April 04, 2018

On Dave Shula's long journey back to coaching after 21 years; plus new feature comparing ongoing seasons of Stanton/Yelich/Ozuna with Marlins' Lewis Brinson (new leader); also, latest Back In My Day video, my final NCAA bracket & more

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

Mexico1) It's WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4. At right, sign on a Mexican restaurant that just opened in Norway. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NCAA bracket update, your Marlins-outlook verdict, "Dear Greg" & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DaveshulaNewest column: Dave Shula ends long estrangement from coaching: He'd been out of coaching since the Cincinnati Bengals unceremoniously fired him midseason in 1996, now Don Shula's eldest son (pictured) is back. To read, click on Dave Shula Goes Home Again. Other most recent columns: On Opening Day: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing and Marlins 2018: Accentuating The Positives (Sort Of) / On NCAA Final Four: Centenarian vs. Nonagenarian and Larranaga On Being Cinderella / And on Fins: Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': VIDEO GAMES!: Here's the latest Back In My Day video, which aired for the first time on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. It is not my favorite, especially on the heels of an all-timer (Pocket Change!), the week before. Still hope you enjoy it:

4manof NEW REGULAR FEATURE! 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': Throughout the MLB season starting here -- just for fun -- I'll be comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair, you say, to compare a superstar and two established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. And who said life was fair again!? Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll based on our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

Yelich1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       1.111   5   23    6  10    5    2-0-1      .435

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .979    5   19    4   4    4    2-0-2      .211

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .636    5   22    2   5    4    1-0-1      .227

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .499    6   31    3   7    1    0-0-0      .226

VitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: MY FINAL RESULT: We've been updating you on how our bracket was faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There were 131 entries, and I ended up in 10th place. Not bad!:

Final Four -- After a five-day break the Madness crescendoed with the Final Four on Saturday: No. 3 Michigan rallying to beat No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and then No. 1 Villanova crushing No. 1 Kansas. I had no teams in the first game and both in the second, with Villanova winning it all. Was hoping a 'Nova win Monday night could get me in the pool's final top 10 or close to it, and it did just that. [See earlier blogposts for our results preceding the Elite Eight round]

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest that had placed me top-10 among national columnists for 2017 in the major-outlet category has revealed the order and I ended up No. 5. Congrats to the winner, Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star, and thanks to APSE. I'm pleased by the top-five. Here are our nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 02, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See the new No. 1 and what else lands where; plus NCAA Final Two and my bracket, your verdict on Marlins expectations (ouch), me in APSE column-writing, Miley Cyrus spanked by Easter Bunny & more

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

Easter1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 2. Welcome, April. Hope all you Christians had a Happy Easter! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Day expectations poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

APSE contest: We finished in Top 5: The Associated Press Sports Editors annual writing contest that had placed me in the top 10 for national columnists this month in the major-outlet category revealed the exact order on Friday and I ended up No. 5. Congrats to the winner, Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star. And thanks to APSE. I'm pleased by the top-five recognition. (A list of our nominated columns that earned that honor may be found below).

Latest columns: Marlins' Opening Day, NCAA Final Four, Dolphins, Wayne Huizenga: On baseball Opening Day: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing and Marlins 2018: Accentuating The Positives (Sort Of)  /  On NCAA Final Four: Centenarian vs. Nonagenarian and Larranaga On Being Cinderella  /  On Fins: Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason  /  And on passing of South Florida sports and civic giant: Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible.

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. MARCH MADNESS: It's Villanova-Michigan for NCAA men's title: 'Nova crushed Kansas while Michigan ended the dream of Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean in Saturday's Final Four, setting up a heavyweight championship match tonight that finds Villanova the biggest title-game favorite since 2010. On the women's side, Notre Dame beat Mississippi State for the crown Sunday as 'Anybody But UConn' prayers were answered.

2. MARLINS: MLB underway as Jeter presents his Fire-Sale Fish: Marlins finished a credible 2-2 vs. Cubs in season-opening series now welcome Red Sox to town for a pair. Marlins gave up a home run on the very first pitch of the season, while Giancarlo Stanton was homering on his very first swing as a Yankee. Poetic justice? Meantime "Marlins Man" is shopping himself to other teams, as if anybody on the face of the Earth gives a s--- other than Marlins Man.

3. TENNIS: Championship Weekend as Miami Open leaves Key Biscayne: John Isner beat Alexander Zverev for the men's title Sunday one day after Fort Lauderdale's Sloane Stephens defeated Jelena Ostapenko, completing the first U.S. sweep of the event since 2004. It was a star-shy, low-watt weekend to end the tournament's long history on Key Biscayne before next year's move to Hard Rock Stadium. The crowd jeered during Saturday's post-match ceremony when tourney director James Blake mentioned the move. Good.

4. PANTHERS: Playoffs now seem a longshot for Cats: There is a phrase for the Panthers' playoff hopes now: Thin ice. An ill-timed third straight loss on Saturday has Florida now seven points off playoff pace with two games in hand, a lot of ground to make up with only five games to play starting Monday here vs. Carolina. Even a strong finish won't be enough unless 8th place New Jersey ends in a tailspin.

5. HEAT: Whiteside gripes as Miami waits to clinch: Hassan Whiteside went petty after Saturday's home OT loss to Brooklyn, calling it "bulls---" that he was benched when Nets went small. Miami now sits in 7th place (via a tiebreaker) and still needs one more win or a Detroit loss to clinch playoff spot. They'll make it, but the idea, with five games left, is to stay above 8th to avoid top-seed Toronto in the first round. Aside to Hassan: As your team fights down the stretch, not a great time to make it all about you, big fella.

6. GOLF: All eyes on Tiger as Masters nears: The year's first golf major -- The Masters at Augusta -- begins this Thursday, and it will be the first major first step to gauge Tiger Woods' comeback and return to full health. "I got a second chance on life," Tiger said this week. "I am a walking miracle." Woods has won the Masters four times but not since 2005. A fifth would send weekend TV through the roof, were there roofs over golf courses.  

7. HORSE RACING: Audible wins the Florida Derby: Audible won the Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, assuring he'll be among favorites in the May 5 Kentucky Derby. Audible will take a four-race winning streak into Triple Crown season, and the previous two Florida Derby winners (Always Dreaming in 2017 and Nyquist in '16) have gone on to win at Churchill Downs. No pressure anything, Audible!

8. DOLPHINS: Let the NFL Draft countdown begin!: April now, draft month, 24 days 'til the first round. Mel Kiper's latest mock draft for ESPN has the Big Four quarterbacks going 1-2-3-5 and then also 15th (Lamar Jackson). Alas, Kiper has the Dolphins, picking No. 11, taking Florida State safety Derwin James. Pfffft

9. SOCCER: Champions League quarterfinals on deck: The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals are April 3-11. The first of eight matches are Tuesday with Sevilla vs. Bayern and Juventus vs. Real Madrid. No middle ground. You are either excited, or could not possibly care less.

10. HURRICANES: Football spring practice at midpoint: Mark Richt's Canes are halfway though spring practice, with the Spring Game coming up April 14. UM football gets the nod because, unfortunately, Jim Morris' baseball Canes continue to slog around at 12-15 after being swept on Sunday at Georgia Tech.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Angels' two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Sunday became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to start as a non-pitcher on Opening Day and then start as a pitcher within his team's first 10 games. Talk about a showoff! ..... Answer: I just saw that the UM men's tennis team is ranked 46th in the nation. Question: Do you think maybe they 're ranking too many teams? ..... NFL league meetings ended in Orlando with an apparent agreement on what constitutes a catch. Progress! ..... Ex-NBA stars Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Grant Hill head the 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class. Inductees also include Maurice Cheeks. No, seriously.

Ncaaff DickvitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: LET'S GO VILLANOVA!: We're updating you on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I stand in 19th place entering Monday night's championship game in San Antonio:

Final Four -- After a five-day break the Madness crescendo with the Final Four on Saturday: No. 3 Michigan rallying to beat No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and then No. 1 Villanova crushing No. 1 Kansas. I had no teams in the first game and both in the second, with Villanova winning it all. Hoping a 'Nova win Monday can get me in the pool's final top 10 or close to it.

Elite Eight -- Last Sunday as the Final Four was set I had the two No. 1 seeds still in play and both winning, and Villanova and Kansas both came through for me. Alas I didn't have a bracket dog in the hunt in either of Saturday's games as Michigan ousted Florida State and No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean kept the dream alive by beating Kansas State. 

[See earlier blogposts for our results preceding the Elite Eight round]

JeterPOLL RESULTS: YOUR OUTLOOK FOR MARLINS? NOT PRETTY: We asked in a blog poll this week, "What is the most likely/reasonable expectation for the 2018 Miami Marlins?" and gave you six choices. The results: 38.3 percent said 59-or-fewer wins; 27.5% said 60-64 wins; 15.8% said 65-69 wins; 10.8% said 70-74 wins; 4.2% said 80-plus wins; and 3.3% said 75-79 wins. That's 81.7% who don't see Miami reaching 70 wins. Ouch. In a separate Twitter poll, we you what would end up as the bigger number: Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge's combined home runs for the Yankees? Or Marlins season losses? More than 2,000 voted, and it was 56% for Marlins losses as the larger number. Ouch II.

Mileybunny"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK, but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of Miley Cyrus being spanked by the Easter Bunny. I feel that would be especially appropriate now, with Easter coming up on Sunday. Thank you." Dear Reader: That's a lot to ask, but I'll see what I can do. (Click on image to see enlarged version. Imagine. You're a professional mall Easter Bunny guy ready for his annual weekend posing with 5-year-olds, and a rep for Miley Cyrus calls to invite you to this photo shoot...)

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 28, 2018

Verdicts in on NCAA Final Four polls: Here's who you think WILL win, and who you WANT; plus latest 'Back In My Day' video (Pocket Change!), Dolphins No. 32, old grandma feuds old nun and Larranaga on Being Cinderella, Veterans For Gun Reform vid & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28. Our NCAA bracket updates will resume here when March Madness does with the Final Four this coming Saturday. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NCAA bracket update & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

SisterjeanNCAA Final Four: 100-year-old grandma feuds 98-year-old nun, and Jim Larranaga on Being Cinderella: The nun is of course Loyola's Sister Jean, pictured in bobblehead form. To read: Centenarian vs. Nonagenarian and Larranaga On Being Cinderella.

Dolphins sink to dead-last in rankings: Dolphins are 32nd and last in ESPN's latest NFL Power Rankings this week, and the reasons given are some of the stuff I discussed in my most recent column on the team. I wrote how the signing of Frank Gore struck the rightemotional chords, but also was in keeping with an otherwise curious offseason. To read: Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason.

Other most recent columns: On Wayne Huizenga, Serena Williams, Canes QBs: A South Florida sports and civic giant dies: Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible / Serena returns from maternity leave in home tournament and is quickly ousted by 20-year-old phenom who grew up idolizing her: Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / And can Malik Rosier hold onto Hurricanes' quarterback job?: Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation.

Finalfour

Villanova
WILL win
Loyola
WANT to win

VERDICT IN ON NCAA FINAL FOUR POLLS: VILLANOVA WILL WIN BUT YOU WANT LOYOLA: Your answers to these two questions might have been the same, but turned out to be very different, indeed. Which men's Final Four team do you believe will win the championship? And which team do you hope does win? We asked you to forget your bracket if you were able. On the will-win question, I was more interested in the one team you'd place your money on right now. In the want-to-win question, I was interested in what your heart was telling you. I ran these same polls on my Twitter feed and drew almost 7,000 combined votes. Your results: WILL win--Villanova 44 percent, Loyola 21%, Kansas 19% and Michigan 16%. WANT to win--Loyola 58%, Michigan 16%, Villanova 15% and Kansas 11%. Blog results below (you may continue to vote) are similar:

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': POCKET CHANGE!: This first aired live yesterday on the LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. The idea was suggested by a listener, I liked it, and this turned out to be one of my favorite BIMDs. Hope you enjoy:

VETERANS FOR GUN REFORM: This is a powerful two minutes. It preaches a message I agree with. You are free to not agree. God Bless America!

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 26, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A surprise at No. 1 (maybe) and see what else falls where; plus our NCAA bracket update (ugh), columns on Dolphins/Frank Gore and Wayne Huizenga & more

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

Neveragain1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 26. So, so proud of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High whose anger and tears in the wake of last month's mass shooting led to Saturday's March For Our Lives that drew hundreds of thousands to Washington, D.C. and millions to rallies nationwide. The movement to ban assault weapons has only just begun. 2) Happy 71st birthday on Sunday to a philanthropic giant and a man who has been such a vital part of my life's soundtrack: Elton John. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): R.I.P. Wayne Huizenga, our NCAA bracket update, your Who's-Next verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our latest column: The feel-good and the bad of Dolphins signing Frank Gore: It strikes all the right emotional chords, but it also is in keeping with a curious, troubling offseason for the Dolphins. To read our newest column, click Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason. (By the way, we had a snarky little Twitter poll inviting your reaction to last week's Fins signing of Gore and QB Brock Osweiler. More than 3,000 voted. The result was 26 percent voting "Super Bowl!" and 74% voting "Well, um, uh...") 

Other most recent columns: On Wayne Huizenga, Serena Williams, Canes QBs: A South Florida sports and civic giant dies. Click Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible / Serena returns from maternity leave in her home tournament and is quickly ousted by 20-year-old phenom who grew up idolizing her. Click Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / And, can Malik Rosier hold onto Hurricanes' quarterback job? Click Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation

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

Hot1. MARLINS: It's Opening Week for Fire-Sale Fish and MLB: Winding down a mildly encouraging spring training, by which I mean they weren't awful, the decimated Marlins are three days from Opening Day this Thursday afternoon here vs. the Cubs. The big question: Will new boss Derek Jeter be a part of pregame ceremonies and risk being booed after trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in a profit-first, baseball-second salary dump?

2. MARCH MADNESS: NCAA Tournament has its Final Four: It'll be No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 1 Kansas and No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 11 seed Loyola-Cinderella in the men's Final Four this Saturday after a five-day break. That's three superpowers and one reminder why we love March Madness so much.

3. WAYNE HUIZENGA: Influential sports owner dies at 80: The man who founded the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers and rescued the Miami Dolphins from financial calamity -- once owning all three teams concurrently -- died on Thursday. Huizenga was a giant in business and philanthropy and a major figure on the South Florida sports landscape in 1993-2008. R.I.P., good sir.

4. DOLPHINS: Curious offseason continues with Gore, Osweiler: The Dolphins' offseason is getting "curiouser and curiouser," as Lewis Carroll's Alice might say. Last week the team signed former Hurricanes star Frank Gore and then quarterback Brock Osweiler, which might not be too bad except that one is a soon-to-be 35-year-old running back and the other is Brock Osweiler. 

5. MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: Parkland tragedy spawns massive rally: No, this has nothing to do with sports. It is much more important than that. Close to a million demonstrators against gun violence and for gun control were drawn to D.C. Saturday by last month's Parkland tragedy and the student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. I've seldom been prouder to be American. The best part? Didn't feel like a culmination. Felt like a beginning.

6. PANTHERS: Cats' win as playoff chase enters crunch time: Florida beat Arizona 4-2 led by Vincent Trocheck's two goals Saturday but remains three points off playoff pace with two games in hand. It's crunch time with nine games left, starting now with four straight on the road. Cats have been 19-7 since Jan. 30 but must close strong or the second-half rally will be for naught.

7. HEAT: Miami tumbles to 8th, awaits LeBron: Playoff-bound Heat now sit in 8th place in East after last night's OT loss at Indiana as the NBA regular season wanes. Now it's four straight home games starting Tuesday with a visit by LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers. Is LeBron back in Miami still a big thing? We'll likely see him in the playoffs, too -- if Miami can somehow inch up to the 6th seed. 

8. TENNIS: Crazy first week as Miami Open hits midpoint: No. 1 seeds Roger Federer and Simona Halep both were eliminated, and Serena Williams suffered a rare first-round ouster as the Miami Open turned quickly into a wide-open affair. Oh, and Caroline Wozniacki claimed she was verbally abused by the crowd. The tournament headed to Hard Rock Stadium next year isn't leaving Key Biscayne quietly ... or predictably.

9. HORSE RACING: Five days 'til Florida Derby at Gulfstream: Promises Fulfilled and Audible are among favorites in this coming Saturday's 67th running of the Florida Derby at Gulfstream. The next-to-last day of the track's Championship Meet will star a major Kentucky Derby prep race that will send one horse off to the Kentucky Derby with a tailwind.

10. SOCCER: Peru beats Croatia in Miami friendly: Holy Nene Cubillas! Peru is back in the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, and looked ready Friday in beating Croatia 2-0 in a Miami friendly that drew 46,893 to The Rock. Both teams are in the 32-nation field for the summer World Cup in Russia. Alas, the U.S. is not, unless Trump can work something out with his pal Putin.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes spring football practice continues. Would you wake me in September when they start keeping score again? ..... Canes baseball is back up to .500 and goes for the sweep over No. 24 Virginia today. Just when I'm about to write off the season, UM says, "Wait a sec!" ..... Love that another spring football league is starting up one year ahead of Vince McMahon's planned XFL reboot. I'd put the over/under on either league succeeding at 1.5 seasons ..... The NFL winter meetings start Sunday in Orlando. This is where a bunch of rich guys get together, wring hands and do very little. It's a little like politics, in that way ..... UConn's dominance in women's basketball? Bor-ring! ..... By the way anybody know if the NIT tournament has ended? Or started?

Bracket VitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: A BIG SUNDAY LIFTS US: We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I stand tied for 24th entering the Final Four (up from 51st) after a perfect Sunday:

Day 9 / Final Four -- After a five-day break the Madness will crescendo with the Final Four on Saturday in San Antonio: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 3 Michigan, and No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 1 Villanova. I have 'Nova winning it all.

Day 8 / Elite Eight -- Sunday as the Final Four was set I had the two No. 1 seeds still in play and both winning, and Villanova and Kansas both came through for me. 

Day 7 / Elite Eight -- I didn't have a bracket dog in the hunt in either of Saturday's games as Michigan ousted Florida State and No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean kept the dream alive by beating Kansas State. 

[See previous blogposts for daily results preceding the Elite Eight round]

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 24, 2018

Wayne Huizenga, 1937-2018: My column on the passing of an epic life; plus Dolphins/Gore-Osweiler poll (vote now), our NCAA bracket update (more ouch), MSD March in D.C., Canes football anointed our next champ, my Serena column & more

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

Time1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 24. Pictured: The new Time magazine cover as today's March For Our Lives takes place in D.C. -- spawned by the student activism in the wake of last month's mass shooting at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Power to the (young) people! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's-Next poll, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Dolphins/Gore/Osweiler poll. Vote now!: Dolphins sign Frank Gore, now Brock Osweiler. Quite the week. Your thoughts. I have a new poll on my Twitter site. Go to @gregcote to vote now.

HwayneR.I.P.: WAYNE HUIZENGA, 1937-2018: A South Florida sports and civic giant passed away today at age 80. A titan as a businessman and philanthropist, Huizenga was best known as founding owner of the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers and also owner of the Miami Dolphins -- owning all three concurrently for much of the 1990s, a first in American sports. Click on Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible for my new column on his passing. (Click Do Not Vilify, Give Thanks for an earlier column on Huizenga I'd written in January).

Other most recent columns: On Serena Williams, Canes QBs, state of Dolphins: It was poignant to see the great Serena return, at 36, from maternity leave in her home tournament and quickly be ousted in straight sets by a 20-year-old phenom who grew up idolizing her. To read that column: Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company. Also, can Malik Rosier hold on to the Miami Hurricanes' starting quarterback job against tough competition?: Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation. And, the offseason struggles of that other team: Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

Mmadness VitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: HELP! I'M FAAAAADING!: We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I tumbled further with Friday's results into a tie for 40th place. Amazing. From tied for second at one point to this. Sad:

Day 7 / Elite Eight -- I don' have a dog in the hunt in either of today's games, Loyola-Kansas State or Florida State-Michigan. My only two remaining teams, Villanova and Kansas, both play Sunday. 

Day 6 / Sweet 16 -- Correct on three of four games. As the march to the Elite Eight was completed last night, I desperately needed Villanova, Kansas and Purdue to all win, in that order of importance -- especially 'Nova, my national-champion pick. Well, I got 'Nova and Kansas, but it won't be enough. I got spanked by the Sweet 16. Overall for the tournament I have been correct on 40 of 56 games, or 71.4%.

Day 5 / Sweet 16 -- Correct on only one of four games as Sweet 16 play began Thursday after a three-day pause in March Madness. I had Michigan winning Thursday night's game but not getting to the Elite Eight on my bracket, so the pick did me no good. No. 11-seed Loyola-Chicago (which slayed Miami) stayed alive as the tourney's official Cinderella, with underdogs Florida State and Kansas State also advancing. (ESPN says only 0.001% of all brackets have Loyola vs. K-State in their Elite Eight). Overall for the tournament thus far I have been correct on 37 of 52 games, or 71.2%.  

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

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

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

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

TheuPOLL RESULT: IT'S ON YOU, CANES FOOTBALL. YOU'RE OUR NEXT NATIONAL CHAMPION: We asked, "Which of South Florida's biggest pro sports teams is most likely to win a championship next?" We gave you seven choices, and Hurricanes football dominated with a majority of 61.14 percent. Next were the Florida Panthers at 15.63%, then David Beckham's as-yet-unborn MLS soccer team at 10.90% and the Miami Heat at 8.06%. The Miami Dolphins drew only 2.37%. The Miami Marlins and Canes men's basketball drew a negligible 0.95% each.

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 17, 2018

March Madness Update: My bracket's still solid, oh Virginia, no-Cinderella Saturday and Haiku Challenge contest news; plus brutal honesty on Dolphins (new column), UM women ousted, latest Back In My Day video & more

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

Stpatricks1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 17. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Stay safe out there. It's one of those holidays when all of the amateur drunks come out of the woodwork to join we more experienced imbibers. 2) Pleased to meet so man of you Thursday at the LeBatard Show event at J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood. Great place, great time, great people. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Haiku Challenge advisory & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

"It was 8th-seed Miami Hurricanes women (21-10) vs. 9th-seed Quinnipiac (27-5) today in Storrs, Conn., to see if UM's better half was just that and could do what the UM men failed to: Advance. Um, they couldn't. Out, 86-72." -- Confucious, 484 BC

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

BracketUPDATED. MY NCAA BRACKET: SOLID FRIDAY FOR US, NOW CINDERELLA CAN TAKE SATURDAY OFF, PLEASE: We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I stand tied for seventh place through the Round of 64 and entering Saturday play. And in case you wondered, Virginia was the championship pick of 22 in the pool, or 16.8%. Ouch. Not me, luckily. I have Villanova net-cutting.

Day 3 / Round of 32 -- Cinderella can take Saturday off, please. My bracket is alive in all eight games and needs all eight by-seed favorites to win, including Gonzaga over Ohio State and Texas Tech over Florida in what look to me to be today's tightest matchups.

Day 2 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 12 of 16 games (75%), a dip from Day 1 but still not bad. Went two out of three again on by-seed upsets, nailing No. 9 Kansas State over No. 8 Creighton and 9-Florida State over 8-Missouri, but missing on 10-Providence over 7-Texas A&M. Our other misses: Like all of you, I didn't see No. 1 Virginia losing in a mega-stunner. Also missed on losses by Arkansas and Wichita State. Overall, survived the Round of 64 with 26 of 32 teams still alive, or 81.3%. 

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

ENTRIES NOW CLOSED ON OUR 13TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!: UPDATE: We had 128 haiku entries in four days (not bad), of which 80 qualified for consideration. The rest were either not 17 syllables, not on topic, didn't make the deadline or, in two hilarious instances, were obscene. We'll reveal our finalists and Grand Champion Haiku in a new blogpost here on Sunday. Thanks to all who played along! ..... Original post: We have done the Haiku Challenge for as long as we've had this blog and it is back for tradition's sake and by unpopular demand. Actually we had a record number of entries last year, so let's see if we'll raise the bar even higher. I know many of you Vitaleare intimidated by this contest, or simply do not agree that nothing captures America's mania over the NCAA Tournament and bracketeering like ancient Japanese short-form poetry. I do not do this for the masses, but for the select few creative minds and poets among you. Think of it like a restaurant that offers liver. They know very few like it, but they know the few who do love it. You may know that a haiku is a 17-syllable poem ideally but not necessarily in 5-7-5 structure. Rhyming? Fine, but also not necessary. Here's an example of a standard 5-7-5 haiku: "An ocean voyage / As waves break over the bow / the sea welcomes me." Got it ? Now apply that to March Madness.

Three simple but firm rules: 1. Your poem had to be 17 total syllables exactly and must in some have been about the NCAA Tournament, March Madness or college basketball. 2You could submit entries ONLY one of these two ways: Via email to gcote@miamiherald.com with Haiku in the subject line, or via Twitter @gregcote with the hashtag #Haiku. 3. Entries were accepted starting Tuesday through noon today/Friday, March 16.

Grand prize? I dunno, maybe a Dolphins media guide or something equally crappy? We'll figure something out. But don't do it for the prize, as I said. Do it for the glory and empowering feeling of Zen.

THE LIST: MIAMI HURRICANES BASKETBALL IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: UM men's basketball is in the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time since first making it in 1960, and the Canes women are in it for the 13th time since their first appearance in 1989. Seasons when both Miami teams made the NCAAs the same year:

Year     UM men's results                                       UM women's results

1998     Lost to UCLA                                                Lost to Clemson

2013     Beat Illinois, lost to Marquette                Lost to Iowa

2016     Beat Wichita State, lost to Villanova     Lost to South Dakota State

2017     Lost to Michigan State                              Beat Florida Gulf Coast, lost to Quinnipiac

2018     Lost to Loyola-Chicago                               Lost to Quinnipiac

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': MUSIC CONSUMPTION!: Here's the latest BIMD video, which debuted on yesterday's LeBatard Show. Key reference: Oddjob from Goldfinger. Bonus: Shirley Bassey. Enjoy:

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 12, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  /  With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 05, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 26, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Tiger caught in Bear Trap. See if that landed on top and what else falls where; plus Frank Caliendo & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26. Saw Frank Caliendo perform Saturday night. His Trump is spot-on, as you'd expect. Most all of his impersonations are great, but my favorite by far continues to be his John Madden. 2) The Dolfans in your life don't know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger still best show in golf, Panthers embrace Stoneman Douglas, incongruous buoyancy as Marlins open spring training, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Tiger, Marlins, Stoneman Douglas: Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed, on Woods playing the Honda. Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season and Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking?, as team opens spring training. And MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing, on the Stoneman Douglas tragedy.

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

Hot1. GOLF: Thomas wins Honda as Bear Trap gets Tiger: Justin Thomas beat Luke List in the first hole of a low-watt playoff Sunday to win the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, but nobody cares except Mrs. Thomas. Fans were out there wondering if Tiger Woods could mount a final-round rally as his comeback continued in his first South Florida appearance since 2014. Alas, the Bear Trap (15th, 16th and 17th holes) trapped Tiger, who finished 12th at even par.

2. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Shock and pain still raw 12 days later:  Major companies are now disassociating from the N.R.A. over its support for assault weapons, and sports continues to lend support. Panthers showed a tribute video before Friday night's home game and Marlins wore 'SD' caps, while golfers at the Honda are wearing 'MSD" ribbons on their caps. Meanwhile, the Douglas kids lead the fight for change as the leaders balk.

3. OLYMPICS: U.S. 4th in medals as Winter Games wrap up: Norway dominated the medal count while the U.S. finished fourth in both total medals (23) and golds (9) at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. The host nation and enemy North Korea made peace for the Winter Games in a gesture of hope. Now North Korea may lapse back into its accustomed role as the crackpot nation led by a megalomaniac.

4. HEAT: Slumping Miami looking for home lift: Heat have lost eight of past 10 even with Saturday night's win over Memphis, but that began a stretch of seven games at home of the next eight as they hope to rise from eighth place in the East. This Thursday marks a visit by the Los Angeles Lakers. Remember, items you prohibited from being brought into the arena include coolers, laser lights, noisemakers and LaVar Ball. 

5. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as playoffs loom within reach: Florida has won two games in a row and nine of the past 12 and is now within five points of NHL playoff pace. And the streak comes as the Panthers have begun a stretch of 11 of the next 12 games being at home. Now or never, Cats.     

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women wrap up regular seasons: The 20-8 UM men finish Tuesday at No. 10 North Carolina and then next Saturday at home vs. Virginia Tech, while the 20-9 women ended Sunday at home with a 76-46 rout of Va-Tech. Both Miami teams should get an NCAA Tournament invite, also strong showings in the ACC Tournament would erase any doubt. Jim Larranaga's guys especially are trying to catch back up to expectations, after once being 10-0 and ranked No. 6. 

7. MARLINS: Post-fire sale, Fish begin spring training 2-0: Miami is widely expected to be among the worst teams in baseball but has began spring training with consecutive wins before finally losing Sunday to the Mets. "We're 2-1! See, I told you we'd be much better than everybody thought!" said absolutely no one.

8. JONATHAN MARTIN: Ex-Dolphin detained for threatening post: The saga of the Dolphins' Bullygate star gets weirder and weirder. The ex-Dolphin Martin was detained by Los Angeles  police and held in a mental health facility after a threatening post on social media depicted a gun, named accused bullies Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, and included the ominous message: "When you're a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge." Get this man some help. Please?

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Yahoo report offers details on FBI probe: The FBI probe of a recruiting sacndal in college basketball has overshadowed the season, now a Yahoo Sports report names more than 20 schools and 25 players involved. Miami Hurricanes are not implicated but current Heat player Bam Adebayo is named. It is a very serious report, or at least as serious as anything can be coming from a media outlet that calls itself Yahoo!

10. DOLPHINS: NFL Scouting Combine next step in draft prep: The Dolphins and every other team will avidly attend the five-day Scouting Combine starting this Wednesday in Indianapolis, a major step in teams' preparations for the April NFL Draft. I'd have the Combine ranked much higher in this week's HB10 but I just cannot muster all that much anticipation or excitement for watching a bunch of fat offensive linemen being timed in the 40-yard dash.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes baseball had lost four straight since a 2-0 start to season but Sunday beat nemesis Florida to avoid being swept at home. Way early, but Jim Morris' final season has begun closer to a nightmare than a dream ..... U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu, who became first American woman to nail a triple axel at the Olympics, revealed to Cosmopolitan.com that she competed while on her period. "It’s really not that big of a deal," she said. "You just stick a tampon up there." Oy! G'night, everybody!"

Select other recent columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote