football score, I think Cleveland just beat the Dolphins around 31-13. 

3. HURRICANES: UM men get No. 6 seed, face Loyola: Canes men were a cinch for selection to the NCAA Tournament, but hardly made their case for a high seed in a one-and-done ACC Tournament performance and lopsided loss to North Carolina. The UM women did better in the ACCs (1-1) and also are sure to make the NCAAs. Question is whether either Miami team can win a couple of games from here and make it interesting. UM men open Thursday vs. Loyola-Chicago in Dallas and are scant 1- to 3-point favorites.

4. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! Hot Cats skating toward playoffs: The crazy-hot Panthers' 4-3 OT win over the Rangers Saturday night marked Florida's franchise-record eighth straight home win and 15th in the past 19 games overall. Cats still are two points off playoff pace but with three games in hand. Bottle the team we've seen the past five or six weeks and this would be a Stanley Cup contender. 

5. HEAT: Can Miami climb to fourth in East?: The deep-bench Heat put eight men in double figures in walloping Washington 129-102 at home Saturday night for a second straight win. Miami remains in seventh place in the East but is only 2 1/2 games from fourth with 15 games to go in regular season. Team has been erratic but finds ways to keep you believing. Meanwhile Dwyane Wade visited Stoneman Douglas High and gotten behind the gun-control fight. Could Miami love this guy any more? 

6. GOLF: Tiger finishes second as comeback accelerates: Tiger Woods finished second Sunday, one shot back, in the PGA Tour stop at Valspar. There's been much debate whether we should regard Tiger as all-the-way "back." Coming close here was a big step. A great Masters in April would be bigger.

7. MARLINS: Booo! Stanton no-show for Marlins-Yankees: Fish are a solid 10-5-1 at the midsection of spring training -- surprising, considering low expectations for the team. (In fact MLB players union boss Tony Clark blasted the club this week for breaking apart a competitive team. Hallelujah. Yes they did!) Marlins beat Yankees 7-5 Sunday but Giancarlo Stanton did not make the trip to Jupiter. Not cool, Mike. Not cool.

8. CANES BASEBALL: Signs of life as ACC play begins: UM still is only 7-8 overall in Jim Morris' final season but showed signs of life by taking two out of three over Notre Dame in Canes' start of ACC play, missing out on a sweep in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader.

9. TENNIS: Miami Open begins next week: The final Miami Open on Key Biscayne (before moving to Hard Rock Stadium) begins next week, running March 19-April 1. Rafael Nadal dropping out was a big blow but otherwise the men and women's field is strong, and includes fan favorite Serena Williams' return from maternity. Serena is so good, you get the feeling she could win the tournament even if she played while nursing.

10. UM FOOTBALL: Richt preparing for spring practice: UM spring practice opens next week, March 20, and all eyes will be on the quarterback position as incumbent Malik Rosier attempts to fend off the competition and keep his job. If the battle is that close, though, chances are the fight will seep into fall.

Missing the HB10 cut: Giants star receiver Odell Beckham could be in trouble after a leaked video showing him in bed with a woman and with lines of white powdery substance visible. Who's he think he is, a Dolphins offensive line coach!?

OUR MOST RECENT COLUMNS:  Our columns from the past week: Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History  /  As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests  /  Don't Shut Up, Get Louder  /  Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: 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.

Select additional columns: Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing  /  Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade  /  Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 05, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A new No. 1 not used to being there, and see what else falls where; plus our APSE-winning columns, Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 5. Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures for 2018, thank you APSE & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Ranking Miami's 2018 Top 25 Sports Figures: I last did one of these in late 2015 and man has a lot changed around here in two-plus years. Does Dwyane Wade hang on to No. 1? Where do newcomers Derek Jeter and David Beckham land? Who's the top Dolphin? You're a click away from those answers and more. For the column and full list, click Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

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

Hot1. PANTHERS: Six straight! Cats surging toward playoff pace: The HB10 doesn't often smile this much on the Panthers, but they've been as good as any team in NHL the past five weeks, winning 13 of the past 16 games including six straight after Sunday's 4-1 win over Philly in a home matinee. Florida is today one only one point off playoff pace but with three games in hand. Cats failed to make a trade-deadline deal, but apparently no help is needed, thanks.

2. HURRICANES: UM men open ACC tourney; women out: Jim Larranaga's Cardiac Canes ended regular season with four straight wins by three points or less to finish 22-8 entering the men's ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. UM opens Thursday night vs. winner of North Carolina  vs. Syracuse or Wake Forest. Meanwhile Katie Meier's Canes women followed a 20-9 season with a 1-1 ACC run, beating Wake Forest then being eliminated by Florida State. Both UM teams should get an NCAA Tournament invite, the men more assuredly.

3. DOLPHINS: Combine, Landry, Quinn fill busy week: With top receiver Jarvis Landry hot on the trading block, Miami dealt a 4th-round draft pick to the Rams for starting-caliber defensive end Robert Quinn. Meantime the NFL Scouting Combine in Indy wrapped up this weekend with coach Adam Gase giving incumbent QB Ryan Tannehill a strong vote of confidence ... and Dolfans left to wonder if that's a good thing.

4. HEAT: Miami gets lift from homestand: Miami hardly seemed a playoff team in that defenseless 131-113 home loss to the Lakers but is 3-1 on this homestand. As Heat hosted its annual Family Fest for fans on Sunday, team had lost nine of its past 12 before beating Detroit here Saturday -- the team chasing Miami for that eighth and last East playoff spot. Heat is erratic but it appears depth will earn a postseason ticket.

5. MARLINS: Hot spring so far for Fish: Little is expected this season of the Fire-Sale Fish, but they're 6-3-1 this spring entering Monday. I know. It's meaningless. A mirage. A dream. Still, um, can we start the playoffs right now!? 

6. HORSE RACING: Big upset in Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream:  Quite a spring for the Hallandale Beach track. The Pegasus World Cup just ran and the Florida Derby is coming; now, Sunday brought the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race highlighted by 7-5 betting pick Good Magic. Alas, 18-1 longshot Promises Fulfilled led wire to wire to cast the Derby picture into unfocused confusion.

7. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Six days 'til Selection Sunday: Brackets ready? March Madness will be upon us in six days, after this week's conference tournament results dole out automatic bids and let the bubble teams make their case.

8. ALY RAISMAN: Olympic gymnast sues over Nassar scandal: Gold-medalist Aly Raisman is suing the U.S. Olympics Committee and USA Gymnastics over the Dr. Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. Right on! This will settle, because there's no way those two shamed groups will want to endure further shame in open court. 

9. SOCCER: MLS in Miami, yes, but where still in doubt: Major League Soccer's 23rd season began this week. Miami will have an expansion team in the 25th. But where will team's permanent home be? Overtown as assumed? A larger site in Doral? Somewhere else? If David Beckham doesn't even know, we sure can't.

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes face rival FIU, begin ACC play this week: Slow-starting UM is 5-6 after two straight wins, but the season gets interesting starting this week. Wednesday the Canes visit rival FIU, then host Notre Dame in a series launching the ACC schedule. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Well, [bleep], I made the national Top 10 in column writing from the Associated Press Sports Editors this week, a pretty big deal in the sports journalism biz, and if Greg Cote can't brag in his own damned blog, where can he  brag!? ..... When do the Winter Olympics start? In South Korea, right? ..... Jerry Jones vs. Roger Goodell. Any way they can both lose? ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "New manager Dave Martinez had a trio of camels brought to Nationals spring training to help players get over franchise playoff hump" ..... And another: "J.R. Smith threw soup at a Cavaliers assistant coach." What a terrible waste of soup! ..... Keep doing what you're doing, Stoneman Douglas survivors and other students. Show us the way. The world is watching.

ICYMI: OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: These were the five submitted 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors:

March 1: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing.

April 22: Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose.

May 15: NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering.

July 24: What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer.

October 1: With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional recent columns: For One Night: Magic City  /  Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking? And our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing. Also: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Others: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameThe Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 03, 2018

Ranking Miami/SoFla's Top 25 Sports Figures in 2018. New column!; plus thank you, APSE: 3 ways I'm grateful, and 1 reason it doesn't matter; also, Magic City for one night & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 3. Happy to be done with sad February. Welcome, new month! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): This is week Dolphins must find their future, latest Back In My Day video (Uber!) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeRANKING MIAMI/SOFLA'S 2018 TOP 25 SPORTS FIGURES: I last did one of these in late 2015 and man has a lot changed around here in two-plus years. Does Dwyane Wade hang on to No. 1? Where do newcomers Derek Jeter and David Beckham land? Who's the top Dolphin? You're a click away from all of those answers and many more. For the column and full list, click Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

Our most recent other columns:  For One Night: Magic City  /  Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking? And our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

THANK YOU, APSE: THREE WAYS I'M GRATEFUL, AND ONE REASON IT DOESN'T MATTER: Yesterday the Associated Press Sports Editors completed its annual contest judging, and look who turned up as Top 10 in column writing. Yep, me. The five columns the Miami Herald entered for me are listed below. I'd like to tell you three reasons why I'm honored by this, and one reason why it doesn't matter:

Apse(*) I'm honored because the APSE awards are to written sports journalism what the Oscars are to actors. It's national. It's the big prize. And in my case, the Miami Herald is in the major-outlet category (over-175,000 circulation), and so our competition is the likes of the New York Times, Boston Globe, USA Today, L.A. Times and ESPN.com. It was me against the giants, so it pleases me to be placed in their company. (By the way, I laughed out loud the first time I saw on Twitter that, in my case, some joked that they thought "over 175,000" was an age category. Funny!).

(*) I'm honored because variety is the thing I like most about my job. I have been a beat writer who covers the same team every day, and, for me, it got boring. Column writing presents me a blank palette, more freedom to roam. I go for variety in my subject matter, and so it was very pleasing to me that of the five 2017 columns chosen by my boss to enter in the contest, none were standard Dolphins/Heat/UM football fare. All were off the beaten path to a degree.

(*) And I'm honored because the columns of mine that got me in the top 10 offer a little bit of a lesson, I think, for the evolving newspaper business, which, in its increasing and understandable emphasis on the digital product over the print product, is increasingly obsessed with writing only stuff that generates a lot of online "clicks," and eliminating subject matter that does not. I think most of my five winning columns were probably not click monsters, but resonated very much with those who did read them. Sometimes, that still needs to be enough.

(*) Now, why it doesn't matter is because of the capriciousness of contests and judging, the randomness of it. I have always believed that about writing awards; now I can say it without it sounding like sour grapes. There is no validation here. I have had better years and better columns, but got lucky that these five happened to resonate with enough judges who liked them. Hundreds of sports writers who've never been handed a plaque are doing good work every year, every day. Keep it up, brothers and sisters, because it's always about readers, not judges.

Thanks to all of our readers, listeners, followers, clickers and thinkers -- especially those loyal long-timers. Now here are the five 2017 columns that happened to win for me:

March 1: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing.

April 22: Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose.

May 15: NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering.

July 24: What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer.

October 1: With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameThe Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 29, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A surprise No. 1, and see what else falls where; plus my Pegasus World Cup column, our Wondrous Weekend, Marlins reboot has a face now & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 29. The Dolfans in your life don't know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Yelich but get Brinson, Hoffman 5th (sort of) Marlin in Hall, appreciation of Brady/Patriots run, your will/want Super Bowl verdicts & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GerouxLatest column: On the $16 Million Pegasus at Gulfstream: Variety is a favorite part of my job, and leaving the comfort zone for different columns. My latest is one. Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus. Pictured is the winning jockey I write about, and the father he recently lost. Other most recent columns: The Upside Of a Fire Sale (on Lewis Brinson becoming the face of the Marlins' reboot). Appreciating Wayne Huizenga. And When Victims Seize The Power (on the Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics trial).

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

Hot1. SOCCER: Finally! Miami MLS team becomes official: It took four years, wrangling over a stadium site, changing financial backers and machete’ing through political red tape, but David Beckham at last is set to announce today/Monday that a Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami is officially a reality. All along, of course, that’s been the goooooaaaaalllll!!!

2. MARLINS: Fish continue fire sale, deal Yelich: Now all but a minor-league team, the Marlins continued their fire sale reboot by trading Christian Yelich to Brewers. The good news? They got an elite prospect in return in CF Lewis Brinson, who played at Coral Springs High. He said he was thrilled to be a Marlin, which alone distinguishes him from the vast majority.

3. HORSE RACING: Gun Runner wins Pegasus at Gulfstream: Eleven horses including favorite and winner Gun Runner ran Saturday in Hallandale for a $16 million purse in second annual Pegasus World Cup, the globe’s richest horse race — a purse more than triple the combined payout of Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Mamas, do let your babies grow up to be jockeys. (Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus for my column from the race).

4. NFL: Pro Bowl begins countdown to Super Bowl: Pro Bowl was Sunday in Orlando, the all-star game every player wants to be chosen for but nobody really wants to play in, and few fans care about watching. Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry played as AFC won 24-23. It began the seven-day countdown to next Sunday's Big Event: TV commercials vying to see which is best in a competition unfortunately interrupted by a football game.

5. HEAT: All-Star snub slights Miami: Heat had lost four of past six before Saturday's win over Charlotte but hang onto fourth place in the conference as they embark on a four-game roadie. Miami is the first top-four Eastern Conference team in 25 years to not have a player in NBA All-Star Game. It’s one more reason we know who the team’s real star is. It’s Erik Spoelstra.

6. TENNIS: Federer, Wozniacki win Aussie titles: It was Roger Federer over Marin Cilic for the men's crown and his 20th major Sunday at the Australian Open after Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday made the year's first major her first Grand Slam title by beating Simona Halep. Those were either the tournament's four best players, or the only four to survive the searing heat.

7. NHL: Barkov reps Cats in All-Star game: With Sasha Barkov as Florida's lone player in it, the 63rd NHL All-Star Game skated Sunday evening in Tampa. It was again the 3-on-3 tournament format introduced in 2016, with teams repping the four divisions playing in semifinals to reach the main game. No, it could not be any more confusing.

8. RUNNING: Miami Marathon happened while you slept: More than 20,000 runners competed Sunday in the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon, which began at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m. You've never heard of the winners, so what's the point of saying them? Once again I meant to compete, but an utter lack of interest and ambition got in the way.

9. SENIOR BOWL: Dolphins there scouting for draft: It was North vs. South on Saturday in Mobile, AL, with Canes Braxton Berrios and Michael Badgley among participants. Dolphins were among NFL teams scouting the annual all-star game with April's NFL Draft in mind. Um, Baker Mayfield, anyone? 

10. LARRY NASSAR: USA Gymnastics doctor will die in jail: USA Gymnastics predator/doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually molesting dozens of girls and women under the guise of treatment. People who feel sorry for him will be meeting in that phone booth over there. Plenty of room left.

Missing the HB10 cut: Former Marlins president David Samson is running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days beginning Tuesday in a continuing effort to get as far from Jeffrey Loria as he possibly can ..... Canes men's basketball, 5-5 since a 10-0 start, fell at Florida State Saturday. So that return to the Top 25 continues on indefinite hold ..... The XFL, one and done in 2001, is being brought back for a 2020 startup by WWE boss Vince McMahon. But it won't be gimmicky this time. Said the man who runs pro wrestling (!) ..... If sports gambling is legalized, the NBA wants in on the profits. Or what? Refuse to play? ..... The Marlins' expanded protective netting is expected to prevent injuries. Unfortunately, it will not prevent losses ..... He won't come close to winning, but at Torrey Pines in California Tiger Woods made a PGA Tour cut for the first time since 2015 to begin his 743rd attempted comeback from back issues ..... Answer: The Packers rehired Joe Philbin as offensive coordinator. Question: Why do people get the idea Green Bay is in decline? ..... It was Celtics-Warriors Saturday in a possible NBA Finals preview, Golden State winning 109-105. Needed a Boston win to at least pretend Warriors might be fallible ..... Countdown: 12 days 'til the Winter Olympics. Curling! Skeleton!
 

WE DECLARE IT A WONDROUS WEEKEND TO BE A SPORTS FAN IN SOUTH FLORIDA!: Periodically we declare a special day or weekend to be a sports fan in South Florida, and this is 

Senior bowl Pegasus Marathon Probowl Nhl asgone. The chronology of why: Saturday we had the Senior Bowl from Mobile, AL, featuring Hurricanes WR Braxton Berrios and PK Michael Badgley. UM men's basketball played at Florida State. The $16 million Pegasus World Cup ran at Gulfstream, with Gun Runner winning. The Heat hosted and beat Charlotte. (And it was Boston-Golden State in a possible NBA Finals preview). On Sunday, the Miami Marathon got running before you awakened, at 5:45 a.m. The NFL Pro Bowl is at 3 in Orlando, including Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry. And the NHL All-Star Game is at 6 in Tampa, with Sasha Barkov repping the Florida Panthers. And that's not to mention Australian Open tennis' championship weekend.  Yes, I am fully aware that the five big events whose logos are pictured here (and maybe tennis, too) are likely of very little interest to many of you. Hey, quit being so picky! Enjoy!

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 06, 2018

Last day to vote! What was Miami/South Florida's biggest sports story of 2017? Annual poll. Our 18 finalists, you pick top 6. Vote now; plus your biggest-national-story verdict, our NFL playoff picks & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 6. A happy birthday to Dolphins icon Don Shula, who turned 88 Thursday. Here's to many more! 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual national-sports-story-of-the year poll, final SOPY standings, latest Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Mae Riback & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2017?We had it easy in 2016 with three stories that clearly stood out above the rest, although two made us sad. You voted the Miami17tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest story of the year, followed by the Dolphins ending their eight-year playoff drought and then Dwyane Wade leaving the Heat. Nothing else was close. But is anything as clear-cut for for 2017? We'll see. And you'll decide. Previously we asked you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (with results below). Now we invite you to select the 2017 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from a randomly presented top 18 of my choosing. You may vote for your top six (6). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. OK. Ready? Vote!

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

Deciphering a 6-vote poll: A six-vote poll means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent if every participant voted the max six times. Any vote above 16.67 means some voted only for that story. Multiply the percents above times six for an idea how often that story is being included on the consensus top-six ballot.

NFL player protests voted biggest 2017 national story: We asked what was the biggest national sports story of 2017, gave you The Associated Press Top 10 in jumbled order, and allowed you to vote for your top three. That means the highest vote total possible would be 33.3 percent if every participant used all three votes. Triple the percentages below for an idea how often that story was included in the consensus of top threes. Your results:

1. NFL player protests over social justice draws critics led by President Trump--20.14

2. Astros win 1st World Series to lift city devastated by Hurricane Harvey--19.72

3. Patriots, in year of Tom Brady suspension, stage record rally to win Super Bowl--14.31

The rest: U.S., Italy fail to qualify for men's World Cup--12.21%; Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather--9.03%; Clemson rally beats Alabama for college football title--8.06%; College basketball investigated by FBI over recruiting corruption--5.69%; Golden State led by Kevin Durant wins NBA Finals--4.17%; USA Gymnastics rocked by sex-abuse scandal involving team doctor--3.75%; Russia banned from upcoming Winter Olympics over doping--2.92%.

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

Twitter @gregcote