August 07, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what lands where in Miami sports as new week begins; plus Fins sign Cutler, my Sunday column on who's next for Hall of Fame, your verdicts on Dolphins/Hurricanes QB upheaval, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 7. Talked Jay Cutler and Jason Taylor on Paul Castronovo Show this morning. Always happy to be on with Paul. 2) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill injury with what-next poll, who'll-be-Canes-starting-QB poll, anniversary of me singing 'Letting Go' & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: What Miami stars are next for Hall of Fame?:  With Jason Taylor the latest member of the club, who's on deck among former or current South Florida pro-team sports stars? We explore the possibilities and odds. Click on Immortality Calling to read.

Latest Dolphins column: The case for Kaepernick: In wake of Thursday's Ryan Tannehill injury, Dolphins should consider Colin Kaepernick the best of available option. Click on Right Time, Right Quarterback for my column. 

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: Tannehill knee injury casts pall, Fins sign Cutler: With Saturday's scrimmage in the books and the first exhibition game only three days away, this season will start just like the last one ended: With QB Ryan Tannehill out injured indefinitely, victim of that same left knee. The question was what to do next. The answer came Sunday with the 1-year, $10 million signing of ex-Bears QB Jay Cutler. Isn't it weird: How Tannehill looks better and better to fans vs. alternatives when he isn't there?

2. JASON TAYLOR: Miami's great No. 99 enters Canton: The Dolphins' great defensive end and career sacks leader Taylor stepped into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and into immortality as one of seven Class of '17 inductees Saturday night in Canton, Ohio. Reference to his having played at AKron, I loved his "20 years to go 20 miles" theme. Well done. Just wish his longtime running mate Zach Thomas could have gone in with him.

3. MARLINS: Fish back on road, chasing consolation of .500: Marlins are in midst of a seven-game road trip following a 5-2 homestand that drew the Fish within four games of a .500 record. Hey, with a playoff spot looking pretty hopeless, you reach for the nearest consolation prize available, right?

4. HURRICANES: UM crashes Top 20 in early preseason polls: The Canes entered at No. 18 in the preseason coaches' poll, and were 16th in the initial ESPN Power Rankings. Imagine how high they might rank if they had a proven starting quarterback or knew who that person would be!?

5. DAVID BECKHAM: Miami group wins league approval: Major League Soccer owners this week authorized moving forward on David Beckham's bid, with the league expected by September to officially announce a Miami expansion team for 2020. Golden shovels, please. Better get to breakin' ground on that stadium, Becks.

6. HEAT: Projected standings have Miami seventh in East: Spoiler alert! ESPN has projected the Heat will finish seventh in the Eastern Conference this season with 42.3 wins. That's mediocre. But it will be interesting to see how Miami manages to get that one-third of a win.

7. SOCCER: Neymar switches clubs in record deal: Rising soccer superstar Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain on a record transfer fee worth $263 million U.S. For that kind of money, he better have scored a hat track on the flight to France.

8. BASEBALL: Amazing Dodgers on historic run: Los Angeles is on a .709 clip this season and on a 43-7 run, the best 50-game stretch by any MLB team since 1912. And the Dodgers just acquired an ace-level starter in Yu Darvish. Which is like Bill Gates finding money. 

9. MIAMI FC: NASL club eliminated from U.S. Open Cup: Miami FC was eliminated at home 1-0 by Cincinnati of the USL in a disappointing finish to a sterling run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Might we suggest an NASL championship as a decent consolation prize?

10. GOLF: Season's final men's major on deck: The PGA Championship, season's final major, begins this Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson the betting favorites. FORE! No, it's just those three, really.

Missing the HB10 cut: Justin Gatlin beat Usain Bolt in the 100 meters at the IAAF track & field world championships in London. In between doping bans, Gatlin is really good ..... Steph Curry shot 74 and missed the cut at a Web.com golf event. Maybe it was habit, but the king of the 3's was sinking too many 3-putt greens ..... Watched the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions last night. I think Kenny Easley is still talking. ..... Team World beat Team Africa in the annual NBA Africa Game. Geez, let the host continent win, already! ..... LaVar Ball has gone a few days without doing anything idiotic. Is he OK? ..... Heat dancer auditions on Sunday will send 40 young women on to a four-day boot camp. That seems really uncomfortable, dancing in boots ..... A softball team of 12-14 year-old girls from Mechanicsville, Va. was disqualified from a championship game for a Snapchat photo in which six girls were giving middle fingers to the team they'd just beaten. Ah, sportsmanship!

POLL RESULTS: KAEPERNICK, PERRY WIN YOUR SUPPORT FOR DOLPHINS, HURRICANES: We called it "Quarterback Quandary X2," invited your opinion, and got it in a massive response. Dolphins: We asked, "If Ryan Tannehill is out injured, who would you prefer to be the Dolphins' starting quarterback to begin the 2017 season?" And you voted Colin Kaepernick 46.5 percent, Matt Moore 32.2%, Jay Cutler 17.8% and Robert Griffin III 3.5%. Kaepernick was up to about 58% before the race narrowed, but he still won comfortably. Hurricanes: We asked, "Which quarterback do you predict will emerge as the Miami Hurricanes' starter this season?" And you voted N'Kosi Perry 54.8 percent, Malik Rosier 31.6%, Evan Shirreffs 7.1% and "s

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-7-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Washington, 7:05 p.m.: Fish 7-game road trip visits NL East-leading Nats.

2. Dolphins practice, 8:45 a.m.: Turning page at QB as preseason opener nears.

3. Track world championships, 2 p.m.: IAAF track & field worlds continue in London.

4. Big3 basketball, 8 p.m.: Old-guy hoops tour moves to Lexington, Ky.

Select other recent columns -- The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 31, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what falls where on this week's list; plus El Clasico Miami rises to expectations (with our column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 31. Thank you, July. All-Star Game to El Clasico, you've been a month we won't forget. 2) It's Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): El Clasico goes sans Ronaldo, Dolphins 'offensive arsenal' ranked No. 3 in NFL as camp opens, Jarvis Landry named Fins' biggest star & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MY EL CLASICO COLUMN: RONALDO MISSED A HECK OF A GAME: The absence of Real Madrid star Ronaldo was glaring, unfortunate and unnecessary, but Barcelona and Real lived up to billing anyway in a scintillating 3-2 Barca win last night that filled hard Rock Stadium for the rivals' first-ever U.S. meeting. Click on He Missed a Heck Of a Game for my column from the game. Here are my three previous columns on Miami's biggest soccer week ever: Juventus, PSG Entertain As Decisions Loom (from Wednesday's match; It Began With An Accidental Infatuation (how the seed was Joe Robbie's unlikely love of soccer; and World-Sized Spectacle (perspective on magnitude of Miami hosting El Clasico).

Latest Dolphins column: Higher hopes, higher heat: Going from good to great is harder than going from mediocre to good. That is the Dolphins' challenge as 2017 training camp unfurls. I explore in my latest Fins column. Click on The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami Dolphins 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. SOCCER: Barcelona 3, Real Madrid 2 caps huge soccer week in Miami: El Clasico filled Hard Rock Stadium Saturday night with scintillating soccer as futbol titans and mega-rivals Barca and Real lit it up in their historic, first-ever U.S. meeting. The big question leading up to the match? Forget “Where's Waldo?” It was "Where's Ronaldo!?" Alas, the answer: Not in Miami. Shoulda been here but guess what. Match was so great, we barely missed him.

2. DOLPHINS: Buoyant Fins aiming high as training camp unfurls: ESPN ranking of NFL “offensive arsenals” this week listed Dolphins a lofty No. 3 overall. Mediocre to-good is easy; now the pressure is building on the Fins to go good-to-great. How will they handle it? We find out together.

3. HURRICANES: QB battle center-stage as UM opens camp: As FIU stags its third fall workday of Butch Davis era today, Canes are poised for first fall practice on Tuesday as Mark Rich Year II unfurls. Hopes are high but much depends on open quarterback spot. Malik Rosier? Evan Shirreffs? Maybe true freshman N'Kosi Perry? Whomever wins, inexperience will lead UM.

4. MARLINS: Sale talks stalling at trade deadline: With closer A.J. Ramos dealt to Mets, Monday is MLB trade deadline as Fish saw four-game win streak end Sunday and continue six-game homestand. Meanwhile Jeffrey Loria's sale of club continues to not get done. Dear Jeff: You wanted what you wanted, now the market has responded. Wanna sell? Lower the price!

5. MIAMI FC: NASL club hosts U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal: NASL's Miami FC hosts USL's FCF Cincinnati Wednesday night at FIU in duel of underdogs for a spot in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Following Barca-Real, call this one El Pequeno Clasico.

6. HEAT: Miami denies offer for Irving, but...: ESPN's NBA expert Adrian Wojnarowski identified the Heat among six teams that have made offers to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. The Heat in turn publicly denied they have made an offer. Hmm. I'll side with Woj, thanks.

7. USMNT: U.S. wins Gold Cup championship: U.S. Men's National Team kept its record perfect under new coach Bruce Arena by beating Jamaica 2-1 to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship, a regional but notable international title.

8. MLB: Hall of Fame celebrates Induction Weekend in Cooperstown: Speeches came Sunday as Jeff Bagwell, Pudge Rodriguez and Tim Raines headed the Cooperstown Class of '17. Pudge and Raines played for Marlins but not long enough to go in as Fish. So they're dead to me!

9. UFC: Jon Jones makes most of comeback vs. Daniel Cormier: UFC 214 looked a good one Saturday night and saw Jones return from a one-year suspension with a third-round TKO over Cormier, with Jones reclaiming the light-heavyweight title he held from 2011-15.

10. NFL: Dire results in new study on brain injuries: A new study found a sample of 111 brains of former NFL players showed 100 with evidence of CTE injury. Asterisk: They were donated brains from families who strongly suspected their loved ones were impaired. Sort of like doing a study of cancer patients and discovering 99.9 percent had cancer.

Missing the HB10 cut: As a new lawsuit impedes his stadium progress, David Beckham heard Stephen Ross throw shade on an MLS team's likelihood of success in Miami. Beckham still hopes to field a team by the end of the decade. We need to start asking, "What decade, exactly?" ..... LaVar Ball had an AAU female referee replaced mid-game after she gave him a technical. The good news? I won my bet that LaVar could not go an entire week without embarrassing himself ..... USC said paroled O.J. Simpson would not be welcome on the sideline or at Trojans events, surprising absolutely nobody ..... Rangers' Adrian Beltre got ejected from the on-deck circle. Congrats, Adrian, for redefining how to be an idiot ..... Answer: There's a Monster Jam next weekend at the Sunrise arena. Question: What is maybe the most ridiculous motorsports event on Earth? ..... Thursday there's a $2 million prize in a 5-on-5 challenge called The Basketball Tournament. Dear organizers: How 'bout you take some of that money and buy your event an actual name ..... Answer: Ravens just signed barely known arena-league QB David Olson. Question: "Why do people keep saying Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed?" ..... There are reports a $10 million cricket franchise is coming to South Florida, surprising analysts who were unaware there were cricket franchises.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-31-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Washington at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish play 1st of 3 vs. NL East power.

2. MLB trade deadline, 4 p.m.: And then the dealin's done. 

3. Dolphins training camp, ongoing: Fins' 5th open-to-public workout in Davie.

4. FIU football practice, ongoing: Third fall workday of Butch Davis era.

Select other recent columns -- Blockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for Riley (on Kyrie Irving-to-Heat possibility). Paroled But Not Free (O.J. SImpson). Don't Hold Your Breath (LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat (Venus Williams' Wimbledon run). Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 12, 2017

Miami steps up big in All-Star Game/Home Run Derby doubleheader, with my latest column from ballpark; plus was Heat offseason a success? Poll. Last day to vote!; also, ESPY Awards, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 12. I'll be in-studio twice this week with the LeBatard Show, Thursday and Friday. 2) Know any Dolphins fans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Aaron Judge wins Home Run Derby, Miami All-Star Primer and grading the Big Four events, Derby vs. ASG poll, Hot Button Top 10, your ESPN Body issue result & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Our Miami All-Star Week columns:

NEW: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era Ebbs: Column from Tuesday's ASG.

Verdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up Big: Column from Monday night's Home Run Derby. 

Home Run Derby Is King: Why the Monday power show has become bigger than even the All-Star Game.

Miami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing It: We are definitely not a typical All-Star host.

There Should Be A Place For IchiroHonoring greats like Ichiro should be what All-Star games are about.

AFTER SIZZLING HOME RUN DERBY, AL BEATS NL 2-1 in MIAMI ALL-STAR GAME: It was AL 2, NL 1 Tuesday night in the 88th All-Star Game culminating the first Midsummer Classic Allstargame Ajudgeheld in Miami, the game won on a solo homer by Robinson Cano of Seattle in the 10th inning. Marlins had Giancarlo Stanton starting as designated hitter (manager choice) and batting second, and Marcell Ozuna starting in left field (fan vote) and batting eighth. But Stantonn was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and Ozuna 0-2 with one K. After 14 years with the ASG winner determining home-field advantage in the World Series, the ASG was back to purely ceremonial this year. That's good and makes sense, although it did make the game less important -- all showcase, no real stakes. Mike Trout missed the game injured and other guys of special interest to Miami (Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado) didn't make the team, but the game didn't lack for starpower. Tough act to follow, though, after the show Yankees phenom Aaron Judge (pictured) put on the previous night in taking the Home Run Derby crown from Stanton. There is a broad perception (see poll result below) that the Derby has usurped the ASG as the All-Star break's biggest event. The game did not exactly fight back and reassert itself Tuesday. Cano's late homer won it, but it's tough to think what he did topped Judge.

POLL RESULT: HR DERBY IS BIGGER THAN ALL-STAR GAME: We asked which Miami All-Star Week event you most look forward to watching, and Monday's Home Run Derby swamped Tuesday's All-Star Game by 69.5 percent to 30.5%.

KolynykHAS THIS BEEN A SUCCESSFUL HEAT OFFSEASON? NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: How'd Pat Riley do? Has the team improved? Is Miami in a better spot relative to the competition? The case for YES: The Heat re-signed key components it could have lost in free agency (led by Dion Waiters and James Johnson) from a team that went 30-11 in last season's second half, and added young big man Kelly Olynyk (pictured) from Boston. The case for NO: Miami went hard after top free-agent prize Gordon Hayward and not only lost him, but lost him to the rival Celtics. The Heat essentially stood pat with a 41-41 team other than adding Olynyk, a consolation prize after losing Hayward. We assume no major deals and maybe only minor tinkering are yet to come. Your Heat-offseason verdict goes here:

EspysSLIM PICKINGS FOR LOCALS ON ESPY AWARDS TONIGHT: The annual ESPY Awards tonight will include 32 categories, but South Florida team athletes were shut out of the nominees, and local individuals are few. They are: Serena Williams (from Palm Beach Gardens), nominated for Best Female Athlete and Best Female Tennis Player; Brad Koepka (born West Palm Beach), nominated for Best Male Golfer; and Lexi Thompson (from Coral Springs), nominated for Best Female Golfer. In a related award, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), founded by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, won an ESPN Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 7-12-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Cincinnati at Miami FC, 7:30 p.m.: It's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at FIU Stadium.

2. Heat vs. Washington, 6 p.m.: Miami kiddies in summer-league playoff in Vegas.

3. Wimbledon, underway: Men's quarterfinal matches from London.

4. ESPY Awards, 8 p.m.: ESPN's annual grandiose self-promotion from L.A. 

5. Tour de France, underway: Stage 11 of famed cycling race.

Select other recent columns: The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks: A farewell to Bosh. Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron: On Heat's fight for Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 10, 2017

Judge wins Home Run Derby verdict but Marlins come up big; plus is HR Derby now bigger than All-Star Game? Poll. Vote now!; also, we grade the Big 4 All-Star events, latest Hot Button Top 10, your 'Body' verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 10. Classy. Chris Bosh with a full-page ad in Sunday's Miami Herald, a thank-you letter to Miami and Heat fans. 2) Know any Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): An homage to Bosh and Ichiro, ESPN Mag's 'Body' issue poll, Heat rebound with Olynyk, your Barcelona-Real Madrid vs. All-Star Game verdict, McCartney and Rod/Cyndi concert reviews & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Our All-Star Week columns:

Verdict to Judge, But Marlins Big in Home Run Derby: Column from Monday night's Derby. 

Home Run Derby Is King: Why the Monday power show has become bigger than even the All-Star Game.

Miami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing It: We are definitely not a typical All-Star host.

There Should Be A Place For Ichiro: Honoring greats like Ichiro should be what All-Star games are about.

YOUR MIAMI ALL-STAR PRIMER: GRADING THE BIG FOUR EVENTS: It's been all build-up, fan fests and ancillary events. Until now. Sunday began the real stuff as the Miami All-Star Week festivities swung to Marlins Park and action on the field:

HomerunderbyTODAY: HOME RUN DERBY -- Yankee Aaron Judge beats Twins' Miguel Sano in final of 33rd annual HR Derby. Defending champ Giancarlo Stanton of Marlins bowed out in first round and so did teammate Justin Bour, but both with dramatic one-home losses. Judge beast Bour in a 23-22 epic. The HR Derby is more popular than ever and this year featured among its 10 participants the hometown hero Stanton, who wrecked the record book in winning last year, and the phenom Judge, the talk of 2017. It was a terrific show, and a living up to billing by Judge. Event grade: A. To many fans, this event is more anticipated than the ASG itself.

AllstargameTUESDAY: 88TH ALL-STAR GAME -- It's NL vs. AL (7:30 p.m., Fox) in the Midsummer Classic, just as it has been since the 1930s. Marlins have Marcell Ozuna as an NL starter and Stanton as a reserve. After 14 years with the winner determining home-field advantage in the World Series, the ASG is back to purely ceremonial this year. That's good and makes sense, although it does make the game less important -- all showcase. Mike Trout will miss the game injured and other guys of special interest to Miami (Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado ) didn't make the team, but the game won't lack for starpower. Event grade: B. Nobody really cares who wins. And the game MVP will be second-star of the week after the Derby champion.

AllstarsundaySUNDAY: FUTURES GAME / ALL-STAR LEGENDS & CELEBRITY SOFTBALL GAME --  Futures Game: The U.S. beat the World team 7-6 in the sparsely attended Futures Game featuring top minor-leaguers, some of whom might be playing in the Tuesday ASG in a few years. It was 19th annual event, with U.S. now leading the World 12-7. Marlins participants were 3B Brian Anderson and pitchers Tayron Guerrero and Jonathan Hernandez, all from Double-A. Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Christian Yelich and many future stars have passed through the Futures Game. The fun is trying to pick out the future stars from this one-game sample. Event grade: C-plus. You likely hadn't heard of any of the players, but still a fun  game with big meaning for the participants. All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game: This hit 'n giggle affair followed the Futures Game, and drew a much bigger, full crowd. Former players in it included Pudge Rodriguez, Andre Dawson and Rickey Henderson. "Celebrities" included Jamie Foxx and a bevy of not-really-stars such as Dascha Polanco, William Levy, Jencarlos Canela and others you've likely not heard of, either. Event grade: D. Old former players and mostly C-list celebs pretending to play softball. An adjunct of All-Star Week begging to be retired.

MIAMI ALL-STAR WEEK POLL: Just for fun, let's pretend the Television God (who can be mean) has decreed you can only watch Monday's Home Run Derby or Tuesday's All-Star Game -- but not both. You must choose. So go ahead. I dare you. Which interests you more? Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

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. MLB: Finally! Miami hosts All-Star Game: Seventeen years later -- Miami was awarded the 2000 game only to have it taken away -- Monday's Home Run Derby and Tuesday's 88th All-Star Game come to Marlins Park. It should be two nights of non-stop feelgood and cheering ... well, assuming they don't inadvertently introduce Jeffrey Loria.

2. HEAT: Team recovers admirably from Hayward loss: Miami suffered big free-agency loss with Gordon Hayward choosing Boston, but recovered nicely by getting the Celtics' Kelly Olynyk and also re-signing Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Wayne Ellington. Pat Riley was on the canvas, but not long, then the Godfather got up.

3. MARLINS: Hot Fish ride 10-game road trip into break: Marlins completed long road trip Sunday in San Francisco winning six of past eight games to close season's first half and head home to host All-Star festivities. After the break, with playoff contention still a longshot, we'll settle for a completion of the sale of the team, thank you.

4. CHRIS BOSH: Quietly, last of Big 3 officially departs Heat: It happened on Fourth of July in midst of Gordon Hayward's decision so got overshadowed, but the last of the Heat's Big 3 era officially ended this past Tuesday for the gentleman-athlete whose career was felled by blood clots. He said thanks to fans in a full-page Sunday letter in the Herald. Classy. Farewell, Chris.

5. MIAMI FC: Local club hosts big U.S. Open Cup match: OK, it isn't Barcelona-Real Madrid. But NASL club Miami FC hosts USL team Cincinnati this Wednesday night at FIU in the quarterfinal round of the U.S. Open Cup tournament. Event is in its 104th year. Um, it's kind of a big deal.

6. WIMBLEDON: Fortnight in London begins second week: Play resumes today. An American man last won Wimbledon in 2000 (Pete Sampras), and a U.S. woman not a Williams sister hasn't won since 1999 (Lindsay Davenport). With Serena out on maternity leave, anybody betting that's about to change?

7. NBA: Harden gets richest contract extension: Houston gave MVP runnerup James Harden a four-year extension (through 2022-23) worth $170, richest extension in league history. So his Mom was wrong, after all, when she said, "No company will ever hire you with that beard!"

8. PANTHERS: Forget 'Where's Waldo?' Where's Jaromir!: It has been a rocky Cats offseason marked by letting leading scorer Jonathan Marchessault go in the expansion draft and then parting ways with Jaromir Jagr. The ageless wonder remains unsigned, meaning he's a bargain. Bring back Jaromir! 

9. TOUR DE FRANCE: Signature cycling event nears midpoint: Monday is 10th of 23 daily Stage races. Not positive who's leading at the moment, but whomever it is, take a urine sample, please.

10. ESPY AWARDS: Manning to host event's 25th edition: ESPN's silver-anniversary ESPY Awards play out Wednesday night with Peyton Manning hosting. Betting over/under on variations on that seven-syllable "Nationwide is on your side" jingle: 1,065.

Missing the HB10 cut: Lonzo Ball had an awful summer-league debut for the Lakers. Cannot confirm rumors his signature sneakers have been marked down to $469.95 ..... Heat summer-league team won its first in Las Vegas Saturday after going 0-5 in Orlando. So apparently what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas ..... Amanda Nunes pulled out of UFC 213 because she was sick. Sick of getting kicked and punched, probably ..... Police first said Venus Williams was at fault in a deadly auto accident and then said she wasn't. Um, pretty bad mistake to make, cops! ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Todd Marinovich is making a comeback at age 48. Marinovich was most recently in the news when arrested on drugs while naked." ..... An old friend once observed that "99 percent of people look better with clothes on." That reminds me, ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual 'Body' issue just came out as the usual parade of ego-drenched athlete narcissism ..... Actual headline this week: "FBI investigated complaints that Bobby Knight groped women during visit to U.S. spy agency" ..... Countdown: 20 days 'til Barcelona-Real Madrid, a bigger event for Miami than even the All-Star Game, according to blog and Twitter polls by me ..... Answer: "He spent the Fourth of July in Ghana searching for his 'personal independence' and decrying the American holiday." Question: Why do NFL teams continue to not sign Colin Kaepernick? ..... Tom Brady is writing  a self-help book about conditioning and fitness. His main suggestion to others: Have incredible talent, become really rich, be exceptionally handsome and marry a supermodel ..... Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is accused of using a machine to stamp his autographs. That's terrible! Back in my day, star QBs had the decency to have the team trainer hand-forge their signature ..... On Thursday ESPN will debut a 30 for 30 documentary on the Mike and The Mad Dog radio show, perhaps the strongest indication yet they truly have run out of good ideas ..... The four-day X Games begin this Thursday in Minneapolis, answering the question, "The X Games are still around!?!"

POLL RESULT: THUMBS DOWN FOR RIDICULOUS 'BODY' ISSUE: We asked, "What do you think of ESPN The Magazine's annual 'Body' issue?" And "ridiculous" routed "great" by 53.4 percent to 28.8%. The other 17.8% were undecided.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-10-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Home Run Derby, 8 p.m.: Stanton defends title at Marlins Park in ASG co-headliner.

2. Heat vs. Washington, 4:30: Miami kiddies in another Vegas summer-league game.

3. Wimbledon, underway: Round of 16 matches as play resumed in London.

Select other recent columns: The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks: A farewell to Bosh. Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron: On Heat's fight for Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 05, 2017

Recovery mode: Heat scramble to move past Hayward loss; plus what's bigger for Miami: MLB All-Star Game or Barcelona vs. Real Madrid? Poll. Vote now!; also, ESPN 'Body' nudies, my July fireworks column, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

Happy4th1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 5. Happy 241st birthday, America! Hope y'all had a safe, wonderful Fourth of July. Our Boston butt was scrumptious! "Let's gooooo States!" 2) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, my Sunday Heat column & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Heat-lose-Hayward column: "He wasn't worth the money." "Better to sign James Johnson and Dion Waiters." Heat fans may parse it any way they wish to see the glass half full on this, but it won't work. This was a huge loss for the Heat and Pat Riley. It's a double-defeat: Miami not only losing Hayward, but losing him to Boston, not Utah. Click on Heat Lose Twice On Hayward for my new column.   

RECOVERY MODE: HEAT STAGGERED BY HAYWARD LOSS, NOW LOOK AHEAD: There were media reports out of Salt Lake City, Boston and Miami all saying how optimistic the Jazz, Celtics and Heat were of signing Gordon Hayward after encouraging meetings. Two-thirds of them proved wrong. The only nedws that mattered came with Hayward saying Tuesday he'd chosen Boston. This is a big defeat for Miami and a very personal one for Pat Riley. You can try to the any way you wish, but it is an

Haywardbos
And so it is for Heat.

unequivocal loss for Miami. Period. It means an ultimately disappointing summer of free agency in South Florida. Hayward chose the Fourth of July to declare his independence from Utah, his longtime NBA employer, but in doing so essentially told the world he thought Boston was closer to competing for a championship than Miami, his very decision making that a reality. The Celtics had a built-in edge: Brad Stevens, their coach, coached Hayward in college. Riley tried to overcome that but could not, losing what amounted to a 1-on-1 duel with Celtics counterpart Danny Ainge to convince Hayward where his future would be best spent. Ainge and Riley have had a professional animus since the 1980s, one that in 2013 led Riley to publicly tell Ainge to "shut the f--- up." It was a needed victory for Boston, which hoped to both trade for Paul George and then sign Hayward but missed out on the first half of that dream. It was a sizable loss, too, of course, for the for the Jazz, who lose their rising star and franchise face — despite the fact they could offer him the most money. The Heat and Celtics both offered Hayward what Utah could not: An easier Eastern Conference. A more reasonable path to the NBA Finals that did not include the gargantuan roadblock of reigning champion/dynasty Golden State. Now the defeated Heat are left to prioritize retaining and re-signing their own two top free agents, James Johnson and Dion Waiters, keeping the core of the team that went 30-11 in the past season's second half, and tinkering from there. By signing Hayward, Miami might have been unable financially to keep both Johnson and Waiters and might even have lost both. Heat fans of the glass-half-full variety will go there now, seeing the bright side, convincing themselves that keeping Johnson/Waiters (if they can) will outweigh losing Hayward. Hmm. That's dubious. Hayward was not a tinker. Miami was aiming big with him. He was the top available free agent out there. He was not a "whale," no, but he's an in-his-prime 26-year-old versatile forward coming off a 22-point-average season. He made the 2017 All-Star team. He can shoot the 3. He'd have been a great add for Miami, a budding star, not to mention a big personal triumph for Riley. Now, the Heat is left to parse the disappointment and hope to salvage the summer. The news of Hayward's decision broke mid-afternoon on the Fourth. The fireworks would start booming overhead later Tuesday night. They would not find most Heat fans in the mood to celebrate.

MLB ALL-STAR GAME VS. BARCELONA-REAL MADRID EL CLASICO: WHICH IS THE BIGGER JULY EVENT FOR MIAMI? POLL. VOTE NOW!: Talk about a heavyweight battle! Next week, July 11, Elclasicomiami
MiamiasgMarlins Park will host Miami's first-ever MLB All-Star Game (and the Home Run Derby the night before). Soon after, on July 29, Hard Rock Stadium will be filled for Barcelona-Real Madrid -- Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo -- in El Clasico Miami (three nights after a Juventus vs. Paris-St. Germain match). In my latest column -- click on Fireworks Fill July in Miami Sports to read -- I suggest the two Super Bowl-scale mega-events make this the biggest July ever in South Florida sports. I'm curious which event you think merits the top of the marquee. This is not a baseball vs. soccer/favorite sport poll. I'm simply curious which you think is the bigger, more prestigious event for Miami to host. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

NARCISSISTS ON PARADE!: ESPN The Magazine's 'Body' issue is out today. It's the ninth annual, because, evidently, there is a continuing and endless parade of athletes who are proud of their physiques to a point of narcissism. There are 16 athletes featured, many of whom I have never heard of. The biggest name probably is former No. 1-ranked tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. Also prominent: Boston stars Julian Edelman of the Patriots and Isiah Thomas of the Celtics. Was the photo shoot of Thomas used to lure Gordon Hayward in free agency? Hey I'm just asking! Wozniacki and Thomas, in all their vain glory, are pictured below. I'll leave to figure out which is which:

Body2017

Ithomas

 

 

 

 

 

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 7-5-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at St.Louis, 8:15 p.m.: Continuing road trip leading to All-Star Break.

2. NBA free agency, ongoing: Heat must rebound from Hayward loss.

3. Wimbledon, 7 a.m.: Second-round matches begin in London.

4. Tour de France, 7:30 a.m.: Stage 5 of famed cycling event.

5. ESPN's 'Body' issue, out today: Annual font of athlete narcissism.

Select other recent columns: Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron : On Heat's fight for Gordon Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 03, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring Heat and Hayward, Fish All-Star selections, farewell to Jagr. See who else makes it and what falls where; plus my Sunday column, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 3. Ready for the Fourth. I'll have a butt in the Egg! 2) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat chase Hayward in free agency with poll, your Serena-McEnroe verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column: Riley-Ainge animus the back-story to Heat free agency: LeBron James and Danny Ainge are the two men Pat Riley most wants to beat. Now, Riles must top one (for Gordon Hayward) for a chance to topple the other. Click on Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron for my latest Sunday column.

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: Free agency underway as Miami, Riley woo Hayward, now wait: Heat summer league play for rookies is underway in Orlando (Miami is 0-2) but nobody cares. It's free agency! Pat Riley season! No LeBron- or Durant-sized whales are changing teams this summer, so Heat has top-target Gordon Hayward as its priority. But Celtics want him, too, so Riley will have to out-duel his most disliked fellow executive, Danny Ainge, to get him. All await Gordo's big decision. Delicioso!

2. MLB: Ozuna, Stanton make it on Selection Sunday for Miami All-Star Game: Baseball on Sunday evening reveal its NL and AL starters and full rosters for next week's All-Star Game at Marlins Park, and two Fish made make it. Marcell Ozuna is in as a fan-vote starter, and Stanton made it as a reserve, or we'd have called the Snub Police to report a crime. Justin Bour is on the last-man-in ballot, so Miami could sneak in a third player.

3. PANTHERS: Cats busy to open NHL free agency, but lose Jagr: Doesn't get NBA attention, but hockey free agency also began Saturday. Florida Panthers targeted goal-scoring help in signing Russian winger Evgeni Dadonov among early moves, but also parted ways with Jaromir Jagr. At 45, Jagr is seeking a better deal elsewhere. Meaning, he could still be back.

4. MARLINS: Fish on 10-game road trip prior to break: Miami was on a four-game losing streak and 0-2 on this road swing before Sunday's win. This 10-game trip that will bring the season to the All-Star Break here. Meanwhile, looming ever closer: Jeffrey Loria's long-awaited and now imminent sale of the team to … somebody.

5. NBA: Winning the summer yet again: Steph Curry signs record deal with Golden State, which also gets Andre Iguodala back. Paul George to Oklahoma City. Chris Paul joins Houston. Blake Griffin stays with Clippers. Blockbuster summer already for the NBA. Might be for Miami, too, depending on what Gordon Hayward decides. 

6. WIMBLEDON: Williams sisters in news as fortnight begins: Bad week for Serena and Venus on doorstep of Wimbledon, which starts Monday. Serena, out on maternity leave, found herself enmeshed in that silly John McEnroe controversy over whether she could beat the 700th-ranked man. Worse: Venus, who's playing today, is being sued for allegedly causing an auto-accident death.

7. MIAMI FC: Local NASL team advances in U.S. Open Cup: Miami FC won again to reach quarterfinals of soccer's 104th annual U.S. Open Cup. Local lads will now take on Cincinnati of USL on July 12 at It's Still FIU Stadium To Me.

8. BOXING: Pacquiao loses in Australia: Manny lost his first fight in eight months in a controversial upset decision to Jeff Horn in Brisbane. Many thought Pacquiao actually won. Nonetheless, it may be time for PacMan to think about calling it quits.

9. SOCCER: Germany wins Confederations Cup final: Germany beat Chile 1-0 for the Confeds Cup title,a World Cup prep event. Speaking of international soccer, did you hear the great Lionel Messi just got married? I understand they were registered at Target.

10. COLLEGE BASEBALL: Gators win national title: Florida won College World Series to become only the fourth school to have won national titles in football, baseball and men's basketball. Wait. I work in Miami. Am I allowed to say that? 

Missing the HB10 cut: The Tour de France is underway. It was more interesting when it was wracked by scandal. Can we start a Lance Armstrong comeback rumor? ..... A die-hard Dolfan living in England got married in a Dolphins helmet, saying his vows through a facemask. So it is true. Being a Dolfan will drive you crazy ..... Team USA got clobbered 7-1 by New Zealand in America's Cup sailing. How great would it be if there arose a scandal in which the Kiwis were found to have illegally used outboard motors! ..... Upon re-signing Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers employees wore T-shirts that likened Griffin's influence to that of Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein. Which is ridiculous. What did those other guys ever to to earn Blake Griffin's company!? ..... ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual Body issue comes out this Wednesday. Dear Athletes: Modesty is a virtue, or hadn't you heard? ..... For the first time since 1988, ABC-TV this week revived the series, Battle Of the Network Stars, begging the question, "WHY!?!"

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-3-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at St. Louis, 7:15 p.m.: Fish move on in continuation of 10-game roadie.

2. Wimbledon, ongoing: First round matches on Day 1 from London.

3. Heat vs. Pacers, 5 p.m.: Miami rookies (0-2) play 3rd summer game in Orlando.

4. Tour de France, ongoing: Stage 3 of famed cycling event.

Select other recent columns: Riley Must Land Hayward Or Griffin to Keep Pace: Previewing Heat free agency. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat surprisingly drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 15, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top10 (updated): See where flashing boobs and rat poop fall among the actual sports stuff; plus Happy Mother's Day, my Sunday column, HB Daily (Sun) & more

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

Mom1) It is MONDAY, May 15. Hope y'all made it a wonderful and Happy Mother's Day to all the terrific moms out there! Was missing my own mom Sunday, but so grateful for the one my wife turned out to be. 2) The Marlins won a game! The Marlins won a game!! 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Boobs Flasher with video, dichotomy of opinion on Dolphins with your verdict, sad tale of Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick, David Beckham's acting debut & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Cavaliers and Warriors will rescue the playoffs they've helped ruin: This has been a bad NBA postseason, but the inevitable third straight Golden State-Cleveland Finals will save it. Click on LeBron And Steph To the Rescue 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. NBA: Wait ends for well-rested Warriors, almost for Cavaliers: While the lousy teams stake hopes on Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery, the best are still playing. Well-rested Cleveland and Golden State players could all have grown James Harden-esque beards in the time they've waited for conference finals to start. Epic Warriors rally won Game 1 over San Antonio Sunday in West finals; Cavs await tonight's Wizards-Celtics Game 7 survivor. 

2. MARLINS: Boobs and losing mark week for struggling Fish: Miami has lost 12 of past 15 games before beating Braves Sunday, and more fans were talking about that woman behind home plate who flashed her boobs than about the team. At least that took our minds off all of the losing for a weird minute.

3. DOLPHINS: Making offseason news for unfortunate reasons: Vegas over/under on wins put Fins at only 7 ½, predicting big dropoff. Then, Sports Illustrated tells the woes of '70s Dolphin stars Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick in series on effect of brain injuries. Now, rival Buffalo Bills hire away Fins player-personnel chief Joe Schoen to be assistant GM. No games, but a bad week for Miami.

4. NHL: Final four underway in conference finals: It's Pittsburgh-Ottawa and Anaheim-Nashville still standing. Predators and Senators are seeking their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and Ottawa's would be the first by a Canadian team since 1993. (But I wouldn't bet on it, neighbor).
 
5. DEREK JETER: Yankees honor ex-captain: Yankees icon Derek Jeter, one of the prospective future owners of the Miami Marlins, was honored between games of a doubleheader Sunday at Yankee Stadium. A-Rod wasn't there. Or, did that go without saying? 

6. SOCCER: Miami MLS team inches forward: David Beckham's hope of Major League Soccer in Miami, now in its fourth year, progresses with plan to buy land for Overtown stadium. Becks has small role in new King Arthur film -- fitting, since realizing this team has been like pulling a sword from stone.

7. UFC: Miocic retains heavyweight belt: Stipe Miocic enacted a first-round knockout of Junior dos Santos Saturday night in UFC 211 in Dallas to retain his  heavyweight crown. The fight lasted 142 seconds. You picked a bad time to go to the bathroom.

8. CHRIS BOSH: Ex-Heat star embroiled in bizarre suit: The owners of video porn site X-Art.com are suing former Heat star Chris Bosh over the rental of his California waterfront mansion. The plaintiffs claim the luxury abode contained, among other problems, rat poop. No, seriously.

9. MIAMI FC: Team tops NASL standings: In only its second season, Miami FC has risen to the top of the spring standings in the eight-team NASL. I would congratulate all involved, if I knew any of their names.

10. MASTERS BASKETBALL: Coral Springs hosts annual event: The 33rd national tourney of the Masters Basketball Association drew hundreds of 40-and-older teams from across the U.S. to Coral Spring, with one team featuring 64-year-old Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Cannot confirm the event's theme song was Aerosmith's Dream On. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Tom Brady will be on the cover of the Madeen '18 video game. Is that the over-40 edition? ..... Dana White says he's close to an agreement on that Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight. It'll be pay-per-view gold. Because P.T. Barnum was right! ..... KFC is marketing a new romance novella with Colonel Sanders as the desirable stud. "Harland, is that a drumstick in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" ..... UM baseball will have only four games left after today before ACC Tournament. Will NCAA playoff streak continue? Let's bring in Al Michaels for the answer: "Do you believe in miracles?" ..... Been a couple days since LaVar Ball said anything stupid. Can somebody check to make sure he's OK?

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-15-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 8 p.m.: Wizards at Celtics in Game 7 to see who meets Cavaliers in Eastern finals.

2. Houston at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Off Sunday win, Fish seek to finish homestand strong.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Ottawa up 1-0 at Pittsburgh for Game 2 of Eastern finals.

Select recent other columns: The Dolphins' Eight Ifs, on issues explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His, on what it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium, on N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. 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 strangest of Heat seasons. 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 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

March 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes/NCAAs, Fernandez saga, Heat down to 8, viva Team USA!, tennis, Cats, cricket; plus Cote says thanks, Chuck Berry, your Jose verdict, Hot Button Daily & more

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

Chuckberry1) It is MONDAY, March 20. R.I.P., Chuck Berry (pictured in his latter years), the influential rock 'n roll guitar icon, gone over the weekend at age 90. Rest in Peace, Johnny B. Goode. 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): We name our March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Love & Regret/Jose Fernandez saga with poll, UM men fall in NCAAs & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

'Cote's Coterie' lifts us to final four!: A late surge of support Sunday carried us past Mike Ryan and into the final four of Slice Miami's annual sports media poll. I'm now up against Amber Wilson in the semifinals. Uh oh. Click on Slice Miami Final Four to vote.

My bracket update: Still solid: As the NCAA Tournament pauses and exhales I stand tied for ninth place among some 90 entries in a LeBatard & Friends pool. I have 12 teams still alive in the Sweet 16. Is that pretty good? Or average? Took a hit though with Duke falling. I'd had the Devils reaching the (but not winning) the championship game. By the way, to this point, favorites (based on seeding) are 38-10, a 79.2 percent win rate. Once again, the Cinderella aspect of March Madness appears largely oversold.

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES / NCAA TOURNAMENT: Miami makes quick exit from March Madness: An unexpectedly good season ended so badly for Canes men in a very disappointing 78-58 opening loss to Michigan State Friday night in Tulsa. How is your bracket looking as we arrived Sunday at the Sweet 16? Mine is a sieve leaking a torrent of my own tears. (It isn't, really. But it's funnier to say that...)

2. JOSE FERNANDEZ: State says Jose at wheel, caused crash: The story that couldn't possibly get any worse keeps getting worse. The latest: A report confirming Fernandez was at the wheel and to blame for fatal boat crash. Isn't a tragedy worst when you know it should never have happened? (Click on A Complicated Legacy for my column on latest development in saga).

3. HEAT: Can we please start a “We're No. 8!” chant?: Heat fell from 7th to 8th seed with Sunday's home loss to portland -- only the team's sixth loss in past 29 games. Meantime Dwyane Wade is out for the rest of season in Chicago, another reminder Heat seems more and more right to have let Wade go.

4. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Stanton homers as Team USA wins, makes final four: Americans beat Dominican Republic late Saturday in San Diego, 6-3, led by Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's go-ahead home run. Winner-take-all game eliminated D.R. and lifted U.S. to WBC championship round at Dodger Stadium and a semifinal vs. Japan. Team USA has never won this event. "Can you believe it?" said a clearly annoyed Abner Doubleday. Let's gooooo States!

5. TENNIS: Miami Open begins on Key Biscayne: Andy Murray and especially Serena Williams are among major withdrawals with injuries for the two-week event starting Monday. I feel like Serena is so good she could at least reach the semifinals playing on crutches. Meantime, IMG, which owns the event, assures it will remain on Key Biscayne long-term. That means the Miami Open has won the Miami Open.

6. UM WOMEN: Canes win NCAA opener, carry banner for UM hoops: Miami survived upset-minded Florida Gulf Coast, 62-60, at home Saturday in its NCAA Tournament opener and will now face Quinnipiac Monday night 9, home again. What the Hurricanes men failed to do, the women did: Avoid a one-and-done.

7. PANTHERS: Don't write Cats off yet. Almost. But not yet: Florida is six points off NHL playoff pace with only 11 games left after getting spanked 4-0 Sunday in Pittsburgh. Somewhere between simply needing a lot of luck and needing a miracle rest the Panthers' chances.   

8. BOXING: Mayweather-McGregor penciled in for September: The hype has begun with Conor McGregor saying he's going to "shock the world" and win by boxing against heavily favored Floyd Mayweather in their mixed boxing/UFC bout rumored for September. Am I alone in wishing there were a way they both could lose?

9. NFL FREE AGENCY: Report: Teams awary of Kaepernick because of Trump: An AFC GM said teams are hesitant to sign available QB Colin Kaepernick for fear of a an onslaught of negative Tweets from Donald Trump. And in other free agency news, the Dolphins have done pretty good so far but not quite as good as the Patriots. Or did that go without saying?  

10. CRICKET: India beats Australia, I think: Actual lead of news story I read Sunday morning: "RANCHI, India (AP) -- A 199-run seventh-wicket partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha gave India a 152-run lead after they declared their first innings at 603-9 against Australia on Sunday." Anyone who has any idea what any of that means, would you please keep it to yourself?

Missing the HB10 cut: Congrats to our blog's March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Ken Whiteley of Chattanooga, Tennessee ..... Canes baseball fell to 8-13 Saturday. Sorry to place you below cricket, Jim Morris, but until you start winning, no Top 10 for you! ..... NASCAR runs today in Phoenix. It will be loud. I won't watch. 

Poll result: Shaky support for Marlins honoring Fernandez with uniform patch: We asked if, in light of this week's report putting Jose Fernandez behind the wheel of the fatal boat crash that killed him and two others, it still is appropriate that the Marlins this season to wear a uniform patch honoring Jose. The results: 39.2 percent "Yes. Because of all he meant to Miami and to the Marlins." "No. Not when he caused the tragedy that took two other lives"; and 28.0% "Not sure. I can see both sides." That's a plurality who still favor the patch, but roughly another 60% who are against it or have misgivings. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-20-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. Quinnipiac at Hurricanes, 9:10 p.m.: UM women host 2nd-round game for spot in Sweep 16.

2. Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico, 9 p.m.: First World Baseball Classic semifinal game from L.A.

3. Miami Open tennis, 10 p.m.: Main draw starts Tuesday, but qualifying matches happening today.

4. Marlins vs. Braves, 1:05 p.m.: Spring game in Lake Buena Vista.

Select recent columns: A Complicated Legacy, the latest, on developments in the Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on the NCAA Tournament. D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is 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

March 13, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Starring Canes and Selection Sunday, Team USA collapse, white-hot Heat, ice-cold Cats, El Clasico; plus didn't we invent baseball?, concert review (Smokey Robinson), Lorde, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, March 13. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Thank you Mae Riback, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Canes out in ACCs, ESPN analyst slams Dolphins for Stills/Branch deals, how/why 'The Ballad Of 1440' happened & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

NCAA title odds by conference: Via Bovada today, odds on which conference will produce the men's NCAA Tournament national champion: ACC 11-4, Pac-12 7-2, Big 12 19-4, Big East 6-1, SEC 19-2, Big Ten 22-1, field (any other conference) 19-2.

LordeMy sweet Lorde: Really like Lorde and like her new song, "Green Light," that she performed on SNL last night. Click here to see the song's official video. Side note: Lorde is 20. In the video, for reasons unknown and as pictured, she looks 40.

ICYMI: Thank you, Mae Riback: This was a recent short human-interest column about my finally meeting my oldest fan, and it has gotten an extraordinary outpouring of positive response. If you missed it, click on Thank you, Mae Riback 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. NCAA TOURNAMENT: Hurricanes to face Michigan State in opener: Selection Sunday set the 68-team men's NCAA Tournament field last evening, including a Miami Hurricanes vs. Michigan State first-round matchup Friday night at 9:20 p.m. in the Midwest regional in Tulsa. Canes, 8-seeds, have opened as 2-point favorites over the 9-seed Spartans. So. Ready? "Gentlemen (and ladies) ... start ... your ... brackets!"

2. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Team USA, Dominicans advance: Four-team round robin play at Marlins Park ended Sunday night with the U.S. and Dominican Republic advancing to the next round of the WBC. The D.R. is defending champion while underachieving Team USA has never won a WBC title or even medaled. Um, didn't we invent baseball!? Tick-tock, fellas. Represent, dammit!

3. HEAT: Miami still 1 back in playoff chase: Heat is on a 21-5 run even after losing at Indiana Sunday as it awaits a five-game homestand starting Wednesday, but still is 1 game back of the 8th seed and playoff pace. Meanwhile coach-of-the-year talk has begun for Erik Spoelstra. That's the plus side of starting 11-30. Nowhere to go but up.

4. SOCCER: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona confirmed for Miami: Months of rumors are now reality. “El Clasico,” the best rivalry in international club soccer, is coming to Hard Rock Stadium July 29. Major event? I'd liken it to a Super Bowl, but that might flatter the NFL. (Barcelona, by the way, just engineered the greatest comeback in Champions League history in overcoming a 4-0 hole to oust Paris St. Germain).

5. NFL: Dolphins busy as free agency underway: Miami spent big to keep S Reshad Jones and WR Kenny Stills as free agency began, and also signed former Pro Bowl LB Lawrence Timmons and reacquired TE Anthony Fasano. A team that made the playoffs for first time since 2008 is acting like it's serious about building something. Dolfans call that "a pleasant change."

6. PANTHERS: Reeling Cats sink from playoff race: Florida made it eight losses in past nine games in falling at Tampa Bay Saturday and now is seven points off NHL playoff pace. There is a phrase for chances Cats still make the postseason. It is, "Miracle on Ice." 
 
7. UM WOMEN: It's Selection Monday for Katie Meier's Canes: Women's NCAA field materializes this evening, and 16th-ranked Canes expect to be around a No. 5 regional seed. UM women have shaky history in NCAAs, so pressure will be on.
 
8. TONY ROMO: What's happening with poor Tony?: They're trading him. They're not trading him. What the Dallas Cowboys do with unseated veteran quarterback Tony Romo has become the biggest drama of NFL free agency.
 
9. NASCAR: Truex wins Las Vegas: Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday's NASCAR race. Gee, you think a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway had any bets placed on it? Now Vegas is getting the Oakland Raiders too as the line between gambling and sports fades to non-existence.
 
10. CANES BASEBALL: Sunday win eases rough start for UM: Once-ranked Miami is now 5-9 after beating Georgia Tech to take two of three in its ACC home series. That's still only 3-9 since a 2-0 start for Jim Morris' guys. Oy.

Missing the HB10 cut: Nothing personal, UFC, but are people really supposed to be excited by a "Belfort vs. Gastelum" fight? ..... Although at least they actually fought. It's still all talk on Mayweather vs. McGregor, and probably will be for months ..... Did you all spring forward one hour? Line of the day seen on Twitter but funny only to the anti-Trump crowd: "Can we please spring forward four years?"

"LET'S GOOOOOOOO STATES!" TIME FOR TEAM USA TO REMIND WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC WHO INVENTED THIS SPORT: [Update: After a blown-lead loss to the Dominican Republic the U.S. beat Canada on Sunday to advance in the WBC] Original post: This is the fourth World Baseball Classic going on, with first-round WbcmiamiMiami games at Marlins Park, as well as in Seoul, Tokyo and Jalisco, Mexico. The United States team has yet to win a WBC championship or even earn any sort of medal by finishing in the top three. It is a disappointment bordering on embarrassment. Team USA manager Jim Leyland (the former Marlins championship skipper) bristles at the topic, but it is real. How can the country that invented baseball watch Japan (in 2006 and '09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) win WBC titles when the American team always has so many more major-leaguers as a national-team talent pool? This is the subject of today's latest column by me. Click on Time For Team USA To Win This Thing to read. The U.S. (featuring Marlins Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich) rallied to beat Colombia last night 3-2 in 10 innings. Tonight at 6:30 comes the WBC's signature game for Miami: U.S. vs. defending champ Dominican Republic in a sold-out game. The Americans can secure an advance to the second round by winning. Crowd will be raucous and the stakes high. Supposedly the crowd will be pro-Dominican. We'll see. Can't wait.

CONCERT REVIEW: SMOKEY ROBINSON: A LOT TO LIKE, BUT...: Wife and I went to see Motown icon Smokey Robinson earlier this week at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. I was Smokeynever a super-fan. My appreciation of what we used to call soul music from that era tended more towards the grittier sound of Stax/Memphis than the more polished stuff coming out of Motown/Detroit. I'll take the funk of Al Green and The Staple Singers, thanks. Still, I try to see legendary performers I have never seen, and wanted to check Smokey off that list. As a solo performer or with the Miracles, he's a Hall of Famer whose career I respect. The first half of the show did not disappoint. He performed all of the familiar hits, and very well, his distinctive voice still clear and strong. He engaged with the audience. I learned that a few famous songs by others, like "My Girl" by the Temptations, were written by Smokey. Also learned that his signature hit, "Tears Of a Clown," happened because Stevie Wonder had written the music and gave it to Smokey. Great stuff. Alas, the second half of the show dragged when Robinson got into a bunch of slow jams and morphed into romantic/sexy mode, complete with hip grinds. Umm, how to say this delicately? Smokey, sir, you're 77 now. Your voice and songs are enough.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-13-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Selection Monday, 7 p.m.: Women's turn as NCAA Tournament field set for Canes, others.

2. Marlins vs. New York Mets, 1:10 p.m.: Spring game in Port St. Lucie.

3. Manchester United vs. Chelsea, 3:30 p.m.: FA cup soccer match.

4. Netherlands vs. Israel, 6 a.m.: World Baseball Classic second-round game.

Select recent columns: D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic last night. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

ICYMI: 'THE BALLAD OF 1440': A final spin of our new autobiographical song...

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

Twitter @gregcote