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July 05, 2014

On LeBron's decision; plus Argentina-Germany finals. Which team are you most rooting for to win World Cup? Poll. Vote!

1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 106. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): World Cup quarterfinals, U.S.-success poll result, Heat free agency, Canes new helmet & more. 2Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

HEAT ADD 2. NOW RELAX, FOLKS: LEBRON WILL BE BACK WITH HEAT ... OR WILL HE?: The preceding headline is a 1aa1alebjamessteadfast prediction. You want me to go all Joe Namath? OK. I guarantee it. Click on Relax, Everybody for my recent column on Heat free agency. There is a bunch of noise and misinformation and rumors and tea-leave-reading going on, but when you cut through all the clatter it remains very likely LeBron James will join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in leaving Miami's Big 3 intact, to be augmented by two or three free-agent additions. We should know by today, the day when teams first may sign free agents. Could there be a monumental surprise? Of course. LeBeron couldreturn to Cleveland, the viable option. Or Bosh could sign with Houston. But the odds are far greater Tres Grande, led by leBron, will simply be staying put. Meantime Miami adds power forward Josh McRoberts and small forward Danny Granger in free agency.

1aa1abrazilwcFINAL FOUR. YOU PICK ONE. WHICH OF REMAINING TEAMS WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO SEE WIN THE WORLD CUP?: Maybe your team is still in it. Maybe you're rooting against someone more than for anyone. Maybe your allegiance is to your wallet and a bet. Maybe you're a U.S. fan adopting a team to cheer. I mean, these are four football giants in the World Cup semifinals (matchups below). If you're a soccer fan you must like one of these teams more than the others. Yes? Not asking here for you you think will win. Asking for you you most want to win. Vote for your rooting interest and say why.

FUTBLOG! WORLD CUP: FINAL FOUR: THE SEMIFINALS: FUTBLOG! is the official World Cup post of this blog, a continually updated daily dose of the month-long soccer spectacle in Brazil. See earlier posts for earlier results. We are down to the Final Four:

GERMANY (def. Brazil, 7-1): Titans, both, kings of South America and Europe. Brazil was a 3-1 1aa1abrazil
1aa1agermanbetting favorite entering the tournament, gunning for its sixth World Cup title and first since 2002 -- doing so with the home crowd behind it but without injured star Neymar. Germany, with 11-2 odds coming in, is seeking its fourth WC championship but first since ever-distant 1990. That's eight World Cup wins represented in this powerhouse matchup. It isn't that Germany won. But 7-1? A declaration of World Cup intentions for Germany. And a monumental embarrassment for Brazil.

ARGENTINA (def. Netherlands, PKs): Another cross-continent semifinal between football 1aa1aragebtinsa 1aa1anetherlands
giants. Argentina, a 4-1 near-favorite coming in and powered by the great Lionel Messi, motoring after its third World Cup title but first since way back in 1986. Netherlands playing the clear underdog in this final four, at 25-1 odds coming in and never a champion -- though a three-time runnerup. When your Cinderella is the Dutch, your Final Four is mighty. But Argwntina gets by on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw thorugh overtime.

Ensuing schedule: Third-place match--Brazil vs. Netherlands Saturday July 12, 4 p.m. Championship match--Argentina vs. Germany Sunday July 13, 3 p.m.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot Button 1aa1ahotbuttonis a new Sunday feature of the blog (this is our third one) because our Sunday notes-column package in the print edition (newspaper) is on summer hiatus, set to return in August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. Heat: Decision Week for Big 3: This Thursday is first day NBA teams may sign free agents. It won't be a televised 'Decision' this time, but expect LeBron to be keeping his talents in South Beach.

2. World Cup: Semifinals set: Brazil vs. Germany and Argentina vs. Netherlands makes for a heavyweight final four on Tuesday and Wednesday. I thought they should have canceled rest of tournament when U.S. was eliminated, but that's just me.

3. Dolphins: DE Jordan suspended: Last year's top draft pick Dion Jordan will miss first four games for using a banned substance, a week after center Mike Pouncey's hip surgery will shelve him even longer. Suddenly, Dolphins are losing the offseason.

4. Marlins: Stanton in Derby: The bad news? Playoff hopes are fading. The good news? At least Giancarlo Stanton will be dropping bombs in the Home Run Derby next Monday as part of All-Star Game festivities. 

5. Wimbledon: Fortnight ends: While Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer formed a marquee men's final, the women's final was a no-name affair partly because Serena Williams bowed out early, ill. Reports now are she may be pregnant. I swear, I thought she was on the pill!

6. Competitive eating: Chestnut: Joey Chestnut inhaled 61 hot dogs to win the annual Nathan's crown yet again. Places on Earth I'd least like to be: Chestnut's bathroom the hour following the event.

7. Panthers: Cats waive Jovanovski: As the hockey club attacked free agency, quietly, the Ed Jovanovski era ended. He was a rookie when Florida reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996 and rejoined in club in 2011. Now, it looks like the end of the skate for Jovo.

8. Cycling: Tour de France: The once-prestigious Tour de France is underway. The winner will be the last cyclist to not test positive for anything.

9. Golf: British Open: It's coming up next week as Tiger Woods continues preparations for his latest majors disappointment.

10. Horse wars: Gulfstream wins: Gulfstream won near total control over horse racing dates from Calder. That would be big news, if tracks still cared about racing and weren't mostly casinos now.

Honorable mention: Former Dolphin Garo Yepremian is fighting adrenal cancer and a brain tumor. (Click here for my column). Best wishes to one of most colorful characters in local sports history.

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