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

April 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS/NFL DRAFT: Finally, it's Draft Week in Miami!: Newly released league schedule finds Miami back on the NFL map with four prime-time games (amazing what ending your playoff drought can do), but bigger news is this week's NFL Draft Thursday through Saturday. The most likely result for the Fins' No. 1 pick? That, no matter who it is, most Dolfans were sort of hoping for the other guy instead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 08, 2017

My new autobiographical song, "The Ballad Of 1440," is out. Watch video here!; plus The Dead We Forgot (a Ghost Tour addendum), revealing Canes basketball, Marlins betting odds, Jimmy Buffett's old-folks home, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, March 8. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your NFL Scouting Combine verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Marlins, NL East odds: This is further indication, new via Bovada, that Miami is seen as mid-pack in its division. Odds of winning the NL East this season: Nationals 5-7, Mets 8-5, Marlins 12-1, Braves 16-1 and Phillies 20-1.

My latest column: Now we see how good Canes basketball really is: The Miami Hurricanes' men's and women's basketball teams are having good seasons. But how good are they? How close to special? March knows, and tells all. Click on Now We Find Out About UM Hoops to read my latest column.

THIS IS 'THE BALLAD OF 1440': Been telling you for awhile we had an autobiographical song coming out. Well, we posted "The Ballad Of 1440" on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube late last night, and now here's the video in my blog. It's personal and it's serious, with opening and closing credits and boyhood photos interspersed. The reaction has been good. I hope you enjoy it:

THE DEAD WE FORGOT: AN ADDENDUM TO OUR 'GHOST TOUR' COLUMN: We got an unusually great reaction to our recent A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past column. Nostalgia is good. ManateesPeople love to reminisce. But dozens of e-mailers pointed out a few defunct Miami sports teams I hadn't mentioned. My meandering was never meant to be an A-to-Z, comprehensive list. Nevertheless, you took the time to write me, so I'm taking he time to pass along what you said. So: A toast, please... To the Miami Manatees, a still-born Canadian Football League team proposed to begin play at the Orange Bowl in 1996, until the CFL suspended its foray into U.S. markets that spring. To the Gold Coast Suns, managed by Earl Weaver and a charter member of the Miami-based Senior Professional Baseball League, which played a 1989-90 season and then folded midway through season two. To the Miami Tropics, which played in 1987-88 and 1991-93 in the USBL (United States Basketball League), and won championship in 1987 and '92-93. To the Miami Sun Sox, which won 1950 and '52 championships in baseball's Florida International League, and to the Miami Beach Flamingos of that league. And last but least (!), to the Miami Caliente, who undied their way through the 2009-10 season in the women's Lingerie Football League.

BuffettJIMMY BUFFETT'S OLD FOLKS' HOME: I saw this headline, laughed out loud, and it made perfect sense. "Jimmy Buffett to Open Margaritaville Retirement Communities." Of course he is. (Here for more). It's for people "55 and better," and the first oldies enclave is set to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. It is geared to his aging demographic of fans -- Parrotheads. In other words, everyone in the place will be wearing Hawaiiian shirts and flying Salt Life stickers. Give Jimmy credit. Under the laid-back facade is a land shark who knows how to make money.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 3-8-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Hurricanes vs. Syracuse, noon: UM men make ACC Tournament debut in Brooklyn.

2. Charlotte at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Hot Miami still is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace.

3. Hurricanes at FIU, 7 p.m.: Bad-starting baseball Canes (now 4-7) are close to desperate.

4. FAU vs. Marshall, 8 p.m.: Owls debut in men's CUSA Tournament (FIU did not qualify).

Select other recent columns: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: Amar'e Joins the Shame ClubNFL's Arrested DevelopmentThe Wonder of Coach LIt's What's Great About SportsThe Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! Loria: The End Of An ErrorThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 21, 2017

Details on open-to-the-public Miami celebration of the late, great Edwin Pope; plus the magic of Liberty City youth football (with video), Greg Cote at age 7, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, February 21. Hope you all enjoyed your Presidents Day, to the degree that's still possible in 2017. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Whiteside column, your Marlins-expectations verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

EpopeDETAILS: CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF EDWIN POPE IN A PUBLIC EVENT IN MIAMI: A public celebration in honor of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope has been set for next Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Clevelander bar inside Marlins Park. A private ceremony was held this past weekend in Okeechobee for Pope, who passed away Jan. 19 at age 88, but this will be the first event in his honor held in Miami and open to the public. The celebration is free and will include an open bar and light food. However, only a limited number of invitees may be chosen from those who RSVP and describe what Pope meant to them in a Herald career that began in 1967 through his retirement as full-time sports columnist in 2003. RSVPs should be emailed as soon as possible to: edwinpopememorial@gmail.com. The event is being hosted by two of Edwin's biggest fans, ESPN Radio's Dan Le Batard and the Herald's Greg Cote. Hey. That's me!

NEW DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHTS THE MAGIC OF LIBERTY CITY YOUTH FOOTBALL: I was pleased to interview Miami icon Luther Campbell (Uncle Luke, pictured) yesterday for my new column to help promote a forthcoming Libcity Lukedocumentary film about the Liberty City Optimist youth football program he helped found more than 20 years ago. It has produced current NFL stars such as Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper, Devonta Freeman, Teddy Bridgewater and Duke Johnson and continues to be a thriving community focal point on Saturdays during football season. I wrote about this now because the film, Rivals: The Boom Squad, is premiering Wednesday night at 10:30 on the Viceland cable channel. Click Viceland.com and click channel finder to track down where you can see it. There also will be a live local showing of the 45-minute film on Sunday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 N.W. 22nd Ave., Miami. A 30-second trailer is presented directly below. The Liberty City Warriors, Gwen Cherry Bulls and other teams thrive because they are needed in a city that can be a tough place for kids to grow up, too often under the threat of gun violence. It is about more than football. As Campbell told us, "Our purpose is to save lives." Click on The Miracle of Liberty City to ready my full column.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 2-21-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins spring training, 9:30 a.m.: Another workday in Jupiter, with spring games starting next weekend.

2. South Carolina at Gators, 7 p.m.: No. 13 UF hosts 'Cocks in SEC men's game.

3. Delray Beach Open, 11 a.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event continues.

Other select recent columns: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, my new one, surveying Heat at the all-star break. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from the start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

GREG COTE, AGE 7: In the autobiographical song I'll soon post on social media, called "The Ballad of 1440," there is a lyric that refers to "Tonka tanks on a pebble drive." Well, lo and behold, looking through scrapbooks, I unearthed an old photo (very) of me around age 7 playing with said tank. Wish I still had it. I leave you with that ghostly photo today...

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Show us the way, Edwin Pope, Falcons-Patriots SB, Women's March, Juan Pablo Montoya & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 23. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page, debuting today. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Remembering Edwin Pope, NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside battered in all-star voting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl!: Click on Championship Game Gems for yesterday's Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots NFC and AFC title-game picks, and on A Dramatic Final Four for my preview column.

Montoya wins historic Miami Race Of Champions: Historic? The 28th annual ROC had never before been held in the U.S. before Saturday's race in Miami, on a racetrack built inside Marlins Park. And Miami driver Juan Pablo Montoya won. Crazy, one-of-a kind day. Click on Home Run For Montoya, Miami for my column from the race.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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. EDWIN POPE: Herald sports icon dies at 88: If you are from South Florida, are aware life existed before ESPN SportsCenter or have ever held a newspaper in your hands, then you probably said or thought last week, “I grew up reading Edwin Pope.” Thank you, kind sir, friend, colleague and mentor. R.I.P. 

2. NFL: Championship Sunday gives us a Falcons-Pats Super Bowl: Atlanta walloped Green Bay and New England dispatched Pittsburgh on Sunday for the NFC and AFC titles to reach Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston. The blowout games were decided by 23- and 19-point margins. The challenge? For the Super Bowl to be better. You know, an actual good game?

3. WOMEN'S MARCH: Women lead world's biggest protest march. Ever: Estimates are more than 4 million women worldwide including more than 500,000 in Washington, D.C. marched Saturday to protest Donald Trump and stand up for the freedoms and rights. Hmm. Impressive. But can't help but wonder: If that same passion and numbers had participated in the election, would there have been a need to march?

4. MOTORSPORTS: Montoya wins Race of Champions at Marlins Park: Most different, unique sporting event in Miami history? You could do worse than nominating NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One stars racing against each other inside a baseball stadium this weekend in the ROC series' first U.S. appearance. Miami won twice as hometown driver Juan Pablo Montoya won Saturday's main event.

5. HEAT: Three straight wins in a lost season as trade deadline looms: Good news? Miami has its first three-game win streak of season. Bad news? Everything else. Record is still only 14-30 and streak is unlikely to reach four as Heat host Golden State tonight. Be honest. The most compelling things left in this lost season are the two dates for the trade deadline and draft lottery.

6. MARLINS: Fish acquire quality starting pitcher: The latest aftershock of the Jose Fernandez tragedy: Miami dealt three prospects to Cincinnati for righty starter Dan Straily, who was 14-8 in 31 starts for Reds last year.

7. BASEBALL: Two ex-Marlins elected to Hall of Fame: Pudge Rodriguez, of course, had a starring role in helping Marlins win the 2003 World Series. But count yourself a real Fish fan if you also recall that, the year before, Tim Raines ended his 23-year career as a reserve here.

8. TENNIS: Both No. 1 seeds out as Australian Open enters final week: No. 1 seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both were ousted the same day, the first time in the modern era the Australian Open has lost both No. 1s before the quarterfinals. An even bigger shock: Why wasn't Serena Williams No. 1?

9. PANTHERS: Three straight losses, but Florida still in playoff hunt: As NHL all-star break looms, Cats have cooled off with three straight losses but lurk only two points off playoff in Eastern Conference. Still, when you were talking Stanley Cup and are scrambling for an eighth seed -- that's a disappointing season.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Tough stretch for Canes men, women: Miami's No. 14-ranked women have lost three of past six. The men have dropped four of past five  after Saturday's loss at Duke. Better snap out of it fast, Team Larranaga. No. 9 North Carolina visits in five days.

Missing the HB10 cut: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich devoted seven minutes of a news conference Saturday to a pro-women's march, anti-Donald Trump soliloquy, pretty brave for a man who lives and works in Texas. It's enough to make me root for a Spurs championship just to see if he gets a White House invite, or goes ..... Former Marlins ace Josh Johnson retired at 32 from elbow issues, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago ..... Prior to Bellator 170, Chael Sonnen talked trash. Tito Ortiz made his statement in the fight ..... A 25-year-old dunce from Boston was arrested for pulling a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. Put him in a room alone with James Harrison for 20 minutes ..... Saw the headline, 'Beagle scores in OT as Capitals beat Stars,' and thought, "Wow, what a great story!" But it turned out to be a guy named Jay Beagle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Florida Panthers owner and Trump nominee for Secretary of the Army Vinnie Viola once was accused of punching a man in the face at a horse auction."

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 21, 2017

Remembering an epic life and personal hero: Edwin Pope, 1928-2017, R.I.P.; plus NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside collect further disrespect, Women's March, Race Of Champions & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 21. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Edwin Pope dies, Kiper's mock draft for Dolphins, two ex-Marlins make Hall, cowardly Goodell, your Super Bowl preference, BIMD video (The Circus) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Women's March on Washington: Much respect to the hundreds of thousands participating today in the Women's March in D.C., a grass-roots stand-up for freedoms and rights. Proud to say my wife, and many others I know, are among them.

Race Of Champions: The ROC series is in the U.S. for first time today in Miami, with stars from NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One all racing together inside Marlins Park. I like big events and am a curiosity seeker, so I'll be there columnizing.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, my latest column, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald legend. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

TO A MONUMENTAL CAREER, AN EPIC LIFE AND A CHERISHED MENTOR: THANK YOU, EDWIN POPE: [Blog note: I rarely do this. I link to columns of mine, but rarely reprint them in their entirety here in the blog. But the death of my great friend and mentor, last night at age 88, is too important to me to not share as broadly as I can. So here is my tribute column]:

Epope
The Edwin I first knew, circa mid-'70s

"I grew up reading Edwin Pope." How many generations in South Florida will be saying that, thinking it, feeling it today? I was coming of age as a sports fan who hadn’t yet discovered he was interested in writing when Pope was at the peak of his powers, and reading him kindled and sparked something in me.

What it did was give me a future, a passion, a career.

Thank you, Edwin. For your inspiration, your talent, your grace, your mentorship and your friendship.Thank you so much.

South Florida and the Miami Herald have lost a giant with the passing of Edwin Pope at age 88. Newspapering and sports journalism and the craft of putting words in just the right order have all lost a giant.

Edwin came to the Herald in 1956 in his late 20s. He was sports editor and main sports columnist from 1967 until he retired in 2003, though still writing occasionally the next several years until age and Alzheimer’s dictated otherwise. I loathe the frivolous overuse of words like "legend," but the superlative has not yet been invented that can properly describe the epic arc of Pope’s career chronicling Miami sports.

From the black and white days of Cassius Clay in the 5th Street Gym to the Heat drafting some kid named Dwyane Wade — and everything in between — Edwin was the eyes and ears for South Florida sports fans, the rhyme and the reason.

He reigned before ESPN "SportsCenter" and before the Internet changed everything, putting news and opinion everywhere, and right now, diminishing the influence of the local newspaper. He reigned when "the paper" thudded onto front lawns every morning, up and down your block, and you turned to the sports section first to see what Pope had to say.

Dan LeBatard and I tried to replace him when he left. We never had a chance. Voices are everywhere, but there is no replacing Sinatra. Pope ends an era.

I felt smarter, as a teenager, when I read Edwin. There might be a word (or three) in every column that sent me to the dictionary. I liked that. He never talked down to readers. It’s a concept that has informed my own writing.

Edwin wrote with poetic elan. He told stories. He could make the scene on a racetrack’s backstretch as interesting as the horse race itself. You smelled the hay. You closed your eyes and saw the groom mucking-out the stable.

Epope2
Edwin in his career's latter stage

Edwin also could be direct. When he wanted a column to throw a punch, it landed.

When Lou Saban abruptly left the University of Miami football team after only two years following the 1978 season to coach at West Point, the lead to Pope’s column was: "You wanted a deserter, Army? You got one."

Edwin didn’t tap-dance into a column or, in the parlance of a former editor of ours, "clear his throat." He got to it. He was concise. He didn’t overwrite, either in style or length. He valued his readers too much to waste their time.

He was like that off the page, too.

He was a gentle man, but one whose humor could be sharp, and bite.

He’d had a stormy relationship with Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, and once kidded the only thing wrong with the name of the stadium was that it wasn’t Joe Robbie Memorial Stadium. (At least I think he was kidding.)

Edwin commanded utmost respect in press boxes. He was the dean, the monarch, the legend. If the clatter got too noisy too close to deadline, Edwin eventually would raise a hand and loudly snap, "Quiet!" and the room would shut up. He didn’t have to say it twice.

You didn’t want to be a waiter who ignored Edwin once too often when he was fishing for another drink.

"What’s a man got to do to get another Heinekin around here!?!" he once stood and loudly squawked from our table in some far-flung city after some game, Southern drawl lifting into a high pitch.

Epopejoelouis
A favorite photo of his: A young Edwin Pope with boxer Joe Louis

Edwin was a drinker. May I say that? We had a good time on the many road trips we took together.

I was in the company of Edwin and more than one unnamed UM football coach as the two of them killed a 12-pack of beer hours before a game. You’d visit his hotel room and not be surprised to see a jug of red wine on ice in the bathroom sink. Once we closed down a bar in (I think) Indianapolis, stumbled out into the cold and were discussing how to go about getting a cab when it dawned on us our hotel was right in front of us.

I delighted to cover the 1992 Summer Olympics with Edwin in Barcelona, in a cramped, barracks-style dorm room we shared. After two weeks, the day before we flew out, we treated each other by taking a cab to the city’s famous nude beach to take in the sights. Why not!

Edwin was a wonderful colleague and road-trip companion of mine for 30 some years. Mostly he was a writing hero, somebody who was what I wanted to be. I have never stopped striving or falling short, or being grateful for his influence in my life and career.

His was a long, wonderful life well-led.

Thank you, Edwin. Always. Thank you.

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FripixPLAYOFFS: CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: OUR PICKS FOR NFL'S SUNDAY AFC, NFC TITLE GAMES: Lots of football fans call this Sunday the single best day of the season, better even than the Super Bowl, and I expect Packers at Falcons and then Steelers at Patriots to live up to expectations. A great final four! Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season, and we're 6-0 in the postseason after rolling a perfect 4-0 last week. Click on Championship Game Gems for my latest picks on the AFC and NFC title games. I see one game going as expected and the other not. We also offer our accompanying NFL column that today quantifies how good this final four is, historically, and how it gets the attention back where it belongs, on the field, after a weird week of drama for the NFL. Click on A Dramatic Final Four to read.

THE LIST: THIS FINAL FOUR IN THE POSTSEASON: Historically, this NFL final four includes three league giants and one interloper, as this list verifies. The franchise, head coach and quarterback records of these four teams in the postseason, listed in order of most all-time postseason wins, with total NFL championships listed in parentheses:

Team                                Franchise            Head coach                   Quarterback

Pittsburgh Steelers (6)       36-23, .610         Mike Tomlin, 8-5           Ben Roethlisberger, 13-6

Green Bay Packers (13)      34-21, .618        Mike McCarthy, 10-7       Aaron Rodgers, 9-6

New England Patriots (4)   30-19, .612         Bill Belichick, 24-10       Tom Brady, 23-9

Atlanta Falcons (0)             8-12, .400         Dan Quinn, 1-0              Matt Ryan, 2-4

HwhitesideHEAT BATTERED IN ALL-STAR VOTING, WHITESIDE SNUBBED: Hassan Whiteside collects perceived slights the way others of us collects stamps or coins, and he has added a big new one to his collection. He barely made the East frontcourt top 10 in NBA all-star voting, slotting in 10th overall after finishing eighth in the media vote, 11th by fans, and only 14th by players. Your colleagues don't respect you, bro! Get angry! Get even! No Goran Dragic in the East backcourt top 10. Starters were named Thursday. Reserves get added next week. I'd think Whiteside (pictured) will be included, but it sure isn't a given after his comeuppance in the triangular vote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 07, 2017

NFL Wild-Card Weekend playoffs: Predictions for Dolphins-Steelers and other games, ranking the 12 teams and King Sport season awards; plus death of Jose Fernandez voted biggest Miami sports story of 2016 with complete Top 15 results & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 7. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect celebrate-they're-back-in-the-playoffs gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's biggest sports story of 2016 poll, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, local guys who made cut for Canton & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FripixPLAYOFFS: WILD-CARD WEEKEND: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-STEELERS, OTHER 3 GAMES: Twelve teams alive, four luxuriating with byes, and eight in action
WildcardSaturday or Sunday -- including, for the first time since 2008, the Dolphins, of course. Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season. Click on Wild-Card Gems for our latest opening-round playoff picks for Dolphins-at-Steelers and others. I see an outright upset in one of the four games. I wish I could tell you it was the game at the field named after a ketchup bottle. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with our ranking of the 12 playoff teams, based on the likelihood of winning the Super Bowl. We also dole out our King Sport season awards for the league and Dolphins. Click on Playoffs And Hardware to read.

Dolphins playoffs, other select recent columns: It Isn't About Tannehill, how Fins have a chance in Pittsburgh with Moore if everything else goes right. There's A Longer Drought to End Now, off Sunday's loss as Dolphins prepare for first playoff game in eight years. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

POLL RESULT: DEATH OF FERNANDEZ VOTED BIGGEST MIAMI SPORTS STORY OF 2016: This was a major annual poll so we're giving the results the full treatment. I believe our blog has the smartest readers at MiamiHerald.com, and that y'all proved it again with these results. We asked what was the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2016, offered our 15 choices and gave you five votes. That's because I thought the top three choices were obvious (I was right) and wanted to dig deeper. Your results:

Jose161. DEATH OF JOSE FERNANDEZ -- 20.76%

2. Dolphins make playoffs to end 8-year drought -- 17.32%

3. Dwyane Wade leaves Heat -- 16.96%

4. Hurricanes football wins first bowl game in 10 years -- 8.83%

5. Chris Bosh blood clots end season, likely Heat career -- 7.34%

6. Adam Gase hired as Dolphins coach 6.77%; 7. Laremy Tunsil falls to Dolphins after draft-night bong video 4.70%; 8. Hurricanes men's basketball reaches Sweet 16 4.47%; 9. Ichiro gets 3,000th MLB hit 4.13%; 10. Renamed, refurbished Hard Rock Stadium gets 2020 Super Bowl 2.64%; 11. FAU hires Lane Kiffin 1.83%; 12. FIU hires Butch davis 1.49%; 13. Death of Kimbo Slice 1.15%; 14. Panthers fire coach one year after best regular season ever 0.92%; 15. Dee Gordon suspended 80 games for PEDs 0.69%.

Putting in perspective the percentage results from a five-choice poll: Quintuple (x5) each percentage for an indication of the frequency that choice was included in everyone's consensus top five. The maximum percentage would be 20.00 if everyone used all five vote available. The fact Fernandez's winning percentage was greater than 20 indicates many voted only for that story as biggest. In other words, that story maxed out this poll and was a clear winner. Dolphins-in-playoffs and Wade-leaving both exceeded 80 percent in overall top-five mentions, after which there was a sizable dropoff. It was a big year for Miami sports, and to the hundreds of you who voted in this poll, I thank you! In case you missed it, click A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile for my column in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year.

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

Twitter @gregcote