February 26, 2020

Good things come in 3's: Jeter arrives, the 3rd of our Marlins spring columns; plus L3GACY Celebration: Dwayne Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson in Love; also, me planking on TV & more

1) It's TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25. Hot Button Top 10 was off this past week. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, my Disco Cruise vacation & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

DjeterDEREK JETER AT CAMP: MARLINS 'LAYERED WITH TALENT,' READY TO  MAKE A MOVE: Derek Jeter is this kind of guy. On a casual walk Monday at the Miami Marlins’ spring training facility, he asks how I’m doing, and without giving it a thought I say, "Couldn’t be better." He smiles, clasps me on the shoulder and and says, "Oh, you can always be better." Think of athletes whose careers are synonymous with success, with winning, and you would be hard-pressed to nominate a better one than Jeter. His 20 New York Yankees seasons included 17 postseason appearances (13 in a row), seven World Series and five championships. His two seasons presiding over and part-owning the Marlins have produced records of 63-98 and 57-105 with two last-place finishes. His Yankees career could hardly have been better. His Marlins era might finally be heading in that direction. It is time to turn a corner. Nobody knows it better than Jeter as the franchise begins Year 3 of the regime of majority owner Bruce Sherman and Jeter. "I think we’re in a lot better shape as an organization now than when we took over," Jeter said Monday, in his first spring training appearance of the budding season. "We should be a lot better this year than last year. We have a lot more talent. We have an organization that’s layered with talent." To read our full latest column, please visit Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent.'

DwadeAS HEAT RETIRE JERSEY, WADE PROVES ALL-STAR PARENT WITH EMBRACE OF LGBTQ COMMUNITY: The Miami Heat’s "L3GACY Celebration," the three-day tribute to retired franchise icon Dwyane Wade, finds something different now about Wade. His legacy has changed. It has grown, and in a way even he could not have Dwadeimagined. Fate challenged Wade and his family to show who they are, and what they showed was love, unequivocal love. What they showed was the potential to influence thinking, soften prejudices and foment understanding — to remind us how much bigger than basketball the real world is. Wade had a baby boy he named Zion. Today that baby boy is a 12-year-old who identifies as she/her and is called Zaya. (Wade is pictrued with Zaya -- then still known as Zion -- on the court last April following his final Heat home game). No amount of fame or wealth — and Wade and actress wife Gabrielle Union have lots of both — guarantees how a couple will handle such a thing. But the Wades provide a masterclass in parenting here, not with mere "tolerance," a buzzword for the lowest form of begrudging acceptance, but with a warm and open embrace of their child’s journey, and, by extension, that of everyone in the LGBTQ community. It began when the child got home and told her folks, "Hey so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward, I’m ready to live my truth." As the Heat retire Wade's No. 3 jersey Saturday night, this is the story of how a transgender daughter and her family's response brought out the best in everyone. To read our full recent column in full, kindly visit Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love.

YpuigWHY AREN'T MARLINS GOING AFTER YASIEL PUIG? HERE'S WHY: "Why aren’t the Marlins going after Yasiel Puig?" It is not unreasonable to wonder. In fact it might even be asked with a tone of incredulity. The question has probably been on the minds of Miami fans who care enough about baseball to know Puig (pictured) is the most prominent still-available free agent as spring training unfurls. Puig-to-Miami makes sense in a couple of undeniable ways. The Marlins have made an expressed effort to add offensive production to a 105-loss team that scored the second-fewest runs in all of MLB in 2019 and — in a season of record-setting longball — finished dead last in home runs. Puig, for all that is mercurial about him, is a career .277 hitter who has clubbed 28, 23 and 24 homers the past three years and who had a career-high 84 RBI last season. By any standards he is an above average hitter. By Marlins standards he’d a star — especially in this market, where the native of Cienfuegos, Cuba who defected in 2012 might be an especially popular signing. And, having just turned 29, Puig is in his prime, while his protracted availability suggests the price may be right. The Marlins’ roster would only be enhanced by adding Puig. But it won’t happen. And why it won’t happen underlines the fundamental difference between the regime of immensely unpopular former owner Jeffrey Loria and the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter hierarchy beginning its third season. To read my full recent column, please visit Why Marlins Aren't Pursuing Puig All About Change In Ownership.

BshermanMARLINS OWNER, MANAGER TURN UP PRESSURE ON TEAM TO MAKE BIG LEAP: The optimism surrounding the Miami Marlins’ start of spring training is quite sharply spoken. "A lot more talent [than last year] — upper level talent," as president of baseball operations Michael Hill put it Monday. But quantifying that optimism is a tougher ask. Trying to get a handle on Marlins expectations is where the expertly crafted vagueness comes in. "We’re not putting limitations on what we can do," said Hill, as if a jinx might be in play. Marlins CEO and part owner Derek Jeter famously says, "I don’t put a time frame on it," meaning any idea at all when the club’s ground-floor rebuild might bear tangible fruit. But majority owner Bruce Sherman (pictured) on Monday at least had the nerve to say, "The time now is to be much better this year." And manager Don Mattingly refreshingly placed some pressure on his team — and on himself. "I kept coming back to, ‘It’s time,’" said Mattingly. "Time to kind of get this thing up the hill. We’re going to be disappointed if we don’t make significant strides. We’ve got to raise or expectations." I was up in Jupiter for this week's opening of full spring training and launch of Year 3 of the Sherman/Jeter era. To read that column, please visit Pressure On Marlins for Big Improvement Now -- and It's About Time.

GREG COTE, PLANKING: This was o Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. I planked for 2 minutes 30 seconds. I did at it again for even longer. Everybody seems impressed. I don't know why.

Our other most recent columns: It's Time For Anonymous Lone Voter Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward / Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala / Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football / Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place / And our two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90.

Other select recent columns: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami and Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His. Also: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever / How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City' / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Author of 'Fins At 50,' available on Amazon. Regular co-host on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 20, 2020

Miami Super Bowl set! It's 49ers-Chiefs!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, decision that changed Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's life (column), new John Anderson song (video) & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 20. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill tops NFL final four from Miami perspective, Clemson favored in 2020, NFL Divisional Round picks, new Ozzy/Elton song & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksNFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PLAYOFFS: PEREFECT. WE RODE CHIEFS, NINERS: Update: We were a perfect 2-0 straight-up and 2-0 against the spread on Sunday, with both winners  covering. Original post: Miami awaits. The two-week runup to the February 2 Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium begins this Sunday when the two teams are determined in the AFC and NFC Championship Games. The Cinderella in this final four is discarded Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill trying to lead Tennessee to its first SB appearance in 20 years — in his old stadium. But everybody packs a tale to tell. It has been 50 years (!) since Kansas City’s last Super Bowl appearance and win, and Andy Reid has coached more playoff games (27) than anyone to never win it all. Aaron Rodgers is after his elusive second career championship after Green Bay last reigned in 2010. And San Francisco last appeared in an SB in 2012 — but hasn’t won one since 1994. Of this final four, only K.C. made the playoffs last year, and the NFL is assured a new Super Bowl champ for the 15th season in a row. Two games. Win and you’re in. And Miami awaits. To see who'll get here, visit Will Tannehill Make It? Our AFC, NFC Championship Picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 19-20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature (back after a one-week hiatus) 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. NFL: It's 49ers-Chiefs in Miami Super Bowl: Chiefs rallied to overwhelm Titans and 49ers comfortably handled Packers on Sunday -- winners take all to reach Miami and the Super Bowl. Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers were seen as the odd men out and were, with a Kansas City-San Francisco matchup the betting favorite all along. Miami awaited. Fate did its thing.

2. MLB: Sign-stealing scandal rocks Astros, sees 3 managers fired: The Astros fired the manager and GM who'd been suspended for a year by MLB. The Red Sox dumped Alex Cora and the Mets and Carlos Beltran parted. Baseball, if you're serious about stopping sign-stealing, here's your statement: The Astros' 2017 World Series championship is vacated.

3. HEAT: Miami completes excellent first half of season: Heat were 29-12 at the midpoint of the NBA season, second in the East and with a league-best home record (18-1) and seven players averaging in double-figure scoring led by Jimmy Butler's 20.3, before falling in San Antonio Sunday. With Bucks a near-certain No. 1 seed, Miami looks strong to earn playoff home court as season's second half begins.

4. JIMMY JOHNSON: Canes champ, ex-Fins coach makes Canton: Jimmy Johnson made Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2020 class, selected by a blue-ribbon panel as part of NFL 100 celebration. Toasting you with a raised Heineken, J.J! Now here's hoping a guy you draft in Miami, Zach Thomas, a finalist, finally gets in too when players are announced just before the Super Bowl. 

5. INTER MIAMI: New MLS team has first draft, opens camp Monday: New coach Diego Alonso and Inter Miami drafted Clemson forward Robbie Robinson No. 1 overall in recent MLS Draft. Miami opens training camp Monday at Barry University, working toward its inaugural season opener on March 1. Still hoping David Beckham dons a kit, but not holding our breath.

6. DOLPHINS: Miami loses defensive chief to Giants: Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham jilted the Fins for a lateral move to the New York Giants. Hmm. Didn't Miami finish 30th for most yards allowed this season and 32nd (dead-worst) for most points given up? Hey, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Pat!

7. NBA: Top pick Zion Williamson to make NBA debut -- finally!: The New Orleans Pelicans say overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson, who has spent all season thus far recovering from a knee injury, will finally make his debut this Wednesday at home vs. San Antonio. Equipment guy, please make sure he doesn't wear the exploding sneaker again.

8. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as All-Star break nears: Florida is 26-21 off four straight wins after Saturday's W at Detroit, with two other games left before a schedule pause for the Jan. 25 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. Cats are now right on the edge of playoff pace in an uber-competitive Eastern Conference.

9. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic favorites as Australia Open begins: Against the backdrop of the country's brushfires catastrophe, the 108th Australian Open,the year's first major, opens with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic the betting picks. Serena looks (again) to tie Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major singles titles.

10. HURRICANES: UM basketball isn't bad ... except vs. good teams: Miami's men's and women's basketball teams, both slumping, have proven solid vs. lesser foes and lousy against good teams. The Canes women are 0-5 vs. ranked opponents, and the men are now 0-4 after Saturday's heartbreak of an OT home loss to No. 9 FSU, with a Tuesday game at No. 3 Duke on deck.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes AD Blake James confirmed that Alonzo Highsmith would not be joining football program in "chief of staff" role advising coach Manny Diaz. Not knowing if he'd have been any good at it, Canes fans nonetheless were outraged in their disappointment after premature, misleading media reports suggested he'd be joining UM ..... Wow. Collegiate Baseball ranks the Hurricanes No. 3 in its preseason baseball poll. No pressure or anything, Gino DiMare! ..... Conor McGregor beat up on some guy in a cowoy hat last night in UFC 246 ..... A former player has sued alleging that Penn State -- of all schools -- and coach James Franklin ignored sexual-based hazing that including older players threatening "to Sandusky" younger guys ... Will the last Tigers player leaving national champion LSU for the NFL Draft please turn out the light? ..... The Winter X Games are this week, and nobody cares ..... Can somebody get Antonio Brown some help, please? Seriously ..... Next weekend, Saturday's Senior Bowl battles Sunday's Pro Bowl to see which football game the fewest Americans will watch ..... Ice Cube's BIG3 basketball league has lowered its minimum age requirement, surprising analysts who were unaware the BIG3 basketball league still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,345 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

JjHALL OF FAMER JIMMY JOHNSON'S BIGGEST VICTORY WAS KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT -- AND WHY: Twenty years earlier, to the day, Jimmy Johnson quit the NFL in despair, at a low point in his life. He retired from coaching and never looked back. It ended for him on January 15, 2000, on a football field in Jacksonville, his Miami Dolphins eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in a 62-7 humiliation. That wasn’t the worst of it. The recent death of his mother had hit him hard, hit him soul-deep, made him rethink everything. One of his two sons was struggling with alcohol addiction. It felt like his life was getting away from him. Wayne Huizenga, then the Dolphins owner, desperately tried to convince Johnson to stay — even offering to let him be a part-time head coach who handled the draft and worked only home games — but Johnson had to get out. "I needed to spend time with my family, and it paid dividends," the former coach was saying Wednesday, 20 years later, from his home 90 minutes south of Miami in the Upper Keys. "My two sons, we’re as close now as we’ve ever been. I am happier than I’ve ever been. Retiring from coaching — it saved my family." Sunday night, the NFL told Johnson he had done enough. He got out early because he felt he had to. But he had done enough. To read our full column on Johnson being welcomed into Canton, please visit Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why.

Other most recent columns: America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! Also: Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

NEW JOHN ANDERSON SONG/VIDEO : 'YEARS': Careful readers may know I'm a longtime fan of country singer John Anderson, who has one of the most distinctive voices in all of music. Well, he has a new album coming out that was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, a fan of his. This likely will be the first single, a reflective, wistful song about aging, in which a 65-year-old (let's be honest) fading star reflects on a bountiful career and life:

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 15, 2020

Lots of Miami-centric Super Bowl possibilities in NFL's final four. But only one gives America (and South Florida) a rooting interest. Our new column; plus Clemson anointed for 2020 despite loss, hear the new Ozzy/Elton song here & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dan Enos Cup for  Miami's biggest disappointment, Dream Ticket Tua and Tom for Dolphins?, our Wild Card Weekend ignominy, new Back In My Day video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

NFL FINAL FOUR: LOTS OF MIAMI-CENTRIC SUPER OWL STORIES -- BUT ONLY ONE REALLY MATTERS: It’s nothing personal, Kansas City, so please don’t take it that way, Chiefs fans. But would you please lose? I know y’all haven’t been in a Super Bowl since the 1969 season, so being one win away is a little bit of a feel-good story and all that. No matter. K.C. winning the AFC championship would deny host city Miami the most intriguing Super Bowl possibility left in the NFL’s final four playoff teams. The Dolphins haven’t been in a Super Bowl since 1984, so Miami Tannyhosting the game without tasting it can be bittersweet, a cruel tease. So here we are, again, sifting through the Chiefs-Titans and 49ers-Packers semifinal matchups to find what is — or should be — of most interest in this final four to South Florida fans: No. 1--Ryan Tannhill, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Tannehill: The story is so far-fetched you dare not make it up, but then it actually happens -- this is why we love sports in all its unscripted glory. And the fall and rise of Tannehill is the best thing going right now. Yes, I know. Tennessee rides on the back of running beast Derrick Henry and stout defense more than on Tannehill’s arm. Nevertheless, the Titans season pivoted sharply when Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota as starting quarterback in Week 7. It is why the team is this far. Tannehill led the NFL in passer rating, and if he doesn’t get some MVP votes, call the cops. Now Tannehill is one win from playing in a Miami Super Bowl in the same stadium where for seven seasons he tried and failed to make the Dolphins winners. It was unfathomable as he began the season traded and demoted, sitting as Mariota’s backup. Tannehill of course didn’t fail here nearly as much as the Dolphins failed him by never doing what the Titans did in surrounding him with enough talent. Tannehill returning to Miami and maybe raising the Lombardi Trophy in the Dolphins’ backyard would simply be one of the great redemption tales in sports history — and one every Dolfan with a heart should be rooting for. So get out the way, Chiefs! No. 2--The Hall haul: The 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class to be revealed just before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 has a distinct local flavor. Sunday night we saw the emotional reaction live on Fox TV as it was announced Jimmy Johnson, former Hurricanes and Dolphins coach, had so deservedly made it to Canton, Ohio. I have not covered a man who took a loss harder, or who ultimately figured out how, when and why to quit coaching, before it ate him all up. Well done, J.J. Finalists who still could make it include longtime Dolphins stalwart linebacker Zach Thomas, former Hurricanes star running back Edgerrin James and receiver Reggie Wayne, and Fort Lauderdale-born/Dillard High receiver Isaac Bruce. Best of luck to all, but let it be Zach’s time. He has shouldered the weight of the wait. No. 3--The Bosa/Kumerow connection: Defensive end John Bosa was the Dolphins’ No. 1 draft choice in 1987 and DE Eric Kumerow was the top pick the next year. They were brothers-in-law. They were not great NFL players. Oh but the bloodlines were good! Now both of their sons are playing in the final four. For more local ties and the full column, please visit America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please!

TrevorDESPITE LOSS TO LSU, CLEMSON ANOINTED FAVORITE FOR 2020: Ed Orgeron is still rasping his way through victory speeches for his LSU TIgers after last night's convincing win for the CFP national title, but it is vanquished Clemson seen as the favorite for the 2020 season. Caesars Sportsbook has Clemson 2-1 to win it all, Alabama 4-1, Ohio State 7-1, LSU 9-2 , Georgia 10-1 and Florida 15-1. Sportsbetting.ag's Heisman odds have Clesmon QB Trevor Lawernce (pictured) the trophy fave at 7-2, just ahead of Ohio State's Justin Fields at 4-1.

PicksNFL DIVISIONAL ROUND PLAYOFFS: OUR PICKS, RESULTS: Update: We were 3-1 overall on our Divisional Round picks (missed Titans beating Ravens, like the rest of America), but only 1-3 against the spread (Chiefs' rout of Texans our only get). Here's how cruel the ATS gods can be: Packers were favored by four. I said they'd win by three. They won by five. A miss. The good news from the weekend: Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill are one win from reaching the Miami Super Bowl in his old stadium. Delicioso. Yes, please! ..... Original post: Road teams won three of four games last week on Wild Card Weekend as the road to the Miami Super Bowl began. Do not expect a repeat of that in the Divisional Round on Saturday and Sunday as eight teams winnow down to the final four. The home teams -- the four top seeds, all off byes -- are favored by a combined 31 points. Will the odds hold up? No upsets in store? Hint: I think the two NFC games will be a lot more competitive and upset-likely than the two AFC games. For all four of our Divisional Round picks, please visit the motherlode of prognostication I like to call NFL Divisional Round Gems.

Other most recent columns: Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports and Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? Also: Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

OZZY AND ELTON: WHAT MORE NEED BE SAID?: Old friends and rock warriors Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John collaborate on the title track from Ozzy's forthcoming new album, Ordinary Man, out February 21. I'm prejudiced as a fan of both, but the song, a mid-tempo, is lush and quite epic. From the backing harmonies to the closing chords, there is a Beatle-esque feeling. Listen. You're welcome.

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 09, 2020

Dan Enos Cup: Our nominees for biggest current disappointment in Miami sports. Latest column; plus Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa both Dolphins in 2020? Column; also, a new 'Back In My Day' video & more

1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 9. One last chance to visit Herald 2019 Final NFL QB Rankings for the wrapup of our 22nd year of NFL passer ratings. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect (late) holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NFL Wild Card Weekend, Dolphins All-Decade Team, The List, happy birthday Don Shula & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Dis4IT'S THE DAN ENOS CUP. GOES TO MIAMI SPORTS' BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT. AND THE NOMINEES ARE...: So one year ago this week the Miami Hurricanes hire Dan Enos as their new offensive coordinator, and he arrives with the perfume of Alabama excellence and the papal-like blessing of having worked under Nick Saban. Canes fans are understandably thrilled. Manny Diaz would soon say flatly, "The best recruit we signed was Dan Enos." Not quite one year later, after a 6-7 season that ended with a stupefying shutout loss to Louisiana Tech (!) in a third-tier bowl game, Enos’ firing was announced in a terse one-sentence release. The sentence might as well have been, "Don’t let the door hit you on the way out." We need an annual Disappointment of the Year award in South Florida sports. The trophy would be called the Dan Enos Cup. The cup, in this case, would be half empty, of course. Here, we present our inaugural nominees. A few pictured clockwise from upper left are the Dolphins' Kalen Ballage, Heat's Dion Waiters, UM's Cup namesake Enos, and the Panthers' Sergei Bobrovsky. For my full latest column, please visit Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports.

TuatomDREAM TICKET: TOM BRADY, TUA TAGOVAILOA BOTH DOLPHINS IN 2020?: What becomes of an aging G.O.A.T? The question insisted itself suddenly upon America as Tom Brady hurried off New England’s home field in playoff defeat and disappeared into free agency. Had he just played his final game as a Patriot? His final game, period? The possibilities for Brady’s future are many, and deliciously unknowable today. He could retire and somehow scrape by on supermodel/wife Gisele Bundchen’s millions as he awaited his call from Canton, Ohio. He could enter the open market (officially becoming a free agent on March 18) as teams in need of a pricey 42-year-old QB -- assuming there were any -- lined up in a bidding war. Hey, what about the Dolphins!? They need an upgrade, and Brady is better than Ryan Fitzpatrick in every measurable category except beard-growing. The idea of Brady as a one- or two-season luxury bridge to a QB Miami might draft and groom in 2020 does have some merit. Tua Tagovailoa on Monday officially declared for the upcoming NFL Draft as expected but is rehabbing from a serious hip injury. Scenario: Miami selects Tagovailao No. 5 overall and he learns under Brady in ‘20. (They are pictured). Betting odds say it isn't even that far-fetched. Likely? Of course. But worth a flight of fancy. For the full recent column, please visit Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020?

Other most recent columns: Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team. Also: On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

PicksOY! WE GOT SHUT OUT ON WILD CARD WEEKEND: Big losers in the first round of the NFL playoffs: Bills, Patriots, Saints and Eagles, who all lost and were eliminated ... and me. I went 0-4 straight-up on Wild Card Weekend and also 0-4 against the spread. I got Brickered, a phrase in dishonor of a former Sun-Sentinel football writer named Charles Bricker, who once infamously went 0-14 one week against the spread, a near impossibility. For me, even 0-4 was a first. Better be a last. We'll be looking for twins 4-0s this week!

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': GIFT WRAPPING!: Weighed in with a new Back In My Day yesterday on ESPN Radio on my first 2020 appearance on the Le Batard Show. Enjoy:

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

September 27, 2019

New! Our NFL Week 4 picks are in!; plus Dolfans' escape from this season to the glory days, and why epic-bad Fins might still be better-positioned than Canes for major turnaround; also, NFL Week 3 Pix 'n Fantasy results & more

1) It's FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 27. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall in Dallas with DSM poll, Canes eke past Central Michigan with CSM poll, Hot Button Top & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Latest Herald NFL Week 3 QB Rankings: One man is running away with this thing as we enter Week 4. Visit Herald Week 3 NFL QB Rankings to find out who.

PicksNEW! OUR NFL WEEK 4 PICKS ARE IN!: Off our record-setting 2018 season and a hot Week 3 in our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, here are our new Week 4 selections. Will the Dolphins finally cover a spread by staying (reasonably) close against the Chargers on Sunday? Find out that, our Game of the Week, our upset picks and all the rest by visiting Week 4 Gems now. Our picks appear online Thursday afternoons every week, and Fridays in print. (Our Thursday Night Football pick appears Wednesdays online and Thursdays in print). Beginning this week subscribers get an early look at our Week 4 picks, ahead of non-subscribers. So sign in or sign up! Our week got off to a rocky start Thursday night with a misfire on Eagles-Packers. The Green Bay defense let us down majorly. It's OK. Sally forth!

CAN HISTORYMIAMI MUSEUM'S FOOTBALL CELEBRATION HELP US FORGET TODAY'S DOLPHINS?: The Miami Dolphins are having a season most fans would rather forget. The rebuilding team has lost its first three games by scores of 59-10, 43-0 and 31-6. It is historic ineptitude. The worst start in the franchise’s 54 seasons. So what better time to escape to Hismiabetter days! To relive old glories. To snuggle into the past, when Don Shula still roamed the sideline, Dan Marino snapped passes and Jason Taylor was sacking the other quarterback. You won’t find any of that at Hard Rock Stadium these days. But you will find it in Miami. HistoryMiami Museum is celebrating 100 years of the NFL, with a big nod to the halcyon days of the hometown Dolphins, in a major new exhibit called "Gridiron Glory: The Best Of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame." It opens this Saturday, Sept. 28 and runs through Feb. 9, closing one week after the Super Bowl that Miami is hosting. Tickets are $8 to $10. To purchase tickets visit the museum at 101 W. Flagler Street in downtown Miami, or online at historymiami.org. For our full story including what you'll see in the 8,000-square-foot exhibit, visit Dolfans, Here Is Your Escape To The Glory Days.

Flores DiazDOLPHINS ARE EPIC-BAD --  BUT STILL MIGHT BE BETTER-POSITIONED THAN CANES. LATEST COLUMN: What we have here with Miami football in 2019 is not unprecedented, but very rare. I wondered when was the last time the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes had simultaneously stumbled into their seasons like this — the Fins 0-3 and UM 2-2. Turns out this is only the fourth such occurrence in 54 combined years. It happened in 2011, the season that got Tony Sparano fired and welcomed Al Golden to town. Other than that it only happened in 1966 and ‘69, when the pre-Don Shula Dolphins of George Wilson had the excuse of being an expansion team and the Canes were spinning wheels with Charlie Tate. A half century later, welcome to your dream jobs, rookie head coaches Brian Flores and Manny Diaz! No honeymoons for you. Just hard times, fast. That is the intro to my latest column, in which I explore the state of the Fins and Canes and posit why currently woeful Dolphins may be better-positioned than UM over the next few years to be nationally relevant again. [Diaz and Flores are pictured, left to right]. To read the full column kindly visit Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes.

Kaepernick, other most recent columns: Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame. Also: Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / and It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy.

Picks LoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 3: NFL picks--Strong. Went 12-4 overall and 10-5-1 against the spread -- numbers I'll take any week, thank you. That included bull's-eyeing our Upset of the Week pick with Giants winning at Buccaneers, and another outright upset with Jaguars beating Titans. LeBatard Show fantasy--Yes again! Greg's Lobos, now 2-1, defeated Guillermo (a.k.a Billy) by 144-128 -- our score the highest for the week of the league's 16 teams. Rodee the Mike Evans train for 45 and also got 34 from Patrick Mahomes and a big 23 from Shady McCoy. Friends n' family fantasy--No! Lobos dropped to 1-2 with a tough 103-100 loss to Christopher. That, despite Deshaun Watson and Dalvin Cook giving me 51 combined. Worse, I just lost Saquon Barkley for a big chunk of season.

Other select recent columns: The Dolphins aren't awful. They're worse than that / Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 16, 2019

Why Canes took bold gamble with Jarren Williams at QB. New column; plus Trump fundraiser causing major fallout for Dolphins' owner Ross, latest 'Back In My Day' video (Fake Candles!) & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, AUGUST 16. Back from our glorious vacation! Nine days in New Mexico, Arizona and California. More on that to come, inevitably. 2) Look for the return of the Hot Button Top 10 this coming Sunday after a two-week hiatus. 3) It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): I'm outta here! Off on vacation & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

WHY CANES TOOK THE BOLD (BUT SMART) GAMBLE ON JARREN WILLIAMS AT QB: Manny Diaz said the other day that the biggest signing in his first months as Miami Hurricanes head coach Jwmswas not a player, not anybody who would be in uniform on the football field. "The best recruit we signed was Dan Enos," he said. We saw why this week as UM stunned most folks by awarding its starting quarterback job to Jarren Williams (pictured). It was a reminder of the essential importance of a head coach having a lieutenant who can be relied upon to lend an experienced, trusted voice. The Hurricanes’ offense was mired in the bog of bad quarterbacking last season in the combination of Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry. A strong defense was wasted in the 7-6 season. Yet the highly recruited Williams was invisible at a time when his spark might have turned a season around. He couldn’t get in a game. (Well, OK, he got in one. Played garbage time against cupcake Savannah State, going 1 for 3 for 17 yards). Why? Because then-coach Mark Richt was too busy waffling between Rosier and Perry to notice Williams’ talent or grow it. And Richt had nobody on his staff to either champion Williams or tell the head coach he was wrong to not give him a shot. Richt’s quarterback coach last season? His oldest son, Jon. The missteps at quarterback that collapsed the 2018 season led to Richt’s abrupt resignation, Diaz’s return to The U from a brief few weeks at Temple — and to Enos. Diaz’s first major decision upon his return to UM was to understand he’s a rookie head coach versed in defense, and needed to hit big on the offensive coordinator. Plenty of coaches’ egos wouldn’t allow that concession. Enos was hired off Nick Saban’s Alabama staff, where he ran the offense, coached the QBs and helped developed Tua Tagovailoa (the Dolphins’ dream get in 2020) and Jalen Hurts. That is hitting big. And that is why Williams will be the Canes’ starting quarterback in the Aug. 24 opener vs. rival Florida in Orlando — even though Williams was not the easiest, safest, most experienced or most expected choice. I explain how and why that came to be in my latest column. To read, kindly visit Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QB

RosstrumpDOLPHINS' ROSS GAMBLED HE COULD HAVE IT BOTH WAYS -- AND LOST BIG: Those of us with lighter wallets can only imagine that when one is wealthy enough to have it all, that luxury might come with a sense of entitlement. Of expecting to have it both ways, all ways, any way the billionaire desires. Doesn’t always work that way, of course, as Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross is being reminded. Ross’ net worth is estimated at $7.7 billion, but he doesn’t have enough money to buy his way out of this controversy of his own design, this distraction his football team hardly needs as it prepares for the NFL season. You still say sports and politics don’t mix? Ross just mixed them, and with combustible results. OK, that's the intro to my recent back-from vacation column, on Ross hosting a fundraiser for Donald Trump's re-election campaign, and the resulting fallout. (The two buddies are pictured). The fallout Ross is enduring includes calls for boycotts of his businesses, criticism from Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, and public disappointment within his own Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE). To read the full column, kindly visit Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser.

Previous most recent columns: Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / Analyzing QB Battles for Hurricanes, Dolphins, and Why These Players Will Win / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': FAKE CANDLES!: This premiered on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio, to rather rave reviews, I must say...:

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 22, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 this week and what else falls where; plus our latest columns, Greg Cote Day countdown, 'Redesigning Women' video & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 22. It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Le Batard rebukes Trump and ESPN, 4 reasons Heat has had winning offseason, people keep saying the Dolphins are awful, why 2019 may be best sports year ever, Greg Cote Day countdown, Back In My Day video, The List & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Gcday 5Greg Cote Day countdown: 5 days: We began a 10-day countdown to Greg Cote Day on Saturday, July 27 at Hammond Stadium, home of the minor-league Fort Myers Miracle, and it's now five days to go. (Always said that for me to have a Greg Cote Day would take a Miracle, so I was right). I'll be meeting fans, throwing out the first pitch, singing the national anthem and playing left field. All but one of those four things is actually true. Will I see you there? It's just a couple of hours west of South Florida. Tickets are going fast. Well, I don't really know if they are or not. But they might be! In any case click HERE for the link to buy yours.

Le Batard, Heat, Dolphins and 2019: My most recent columns: Check out my past week's work: Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / and Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Football. Football. FOOTBALL!! Training camp is here: King Sport returns! Preseason training camp is on deck for the Fins as rookies reported to the Davie training facility Sunday, veterans report on Wednesday, and the first full-squad practice is Thursday. The Dolphins are supposed to be lousy this season. All of the media "experts" say so. No matter. In July, Miami is tied for the best record in the NFL at 0-0.

2. GOLF: Lowry wins hometown British Open: Northern Ireland's little known Shane Lowry -- closer to journeyman than star, at least before this week -- carried a big 4-shot lead into Sunday's final round of the British Open being held in his home country for the first time since 1951. He won going away, by six. Much of the air went out of the major, for me, when both native son Rory McIlroy (the betting favorite) and Tiger Woods failed to make the cut. But Lowry winning for his country was sweet consolation.

3. BASEBALL: Cooperstown welcomes 6 new inductees: The Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday welcomed its six latest inductees: Closers Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith; designated hitters Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines; and starters Mike Mussina and the late Roy Halladay. Rivera is a no-brainer, of course. Baines? He was headed to the Hall of Pretty Good and somehow got smuggled into Cooperstown.

4. MARLINS: Fish can't seem to shake 100-loss pace: Brian Anderson's double gave Miami its first walkoff win of the season to end a 3-3 homestand, but Marlins have started 0-3 on a six-game road swing. Fish were swept by Dodgers Sunday and now play three at White Sox before heading home. Current pace: 60-102.

5. HEAT: Might Beal give Miami one last summer splash?: No Russell Westbrook? No problem. Pat Riley worked some magic in a four-team trade to get Jimmy Butler, and might not be done yet as speculation swirls that Riles may be seeking a trade with Washington to acquire rising star Bradley Beal (and if, necessary, injured John Wall as a package deal). Give the Heat this. Miami has been a player in what was supposed to be a dead summer for the club.

6. HURRICANES: Diaz leads UM at ACC Media Days: Coach Manny Diaz, linebacker Shaq Quarterman and receiver K.J. Osborn repped The U at ACC Media Days. They'd have brought a starting quarterback but they don't have one yet. Clemson rules the ACC, but Canes are seen as a strong contender to win the Coastal Division.

7. DAN LE BATARD: Radio hosts blasts Trump, ESPN: Le Batard went on an impassioned four-minute rant against those "send her back" chants at a Trump rally, calling them "un-American," and calling "cowardly" his own network's policy against political talk on the air. The equation: Dan's principles > threat of suspension. 

8. SOCCER: International Champions Cup underway: The creation of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is in midst of seventh edition of its tournament, its 12 teams including giants like Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Real Madrid. No matches in Miami this time, alas. However, Hard Rock Stadium has a Barcelona-Napoli La Liga match coming up August 7. You better be here, Messi!  

9. BOXING: Ageless Pacquiao defies time, wins again: Filipino hero Manny Pacquiao, 40, handed unbeaten Keith Thurman his first career loss in a split decision Saturday night in Vegas to claim the WBA welterweight title. The downside: Could create momentum for yet another Pacquiao-Mayweather bout.

10. CYCLING: Will French drought finally end in Tour de France?: Two-thirds through cycling's biggest race, it is beginning to look like Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe could be the man to finally end France's 34-year drought of no homegrown. Thus exhausts all of my knowledge on the subject. Quick aside: Why do regular people riding bikes dress like they're in the Tour de France? Just so you know, motorists are making fun of you.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sierra Canyon High School outside of L.A. just added a 5-star transfer recruit to a basketball roster already including  the teenage sons of Dwyane Wade (Zaire) and LeBron James (Bronny). Can we just cancel the season and hand them the trophy, please? ..... Hossein Ensan, a 55-year-old German, beat 8,568 other competitors to win the $10 million first-place prize in the 2019 World Series of Poker main event in Vegas. Mamas, put a deck of cards in Junior's crib. No chips, though. Choking hazard! ..... The eight-team 2019 season of World TeamTennis is underway, for those of you who, like me, were under the assumption the WTT had stopped being a thing, like, 30 years ago ..... All of the top U.S. World Cup stars are back with their club teams in the National Women's Soccer League. Another phrase for this is, "Falling off the face of the Earth" ..... MLB trade deadline is July 31. Marlins need bats. But not as much as they to not trade top prospects ..... The FINA World Aquatics Championships are underway in South Korea. I'll see you there! ..... The Rugby Championship is underway to determine best team in Southern Hemisphere. New Zealand and Australia are always up there ..... BIG3 basketball continues, and America continue to not care ..... That reminds me. The WNBA All-Star Game is coming up ..... Update: Countdown now 2,527 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

MEET THE HIGHWOMEN: This is the country supergroup fronted by Maren Morris and Brandi Carlile, and I love everything I've heard from them so far, including this first single, "Redesigning Women," from their forthcoming debut album. Love the music, the smart lyrics, but as much as that I love the very idea of a female group trying to break the old boys' club and carve a meaningful inroad into male-clogged country radio. More power to them. Give a listen:

Select other recent columns: On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Heat's Run At Westbrook Is Riley's All-Out Gamble To Win Now / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 13, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Select other recent columns: Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 06, 2019

Sorry, LeBron. Looks like Kawhi to Clippers; plus U.S. beats England, reaches World Cup final. Column and Alex Morgan tea-sip vid; also, my new Florida Panthers column & more

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

Fourth1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 6. Hope y'all had a Happy Fourth of July, my fellow Americans! Don't always like my president. Always love my country. 2) Always football season around here, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat get Jimmy Butler, Megan Rapinoe owns World Cup, Hot Button Top 10, Raconteurs video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

My Megan Rapinoe, Jimmy Butler and Florida Panthers columns: It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field and Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again and New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY MY FELLOW AMERICANS: The country we love can be great, but only if we make it better:

Newbig3SORRY, LEBRON. NO LAST LAUGH. KAWHI REPORTEDLY HEADED TO CLIPPERS: Update: Sorry, LeBron. ESPN reporting Kawhi Leonard headed to Clippers. Original post: With the ball on his palm, in basketball IQ, in business dealings, in shaping his own brand, we should agree LeBron James is brilliant in in lots of ways. We have learned something new this summer, though. We have learned how astute James is at recognizing how the man in the mirror has changed. He is 34 now, relegated to third-team All-NBA last season. He is no longer the consensus best player in the league — not when age is factored. More significantly, he now seems content with not even being the best player on his team. This summer has been about James admitting he needs help. It has been about him orchestrating the end of his career, and making it easier for him to age gracefully, not desperately. It has been about him trying to make sure that epic career goes out on top — brilliant again, if he can pull it off. LeBron haters were reveling last season as the Lakers went 37-45 and missed the playoffs in his first season in L.A. What had he gotten himself into? Well, with Anthony Davis now beside him and Kawhi Leonard maybe joining him, too, LeBron is poised to have the ultimate last laugh. We explore more deeply in our newest column. To read, please visit Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron.

Alexm"LET'S GOOOOO STATES!" U.S. BEATS ENGLAND, REACHES WORLD CUP FINAL!: It took a winning goal by birthday girl Alex Morgan (pictured) yesterday to beat England 2-1 in France and vault the Americans into Sunday's Women's World Cup final. Also took two huge second half occurrences -- a review call that (properly) negated an England goal, and a U.S. goalkeeper save on a Brits penalty kick. Megan Rapinoe sat out with a hamstring injury. No problem, evidently. For my column off the game, please visit U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence. The United States national team has now rolled through this soccer World Cup with a 6-0 record, 24-3 goals differential, and having never trailed and been tied only twice once. In short the USWNT has shown why it is the reigning world champion and No. 1-ranked team as it guns for its fourth World Cup trophy. England has never won but had a best-ever third place finish four years ago. The Americans advance to play the finale vs. the winner of today's other semifinal: Netherlands-Sweden.

MORGAN SCORES WINNER, SIPS TEA: Alex Morgan's winning goal for U.S. Tuesday, followed by her sipping-tea celebration that conveys American arrogance to others which is why I love it. No, she is not pretending to take a puff from a joint! She is pretending to sip tea with pinky raised. Jolly good! Cheerio! 

Dtallon PrileyBIG SPLASH BY OLDIES RILEY, TALLON: I get to call Heat president Pat Riley and Panthers general manager Dale Tallon old because I'm old. And both veteran team builders were pouring like good wine this week as their teams stepped hard and well into NBA and NHL free agency. Riley, entering the summer seemingly capped-out and hands-tied, managed to get four-time all-star Jimmy Butler, keep Goran Dragic and unload Hassan Whiteside, all positives, and to do it gave up (player-wise) only Josh Richardson, whose rise stalled last season. (Read Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again). And Tallon made a bunch of smaller moves and one big one, landing goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, two-time Vezina Trophy winner, the best available in free agency and Florida's top target. (Read Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing. Good work by both men.

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

Select earlier recent columns: U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 01, 2019

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

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

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

Click here for My Heat/Jimmy Butler column.

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. SOCCER: U.S. women blast into World Cup semifinals: U.S. faces England  Tuesday in the Women's World Cup semifinals, after eliminating host France 2-1 in the quarters -- the American side once again led by Megan Rapinoe. It's Netherlands vs. Sweden in the other semifinal on Wednesday. America's fourth World Cup title and second straight is close enough to taste now. On my count: "Let's gooooo States!"  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Select other recent columns: Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big ThingU.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote