April 26, 2017

Dolphins pre-draft poll: Which of these 7 possible 1st-round Miami selections would please you most? Last day to vote!; plus new Marlins-sale column, Pat Riley/Dion Waiters, updated NHL forecast, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, April 26. It's NFL Draft Week! WOOO! 2) Wright Thompson has an excellent piece on Pat Riley in the new ESPNTheMag. Read it here. Also there's a braggadocious Players Tribune piece penned by Heat's Dion Waiters. Find it here. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: On Bush/Jeter agreement to buy Marlins: A cloud lifted over Miami and the Marlins with Tuesday's reports that Jeffrey Loria had reached an agreement to sell the Fish for $1.3 billion to the Je Bush/Derek Jeter group. Click on Home Run For Miami to read my latest column. 

ICYMI, our Sunday column on Jose Fernandez statue controversy: Many are against the Marlins building a statue to honor Fernandez since toxicology reports indicated he was impaired in the boat crash that killed himself and two others. I too am uneasy over the idea, and yet I see the potential for a greater good because the statue will be a constant reminder not only of his life, but of how it ended. Click on The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose to read.

DOLPHINS PRE-DRAFT POLL: WHICH OF SEVEN POSSIBLE MIAMI FIRST-ROUND PICKS AT 22ND OVERALL WOULD PLEASE YOU MOST?: My 26th annual official Miami Herald mock draft Dolclockcomes Dolphinsout very soon. I don't want to tip my hand (quite yet) on how the first round will play out for the Dolphins Thursday night (even though I have an idea). Instead, I invite you to have your say first. The seven players in this poll are not arbitrary. They are players who met both of two criteria: 1) They are at one of Miami's top-five position needs -- linebacker, guard, cornerback, safety or defensive tackle. 2) They are within range of the 22nd pick by being within five in either direction, 17th to 27th, according to the mock drafts of either Mel Kiper or Todd McShay of ESPN. In other words, these are guys who both should interest Miami in terms of need and who also could be available. I was tempted to add one more -- Canes tight end David Njoku -- but did not. I think he'll be gone, it isn't a dire position need, plus I didn't want a UM guy in there disproportionately glomming votes. I also do not include a "somebody else" category because I want to reel the vote in to what's most realistic. Photo at right: Dolphins on the clock. GET IT!?! Now take a dip in our poll, vote and check back often to watch a consensus magically form. It don't cost nuthin'.

NHL ROUND OF EIGHT FORECAST: The four NHL conference semifinal series begin Wednesday, and based on predictions by ESPN's 11-person hockey experts panel, we might expect three pretty clear-cut matchups and a tossup. The forecast is Rangers over Senators by a 10-1 margin, and a pair of 8-3 margins for Ducks over Oilers and Predators over Blues. The big one figures as Washington-Pittsburgh, with Capitals over Penguins by only a 6-5 experts margin. However betting odds via Bovada disagree on two of the series. Bovada has Anaheim-Edmonton even going in, and St. Louis a narrow pick over Nashville.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 4-26-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.: After Tuesday rainout, Fish 'n Phils play first of two.

2. NBA playoffs, 6 p.m.: Two 1st-round Game 5s, with WAS-ATL, CHI-BOS both tied 2-2.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: St. Louis, Anaheim host as conference semifinals begin with two Game 1s.

4. N.Y. Yankees at Boston, 7 p.m.: Baseball's best rivalry renews at Fenway.

5. FIU at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: After 8-7 win Tuesday, UM baseball hosts city rival.

Select other recent columns: Everyone's Shouting Defense, But..., on Dolphins and first round. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 24, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Dolphins' draft, LeBron, Fish, Canes, Hernandez, Heat, Messi, Serena; plus our Jose statue column, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, April 24. Welcome to NFL Draft Week! 2) Did you mark national Record Store Day by visiting your local indie shop on Saturday and buying a couple of LPs? Guess what: Those stores are open year-round! 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins not ruling out offense for first draft pick, Fins' 2017 schedule with notes, Canes-Noles, on Aaron Hernandez, your verdicts on Jose statue and Sherman trade & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column: On Jose Fernandez statue controversy: Many are against the Marlins building a statue to honor Fernandez since toxicology reports indicated he was negligent and impaired in the boat crash that killed himself and two others. I too am uneasy over the idea. And, yet, I see the potential for a greater good because the statue will be a constant reminder not only of his life, but how it ended. Click on The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose to read.

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. DOLPHINS/NFL DRAFT: Finally, it's Draft Week in Miami!: Newly released league schedule finds Miami back on the NFL map with four prime-time games (amazing what ending your playoff drought can do), but bigger news is this week's NFL Draft Thursday through Saturday. The most likely result for the Fins' No. 1 pick? That, no matter who it is, most Dolfans were sort of hoping for the other guy instead.

2. NBA: LeBron leads first-round sweep: The NBA playoffs' first round dragged on moved along with four more games Sunday and one team, Cleveland, became the first to advance with a sweep of Indiana. The Cavaliers had overcome a 26-point deficit in Game 3, and LeBron James averaged nearly a triple-double in the series. Selfishly, his excellence is making it very difficult on his haters. Damn you, LeBron!

3. MARLINS: Fish win second straight in nine-game road swing: Marlins are six games (3-3) into season's second longest road trip and fighting to hang with the Nationals in the NL East race as they head to Philadelphia. The goal: To still be a playoff contender when hosting All-Star Game later this summer. And dare say beyond?

4. HURRICANES: Football, baseball share campus spotlight: UM's football spring practice wrapped up for Mark Richt with Saturday's scrimmage (still with no clear starter at quarterback), while Jim Morris' baseball Canes -– trying to save their season -– split two games in home series with rival Florida State before Sunday's finale was rained out.

5. AARON HERNANDEZ: Ex-football star kills self: More cheers than tears met the news the ex-Patriot and convicted murderer hanged himself in prison. But does that say more about him or us? A tragedy, a shame, a waste. Everybody lost. Man, I'm starting to depress myself.

6. HEAT: Exit meetings wrap up the strangest of seasons: Pat Riley said he'd like to work this offseason to keep this Heat team together. Hopefully he meant team that went 30-11 in the season's second half, and not the one that was 11-30 at the turn.

7. NHL: Playoffs' first round is complete: Ottawa and Washington winning Sunday completed the first round in the long hunt for the Stanley Cup, with eight teams advancing to the second round starting Wednesday. Ottawa made it two Canadian teams still alive as that country girds for not winning the Cup yet again.

8. SOCCER: El Clasico renews sport's best rivalry: Arsenal beat Manchester City and will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final, but the bigger match in some ways Sunday was Barcelona riding the brilliance of Lionel Messi for a 3-2 win over Real Madrid in a renewal of soccer's greatest club rivalry. Teams play in Miami this July 29 and already you can't buy a ticket without taking out a second mortgage.

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis star pregnant with first child: Serena, engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, revealed she is 20 weeks pregnant and will take several months off from tennis. "Thank God!" said the other women who can never beat her.

10. NASCAR: Bristol hosts washed out Sunday race: Bleak weather conditioned postpone it til Monday. Sorry, gearheads. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Headline on ESPN.com today: 'FAU wraps up successful spring, Kiffin says.' And you wondered why Lane Kiffin was a great hire? Because ESPN is paying attention to FAU Owls spring practice ..... Saturday was Record Store Day. Colleague David J. Neal: "What's next, Rotary Phone Day?" ..... Sailing's 35th America's Cup begins in one month. It's a wind-wind situation. Sorry. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 4-24-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: One 1st-round Game 5 and two 4s, with Golden State in position to advance.

2. NASCAR race, 1 p.m.: Sunday's rained-out race in Bristol, Tenn., postponed 'til today.

Select other recent columns: Everyone's Shouting Defense, But..., on Dolphins and first round. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 22, 2017

Dolphins will consider offense for 1st-round pick. Here's why; plus Fins' 2017 season schedule with notes; also, Canes-Noles, defeats for Fernandez statue and Sherman trade, on Aaron Hernandez, Record Store Day, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Recordstore1) It is SATURDAY, April 22. The major holidays just keep comin'. A few days ago it was National High-Five Day. Then it was 420, or "Weed Day" (as if stoners only fire it up annually). Now, today, is National Record Store Day, the 10th annual celebration of the indie record store and the return of vinyl in the music industry. Swing by your local indie shop and check out the wax LPs both vintage and new! 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jose Fernandez statue and Richard Sherman trade polls, death of Aaron Hernandez & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Does Aaron Hernandez deserve an attempt at empathy?: He was his own final victim, for a promising life thrown away. Is there any room for empathy in regarding the former NFL player who died in his prison cell? I explore in this column: Click on An American Tragedy to read.

DdrAFTLATEST COLUMN: WHY YOU SHOULDN'T DISCOUNT OFFENSE FOR DOLPHINS' FIRST-ROUND PICK: They did it one year ago for Laremy Tunsil and they could do it again in next Thursday's NFL Draft first round. Don't be surprised if Miami goes for offense with 22nd overall pick -- Hurricanes tight end David Njoku, perhaps? -- if their top-graded available player is on that side of the scrimmage line. Click on Everyone's Shouting Defense, But... for my latest column, newly online and shipping to Friday's inky pulp editions.
 
COMPLETE DOLPHINS' 2017 REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE, WITH FOUR PRIME-TIME DATES: All the opponents have been known for months. Never quite got why the exact order was such a big deal, but, anyway, here 'tis. Notable: Four prime-time dates! When you're back in the playoffs, the NFL loves you again. At a quick glance, I see the usual postseason scramble for Miami, with an initial gut feeling in the 9-7 range and a shot at 10-6:
Date            Opponent                Time        Of note
Sept. 10       vs TAMPA BAY           1 pm        Season and home opener; my birthday
Sept. 17       @ L.A. Chargers       4 pm       Old opponent, new city
Sept. 24       @ N.Y. Jets              1  pm       First AFC East game
Oct. 1          vs NEW ORLEANS      9:30 am   "Home" game at Wembley, London
Oct. 8          vs. TENNESSEE         1 pm        Wow. Pretty soft sked to this point
Oct. 15        @ Atlanta                1 pm        Maybe toughest foe, on paper, yet
Oct. 22        vs N.Y. JETS             1 pm        2nd-most anticipated division home game
Oct. 26        @ Baltimore             8:25 pm   Finally some prime-time (Thursday) love
Nov. 5          vs OAKLAND             8:30 pm   Sunday night. At Home. Raiders. Delish!
Nov. 13        @ Carolina               8:30 pm   Monday nighter is 3rd straight in prime time
Nov. 19        Bye
Nov. 26        @ New England        1 pm        For the division lead?
Dec. 3         vs DENVER               1 pm        Recent power now beatable foe
Dec. 11       vs NEW ENGLAND      8:30 pm   4th prime-timer (MNF) is the biggest
Dec. 17       @ Buffalo                 1 pm        Bills twice in last three weeks
Dec. 24       @ Kansas City           1 pm        Christmas Eve in Missouri!
Dec. 31       vs. BUFFALO             1 pm        Playoff spot on the line?
 
UmfsuIT'S BEST LAST CHANCE FOR CANES BASEBALL TO SALVAGE SEASON: UM hosts ACC rival Florida State for three ballgames starting last night at The Light, a 6-3 UM loss. Both teams are in midst of strange seasons. FSU was ranked No. 1 in nation as recently as mid-March but for now is unranked with a 25-15 record. Miami opened the season top-10 but has struggled throughout and is now at 18-20, its record streak of NCAA postseason appearances in dire jeopardy. This weekend series is a yuuuge chance -- maybe the last, best one -- for UM to climb back in the playoff hunt. Miami wins today and Sunday could save the season. If Miami gets swept, fuhgeddaboutit.

POLL RESULTS: LITTLE SUPPORT FOR MARLINS' JOSE STATUE, EVEN LESS FOR DOLPHINS' SHERMAN TRADE: We asked how you feel about the Marlins' erecting a 10-foot statue honoring Jose Fernandez, and it was 66.1 percent against it as "inappropriate," versus only 21.7% who supported it as "appropriate." The other 12.2% were undecided. We also asked if you supported the Dolphins trading their No. 1 draft pick for Richard Sherman (suggested on ESPN.com), and it was 78.4 percent "no" versus 19.2% "yes," with 2.4% undecided.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 4-22-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at San Diego, 4:40 p.m.: Finally, a Fish game that won't keep you up 'til 2 a.m.

2. NBA playoffs, 3 p.m.: Two 1st-round Game 3s and two 4s, but nobody can clinch.

3. NHL playoffs, 3 p.m.: Three 1st-round Game 3s, and Blues, Rangers, Oilers all can clinch.

4. Florida State at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: ACC baseball rivals in second of three-game series.

5. National Record Store Day, all day: Visit an indie shop near you, reacquaint with vinyl!

Select other recent columns: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 19, 2017

On Marlins statue for Jose Fernandez, and on proposed Dolphins trade for Richard Sherman. Two polls. Last day to vote!; plus Aaron Hernandez suicide, our tour of UM Sports Hall of Fame, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, April 19. Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NBA playoff preview/predictions, Jose Fernandez documentary, your verdict on if Heat season was success & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On UM Sports Hall of Fame, Erik Spoelstra: My latest columns: Not even most Hurricanes fans have visited the UM Sports Hall of Fame (which held its 49th annual induction banquet last night), but it's a treasure trove worth a visit. Click on History Breathes at UM Sports Hall for my latest column. Also, seldom has a .500 record and no playoffs felt better than this Heat season did. ICYMI,click on Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph for my latest Sunday column.

POLL I: A MARLINS STATUE FOR JOSE: APPROPRIATE? OR INAPPROPRIATE?: There are '16' uniform patches being worn by players this season. But those are small, and temporary, and sort of for-the-team personal. Now, it Josefernhas been confirmed in recent reports, the Marlins plan later this season to erect a permanent 10-foot bronze statue of the late star Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident last September that killed two others. That's big, and public. This issue grew to complicated controversy by subsequent test results that indicated Fernandez was both behind the wheel that night and impaired by alcohol and cocaine -- that, in effect, he was responsible for his own death and those of two others. That, to many, casts a much different light on his legacy, and raises questions whether a statue is appropriate or not. Results were mixed recently when I asked about the uniform patches. Approval ran at 39.0 percent, disapproval at 32.4% and uncertainty at 28.6%. But a statue kicks the Marlins' honoring of Jose to a different, ultimate level. What do you think? Vote now:

POLL II: SHOULD DOLPHINS GIVE UP FIRST-ROUND PICK FOR RICHARD SHERMAN?: So says writer Bill Barnwell on ESPN.com. In an all-trades mock draft, he proposes that Miami gets RshermanSherman, the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, 29, from Seattle and gives up this year's No. 22 overall pick, next year's fourth-rounder, and CB Byron Maxwell. Says Barnwell: "The Dolphins aren't exactly shy about going after players they value, and they would be getting a massive upgrade at arguably the weakest position on their roster by trading for a future Hall of Fame cornerback in Sherman. Miami doesn't have a ton of cap room, but by packaging Maxwell and saving $3.5 million as part of the trade, the Dolphins should be able to squeeze the Stanford product onto their roster. Maxwell improved dramatically as the season went on in 2016, and he would give the Seahawks some semblance of familiarity as they rebuild at cornerback." Me: First let's tap brakes on Sherman unequivocally being Canton-bound. He's clearly better than Maxwell, but the difference of a first-round pick? And Dolphins have so many other needs. It isn't an implausible deal, but I'd hesitate. Now, your turn:

AhernandezAARON HERNANDEZ HANGS HIMSELF IN JAIL: Hernandez, the former Florida Gator and New England Patriots tight end, left no suicide note  but authored the final chapter of his own American tragedy in hanging himself in his jail cell overnight. [Full story here]. He used a bedsheet. He was 27. Apart from loved ones, few will shed tears or mourn his loss, except to shake heads at the waste. Hernandez was serving a life sentence without the chance of parole for a 2013 murder when he was acquitted of an unrelated double-murder just days ago. Hernandez had a bright future in the NFL before throwing it all away. In three seasons with the Pats he caught 175 passes for 1,956 yards and 18 TDs. He was good. Few will lament his loss. For many, it won't be "R.I.P." but more likely Rest In Hell. But I feel badly for everybody here. For the victims of his temper and derangement. For his loved ones. and for Hernandez himself -- for the mental demons that led to what he let himself become. Ultimately, he has only himself to blame. It's still a shame from every angle.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 4-19-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Three more first-round Game 2s, including Golden State in nightcap.

2. Marlins at Seattle, 3:40 p.m.: Fish close first series of nine-game road trip after near no-hitter.

3. UEFA quarterfinals, 2:45 p.m.: Second leg for AS Monaco-Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona-Juventus.

4. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: Four first-round Game 4s as St. Louis, Anaheim seek advance via sweeps.

5. FAU at Hurricanes, 6 p.m.: UM baseball (17-19) still scrambling to get on right side of .500.

Select other recent columns: Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 17, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 starring Heat, Fish, playoffs, Landry, Jose, Canes; plus my Spoelstra column, our NBA playoff preview/predix, Jose Fernandez documentary, your verdict on whether Heat season was success, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

Taxmarch1) It is MONDAY, April 17. Thousands of Americans in Washington, D.C. and 160 other cities across the country including Miami participated in Saturday's Tax March to protest President Donald Trump's historic refusal to release his tax records. I don't care what your politics are or who you voted for. There must be transparency from the highest office in the land, as there has been throughout our history until now. 2) Know any Dolfans? Give them joy. Buy each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Was-Heat-season-a-success poll, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Final Standings, Heat miss playoffs, NBA title odds, Jarvis Landry's big boast, McShay's latest Fins mock, Marlins' start & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Sunday column: On Erik Spoelstra's season of triumph: Seldom has a .500 record and no playoffs been a season that felt better, but the Heat's year was just that. Click on Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph for my latest Sunday column.

"What a momentous Saturday! It was Jackie Robinson Day in baseball with everybody wearing No. 42. Even bigger, April the giraffe finally had her baby!" --Greg Cote

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. HEAT: Valiant surge for naught as Miami misses playoffs: Seems like it should be illegal -- that a team that went 30-11 in the season's second half failed to make to make playoffs. Miami clearly would be the No. 1 seed in the NBA version of the NIT! Heat ended disappointed, but rarely has finishing a no-playoffs .500 been so worth cheering and felt so close to triumphant. 

2. MARLINS: Fish wrap up first homestand of season: Marlins took three out of four from the rival Mets and now set out on mammoth nine-game roadie. A 7-5 record so far shares the NL East lead and is encouraging. In MLB, barely above .500 keeps you in playoff chase a long time.

3. NBA PLAYOFFS: Cavs' near-loss tops marquee as postseason begins: Cleveland's 109-108 win over Indiana and three by-seed upsets marked the launch of the playoffs with eight Game 1s over the weekend. Can anything stop a third straight Warriors-Cavaliers Finals? Well, the Cavs might, based on their recent performance.

4. DOLPHINS: Draft looms as Landry hones boasting skills: We're 10 days from first round of NFL Draft, but Dolphins star receiver Jarvis Landry's confidence already is in midseason form as he predicted Miami would sweep the New England Patriots. Hmm. If only the doing was as simple as the saying.

5. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Statue, documentary for late Marlins star: Word leaked that club will unveil 10-foot statue of Fernandez. Dear sculptor: If you want it true to life, Jose's bronze likeness better be smiling. Meanwhile a new Univision documentary about his life, JDF16, premiered Saturday. Jeffrey Loria declined to participate. Wait. Is that a bad thing?

6. HURRICANES: UM football nears end of spring practice: Spring practice is the biggest waste of time and money in college sports. But for those who like it, Canes enter the last week of offseason work and wrap it up this coming Saturday. 

7. BASEBALL: MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day: Every player wore Robinson's No. 42 Saturday and the Dodgers unveiled a statue of the man who broke baseball's color barrier -- 70 years to the day after he did it. "Better late than never" seems to apply.

8. PANTHERS: Tallon back in charge as club admits mistake: The Florida Panthers promoted the man they never should have demoted, making Dale Tallon general manager and director of hockey ops again following a disappointing non-playoff year. Move should have come with following official club statement: “Oops.”

9. NHL PLAYOFFS: Two teams jump to 3-0 series leads: Pittsburgh and St. Louis sit pretty with 3-0 series leads as NHL first-round playoffs continue today. Five of 16 teams after the Stanley Cup are Canadian. Will this be the year Canada finally win its first Cup since 1993? Naaah!

10. SOCCER: UEFA quarterfinals open amid bus bombing: Europe's Champions League quarterfinals began rocked by terrorist scare as two bombs targeted the team bus of Germany's Borussia Dortmund, injuring one player. Remember the good old days (not so old) when sports used to be our escape from reality rather than a reminder of it? 

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins coach Adam Gase hired Joe Vitt as a "consultant" focusing on special projects. Gase's wife is Vitt's daughter, but that did not factor in the hiring (!) ..... Former Hurricane Adrienne Motley was a third-round pick in the WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever. Gotta love a league where 5-9 is not short ..... Ex-Patriot Aaron Hernandez was found not guilty of double murder. Although, when one is already serving a life sentence for another murder, I'm guessing the celebration of a subsequent acquittal is somewhat muted ..... Sentences I Never Imagined I'd Read Or Write: "A stuck elevator temporarily kept Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson from discussing low income housing with former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning" ..... NBC Sports.com headline: "[Tony] Romo hasn't filed retirement papers yet (and it doesn't matter)." Um, so then why are you writing about !? ..... Keep waiting for Canes baseball to turn it around and start winning. And waiting. And...

NbaposNO MIAMI HEAT, BUT NBA PLAYOFFS START ANYWAY. A PREVIEW: NBA postseason commenced Saturday and Sunday with eight first-round Game 1s -- including three by-seed upsets, by the Bulls, Bucks and Jazz. Can anybody get in the way of a third consecutive Golden State-Cleveland Finals? (Doesn't seem so). Here is our series-by-series preview and predictions for the opening round, with all betting odds via our friends at Bovada:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

No. 1 Boston (53-29) vs. No. 8 Chicago (41-41) -- Season series tied 2-2. Favorite: Celtics 1-5 odds; Bulls 7-2. Likeliest result: Celtics win 4-1 (2-1 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Isaiah Thomas 28.5, Jimmy Butler 25. This is the series in which the Miami Heat woulda/shoulda/coulda been facing Boston. Our pick: UPSET! Bulls win 4-3. Dwyane Wade alone has more playoff experience than the entire Celtics roster. Will be only the fifth 8-1 upset since NBA went to current playoff format in 1984.

No. 2 Cleveland (51-31) vs. No. 7 Indiana (42-40) -- Cavaliers won season series 3-1. Favorite: Cavs 1-11; Pacers 13-2. Likeliest result: Cavs win 4-1 (7-4 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: LeBron James 28, Paul George 25. Our pick: Cavaliers win 4-1. LeBron is king of the first round. Hasn't lost even a single 1R game since 2012.  

No. 3 Toronto (51-31) vs. No. 6 Milwaukee (42-40) -- Raptors won season series 3-1. Favorite: Raptors 1-4; Bucks 3-1. Likeliest result: Raptors win 4-1 (12-5 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: DeMar DeRozan 27.5, Giannis Antetokounmpo 23. Our pick: Raptors win 4-1. A blowout. Raps getting Kyle Lowry back last week makes all the difference.

No. 4 Washington (49-33) vs. No. 5 Atlanta (43-39) -- Wizards won season series 3-1. Favorite: Wizards 5-11; Hawks 9-5. Likeliest result: Wizards win 4-1 (3-1 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: John Wall/Bradley Beal both 23, Paul Millsap/Dennis Schroder both 17.5. Our pick: Wizards win 4-2. Don't think much of Hawks, who have minus point differential, worst of any team in postseason.

Combined average percentile likelihood of team winning series: Based on a combination of ESPN Experts Panel, Basketball Power Index, FiveThirtyEight.com and ESPN fans poll: Cavaliers 78.75%, Raptors 76.25%, Celtics 73.50%, Wizards 72.50%. 

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

No. 1 Golden State (67-15) vs. No. 8 Portland (41-41) -- Warriors won season series 4-0. Favorite: Warriors 1-100; Trail Blazers 22-1. Likeliest result: Warriors win 4-0 (1-1 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Damian Lillard 28, Steph Curry/Kevin Durant both 26.5. Our pick: Warriors win, 4-0. Shock if Portland comes close, let alone wins. 

No. 2 San Antonio (61-21) vs. No. 7 Memphis (43-39) -- Season series ted 2-2. Favorite: Spurs 1-11; Grizzlies 13-2. Likeliest result: Spurs win 4-1 (8-5 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Kawhi Leonard 25.5, Mike Conley 19. Our pick: Spurs win 4-1. Don't put much weight on that 2-2 season series. Per ESPN: Teams whose point differential was at least 5.0 per game better than their opponent's (Spurs' is 6.7 points better), are 48-3 in best-of-seven series since 2000.

No. 3 Houston (55-27) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma City (47-35) -- Rockets won season series 3-1. Favorite: Rockets 5-17; Thunder 11-4. Likeliest result: Rockets win 4-1 (11-5 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Russell Westbrook 33.5, James Harden 29.5. Our pick: Rockets win 4-2. Westbrook vs. Harden makes this the most must-see of all the opening series. And all four season games were very close, so I don't discount OKC's upset shot.  

No. 4 L.A. Clippers (51-31) vs. No. 5 Utah (51-31) -- Clippers won season series 3-1. Favorite: Clippers 5-11; Jazz 9-5. Likeliest result: Clippers win 4-1 or 4-3 (both 3-1 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Blake Griffin 22, Gordon Hayward 21.5. Our pick: UPSET! Jazz win 4-3. Clips won home-court on a tiebreaker, but just a weird hunch here.

Combined average percentile likelihood of team winning series: Based on a combination of ESPN Experts Panel, Basketball Power Index, FiveThirtyEight.com and ESPN fans poll: Warriors 96.75%, Spurs 89.50%, Rockets 72.50%, Clippers 51.75%.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 4-17-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Two first-round Game 2s, Pacers-Cavs followed by Grizzlies-Spurs.

2. Marlins at Seattle, 10:30 p.m.: Fish open nine-game road trip, season's second-longest.

3. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: Four first-round Game 3s, with Nashville and Anaheim both up 2-0.

4. Boston Marathon: Although, unless you're running in it, do you really care?

Jdf16JOSE FERNANDEZ DOCUMENTARY OUT: It was reported this week the Marlins later this season will unveil a permanent 10-foot statue to honor their late pitching ace Jose Fernandez, who died last September along with two others in a boating accident. Saturday, Univision debuted a 46-minute documentary film on Jose titled JDF16. The doc was filmed in Cuba and Florida and shares an intimate look at a young pitcher who risked his life to flee Cuba by boat in search of freedom a career in baseball. It aired on Univision Deportes TV and also is now available online at UnivisionNoticias.com. WATCH THE ENTIRE DOCUMENTARY HERE, with availability in two languages. Version presented is in Spanish with subtitles; simply click the Espanol button to hear the narrative in English. (For a text version of the documentary with photos, click TEXT). 

POLL RESULT: YES, THIS HEAT SEASON WAS A SUCCESS: Most times, perhaps, a .500 record and no playiffs would nt satisfy high-expectation Heat fans. But when that season started 11-30 and ended in a playoff chase? We asked: All things considered, how do you rate this past Miami Heat season? And you voted 83.9 percent "successful" vs. only 16.1% "not a success."

Select recent columns: Heat Must Seek Next Level, the latest, suggesting two players to target. Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityLoria: The End Of An Error and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 13, 2017

Was this Heat season a success? New poll. Vote now!; plus Luddite's Heat season MVP revealed, Heat miss playoffs, NBA title odds, Landry's big boast, McShay's 3-round Dolphins mock, Marlins' start, Back In My Day video, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, April 14. Click on Express Lanes for my latest Back In My Day video rant from this week's LeBatard Show. 2) Know any Dolfans? Why not buy each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins' Opening Night win sandwiched around Heat's biggest games of season, keepin' it Brockmire & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My new column: 'Melo or Hayward for Heat?: Carmelo Anthony (via trade) or Gordon Hayward (in free agency) might be interesting options as the Heat approach the summer. Click on Heat Must Seek Next Level for my latest column.

POLL: WAS THIS HEAT SEASON A SUCCESS?: Weird Miami Heat season to judge, right? BY this franchise's standards, an even .500 record of 41-41 and no playoffs (barely) would not normally constitute success. And yet that record after an 11-30 first half of the season is something close to a sporting miracle, an astounding turnaround. So, in the simplest terms, how would you judge this Heat season. Take a dip in our poll and vote now:

HwhitesideCHAMPION REVEALED! HASSAN WHITESIDE REIGNS IN THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP FINAL 2016-17 STANDINGS: Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we went old-school, stripped it down, combined the Original Big Three statistical categories, and this season offered a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP --and Hassan Whiteside reigns as champion ahead of Goran Dragic in a (fairly) close race. We brought you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami finished at 41-41 after last night's season-ending home win over Washington, here is The Luddite's 16th and final installment.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Final Standings:

1. Hassan Whiteside           2,458

2. Goran Dragic                 2,186

3. James Johnson              1,628

4. Tyler Johnson                1,529

5. Dion Waiters                 1,077

Second five: Rodney McGruder 876; Wayne Ellington 851; 8. Josh Richardson 845; Willie Reed 733; and Luke Babbitt 500.

Others: Justise Winslow 355; Derrick Williams 234; Josh McRoberts 232; Okaro White 201; and Udonis Haslem 73.

WON AND DONE: HEAT NEEDED SMALL MIRACLE BUT DIDN'T GET ONE, WINNING BUT FALLING SHORT OF PLAYOFFS: [Update: Heat beat Washington 110-102 but narrowly miss playoffs because neither Chicago nor Indiana cooperated and lost. Click on Heat Fell Short But Did Not Fail for my column from the game] Original post: You know the drill by now entering this last day of the NBA regular season. The Miami Heat will make the playoffs only if they beat Washington at home tonight and if either Chicago (home vs. Brooklyn) or Indiana (home vs. Atlanta) loses, with each game starting at 8. Under the best of Spocircumstances, that would be unlikely. ESPN's Basketball Power Index playoff chances entering tonight puts the Bulls at 88.7 percent, Pacers at 83.7% and Heat at just 27.6%. The mighty BPI projects all three will win tonight, which would leave Miami 41-41 but losing a tiebreaker to Dwyane Wade (ouch) and Chicago for the 8th and final East playoff ticket. Plainly, the Heat must win and then get help tonight from either Brooklyn or Atlanta. The problem: 1) Brooklyn is awful even at full strength but announced it will sit out six players tonight including leading scorer Brook Lopez and starting guard Jeremy Lin. So Chicago will be playing a facsimile of an awful team, one that is all but conceding the game to the Bulls. 2) Atlanta secured the fifth seed last night so has zero to play for in the second game of a back-to-back at Indiana. So the Hawks will "rest" five players tonight including leading scorer Paul Millsap with the playoffs starting Saturday, offering little resistance to Indiana. In fairness, the Heat also are catching a break tonight because, with Washington already locked into the fourth seed, the Wizards tonight will "rest" three players including stars John Wall and Bradley Beal. (Just as the Heat also caught a big break Monday when the Cavs "rested" LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Miami). In any case, in a Tweet last night, Heat owner Micky Arison already seemed resigned to putting a positive spin on narrowly missing the playoffs, writing: "#HEATNation forget what other teams are doing ... Let's make [Wednesday] amazing. Win & 30 & 11 for the second half. So proud of this team!" Pictured right: A focused Heat coach Erik Spoelstra tries to mentally will a playoff spot.

NBA title odds: Via sportsbettingdime.com, Warriors a strong NBA championship favorite at 6-5, with Cavaliers 4-1 and Spurs 9-1. Russell Westbrook is even/odds for league MVP, with James Harden close at 3-2. (Bovada has Warriors a prohibitive 5-8 fave, with Cavs 10-3 and Spurs 6-1).

LandryON JARVIS LANDRY'S BIG BOAST: Dolphins star receiver Jarvis Landry, in London this week as part of an NFL promotional tour, predicted Miami would sweep the New England Patriots this season, meaning winning both games. "If you're a competitor, that's the way you should feel, and I don't mind saying it," Landry elaborated. "It's time for a change. I have all the respect in the world for the Patriots, and I respect Tom Brady tremendously. But they're not our big brother anymore." The Dolphins last swept the Pats in 2000, so, um, they sort of are Big Brother until which time the Fins prove -- with actions, not words -- that they are not. Landry credits a reboot on the Dolphins' mindset under second-year coach Adam Gase, saying, "He's flipped the switch with us. New England's won the division 14 of the last 16 years, something like that? It's ridiculous. It's a problem. We cannot let that happen anymore. What I've seen is, when we play that game, sometimes we focus on the guys on the other side of the line instead of just focusing on us. And I want to be part of that change. I want to go into the games against New England expecting to win — that's something we need to do." My take: Good for Landry. Sometimes you need to broadcast your confidence aloud to stamp it as real. And Landry, with 288 catches and two Pro Bowls in three seasons, has earned the right to be vocal and occupy a leadership role. A little bravado looks good on the Miami Dolphins. Now let's see how it fits.

McShay's 3-round Mock picks for Fins, Canes: ESPN's Todd McShay vomited his three-round NFL Mock Draft this week, and has these picks for Dolphins: 1st round (22nd overall)--Ohio State CB Gareon Conley; 2nd (54th)--Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham; 3rd (97th)--San Diego State guard Nico Siragusa. Conley would be a logical, solid pick. I mentioned him prominently in my recent Sunday column; click Dolphins Draft Wish List to read. McShay's other two picks for Dolphins also make some sense, position-wise. He has Hurricanes TE David Njoku going 13th overall (a tad high)to Arizona -- and no other UMers in the first three rounds. So I say it for only the 100th time: Ya shoulda stayed, Brad Kaaya! 

OzunaON MARLINS' START: Nine games (six on the road) and a 4-5 record is a very small sample size, but early signs for the Marlins are somewhat encouraging. The lineup will be above-average in run production, led by an outfield trio (Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna) that could be as good as any in baseball. Ozuna (pictured), supposedly the least of the three, is batting .389 with four homers and MLB-leading 16 RBIs. Health is a big key, though, as thin depth looms as Miami's biggest concern. Pitching also has the potential to be solid, starters to bullpen. The rotation of Edinson Volquez, Dan Straily, Tom Koehler, Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley is star-less but could be effective. Chen shows early signs of being the guy Miami thought it was getting, not last year's mess. Conley can be a star. If Straily proves as good as he was last year for the Reds, this could be a solid rotation. The problem? I do not think the Marlins are as good as the Nationals or Mets from their own division. But if Miami can take advantage of the lousy Braves and Phillies, Fish have the potential to be an 85-win team that hangs in the playoff chase. At least that's what it says here. In mid-April.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 4-14-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7 p.m.: NL East rivals play second of four-game series.

2. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: First-round series continue with four Game 2s.

3. Hurricanes at Pitt, 2 p.m.: Win-needy UM baseball plays ACC doubleheader.

Select other recent columns: Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off Wednesday's season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityLoria: The End Of An Error and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 11, 2017

Marlins win Opening Night game 8-4 sandwiched around Heat's 2 biggest games of season. What a week!; plus Radio Tuesday, keepin' it Brockmire, Hot Button Daily (Tue) & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, April 11. Interesting piece here by Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan on the Marlins' financial status and how that could affect the interest of Derek Jeter and other potential buyers. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy each of them our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron at Heat in mad playoff fight, Hot Button Top 10, Panthers promote Tallon & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my regular Tuesday co-host gig on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and with the national show also televised on ESPNU or ESPN2.

Stanley Cup betting odds: NHL championship odds via Bovada show Chicago (4-1) and Washington (9-2) as near-even favorites, followed by Minnesota and Pittsburgh both at 8-1 and Columbus at 10-1.

HeatmarlinsMARLINS OPENING NIGHT, 2 BIGGEST HEAT GAMES OF SEASON MAKE IT A WILD WEEK IN MIAMI: [Update: Marlins clubbed the Braves tonight 8-4 behind Mracell Ozuna's two home runs and six RBIs and a heroic gray cat that got stuck in the Home Run Sculpture] Original post: Tonight the Marlins play the Braves in Miami's 25th home opener. Normally that would be the week's marquee event as the Fish are coming off a decent 3-3 road trip to start the season and tonight are honoring the anniversary of their 1997 championship team. But the Heat! The amazing, don't quit Heat kept their season and playoff hopes alive last night with an exhilarating 124-121 overtime home win over Cleveland  season (click on Miracle Season a Joy to Behold to read my column from the arena), and that earned Miami the right to still be in playoff contention entering the final game of the season here Wednesday. Now, it's simple. To be in the playoffs, the Heat must beat Washington Wednesday and hope either Indiana or Chicago lose. It's very possible that will happen. Heat are 3-0 vs. Wizards for some reason, and Washington doesn't need the game. And Pacers have a potentially tough finale. Details below:

7. Indiana Pacers 41-40: vs. Atlanta .525 Wednesday.

8. Chicago Bulls 40-41: vs. Brooklyn .247 Wednesday.

9. Miami Heat 40-41: vs. Washington .605 Wednesday.

Heat lose tiebreaker to Bulls but win tiebreaker over Pacers.

BrockmireKEEPIN' IT BROCKMIRE: I am loving the new IFC dark sitcom, Brockmire, about a disgraced, scandalized major-league play by play man trying to revive his career 10 years later in the lower minor leagues. Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet have terrific chemistry, the scripts are sharply written and the premise is plausible and intriguing. There also is an absurdity to it that is wonderful. And Azaria's Jim Brockmire is a wonderfully drawn character perfectly played. Highly recommended television.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 4-11-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Atlanta at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Play ball! Opening Night as Fish play first home game of 25th season.

2. UEFA Champions League, 2:45 p.m.: Barcelona-Juventus, Borussia Dortmund-AS Monaco in quarters.

3. Florida at Florida State, 6 p.m.: Ranked rivals play some baseball in Tally.

Select other recent columns: Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityLoria: The End Of An Error and Thank You, Edwin Pope.
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 10, 2017

Heat survive! Playoff hopes still alive with OT win over Cleveland!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Dale Tallon, our Fins draft column, your Marlins next-owner verdict, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, April 10. Passover begins at sundown today for our Jewish friends. And a happy Seder to them! 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins next-owner poll, updated Heat playoff odds, your verdict on Romo/Canton & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Panthers re-name Tallon GM: No, seriously. The Florida Panthers this morning announced Dale Tallon had been named general manager and president of hockey operations. In other words, he now has the power he once had before the club demoted him in a move boneheaded beyond description. That move in turn led to the premature coaching change that sacked Gerard Gallant and brought in unqualified Tom Rowe, which in turn led to one of the most disappointing seasons in the NHL. A good move handing control back to Tallon, but what a botched season by this franchise.

My latest column: Dolphins draft: I preview the fast-approaching NFL Draft in my latest Sunday column, and offer 10 names the Dolphins should be interested in for the 22nd overall pick of the first round. Eight of those names are on defense. Click on Dolphins Draft Wish List to read the column.

HugegameHEAT BEAT CAVALIERS IN A CRAZY-BIG GAME: [Update: Heat beat LeBron-less Cavaliers 124-121 in overtime last night to keep playoff hopes alive. Click on Miracle Season a Joy to Behold for my column from the arena] Original post: LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers are tied with Boston atop the NBA East standings with two games to play. Miami is currently the 9th seed because Chicago (with the same record) enjoys the tiebreaker edge for 8th, with Indiana 7th. None of the three played Sunday but all go tonight. ESPN's Basketball Power Index playoff odds give Miami only a 34.4 percent shot, compared to the Bulls' 84.7% and Pacers' 80.9%. Miami must finish with a better record than Chicago and at least the same record as Indiana. Bottom line: Miami should consider tonight a must-win. Heat, which could get Dion Waiters back,  would be eliminated with a loss tonight if Pacers and Bulls both win. Miami catches a big break because LeBron and Kyrie Irving, both with supposed injuries, won't play. Closing schedules for each, UPDATED through Monday night results:

7. Indiana Pacers 41-40: vs. Atlanta .525 Wednesday.

8. Chicago Bulls 40-41: vs. Brooklyn .250 Wednesday.

9. Miami Heat 40-41: vs. Washington .600 Wednesday.

Heat must win Wednesday and hope either Chicago or Indiana lose in order to make the playoffs.

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. HEAT: Down to wire on mad scramble for playoffs: Miami sits at 39-41 in 9th place in East and just off playoff pace in a mad scrum with Pacers and Bulls. (More on the Heat playoff picture below HB10). It will come down to each team's final two games -- with Miami's at home vs. Cavaliers tonight and Wizards Wednesday. Man, mediocrity has never been so exciting!?

2. MARLINS: Fish open at home Tuesday amid Jeter talk: Marlins wrapped up a decent 3-3 season-opening road trip Sunday and now it's Opening Night at home Tuesday vs. Braves. Season unfurls amid reports that a group fronted by Derek Jeter is among those interested in buying the Marlins. Yes, please!

3. GOLF: Sergio Garcia in green as The Masters wraps up: Sergio Garcia finally won his elusive first major on Sunday at Augusta, slipping on that sartorially awful green jacket. Speaking of slipping, Masters began with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson's late withdrawal with sore back after he slipped on stairs. Or was he pushed!?!

4. DOLPHINS: Draft preparation shifts into high gear: NFL Draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia, with Dolphins weighing options for 22nd overall pick in first round. Miami's primary goal? To be closer on the sliding draft scale to a Laremy Tunsil gift than to a Dion Jordan gaffe. 

5. PANTHERS: Humane bullet ends disappointing season: Season that began with of Stanley Cup dreams ended out of playoffs with thud Sunday at Washington. Cats ended with two straight wins but at 35-47 overall. It was reported interim coach Tom Rowe would not return, which ranked with Barry Manilow's 'I'm-gay' revelation as week's least-surprising news.

6. TONY ROMO: Cowboys QB retires, gets sweet TV gig: Tony Romo left the NFL and immediately was hired by CBS Sports to replace Phil Simms as main NFL analyst alongside Jim Nantz. The sports media -- the same guys who railed for years about how awful and boring Simms was -- then trumpeted indignantly how unfair it was Simms was losing his job. 

7. HURRICANES: Former players donate big to indoor practice facility: As football spring practice continues on campus, 60 former Miami Hurricanes football players led by current coach Mark Richt donated $1.65 million to the Greg Cote Football Indoor Practice Facility. What. Oh, my bad. It's the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility.

8. SOCCER: U.S. women, UEFA quarterfinals on stage: U.S. women's team walloped Russia 5-1 Sunday in a friendly in Houston, but the big news in international soccer will be UEFA Champions League quarterfinal matches Tuesday and Wednesday. Those won't be friendly.

9. FIU: Football stadium named for major donor: FIU Stadium officially became Riccardo Silva Stadium this week, named after a major athletic donor. People who will now call it Riccardo Silva Stadium: FIU, and Riccardo Silva. People who'll continue to call it FIU Stadium: Everybody else.

10. LAVAR BALL: Idiot-dad at it again with 'white guys' remark: Clown-dad father LaVar Ball now claims his son's UCLA team lost in the NCAA Tournament because of the slowness of "three white guys." Well, at least he didn't name them!

Missing the HB10 cut: Daniel Cormier defended his title belt in UFC 2010 last night in Buffalo, and we cannot even feign enough interest to go on ..... Denver won the NCAA men's ice hockey championship, surprising analysts who were unaware Denver was a college or that there was college hockey ..... Tony Romo will be "Maverick for a day" and sit in uniform on the Dallas bench. Given the Mavs' season, surprised Tony didn't say, "UM, uh, no thanks." ..... And in other news, the U.S. bombed Syria.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 4-10-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Cleveland at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami better consider this must-win in playoff race with two games left.

2. Heat rivals, 7 and 8 p.m.: Heat fans rooting against Indiana (7 @ PHI) and Chicago (8 vs. ORL).

3. Duke at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball wraps up ACC home series.

4. Los Angeles at Chicago, 8 p.m.: Dodgers-Cubs on national TV. Why not!?

Poll result: Strong support for Jeter to head next Marlins owners: We asked who you most support as potential next owner of the Miami Marlins, and the Derek Jeter-led investment group dominated with 73.7 percent. The Jeb Bush-led group said to be Citigroup-backed had fair support with 12.8%. Also-rans were the faceless group said to have backing of Goldman Sachs (5.8%), the Kushner family that first had handshake agreement (4.5%), and the hope that Jeffrey Loria changes his mind and keeps team (3.2%).

Select other recent columns: Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 08, 2017

Marlins next-owner poll: Jeter? Jeb? Someone else? 5 candidates. Last day to vote!; plus Heat playoff odds tumble (updated), your verdict on Romo, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Legolandbeachretreat1) It is SATURDAY, April 8. Interesting story here on how Vegas sportsbooks are split on whether to refund bets on Dustin Johnson after his (very) late withdrawal from The Masters. 2) LegoLand Florida's Beach Retreat adjunct (pictured) opened Friday in Winter Haven. How delightfully weird! 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jeter/Bush among Marlins bidders, playoff odds swing against Heat, '18 NCAA title odds, Romo to CBS with poll, your Marlins expectations verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"LaVar Ball, briefly out of the spotlight, sought it again this week by blaming his son's UCLA team's ouster from NCAA Tournament on teammates he referred to as 'three white guys.' Not to repeat myself, but: You, sir, are an idiot." --Greg Cote

Marlinslogo ForsalePOLL: NAME YOUR FAVORITE POTENTIAL NEW MARLINS OWNERSHIP GROUP: I have a new column out touting Derek Jeter to replace (supposedly) departing Jeffrey Loria as Miami Marlins owner. Click on Because Jeter Is Everything Loria Is Not to read that column. Now it's your turn. Select your preferred next Marlins owner from among the currently identified plausible options. Vote now:

UPDATED: HEAT PLAYOFFS ODDS TUMBLE: Miami remains the 9th seed but is now one full game off playoff pace behind Chicago and Indiana after last night's hurtful loss in Toronto. 9thWith it, ESPN's Basketball Power Index playoff odds now give Miami only a 39.3 percent shot, down from 52.5 percent%. The Bulls' likelihood is now put at 94.7% and the Pacers' at 75.0%. The Heat's ace in the hole and best hope? A tiebreaker edge over Indiana, which would end up securing that 8th seed if their final records are tied. Closing schedules, though, still clearly favor CHI/IND and grow skepticism on Miami's playoff chances:

Chicago Bulls 39-40: @ Brooklyn .241 tonight; vs. Orlando .354 and vs. Brooklyn .241.

Indiana Pacers 39-40: @ Orlando .354 tonight; @ Philadelphia .354 and vs. Atlanta .519.

Miami Heat 38-41: @ Washington .608 tonight; vs. Cleveland .646 and vs. Washington .608.

Poll result: Romo a Hall of Famer? Oh hell no!: We asked if QB-turned-CBS analyst Tony Romo had a Hall of Fame-worthy NFL career, and it was 79.3 percent no and only 11.6% yes. The other 9.1% were undecided.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 4-8-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Washington, 7 p.m.: Miami, in final road game, still fighting to sneak in playoffs.

2. Buffalo at Panthers, 7 p.m.: Home finale for Cats' hugely disappointing season.

3. The Masters, 3 p.m. (TV): Third round of year's first golf major.

4. Marlins at N.Y. Mets, 7:10 p.m.: Fifth of six-game season opening road trip for Fish.

5. Duke at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball opens three-game ACC series.

Select other recent columns: Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 06, 2017

Heat still playoff-unlikely even with big win; plus Jeter, Jeb join list of interested Marlins buyers; also, Romo/Canton poll (last day to vote!), '18 NCAA title odds, lamb-flavored potato chips, Hot Button Daily, expectations bar you set for Fish & more

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

Lambchips1) It is THURSDAY, April 6. Comic great Don Rickles has died at 90. R.I.P. 2) Back In My Day: Potato Chips. Click here for our latest BIMD from yesterday's LeBatard Show. 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Day poll and list, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

2018 men's NCAA Tournament title odds: Out today via Bovada, Kentucky opens as favorite at 9-1, with North Carolina second at 12-1 to repeat. Florida Gators are 25-1 (tied for 12th), FSU Seminoles are 33-1 (tie 17th) and Hurricanes ar 40-1 (tie 21st).

DEREK JETER, JEB BUSH REPORTEDLY NOW AMONG INTERESTED MARLINS BUYERS: Confirming long-percolating rumors, Fox Business Network and FoxBusiness.com reported this Jeterafternoon (story here) that former Yankees superstar Derek Jeter (pictured) is fronting a group interested in buying the Miami Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. The report sources "people with direct knowledge" and says Jeter is being represented in talks with Marlins president David Samson by Wall Street executive and former Morgan Stanley brokerage chief Gregory Fleming. Jeter has long been open about his interest in owning a sports team, especially in baseball. Fox Business reports another bidding group is led by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Citigroup. A third bidding group is said to have the financial backing of Goldman Sachs. Loria made plain at the start of recent spring training that he plans to sell and as soon as this season. The asking price has been reporte as high at $1.6 billion but many believe the actual sale price could be half of that. Earlier this spring, yet another potential bidder was the Kushner real estate, but that possibility seemed to have cooled for now related to a Kushner son being married to Donald Trump's daughter and Loria's possible nomination as ambassador to France.

UPDATED: ODDS STILL AGAINST HEAT MAKING PLAYOFFS: Really big win in Charlotte last night lifted Miami to the 8th seed (with tiebreakers), but Heat still are deemed unlikely to make the playoffs. Can't really blame the 11-30 record at midseason because Miami clawed successfully back from that to get on playoff Miamiheatpace, climbing as high as the 7th seed. No, it was the two bad home losses in a row and four L's in six games overall (The Missing Dion Waiters Effect) before last night. Chicago, Indiana and Miami now all have identical records, but each of those three teams' remaining schedules hugely favors the Bulls and is toughest by far for the Heat. That is why ESPN's Basketball Power Index now gives Chicago a 93.4 percent playoff likelihood, Indiana 75.8% and Miami only 31.8%. Comparing the remaining schedules:

Chicago Bulls 38-40: @ Philadelphia .359; @ Brooklyn .244; vs. Orlando .346 and vs. Brooklyn .244.

Indiana Pacers 38-40: vs. Milwaukee .513; @ Orlando .346; @ Philadelphia .359 and vs. Atlanta .506.

Miami Heat 38-40: @ Toronto .608; @ Washington .603; vs. Cleveland .654 and vs. Washington .603.

ON TONY ROMO TO CBS: Tony Romo abruptly retires from the Cowboys and NFL and immediately becomes CBS Sports' main NFL game analyst as the network dumps Phil Simms and Romosimmsinstalls Romo alongside play-by-play ace Jim Nantz on featured games. Controversial? Yes, I guess, because former CBS mainstay Bonnie Bernstein Tweeted angrily that the decision was "total crap" and unfair to Simms because Romo has zero broadcast experience. Hey, here's a bulletin. No former NFL star is hired for his on-air background, his dulcet tones or even for the likelihood he might actually excel in his new role. Former stars are hired because they are former stars. Well-known. Apt to attract viewers. It's how Phil Simms got hired. And Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Rich Gannon, Troy Aikman, Steve Young and every other ex-QB handed a mic. Some turn out to be pretty good. Most don't. Simms wasn't. That he got replaced should surprise nobody who follows sports broadcasting. That he got replaced by other ex-QBs even less a shock. Whether Romo "deserves" his new job isn't the most interesting question about him. The one I pose in this poll is, because I think it's debatable, with a pretty strong argument on either side. Vote now.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 4-6-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. The Masters, 3 p.m. (TV): First round of year's first golf major from Augusta.

2. Marlins at Washington, 4 p.m.: Fish try to avoid sweep in season-opening road series.

3. Heat rivals, 7 p.m.: MIA fans will be rooting against Bulls (at PHI) and Pacers (vs. MIL).

4. St. Louis at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats' next-to-last home game of season.

5. Men's Frozen Four, 6 p.m.: From Chicago, for all of you college hockey fans.

Poll result: Confidence in Marlins slips: That's based on identical polls we took at the start of spring training in mid-February and at the start of the season this week. The combination of "playoffs or contending" has fallen from 53.2 percent to 41.5%, while the combination of "mediocre or worse" has risen from 46.9% to 58.5%. The breakdown:

Poll answer                                              Feb.        Now

The playoffs, finally!                              16.8%      10.0%

Contending team that just misses    36.4%      31.5%

Mediocre team never really in hunt  37.1%      46.2%

Post-Jose, a bad season                          9.8%       12.3% 

Select recent columns: Federer and Nadal Deliver, the latest, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote