September 28, 2017

Trump vs. NFL: Poll. Vote now!; plus UM hoops scandal, R.I.P. Hefner, Herald NFL Week 3 QB rankings, new 'Back In My Day,' NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 3 results, 2 Canes Top 5 in latest SOPY standings & more

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

Lebpod1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27. #HelpPuertoRicoNow. 2) Click on Toys! for my latest Back In My Day segment from the LeBatard Show. 3) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite last week's performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed by Jets with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"R.I.P., Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder, gone at 91. Red velvet smoking jackets are hanging at half-mast." --Greg Cote

Hurricanes men's basketball scandal: A member of Jim Larranaga's staff is implicated in the nationwide FBI investigation of corruption in college basketball recruiting. Click on Larranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now This to read my latest column. 

Bears-Packers pick: NFL Week 4 kicks off tonight at Lambeau Field with King Sport's oldest rivalry. Click on Thursday Gem for our prediction capsule.

Jose Fernandez tragedy: 1-year laterMy latest Sunday column reflects on the tragedy that rocked South Florida one year ago, and on one man's complicated legacy. Click on Regret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow to read.

TrumpathletesTRUMP VS. ATHLETE ACTIVISM. WHO'S RIGHT?: Some NFL players kneel during the National Anthem or in other ways protest police treatment of unarmed black men and other prejudice. President Donald Trump called such players a "son of a bitch" at an Alabama rally and suggested they should be required to stand or be "suspended or fired." I tackle this dense topic in today's latest column; click on Trump Is Wrong, Needs Lesson On What Freedom Means to read. My take: Not only do athletes have the right to not stand, they are doing so for a righteous cause. They are not being anti-American as Trump suggests. Their actions are not anti-country, flag, anthem or military. But that's just me. Your opinion is invited here:

SMITH-BRADY DEAD HEAT, CUTLER SLIPS / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 3: The Patriots' Tom Brady (pictured) wins Week 3 with a 53.90-point game, his Tbradysecond straight weekly title, to pull nearly even with the Chefs' Alex Smith for the overall season lead in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler, off a below-par game, slips one spot to 25th but has played one fewer game than others in the chart, and these are cumulative ratings. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching.

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 3
RK   LW   Player, Team                     WK3            Season
1        1     Alex Smith, KC                  29.75           120.70
2        8     Tom Brady, NE                   53.90           120.60
3        4     Aaron Rodgers, GB            40.65            111.35
4        6     Drew Brees, NO                40.00            107.35
5       14    Jared Goff, LAR                44.60              97.10
6        9     Matt Ryan, ATL                 29.70              96.35
7       16    Eli Manning, NYG              44.30              96.25
8       18    Kirk Cousins, WAS              52.25             96.20
9        3     Matthew Stafford, DET      21.20             92.90
10      2     Derek Carr, OAK                  9.90             89.50
11     11    Carson Wentz, PHI             27.80             87.80
12      7     Ben Roethlisberger, PIT     19.75              87.05
13     15    Dak Prescott, DAL             28.15              80.45
14     10    Trevor Siemian, DEN          14.95             77.45
15     22    Tyrod Taylor, BUF               35.65             74.10  
25     24    Jay Cutler, MIA                  19.00             53.50
    Bubble: Russell Wilson, SEA, 73.45. Week 3 best: Brady, NE, 53.90 (25-35, 378, 5-0 in win). Week 3 worst: Joe Flacco, BAL, minus-6.60 (8-18, 28, 0-2 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 3 RESULTS: Every Tuesday in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and Fripix Loboswith my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. In Week 3: Herald picks: Embarrassing! -- And you thought the Dolphins were bad!? I went a terrible 7-9 straight-up and a woeful 4-10-2 against the spread. If this isn't my worst week all year, I'm in trouble. Did nail an outright upset with Colts over Browns and had two 'dogs with points in Giants and Saints, but, otherwise my week was exemplified by having the Lions beating the Falcons and having that bull's-eye snatched from me. Greg's Lobos: Back on the W Train! -- The Lobos improved to 2-1 by whipping Pablo Torre 119.4-99.5, led by Todd Gurley's big 37.9 points. He's early frontrunner for Lobo of the Year. We are the Gurley men!

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 4: TWO CANES IN FOUR-MAN RACE FOR 'STATE HEISMAN' LEAD: With Irma's upheaval past and full schedules back, the State
MwaltonOffensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings are heating up. What we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race show the top four players separated from Sopythe pack including a pair of Hurricanes as we enter Collball Week 5. UM running back Mark Walton (pictured) bumps up to No. 2 in the standings off a state-FBS-best 214-point game vs. Toledo. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 5:

2017 SOPY WEEK 4 TOP 10

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.        Total-Games

1    2    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb             198.50      397-2

2    3    Mark Walton-Miami rb                191.00      382-2

3    1    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb           190.25     761-4

4    4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                184.50      369-2

5    6    Alex McGough-FIU qb                 121.83      365.5-3

6    5    Travis Homer-Miami rb               111.50      223-2

7    --    Devin Singletary, FAU-rb            111.00      444-4

8   10    Darius Tice, SoFla-rb                 103.50      414-4

9    --    D'Ernest Johnson, SoFla-rb         101.25      405-4 

10  --    Auden Tate, FSU-rec                    95.50      191-2

Bubble: Tyrie Cleveland, Florida-rec, 92.33. Week 4 best: Walton, Miami, 214 points. Season best: Flowers, SoFla, 276 (Wk3).

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Miami (2-0), 2. South Florida (4-0), 3. Florida (2-1), 4. Florida State (0-2), 5. UCF (2-0), 6. FIU (2-1), 7. FAU (1-3).

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 26, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: (Ouch) 4.8%; plus Miami embarrassed by Jets 20-6, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), reflections on 1-year anniversary of Jose Fernandez tragedy & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes crush Toledo with CSM poll, our SoFla sports cornucopia, other state Collball Week 4 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

JoseJose Fernandez tragedy: 1-year laterMy latest Sunday column reflects on the tragedy that rocked South Florida one year ago, and on the complicated legacy of Jose Fernandez. Click on Regret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 4.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 4.8 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-6 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 1-1. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Next poll: Oct. 1 (following game vs. New Orleans in London)

G2: N.Y. JETS 20, DOLPHINS 6: Postgame thoughts: Losses do not get much worse than an offensively inept 20-6 Dolphins defeat at the New York Jets. One of these teams was supposed to be among the worst in the NFL. Miami played the role. Quarterback Jay Cutler was out of synch and misfiring much of the day, only averting a shutout on a last-second TD pass to DeVante Parker, followed -- fittingly -- by a missed extra point. I might have earlier inserted Matt Moore for a spark -- any spark. Jay Ajayi rushed for a mere 16 yards on 11 carries. The pass defense was horrible, turning journeyman Josh McCown into Tom Brady. The Dolphins are very fortunate to now be 1-1, not 0-2, as they fly home, pack and head Monday to London for next week's "home" game vs. New Orleans. I did not think an offense with Ajayi, Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills could be as bad as the Fins looked today. But the last word to Adam Gase, said perfectly: "They beat the shit out of us." ..... Halftime thoughts: Awfulness abounds for the Dolphins at 10-nil down. Cutler has 38 yards passing and Ajayi is bottled up with 16 amid 49 yards total offense. Meanwhile Miami's pass defense is making Josh McCown look like Tom Brady. Adam Gase was good a week ago with halftime adjustments. He'll need some here. Lose today and Dolphins will have zero claim to being playoff caliber. Lose today and you are the team Vegas disrespected with that7 1/2 over/under on wins ..... Original post: The 1-0 Dolphins are comfy 6-point road favorites for Sunday's 1 p.m. go at the 0-2 Jets. But is Miami good enough that fans might trust a stress-free afternoon? I still wonder. I've loved the easy narrative by Your Friend the Media Mianyjthe past week that the Dolphins' season-opening win on the road verified a resilient, tough team that overcame the distraction and upheaval of Hurricane Irma and therefore can overcome anything. Um, quick reminder: Miami beat the mediocre Los Angeles Chargers 19-17 only because of the plain luck of a rookie kicker being kind enough to choke on a 44-yard field goal try in the last seconds. Kid makes kick and the whole narrative flips? Keep proving how good you are, Fins, because we don't know yet, and that process continues Sunday with what should be a low-anxiety, comfortable win over the abysmal Jets. NYJ toyed with signing Jay Cutler during the offseason but settled to recycle Josh McCown because Cutler saw a TV booth as a better situation than the woebegone Planes. Now we find out why, although Cutler may be a supporting weapon here. Jay Ajayi fantasy owners who have seen the Jets' sorry run defense are looking at this game the way a fat man looks at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The question again, though: Is Miami is good enough to deliver an easy win? Let's find out. My pick: Dolphins, 34-13. [Click Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

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: Fins clobbered by Stinkin' Jets: Biggest challenge facing Dolphins as Sunday's Jets game neared? Talking up the opponent as a dangerous team with immense talent and doing so with straight faces. Or so we imagined. We thought Jets were one of worst teams in NFL. But it was Miami playing the role in Sunday's dispiriting 20-6 road loss.

2. HURRICANES: UM back in play with rout of Toledo: Soft opener vs. Bethune-Cookman, Hurricane Irma, game at Arkansas State canceled, trip to Florida State postponed, practices moved to Orlando, then play finally resumes vs. Toledo with a slow-starting 52-30 win. No idea how this Canes season will end, but it sure started bat-bleep crazy.

3. MARLINS: Stanton push, Jose anniversary: Fish down to seven games left as Giancarlo Stanton (now with 57) chases Roger Maris' untainted record of 61 home runs. More somberly, today/Monday marks 1-year anniversary of tragic boating accident that killed Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends.

4. HEAT: Miami set to open training camp: Erik Spoelstra's guys open training camp Tuesday at FAU working toward their first preseason game next Sunday vs. Atlanta. Outside expectations? Playoffs, but not much more even after last season's 30-11 second half. Heat are midpack with 14th longest championship odds of 30 NBA teams.

5. BASEBALL: Playoff grid takes shape as season ebbs: AL's Red Sox, Indians, Astros and Yankees and NL's Nationals, Dodgers and Diamondbacks have clinched playoff spots entering today and final week of MLB's regular season. If you aren't rooting for Cleveland's first World Series win since 1948, well ... what's wrong with you!?!

6. DEREK JETER: Purge targets 4 Fish notables: Jeter, frontman for the incoming new Marlins ownership group, ordered outgoing president David Samson to fire four notable (if ceremonial) "special assistants" in Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jeff Conine and Jack McKeon. Geez. Is Derek getting tips on public relations from Jeffrey Loria or what!? 

7. DONALD TRUMP: President declares war on sports, apparently: Trump blasted NFL players' anthem protests and uninvited Stephen Curry to the White House, after which LeSean McCoy called Trump an "asshole" and LeBron James called him a "bum." The good news? Feuding with sports stars is somewhat less dangerous than name-calling with maniacal dictators with hydrogen bombs.

8. PANTHERS: Cats' preseason underway: Florida played its third of six preseason games Sunday in Tampa as Oct. 6 regular-season opener looms. Remember all the hype and Stanley Cup bravado a year ago? Not now. Cats' betting over/under of 86 ½ standings points ranks a lowly 25th in 31-team NHL.

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis G.O.A.T has kid: The Palm Beach-based tennis superstar had her first child, a daughter she named Alexis Olympia. Cannot confirm that, based solely on bloodlines, Alexis is now the betting favorite to win Wimbledon in 2037.

10. WNBA: Sparks up on Lynx in Finals: It's defending champion L.A. Sparks up 1-0 in WNBA Finals over 2015 champ Minnesota Lynx, led by Miami-born league MVP Sylvia Fowles, who played at Gulliver Prep. Probably still won't watch, but at least I might think about it.

Missing the HB10 cut: FIU now 2-1. Butch Davis early frontrunner for Coach of the State ..... Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony, 33, to OKC Thunder. Who's next to swap unis in the Still Got Something Left Division? Dwyane Wade, you say? ..... Heat uniforms now bear advertising patches for Ultimate Software. Ugh. And ugly.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2017

NFL 100% right to postpone Dolphins opener. But should UM have canceled road game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Chiefs-Pats pick, return of SOPY rankings find 3 Canes in Top 10, latest 'Back In My Day,' Reelin' in the Years, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Stay away, Hurricane Irma. Weaken and veer, you terrible thing. 2) Football time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whup Bethune with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, other Collball Week 1 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Chiefs at Patriots prediction: Kansas City at New England kicks off the NFL season tonight. Will Dolfans girding for Hurricane Irma get the gift of a Pats loss? Click Week 1 Thursday Gem for my predix.

SOUTH FLORIDA'S MIND AIN'T ON FOOTBALL THIS WEEK. STAY SAFE, NEIGHBORS: [Click on NFL Right to Postpone Dolphins Opener for my complete latest column]. They could have rushed it and played the Dolphins-Bucs opener here tonight, but Dolfans have more important things on their minds in readying for Stadium PathHurricane Irma, such as how to survive this thing, and whether to stay or evacuate. This isn’t the week for a football game. They could have played the game Sunday as scheduled but at a neutral site. I’d heard one as far away as Pittsburgh or Philadelphia mentioned. But why rob Miami, team and fans, of a home game, or play at all on the very day when Irma is likely to wreak its worst havoc. There was some talk of still trying to play the game Monday night here, but that may have been the worst option of all. Even if Irma is kind enough to veer away from a direct hit, South Florida still will get the brunt of it. You’re going to ask fans without electricity, picking through rubble, trying to contact their insurance company about the roof, to drive through flooding to attend a football game? And cheer a first down as if their lives hadn’t just been walloped? Absurd. I'm not as certain the Miami Hurricanes needed to or should have canceled their game at Arkansas State -- although I support them doing it -- but moving Dolphins-Bucs to Week 11 when both had a bye was a no-brainer. Be safe, all.

Our most recent other columns: Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast: Off UM season opener  /  A Humbling Welcome Back: Butch Davis' return to coaching U loss  /  MVP: Stanton Has History On His Side: Case for Marlins slugger  /  Litmus Test: Beat FSU: Onus on Canes as season opens  /  2017 NFL Team Ranking: See where Dolphins fall in annual rank.

SOPY RANKINGS / 2017 SEASON DEBUT: THREE CANES IN INITIAL TOP 10: Today we launch the sixth season of the blog's State Offensive Player of the Year Sopy(SOPY) rankings -- what we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race. The weekly rankings measure the most productive Mmiltonquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based on average yards per game: Total divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even though not all teams have played same number of games. (Even now, South Florida already has played twice). Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. UCF's McKenzie Milton (pictured) checks in as our season leader out the gate ahead of defending champion Quinton Flowers of South Florida. Canes Mark Walton and Malik Rosier rank 3-4. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 2:

2017 SOPY WEEK 1 TOP 10

RK Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.

1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb          208

2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb          183

3    Mark Walton-Miami rb               168

4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb               167.5

5    Daniel Parr-FAU qb                    138.5

6    Travis Homer-Miami rb              133

7    Alex McGough-FIU qb               107.5

8    Thomas Owens- FIU rec             105

9    Deondre Francois-FSU qb          102

10t Dredrick Snelson-UCF rec           98

10t Willie Wright-FAU rec                 98

Bubble: DeAndre McNeal-FAU rec, 94. Other team leader: Florida--Josh Hammond-rec, 71. Week 1/season best: Milton-UCF, 208.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Florida State (0-1); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. South Florida (2-0); 4. Florida (0-1); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (0-1); 7. FIU (0-1).

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2016—Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,917. 2015—Flowers, 2,077.5. 2014—Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968. 2013—Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107. 2012—Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 9-7-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:
1. Kansas City at New England, 8:30 p.m.: NFL season opener from Foxborough.
2. U.S. Open tennis, 7 p.m.: All-U.S. women's semifinals begin in New York.
3. Marlins at Braves, 7:35 p.m.: Fish make a road show of their miserable slump.
4. Sam Houston at Prairie View, 7:30 p.m.: If you're desperate for college football.
 
LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': DISHWASHERS:


R.I.P., FAREWELL AND THANK YOU, WALTER BECKER:

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 04, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 69.5% in season debut; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), UM routs Bethune with my game column, other Collball Week 1, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. Happy Labor Day! In which we celebrate the American workforce by all taking the day off. 2) R.I.P. Walter Becker, Steely Dan co-founder, dead today at 67. 3) Football time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton's NFSW naughty video, Butch Davis returns with humbling FIU loss, Dolphins win Fake Game 4 to end preseason, your verdict on my fantasy team (ouch) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Lions cut Brad Kaaya. Been saying it all along. He never should have left UM early. Misguided decision." --Greg Cote 

My Hurricanes game column: Click on Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast to read. Other recent columns: A Humbling Welcome Back -- Butch Davis returns to coaching in 61-17 FIU loss  /  MVP: Stanton Has History On His Side -- Case for Marlins slugger  /  Litmus Test: Beat FSU -- The onus on Canes as season opens  /  2017 NFL Team Ranking: See where Dolphins fall in annual ranking.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 69.5%: We're back for a ninth season of our blog staple -- Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls -- and the first shows 69.5 percent overall satisfaction (the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the 1aa1csmwake of Saturday's 41-13 season-opening victory over visiting Bethune-Cookman. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Monday.


2017 CSM results

G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman

Next poll: Sept. 9 following game at Arkansas State

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2016--97.2% (following 9-4 season); 2015--20.1% (8-5); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

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: UM hammers Bethune in football opener: After a slow start Saturday's season opener at The Rock went about as easily as you imagined it would against an overmatched foe as Year 2 of the Mark Richt era kicked off with new QB Malik Rosier throwing three TDs. But with Florida State waiting in Tallahassee in two weeks, UM getting ready for that with this was like training for a prize fight with a game of patty cake.

2. DOLPHINS: It's NFL Kickoff Week as Fins host Tampa Bay: NFL seasons kicks off Thursday night (Chiefs at Patriots) and Miami pared its roster to 53 with its opener at home in six days -- Hurricane Irma willing -- against Jameis Winston's Buccaneers. A 2-2 preseason didn't tell much, but Dolfans seem really excited by what they've seen of Jay Cutler. I know, I know. I can hardly believe I wrote that last sentence, either.

3. MARLINS: Fish cool but Stanton stays hot (in video): Marlins on a 1-6 skid as homestand continues, but Giancarlo Stanton's 52nd homer keeps him on pace for 62. Stanton was even hotter in a steamy video out this week that depicted him in bed with a barely clothed internet chanteuse named Lexy Panterra. There's a "longball" joke here somewhere.

4. SEMINOLES/GATORS: FSU, Florida both drop openers, Francois out for year: Saturday delivered lopsided opening losses for No. 3 Florida State (to No. 1 Alabama) and No. 17 Florida (to No. 11 Michigan), but Noles lost even bigger with QB Deondre Francois out injured for the season. FSU-Bama presented Miami fans the awful choice of rooting either for the Noles or for Nick Saban.

5. TENNIS: U.S. Open reached midpoint in New York: Maria Sharapova, given a wild-card entry into her first Grand Slam event since a 15-month doping ban, won her first three matches -- all on the main court, drawing complaints from some rivals -- before losing. In other news, as sis Venus reached the quarterfinals,  Serena Williams had a baby girl, launching a million "G.O.A.T. has kid" references on social media.

6. FIU/FAU: Davis, Kiffin eras launch with humbling defeats:  Ouch. Butch Davis with FIU and Lane Kiffin with FAU suffered humbling debuts, losing their openers by combined score of 103-36. Those fancy resumes didn't much good, huh fellas. Turning around bad programs doesn't happen with fast magic even if you are a star coach.

7. BASEBALL: Astros acquire ace Verlander from Tigers: Houston staked its claim to AL pennant by acquiring Justin Verlander, meaning Detroit is in reboot mode. Anybody want a used Miguel Cabrera. Verlander is really good. His wife, model Kate Upton, is even better!

8. HEAT: NBA releases regular-season schedules: Heat will open the season Oct. 18 at Orlando, with the home opener Oct. 21 vs. Indiana. It will be the start of the Kelly Olynyk era in Miami.

9. PANTHERS: Cats set prospects tourney roster: Florida named a 26-man prospect camp roster that will play Sept. 9-12 in a four-team tournamnet in Estero, Fla., along with the Capitals, Lightning and Predators. Almost hockey, time!

10. INTERNATIONAL BASKETBALL: Team USA wins FIBA gold: Team USA, coached by Jeff Van Gundy, beat host Argentina Sunday to win gold in the FIBA Americup championship game game. This is mostly no-names for the U.S., not the NBA-laden World Cup team. Still, not bad, apparently.

Missing the HB10 cut: Howard beating UNLV as a 45-point road 'dog made it the biggest point-spread upset in college football history. I don't know how Howard did it, but I congratulate him ..... Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott is suing the NFL over his six-game suspension for battering a former girlfriend. Dallas awaits a decision. So do millions who rolled dice and drafted Elliott onto their fantasy teams ..... Are Mayweather and McGregor done counting their money yet?

G1: NO. 18 HURRICANES 41, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 13: ROSIER LEADS SOFT OPENING TO YEAR 2 OF RICHT ERA: Quick final thoughts: Click on Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast for my column from the game. Beating Bethune-Cookman 41-13 is perfunctory more than it is impressive, but the final margin hardly mattered (except to bettors gambling whether UM would cover a 51 1/2-point line). More important was that new QB Malik Rosier looked solid, pretty sharp (17-28, 217 yards, 3 TDs), and RB Mark Walton (148 yards) seemed in midseason form. Biggest disappointment might have been defensively, Bcatumespecially against the pass. UM's D was planning on a shutout but fell short ..... 4Q: UM Badgley 50Y FG = UM 41-13 ..... 3Q: UM Berrios 22Y TD pass from Rosier = UM 38-13 ... BC Jones 1Y TD run = UM 31-13 ... UM Walton 6Y TD run = UM 31-6 ..... Quick halftime thoughts: Sluggish start but a big second quarter for UM, and a 326-138 overall lead in yards. Walton has 124 yards rushing and Rosier has been solid (11-17, 132 yards, two TDs) as new starting QB. Be interesting to see how much Walton and Rosier continue to play in second half. Don't expect much more of Walton, but Rosier needs the work. ..... 2Q: BC 35Y FG = UM 24-6 ... UM Langham 5Y TD pass from Rosier = UM 24-3 ... UM Cager 5Y TD pass from Rosier = UM 17-3 ... UM Walton 5Y TD run = UM 10-3 ... 1Q: UM 27Y FG = tie 3-3 ... BC 36Y FG = BC 3-0 ..... Original post: This marks the first time since 2010 that Miami begins a season ranked in the Associated Press preseason Top 25, and suffice to say the odds of a stumble and major season-opening upset are roughly akin to the odds you'll be struck by lightning while walking to cash your winning Lotto ticket. ESPN's FPI (Football Power index) projections estimates the Canes' likelihood of winning at 99.7 percent. Bethune-Cookman, from Daytona Beach, is a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school, what we used to call Division 1AA, and its Wildcats will simply be overmatched against Mark Richt's guys. The upset would be if B-C kept it close for long. Weather could be an interesting factor. Heat from the diabolical 12:30 p.m. start will test both teams' conditioning, and there also is about a 40 percent chance of rain. Unfortunately I see a sad Week 1 attendance, given the early start, the foreboding weather and the low-watt opponent. A few things to watch even though the matchup is unlikely to be competitive: 1) Debut of Malik Rosier as Miami's starting quarterback. Looking for mistake-free, confidence-building performance from him. 2) Offensive line. There are three new starters on unit that struggled at times last year. If they struggle against this opponent, that'll be a bad sign. 3) Can questionable Canes secondary rise to match what should be excellent defensive front-7? This is an opponent against which even inexperienced DBs should shine. Richt predictably has been talking-up B-C all week and wouldn't say it, but UM has to be looking at this game as a glorified tuneup for what will be a fairly big step-up in challenge next week at Arkansas State as early schedule builds to the Week 3 armageddon in Tallahassee. Not that we're looking ahead! Back to Bethune, if we must. My pick: Hurricanes, 38-3.

Other state FBS Week 1 games, chronologically:

UCF 61, FIU 17: A Thursday night ass-whuppin' in Orlando gets the Butch Davis era off to a humbling start.

Navy 42, FAU 19: U.S. Navy sinks Lane Kiffin in Owls debut Friday in the Boca nest elongated by two weather delays.

No. 11 Michigan 33, No. 17 Florida 17: In Arlington, Tex., the final score flattered Florida. Dear Gators, even with those 10 suspended players, you'd-a still lost.

No. 19 South Florida 31, Stony Brook 17: Bulls now 2-0 after winning at San Jose State last Saturday.

No. 1 Alabama 24, No. 3 Florida State 7: Massive matchup was Collball Week 1's star attraction -- and a rout for Bama. More importantly, Noles lose QB Deondre Francois to an apparent knee injury, adding intrigue to UM's visit Sept. 16.

National Collball Week 1 overview: No. 2 Ohio State survived a scare at Indiana Thursday, and FSU failed miserably to shock Nick Saban in the Game of the Week. Florida-Michigan was opening week's only other Top 25 matchup other than a minor one in Sunday's 22-West Virginia vs. 21-Virginia Tech.

'SOPY' weekly rankings return: Every Tuesday starting next week, we'll have our updated standings in our State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, along with our weekly State of the State team rankings.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 9-4-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Washington at Marlins, 7:10: Fish try to shake off 1-3 home fizzle vs. lowly Phils.

2. U.S. Open tennis, 11 a.m: Round of 16 matches continue in New York.

3. Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech, 8 p.m.: Wrapping up Week 1 in college football.

4. Slovakia at England, 2:30 p.m.: One of day's 6 World Cup qualifying matches.

Select other recent columns -- Stanton Chasing 1984Dolphins' Double-Jay Attack Portends Dynamic OffenseStanton the Litmus Test For New OwnersAlso: Double QB Quandary A RarityNew Owner, New HopeA Diamond, ShiningImmortality Calling. 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

August 28, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Mayweather-McGregory won, but see what else lands where in our newest list; plus new Sunday column on Stanton's rising place in history, reason for optimism on Dolphins, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 28. 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mayweather-McGregor polls and results, Dolphins drop Fake Game 3, Stanton pace at 63, latest 'Back In My Day' video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Sunday column: Stanton's ascending place in history: Giancarlo Stanton's 2017 Marlins season is high and getting higher among our Top 10 greatest individual seasons in Miami sports history. See our list in my latest Sunday column. Click on Stanton Chasing 1984 to read.

Latest Dolphins column: Offense will make up for shortcomings on D: What's winning, Dolfans? Is it the optimist inside you? Or the pessimist within who always seems closer at hand? Side with optimism, I say. Here's why: This Dolphins offense will be better than the defense is bad. Click on Dolphins' Double-Jay Attack Portends Dynamic Offense 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. FIGHTING: Mayweather-McGregor lives up to hype in Money win: The anticipation, the hype, the crowd in Vegas, the record setting pay-per-view audience. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor needed a heck of a show to meet expectations Saturday night. Did they deliver? Yes. Mayweather was uncommonly aggressive in scoring a 10th-round TKO, McGregor was a legit, worthy foe and I doubt many PPV buyers felt cheated.

2. MARLINS: Stanton surge lifts Fish into wild-card hunt: As Sunday wrapped three-game mini-homestand vs. Padres, Miami has climbed into playoff hunt, Giancarlo Stanton is chasing 60 homers -- with 50 now, his pace is 63 -- oh, and Jeffrey Loria is on way out. Somebody pinch me!

3. HURRICANES: Countdown 5 days to opener for Rosier, UM: Canes and newly named starting QB Malik Rosier host Bethune-Cookman this Saturday at The Rock in Week 1 of Mark Richt's second season. It's a soft opening that should be an easy win for The U. That's with all due respect to Bethune ... which isn't due much.

4. DOLPHINS: 'Dress rehearsal' loss leaves mixed signals: What to discern from Thursday's 38-31 Dolphins loss in Philly in Fake Game 3? Don't worry about Miami's Jay-Jay offense led by Cutler and Ajayi. But do worry (a lot) about that defense, especially against the pass. 

5. NFL: It's Draft Day in America!: Sunday, yesterday, was when most fantasy drafts were held nationwide, according to ESPN.com, which hosts more leagues than any other outlet. I re-thought my draft strategy after loading up last year on a kicker, defense and tight end with my first three picks.   

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FSU, Florida in marquee games as season kicks off: The two biggest Week 1 games in the country this coming Saturday will have a state flavor as No. 3 Florida State plays No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta and No. 17 Florida hosts No. 11 Michigan. Alas, bettors think the Noles and Gators both will be starting off 0-1.

7. FIU/FAU: New coaches Davis, Kiffin prepare for debuts:  FIU visits UCF on Thursday and FAU hosts Navy on Friday in the coaching debuts for the Panthers' Butch Davis and Owls' Lane Kiffin. Both are "name" coaches. Now we see if they'll also be "winning" coaches, too.

8. FELO RAMIREZ: R.I.P. to Marlins broadcasting legend: A sentimental nod to a radio icon who broadcast Marlins games from the franchise's start in 1993. He passed away at 94, and to call Ramirez the Spanish-language Vin Scully would compliment both men.

9. TENNIS: U.S. Open gets underway in New York: Roger Federer and Garbine Muguruza are betting favorites as the season's fourth and final major gets underway in new York. That's the definition of Serena Williams being out on maternity leave, by the way: "Garbine Muguruza" the favorite. 

10. YOUTH BASEBALL: Little League World Series crowns a champion: The International champion (Japan) beat the U.S. champion (Lufkin, Texas) for the grand title Sunday in Williamsport, Pa. May the best team (or the one with the best fake IDs) win.

Missing the HB10 cut: First the Heat sought Gordon Heyward in free agency only to see him sign with Boston. Then Miami inquired about trading for Kyrie Irving, but Cleveland's asking price was too high, and Celtics landed Irving, too. Or did they? Trade has hit snag over Thomas' health and, like a teenage marriage, may yet be annulled ..... Hey anybody know when that solar eclipse is happening? Say what!? Oh. How was it? ..... The 49ers' Katie Sowers has become the NFL's first openly gay coach. Given the job security of that profession, she'll also be the NFL's first openly gay coach to be fired .....  More than 1,000 turned out for a rally in support of Colin Kaepernick at NFL headquarters. Should have called it an anti alt-right rally. Would-a gotten a lot more people ..... ESPN removes announcer named Robert Lee from calling Virginia football game. Mamas, quit naming your babies after Confederate heroes.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-28-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Washington, 7:05 p.m.: Stanton (50 HRs), hot Fish play 1st of 3 at Nats.

2. U.S. Open tennis, 1 p.m.: Underway with 1st-round matches in New York.

Select other recent columns -- Stanton the Litmus Test For New Owners (Don't you dare trade him!) Double QB Quandary A Rarity (On Dolphins, Canes' shared upheaval). New Owner, New Hope (Let's party at news Loria agrees to sell to Jeter group). A Diamond, Shining (Giancarlo Stanton's great season). Immortality Calling (Jason Taylor in Hall, now who's next?). Also: Right Time, Right QuarterbackThe Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsBlockbuster 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

August 11, 2017

PS1: Dolphins 23, Atlanta 20: Our quick-read, quick-thought observations on preseason opener; plus the wonder of Giancarlo Stanton, Jay Cutler poll, latest 'Back In My Day,' Fins fantasy ranks, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 11. Click on Pencils for the new Back In My Day from this week's LeBatard Show. 2) R.I.P., Glen Campbell, the Rhinestone Cowboy, gone this week at 81. 3) 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. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 led by Jay Cutler arrival, your Dolphins/Hurricanes QB calamity verdicts & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: On the wonder of Giancarlo Stanton: Underappreciated nationally, overshadowed in his own city, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton is having one of the great seasons in Miami sports history. My new column is an unabashed appreciation. Click on A Diamond, Shining to read. 

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter is back ... but not yet: Another season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls is at hand, but, as always, they begin with the regular season, not in the preseason. Watch for the season's DSM debut on Sunday, Sept. 10.

PS1: DOLPHINS 23, ATLANTA 20: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FAKEBALL!?: Click on Quick Thoughts On Fake Game 1 for our mini-column on Thursday night's preseason-opening Miami win. The one update I'd offer: Rookie Raekwon McMillan's torn-ACL knee injury will cause him to miss the season and overrides any good that came out of last night. Big blow. First Tannehill, now the starting middle linebacker ..... Original post: The biggest scam in all of sports is that NFL teams get away with including preseason exhibition games in their season-ticket packages, requiring fans to pay full fare for fakeball or fraudball games they wouldn't otherwise pay to see. I mean, seriously, if you plan to  attend tonight's first preseason game (7 Atlmiap.m., CBS) despite the forecast of gloomy weather and are actually and truly excited to do so -- you are a Dolfan deserving of a medal. No Jay Cutler tonight. In fact very few starters will play Ps1much if at all. Not for the visiting Falcons, either. This of course renders the result meaningless. Miami could win by 20 or lose by 20 and it would signify nada. The game does mean a lot to participants, naturally. To coaches who must make roster cuts. To borderline players trying to make it. From a fan standpoint, though, it's a micro/macro thing. If you're Macro and you just want to judge the finished product starting Sept. 10, not see how the sausage is made along the way, tonight probably isn't for you. If you're Micro and you care about the minutia, stuff like who might be the fifth wide receiver, the preseason is your Petri dish. Tonight will mostly be about rookies, and Miami draft-loaded on defense, so that's tonight's focus. On rookie middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan: He's a baby, not yet 21, but set to start. Whether he flies or fails will have a huge impact on whether the Fins' defense improves as much as it needs to. On rookie defensive tackle Davon Godchaux: Is he really beating out young veteran Jordan Phillips for the start, or are the reps right now more of a fire-starter under Phillips? And on rookie defensive end Charles Harris: Surprisingly little attention for the No. 1 draft pick, maybe because he'll begin as a rotation player. But tonight will be our first good look at that explosive first step of his. And on rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley: Can the third-round pick make the team? Needs to shine tonight. Offensively, tonight one of the "other guys" at quarterback will stake a claim to being kept as a No. 3 behind Cutler and Matt Moore. By the way, don't look for Cutler to be smoking a cigarette on the sideline tonight. That would violate stadium rules.

JaycutlerTHE CUTLER POLL: YOUR CONFIDENCE IN THE DOLPHINS' NEW QUARTERBACK: I have my say in this column; click New QB, Same Hopes to read. Although I preferred the Dolphins dare to sign Colin Kaepernick instead, hauling Jay Cutler out of retirement makes a ton of sense for Miami, given his experience, relationship with Adam Gase and knowledge of the offense Gase and the Fins use. The transition should be smooth. And I think with Cutler the Dolphins remain exactly what they were a week ago with Tannehill healthy, no more, no less: A pretty good team with a lot of "ifs" but a real shot at the playoffs. I know Cutler is a ripe target for lampooning. The nude photo. The cigarette photoshops. The celeb wife. And he has this habit of often seeming to convey apathy or boredom; see photo at right from yesterday's introductory media session. Still, a positive signing that makes the best of a bad situation and keeps Miami's season viable, I say. OK, now here comes your opinion. Express your degree of confidence in Cutler, or lack of, by taking a dip in our poll. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

AJAYI, LANDRY LEAD DOLPHINS IN FANTASY: Almost fantasy draft time, with Greg's Lobos on high alert. ESPN has a 10-team, 16-round mock fantasy draft here, and the four Dolphins selected, predictably, are: RB Jay Ajayi (2nd round/16th overall); WR Jarvis Landry (6th/51st); WR DeVante Parker (9th/85th); and WR Kenny Stills 12th/116th).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: FRI 8-11-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Colorado at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: After 2-5 roadie, Fish open 6-game homestand.

2. PGA Championship, 1 p.m.: Second round of season's final golf major.

3. Steelers at Giants, 7 p.m.: NFL preseason game.

4. USA Diving nationals, 9 p.m.: Nat'l championships From Columbus, Ohio.

5. Track world championships, ongoing: Track & field worlds continue in London.

Select other recent columns -- Immortality Calling (with Jason Taylor in Hall, who's next?). Right Time, Right Quarterback (Dolphins should have gone with Kaepernick). Also: 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

May 29, 2017

Respect and gratitude: Memorial Day 2017 (with video); plus updated Hot Button Top 10: See what falls where among UM baseball denied, NBA, Tiger arrest, Marlins, Fins, NHL; also, my Sunday column, Gregg Allman, most-wins verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Gallman1) It is MONDAY, May 29. R.I.P., Gregg Allman, pictured right, gone at 69. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from this past week's LeBatard Show. 3) Know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins vs. Canes most-wins poll, UM baseball reaches ACC semifinals, Fish vs. Trout, World OutGames Miami scandal & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Golden State, LeBron on history's doorstep: For the Warriors as a team or LeBron James as a player, this NBA Finals is going to leave one of them looking a lot like the best there ever was. Click on History Calling Warriors, LeBron for my new Sunday column.

MemdayMEMORIAL DAY 2017: RESPECT AND GRATITUDE: Ultimate respect and thanks on this Memorial Day 2017 for the thousands of Americans who have lost their lives fighting in our armed forces --fighting for us -- over our centuries of freedom. If someone should wish you a "happy Memorial Day" today, or mistake Memorial Day for Veterans Day, please politely correct them. This holiday is one of reflection, and gratitude, for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Every Memorial Day in my blog I present George Jones' 2002 video of his song, "50,000 Names." The song is about the Vietnam Memorial, but, more broadly, it is about the ultimate cost of freedom that we honor on this day. If you lost a loved one in military combat, this is for you:

Hot Button Top 10 going on holiday: Because of vacation, this will be the last Hot Button Top 10 for a little while. We'll be off the next two Sundays and return June 18.

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: Finally, it's on! The inevitable Warriors-Cavs Finals begins: It's the Golden State-Cleveland trilogy, LeBron-Steph III, and the rubber-match series begins Thursday night. Now all it has to be is the greatest Finals ever ending in a triple-overtime Game 7 to live up to expectations.

2. MARLINS: Can long homestand help fading Fish save season?: Miami hopes its current 10-game homestand, longest of the year (off to a 2-1 start), will help the Marlins start to turn around a sinking season. Fish thought that last time, too, just before the previous homestand in which they went 1-8. Now, tonight Marlins go for first two-game win streak since April 22-23.

3. UM BASEBALL: Canes denied NCAA bid, record streak ends!: UM went 2-1 in ACC Tournament with Saturdays' 12-4 semifinal loss in Louisville to North Carolina. That should have been enough, I thought, to earn an NCAA bid for record 45th consecutive year in Monday's selection show. Instead, UM was ddenied so the streak ends. Perspective: Canes' last time not in an NCAA Regional predated Dolphins' Perfect Season.

4. DOLPHINS: Another round of OTAs on deck: The next of the Fins' offseason “organized team activity” days are this Tuesday through Thursday. You know you're a football fan if you care about your team's no-pads, limited-hitting practices 3 ½ months before the season starts. otas wrap up june 5-8.

5. NHL: It's Nashville and Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup: Puck drops on Game 1 Monday. Pittsburgh has won four Stanley Cups including last season. Nashville is going for its first ever. Unless you live in western Pennsylvania, if you aren't rooting for the Predators, something's wrong with you.

6. MOTORSPORTS: Japan's Sato stuns in Indianapolis 500 goes: IndyCar racing owned the motorsport stage Sunday and delivered a surprise as journeyman driver Takuma Sato won the 101st "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Tokyo-born Sato, 40, was four years past his only previous IndyCar win. Bac home, he's Ichiro for a day!

7. TIGER WOODS: Woods arrested for DUI: The downward spiral of Tiger Woods sees a new chapter today following his overnight arrest for DUI in his hometown of Jupiter. The once-dominant golfer, recovering from back surgery, was booked at 7:18 a.m. and released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m. Pictured right from his booking photo: The new face of drunk.

8. TENNIS: French Open gets underway in Paris: A tennis tradition since 1891, French Open finds Rafael Nadal the clear men's favorite (he won today), but the women's side wide open, especially with No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber's shocking loss in first round Sunday. With neither Serena Williams nor Maria Sharapova playing, no Roger Federer, either, and now Kerber out, this major has taken a major hit in starpower.

9. SOCCER: Arsenal wins FA Cup final: Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 Saturday to win England's FA Cup. Call it an international soccer appetizer for the June 3 UEFA Champions League final in Wales as Real Madrid defends its European crown vs. Juventus.

10. WORLD OUTGAMES: Miami LGBTQ sporting event mired in scandal: The World OutGames Miami, set to have begun with an Opening Ceremony on Saturday, collapsed under a fraud investigation that canceled almost all athletic events. Was this thing being run by Fyre Festival promoters and Ja Rule or what!?

Missing the HB10 cut: Sailing's 35th America's Cup is underway in Bermuda. Quick tip for helmsmen: Avoid the Triangle ..... FAU reached C-USA baseball semifinals before losing Saturday. That and an 18-12 season could sneak Owls into NCAA Tournament. Give a hoot! ..... NASL's Miami FC faces Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday in next round of U.S. Open Cup. Am starting a GoFundMe campaign to buy Miami FC a nickname ..... Congrats, Canada! This makes it 23 straight seasons without a Stanley Cup ..... Sunrise arena will host WWE Summer Slam on June 9. Wonder who's scheduled to win? ..... Belmont Stakes coming up June 10, but, with no Triple Crown in play, not even Belmont cares ..... MLB Draft is set for June 12. Note to MLB: I know you're jealous that the NFL and NBA drafts get much more attention. Quick thought, baseball: Try having fewer than 4,687 rounds ..... R.I.P., Jim Bunning, workhorse pitcher from a day when starting pitchers actually completed games ..... Michael Vick wants a one-day contract to retire as a Falcon. And he should, doggone it!

POLL RESULT: UM FOOTBALL WILL OUT-WIN DOLPHINS IN 2017: We asked who is more likely to win the most games this coming season, and by not quote a 2-to-1 margin you had it 58.8 percent Hurricanes and 30.5% Dolphins. The other 10.7% answered, "Dead even. Got a coin?"

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-29-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA baseball selection show, noon: Hurricanes learn if streak stays alive with at-large bid.

2. Stanley Cup Finals, 8 pm.: Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of NHL Finals. 

3. Philadelphia at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish 10-game homestand continues vs. NL East rivals.

4. French Open, 11 a.m.: Men's favorite Rafael Nadal among those debuting in 1st-round matches.

[Note: NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

THE LIST: DOLPHINS NO. 1 PICKS ON DEFENSE: When I wrote recently that the Dolphins hope Charles Harris is their best No. 1 draft choice on defense in more than 20 years, here is what I meant. Miami's 10 most recent first-round picks on D prior to Harris:

Year    Player                        Results

(Results numbers are seasons, starts and Pro Bowls with Dolphins)

2013   Dion Jordan, DE          2-1-0

2010   Jared Odrick, DE         5-41-0

2009   Vontae Davis, DB         3-36-0*

2006   Jason Allen, DB           4-19-0

2001   Jamar Fletcher, DB      3-6-0

1996   Daryl Gardener, DT     6-77-0

1994   Tim Bowens, DT         11-155-2

1992   Troy Vincent, DB         4-55-0* 

1988   Eric Kumerow, DE       3-0-0

1987   John Bosa, DE            3-21-0

*-Davis and Vincent both made Pro Bowls, but not until after leaving Dolphins.

Select other recent columns: 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. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. 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. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: 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 18, 2017

NBA Draft projections for Heat at 14th include a tantalizing risk: My latest column; plus R.I.P. Chris Cornell, Csonka's open letter on plight of teammates, the NBA Finals matchup you want (poll), hip-hop Jimmy-J, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, May 18. R.I.P., Chris Cornell. See video at bottom of this post. 2) Latest Back in My Day video: Click on BIMD: Gas Jockeys to watch. 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday column, HB Daily & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Newest column: The Heat, the draft and Harry Giles: Click on Big Risk For Big Upside to see how a top-five talent could fall to Miami at 14th, and why the Heat, with proper assurances, should pounce if the get the chance.

HarrygilesMOCK-DRAFT FORECASTS FOR HEAT WITH 14TH OVERALL PICK: The June 22 NBA Draft looms after last night's lottery saw no miracle for the Heat, who'll select 14th overall. Miami had a 0.5 chance at the No.1 pick and 1.8% to get in the top three. Instead the Heat will pick mid-round as the odds forecast, and ESPN.com's post-lottery mock draft predicts Miami will end up with Duke freshman forward Harry Giles (pictured right). Sayeth the mock: "It might be a few weeks before we know what NBA doctors think of Giles' knee. If he's red-flagged medically, he could drop up to 10 spots on our board, depending on the diagnosis. However, if doctors are satisfied that his knees are Johncollinsin good shape, the Heat will get a steal at No. 14. Many scouts feel Giles has the most raw talent of any player in the draft. And the Heat can afford to bring him along slowly, getting him fully healthy and explosive again before unleashing a Hassan Whiteside-Giles frontcourt from hell." My take: See my column, linked above. Always like the Duke pedigree, agree on the big upside, and power forward should be a pretty obvious target priority for Miami. Giles is a red-flag risk because of two ACL knee surgeries. But if Miami had medical assurances this would be a tantalizing, dynamic risk-pick if the opportunity arose. (ESPN has only one state player-college player going in its mock first round: Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac to Minnesota seventh overall). Another mock draft, by CBS Sports today, has Giles and his knees falling to 20th and Miami at 14 taking Wake Forest forward John Collins (pictured left). A third mock, by Sports Illustrated, has Heat selecting Indiana forward OG Anunoby. Well, at least everybody agrees it'll be a forward.

LARRY CSONKA SPEAKS OF HIS TEAMMATES' HEALTH STRUGGLES: In his blog at LarryCsonka.com, under the headline, My Teammates Battles (and we forgive him the missing apostrophe), the great former Dolphins running back speaks of the brain-injury issues affecting Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick, a plight that inspired this column by me. The photo shown, of Zonk with Kiick, is from Csonka's article, which we reprint here fully:

"Last Tuesday, my teammate, Nick Buoniconti, went public regarding his current health challenges in an article with Sports Illustrated online.  Subsequently, stories have been published on my running mate, Jim Kiick, as well. I usually see my teammates at the Dolphins alumni event each year so I was aware of some issues with both men.  However, I wasn’t aware of the extensive Zonkproblems both have been dealing with, especially with Nick.  Learning this, of course, saddens me a great deal. I’ve seen Jim the past few years at games.  In fact, I was at a game last fall with both Jim and Mercury [Morris] and had a great visit. I always ask how his health is and how he’s doing with the rest of his life.  We might discuss typical health issues a lot of us experience at our age but he always assures me that he’s, basically, doing fine in all aspects. When Jim and Mercury Morris joined me in Alaska a few years ago to tape an episode for NFL Films, "A Football Life," I noticed Jim was grumpier than usual and worrying more about small details. That wasn’t like the Jim Kiick I knew and played along side of. When I asked him about it, he joked and said he liked being a grumpy old man! As the media has written, Jim is in an assisted living facility in South Florida. I’m glad he’s there. He needs part-time care. However, he’s not as bad off, at this point, as the media has depicted.  At times he requires more attention than others but I know he and Mercury visit, go out for subs and hang out fairly often without any issues. Jim can still function in that capacity and enjoy life with his friends. What the future holds?  We don’t know. Jim has been diagnosed with dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s and suspected CTE. After a multitude of testing, Nick’s exact diagnosis is still ongoing. Each are dealing with different challenges. Football was a much more dangerous sport when we played than it is today. Unfortunately, many of us from that era are now paying the price. I’ve been lucky so far and count my blessings daily. However, I realize I have some of the same risk factors as others who played on the gridiron. I continue to exercise, eat right and take supplements for good brain health. I have several aches and pains but I, basically, feel good and try to maintain a positive outlook on my future. I believe football is a safer game now.  On one hand, I don’t like how new rules have changed the game I knew and played but if the changes truly make the game safer, then it’s worth it! I’ve always maintained (and sometimes with great controversy) kids shouldn’t play tackle football until junior high for a few reasons. In many cases, they are not well coached and, more importantly, not properly equipped. A child running around on a Pop Warner field with a sloppy helmet isn’t cute to me … it’s an outrage! Also, recent research points to young brains being at the highest risk of lasting effects from trauma. Young, developing brains cannot withstand that kind of hit without some repercussions sometime in their life (according to research I’ve read). Jim and Nick are great friends of mine.  Even though we only occasionally see each other, I think of them and my other teammates often. We shared a unique bond for an extraordinary period of time in our lives and still share in the historic success of our team. I hope better times come for both of them and I look forward to another visit this fall."

--Zonk

WHAT IS THE NBA FINALS MATCHUP YOU'RE MOST HOPING TO SEE?: San Antonio and Golden State are one game into their NBA Western finals, with the Warriors up 1-0 after what was (depending on your view) either than epic comeback by the Warriors or an epic choke by the Spurs. Now, we get a Boston-Cleveland Eastern finals after the Celtics Game 7 home win over Washington last night. That presents four possible combinations of NBA Finals we might see. I prefer a Warriors-Cavaliers rematch (click LeBron And Steph To the Rescue for my column why). You may or may not agree. Take a dip in our poll and say which NBA Finals you prefer to see:

Foxhiphop FoxhiphopFOX-TV NFL CREW DRESSES UP AS HIP-HOP POSSE FOR NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER: Yes, that's right, LeBron. I said posse. Sue me. The network's Charissa Thompson tweeted this out for some damned reason. Is it Halloween already? It continues a trend of younger-demographic-seeking sports entities pandering to hip-hip fans. We have seen it with Stephen A. SMith in promos on ESPN and with others. Ordinarily the prize for most-ridiculous in a pandering Fox photo shoot such as this would by default go to Terry Bradshaw -- every time. But I must give the dubious 'honor' here to Jimmy Johnson, our own esteemed former Canes and Dolphins coach. At far right you see the group photo. To the left I have isolated the shot of Jimmy looking like a Harry Caray impersonator auditioning for an old white Run DMC cover act.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 5-18-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at L.A. Dodgers, 10 p.m.: The 1-8 homestand sucked. Maybe 6-game roadie will bring luck.

2. Virginia Tech at Hurricanes, noon: UM baseball 3-game set ends regular season, precedes ACC tourney.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Nashville up 2-1 and home vs. Anaheim in Game 4 of Western finals.

[Note: NBA playoffs are off today].

Select recent other columns: NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. 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. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback: My oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

R.I.P., CHRIS CORNELL:

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 10, 2017

Vegas to Dolphins: Fluke! No playoffs for you in '17! Agree? Set over/under on Miami wins. Poll. Last day to vote; plus Kathy Berman, latest Back In My Day video; also, Chris Bosh, porn and rat poop, your LaVar Ball verdict, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, May 10. Our new Back In My Day video from the LeBatard Show is entitled 'Bumper Stickers.' Watch it HERE. 2) Chris Bosh is being sued by a porn website. Rat poop is involved. Story here. 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): Hot Button Top 10, LaVar ball/$495 sneakers with poll, my Heat/Wade column, Colonel Sanders: Super Stud, your verdict on eSports & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Chris Berman's wife dies: Kathy Berman, for 33 years the wife of ESPN icon Chris, died in a car accident Tuesday. Story here. Condolences to the Berman family.

DOLPHINS' POST-DRAFT, PRESEASON BETTING OVER/UNDER ON WINS IS NOT A PRETTY NUMBER: Las Vegas and offshore sports books set odds to reflect what they believe public perception to Dolphs Sevenfivebe, and so it may now be said: Dolfans might be confident about Miami's coming season, but the rest of America pretty much think the Dolphins will not repeat as a playoff team. As we were the first at MiamiHerald.com to report, via Bovada, the Fins' 2017 victory over/under is 7 1/2 wins, or just under .500 -- not a playoff number. That's a big drop foreseen from last season's 10-6 mark  that ended an eight-year playoff drought. Further bad news: The AFC East rival Patriots lead everybody with an O/U of 12 1/2, the highest opening number in almost 10 years, and two full wins better than anyone else. Need a dollop of consolation? The Bills (6 wins) and Jets (5) have even lower over/unders than Miami. Vegas and bettors aren't always right, of course. They have set a starting point of 7 1/2 wins, but what about you? Being realistic, what is a reasonable expectation for number of Dolphins regular-season victories. Take a dip in our poll, vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

POLL RESULT: LAVAR BALL, $495 SNEAKERS GET SAVAGED: Ouch. We asked what you most hope will be the outcome in the story of LaVar Ball, Lonzo Ball, Big Baller Brand and its $495 sneakers, and 77.1 percent answered, "Failure. Crash and burn." Only 22.9% voted, "Success. I wish them well."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 5-10-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Two conference-semis Game 7s with Penguins at Capitals, Oilers at Ducks.

2. St. Louis at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish end 3-game series in midst of long homestand.

3. NBA playoffs, 8 p.m.: Wizards at Celtics in Game 5 of 2nd-round series tied 2-2.

4. UEFA Champions League, 2:45 p.m.: City rivals Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid in 2nd leg of semis.

5. Central Florida at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball needs strong finish for any playoff shot.

Select recent columns: On The Team's Term's, Not His, the latest, on what it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. to read. Not In Our Stadium, on the N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why the 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 reaching agreement 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 this 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

May 08, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what falls where; plus Chris Bosh sued by porn website; also, LaVar Ball/$495 sneakers poll, R.I.P. Art Hertz, Colonel Sander's romantic side, your eSports verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Arthertz1) It is MONDAY, May 8. Belated condolences and an R.I.P. to Art Hertz, 83 (pictured), the Miami civic giant and former Orange Bowl Committee president. Got to know Art pretty well from my years covering Hurricanes football in the '80s. Good man. 2) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): First 2018 mock draft has bad news for Dolphins and Canes, Heat's foray into eSports/gaming with poll, updated Fins/Marlins title odds, your who-runs-this-town verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Porn, rat poop a part of lawsuit against Chris Bosh: I ain't lyin'. Click here for the story.

Latest column: Wade must check ego for any shot at Heat reunion: In my latest Sunday column I explore what could happen this summer if Wade opts out of his Bulls contract -- but might only happen if he came at a bargain price with no demands on his role. Click On The Team's Term's, Not His 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. HORSE RACING: Always Dreaming takes a muddy Kentucky Derby: Always Dreaming -- Todd Pletcher-trained, with John Velazquez aboard and co-owned by Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola -- beat the mud and a big field Saturday to usher in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown at Churchill Downs. They call it the "Run For the Roses." Which also is what I do when I suddenly realize I’ve forgotten my wife’s birthday.

2. NBA: Prelims to get to Cavaliers-Warriors continue: Cleveland swept Toronto on Sunday and tonight Golden State looks to do the same in Utah. It is looking more and more like an inevitable third consecutive Cavs-Warriors Finals, which is exactly what American wants. Or doesn't. I can't decide.

3. MARLINS: Fish back to open long homestand Monday: Flailing Fish had lost nine of 11 before winning at Mets Sunday, and now face St. Louis tonight to open a nine-game homestand. Meanwhile three groups are now bidding to buy the club from Jeffrey Loria. How perfectly fitting would it be for Loria to end his unpopular reign by not selling to the fan-preferred Derek Jeter group?

4. DOLPHINS: Harris, other draftees in Fins’ rookie minicamp: Top pick Charles Harris and other draftees wrap up Miami’s weekend rookie minicamp Sunday — as much a meet-’n-greet as actual football work. Circle June 13-15, the first mandatory full minicamp, when things start to get serious.

5. LAVAR BALL: Would you buy a $495 pair of sneakers?: Super-dad LaVar Ball and his Big Baller Brand introduced a $495 signature sneaker for his NBA rookie-to-be son Lonzo Ball, thereby exponentially increasing the pressure on Lonzo to be an instant superstar. If I'm spending $495 on sneakers they'd better be stuffed with about $400 in cash.

6. NHL: Nashville first through to conference finals: Nashville became the first team to win its conference semifinal series, and now Pittsburgh can advance with a win tonight. We could see Game 7s in three of the four second-round series. That's the way you do a postseason, NBA!

7. N-WORD: Racist fan in Boston ignites outcry: A dumbass Red Sox fan shouted the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones and was banned for life from Fenway Park. Official apologies and national conversation ensued. I wonder if the fan who yelled received an I-know-what-you're-going-through note from Steve Bartman? 

8. BOXING: Alvarez pounds Chavez in Vegas fight: Canelo Alvarez won an easy decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a battle of Mexican favorites last night in Las Vegas. The weight class was super middleweight. Alas, nothing super about the fight.  

9. HURRICANES: UM breaks ground on new football facility: It was news when UM announced plans for a new $34 million indoor football practice facility. It will be news when it opens its doors in 2018. Not sure it was news this week when people in dress shoes and hardhats stood around with gold shovels for a groudbreaking, but we sure covered it like it was. Slow news week?

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes playoff hopes on deathbed: Jim Morris' guys are an uncommonly common 24-23 and in grave jeopardy of seeing their record NCAA playoff streak come to an end. Doctors are standing by ready to call a time of death. Might take the miracle of an ACC title to save the season.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes men's basketball is ranked No. 7 in the nation in an NBC Sports (very early) preseason Top 25 ranking newly out. And the bar is set. High ..... NASCAR did Talladega Sunday, with Ricky Stenhouse under the checkered flag ..... Ping pong balls ready? The NBA Draft Lottery is May 16 ..... Answer: UM tennis player Piotr Lomacki rose two spots, to No. 62, in the latest ITA singles rankings. Question: Whaddya mean they might wanna think about ranking fewer players? ..... Champion Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb found dead at 37. I'd never heard of him. R.I.P., anyway ..... At auction yet again: That rare 1909 T-206, the original Honus Wagner baseball card. I don't wanna say it might be a fake, but if you look closely you can see an ESPN banner on the outfield wall.

BallLAVAR BALL AND HIS $495 SNEAKERS: I have a new mini-column out on LaVar Ball's new line of $495 sneakers started for his son, Lonzo, 19, the UCLA guard about to enter the NBA. Click on The Gall Of Ball to read. It used to be you became an NBA star and from that grew the merchandise. But Dad (pictured) and his Big Baller Brand have flipped the switch. It is audacious. It might even be smart. But it also is off-putting to a lot of people as its heaps a ton of pressure on Lonzo Ball to be an instant star in order to sell sneakers and save the family brand. What are you rooting for to happen? Take a dip in our poll:

ColonelCOLONEL HARLAND SANDERS: SUPER-STUD: How KFC has brought its iconic Colonel Sanders back to life in advertising is smart, and fun. Companies that have brand ambassadors that famous are dumb to move away from them. (Who remembers his first name is Harland, by the way?) The latest dab of genius is a "romance novella" (pictured) that casts the Colonel as a stud. (Background story here). They're giving it away with the purchase of a $20 bucket of chicken, and it sounds wonderfully awful. The book. Not the chicken. Spoiler alert: In the book, Tender Wings Of Desire, the Colonel carries the gorgeous redhead to his castle (shown in the background), where together they enjoy a lavish banquet of fried chicken, after which the unhinged Colonel carries the woman into a fully appointed sex dungeon below and dons a rubber mask for hours of bondage games. OK, I made up that last part. The Colonel would never do that!

POLL RESULT: SORRY, GAMERS, BUT THAT AIN'T A SPORT: We asked if you consider eSports/competitive video gaming to be an actual sport, and it was 77.9 percent "no" to only 22.1% "yes."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-8-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. St. Louis at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish 13-17, needing spark, as they open 9-game homestand.

2. NBA playoffs, 9 p.m.: Warriors up 3-0, can close out 2nd-round playoff series with sweep at Jazz.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Penguins 3-2 and home, looking to close out series with Capitals.

Select other recent columns: Not In Our Stadium, on the N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why the 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 reaching agreement 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 this 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