February 27, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring en fuego Heat, Canes bedeviling Duke, sinking Cats, Fish, Daytona, Fins; plus World OutGames Miami, PopeFest info, Seinfeld, Tannehill, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, February 27. You a Dolfan? Know any? Buy our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill vs. 3 options with poll, hot Panthers return home, Radio Friday & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: On Larranaga, Canes beating Duke: This was supposed to be a down year for a depleted Hurricanes men's team. Instead it is headed to Top 25 after beating visiting Duke 55-50 Saturday. The season is a testimony to coach Jim Larranaga. Click on The Wonder of Coach L for my column. 

PopefestPOPEFEST! 1 DAY 'TIL THE CELEBRATION OF EDWIN POPE: A public celebration in honor of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope will be held this Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Clevelander at Marlins Park -- the first event in his honor held in Miami and open to the public. The celebration is free. However, due to seating capacity, only a limited number of invitees are being chosen from among those who RSVP'd and described what Pope meant to them. You can still try to sneak in by RSVP'ing now to edwinpopememorial@gmail.com

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami stays hot on court, says nah on trades: Heat has now won 16 of past 18 games including both since the All-Star Break and enters tonight's game in Dallas a mere 1 game off playoff pace. Meanwhile Miami made no moves before last week's NBA trade deadline. “I'm glad we didn't do anything stupid,” said Pat Riley. Well that's a low bar. But maybe smart, too. Maybe a team capable of winning 16 of 18 is sort of good enough as is?

2. HURRICANES: UM men beat Duke in huge home win as postseason nears: Canes men hosted and handled No. 10 Blue Devils, 55-50, Saturday behind freshman Bruce Brown, and are down to two regular-season games left. And No. 17 UM women ended their regular season 21-7 by beating Georgia Tech Sunday. With ACC tourneys looming, there'll be no NIT-picking this year with UM. NCAA invites await both Canes teams.

3. PANTHERS: Cats cool down at home, still chasing 8th seed: Florida has followed a 5-0 road trip by losing three straight at home with Sunday's loss here to Ottawa and is now 3 points off playoff pace. Suddenly slumping Cats have some tough clawing and scratching to do to have any shot at that bodacious preseason Stanley Cup talk.

4. MARLINS: Spring is sprung for real as fake games begin: Marlins' spring-training games began with a win Saturday in Jupiter fueled by a Christian Yelich homer. Can we end the season now and go straight to the playoffs? Also it was reported the late Jose Fernandez just had a baby girl. Whether uplifting memories or stuff like lawsuits or reports he'd been previously divorced, Jose will continue to loom over this season.

5. NASCAR: Kurt Busch win in Daytona 500 kicks off new season: "Gentlemen (and Danica Patrick), start your season!" What ends at Homestead in November begins Sunday at Daytona with Kurt Busch prevailing with a late flurry.

6. GOLF: Fowler dominates, wins Honda Classic: Colorful Rickie Fowler's fourth PGA Tour title was by a commanding four shots Sunday in the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. Hard to say which will be louder today with Fowler: the gallery following him. Or his clothes.

7. UM BASEBALL: Ouch. Canes get swept in Gainesville: Miami lost three straight to Florida up there ending Sunday. This has unquestionably been the nemesis opponent in Jim Morris' Canes career. As of now, Morris' epitaph would read, "Yes. But he couldn't beat the Gators."  

8. DOLPHINS: Fins get three compensatory draft picks: Miami gets one added third-round pick and two in the fifth round, based on players gained and lost in free agency. Then again, almost every NFL team gets added picks, which is why this only ranks eighth on the HB10. 

9. TENNIS: Sock wins by default at Delray Beach Open: Top-ranked American Jack Sock won the Delray Beach Open, a second-tier ATP men's event, anticlimactically Sunday when No. 1-seeded Milos Raonic withdrew with a hamstring injury. Sorry, fans. Them's the breaks.

10. NBA: Cousins to Pelicans biggest deal before trade deadline: DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins aligns with Anthony Davis in New Orleans and I read a headline to the effect, "Watch out, Golden State! Power shift!" Then I laughed uncontrollably for the next four minutes. 

Missing the HB10 cut: PopeFest! Huge party Tuesday at The Clevelander at Marlins Park will honor late, great Miami Herald icon Edwin Pope. It's being put on by Dan LeBatard and Greg Cote. Hopefully it'll be good, anyway ..... Dolphins signed six ex-players including Dan Marino to ceremonial one-day contracts. Team denied it wa a publicity stunt ..... Former WNBA star Candace Wiggins said she guessed 95 percent of players in the league are gay. Which is absurd. Gotta be higher than that, no? ..... A transgender wrestler, female-becoming-male Mack Beggs, won the girls 110-pound Texas state title to complete a 56-0 season. Which is heartwarming, other than the testosterone he's using in his transition providing a possible advantage in competition ..... The Jets cut center Nick Mangold and 943 Dolphins fans immediately tweeted Miami should sign him ..... Vince Young is eyeing a comeback. If only any football teams were eyeing Vince Young.

'WORLD OUTGAMES MIAMI 2017" IS COMING TO TOWN: It was announced this week that a major 10-day event that combines sports, culture and human rights will make its U.S. debut in Miami this May 26 through June 4, with registration now underway online at outgames.org. (Florida residents can save $100 off registration by signing up before April 14 and entering code OutgamesFLLRES). Athletes from more than 40 countries are expected to compete in some 400 events across some 30 sports, with Opening and Closing Ceremonies scheduled for Marlins Park. "World OutGames Miami will welcome thousands of athletes, participants, spectators and thought leaders from around the world as a strong statement of unity, inclusiveness and healthy competition," said CEO Ivan Cano, who calls the event "a life-changing experience which will inspire, motivate and celebrate the human spirit." World OutGames, held every four years like the Olympics, brings together LGBTQ athletes -- many from countries where homosexuality remains illegal and hidden. In a spirit of true inclusiveness, however, World OutGames are open to anyone 18 or older, regardless of sexual orientation. In addition, a youth program for those ages 14 to 17 will be held via Pridelines Youth Services, a Miami-based non-profit group that offers a safe place for LGBTQ youth and others. The event also will include a three-day Global Conference on Human Rights. Organizations and business interested in supporting World OutGames Miami may click here or visit www.outgames.org. Why am I writing about and promoting this event? Simple. Two reasons, and they are not in order of importance: 1) This is a major sports-related event coming to my town. And 2) Paths of acceptance and inclusion are severely and I think unfairly narrowing under the new presidential administration, making life tougher for those of any sexual orientation but heterosexuals. I don't think that's right, I don't believe most people think that's right, and an event like this and support for it are a way to push forward the ideals of inclusion, acceptance and goodwill.

POLL RESULT: BIG WIN FOR TANNEHILL: We asked, in a just-for-fun poll, who you would most like to see as the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback in 2017 among four choices, the response was huge, and and it was Ryan Tannehill 75.1 percent, Jimmy Garoppolo 13.0%, Tony Romo 10.0% and Jay Cutler 1.9%.

JerrySEINFELD ON HIS A-GAME: My wife and I and a son and his girlfriend attended the Jerry Seinfeld show at the Hard Rock last night, and I don't believe I have ever laughed as much -- harder or more nonstop -- at any standup comic's show I have ever seen, live or on film. Seinfeld, at 62, is as great as he has ever been. He owned the audience, start to finish. Wonderful show. This is the third time we have seen him live and I still am amazed (and impressed) that none of his show is spent talking about the eponymous '90s sitcom that made him famous. Nary an mention of Elaine or George or that era. He's moved on, stayed fresh. A Marvel to see live.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-27-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Dallas, 8 p.m.: Hot Miami enters day only 1 back of 8th seed in East.

2. Hurricanes at Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.: Off big Duke win, next-to-last regular season game for UM men.

3. Marlins at Minnesota, 1:05 p.m.: Marlins' 3rd spring game is in Fort Myers.

4. Not much else. Sleepy  Mondays often follow full Sundays in sports kingdom.

Select recent columns: The Wonder of Coach L, the latest, off the Canes' win over Duke, on the job Jim Larranaga has done this season. It's What's Great About Sports, on Heat and Panthers' concurrent surge. The Miracle of Liberty City, on how youth football there is about more than scoring touchdowns. Also: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, surveying Heat as trade deadline neared. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from start of Marlins spring training. Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of friend, mentor and Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 24, 2017

Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill vs. 3 biggest available names out there. Poll. Last day to vote (and this time I mean it!); plus it's Radio Friday, my Heat/Panthers-surge column, PopeFest, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, February 24. Heat stood Pat, did nada before yesterday's NBA Trade Deadline. Bor-ring! 2) Hope you watched the premiere of the documentary on Liberty City youth football this week on Viceland. Click The Miracle of Liberty City for the related column by me. 3) You a Dolfan? Know any? Buy our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Magic of Liberty City youth football (with video), Greg Cote at age 7 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Friday: Tuesday is my usual spot, but I'm also in today for an absent Stugotz on the Dan LeBatard Show, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN, and with the national show televised on ESPNU (10-noon) and ESPN2 (noon-1). 

My latest column: Heat, Panthers remind us that sports is in miracle business: Two cadavers wiggled toes on the morgue table and then sat bolt upright as the Heat and Panthers surged from awful seasons to playoff contention and reminded us of sports' unending capacity to surprise. Click It's What's Great About Sports for my latest column.

POPEFEST! GET INVOLVED IN THE CELEBRATION OF EDWIN POPE'S LIFE: A public celebration in honor of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope has been set for this coming Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Clevelander inside Marlins Park -- the first event in his honor held in Miami and open to the public. The celebration is free. However, due to seating capacity, only a limited number of invitees may be chosen from among those who RSVP and describe what Pope meant to them in his long career. Don't miss out. RSVPs should be emailed now to: edwinpopememorial@gmail.com

RYAN TANNEHILL VS. THE THREE BIGGEST AVAILABLE NAMES OUT THERE: Preemptive strike: This is a fun-poll only. I'm not starting rumors. To my knowledge there is next to zero chance TannyRyan Tannehill won't be the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins again in 2017. He'll be coming off the first injury of his career, but he also will be coming off a career-best 93.5 passer rating and 67.1 completion percentage and helped guide Miami to its first playoffs since 2008. He'll turn 29 as training camp opens in late July (time flies), but there is every reason to think he is just now coming into his prime, that his career remains on the upswing, and that he'll be even better as the comfort with Adam Gase's offense further grows. (Quick aside: Let's wait and see on how much adding tight end Julius Thomas will help. They're getting him for a seventh-round draft pick, which says much about the plummeting arc of his career). OK, back to the quarterback. So I think Tannehill is solid here, solid with Gase. But! New reports this week say the Bears actively are trade-shopping Jay Cutler, who thrived under Gase in 2015. Tony Romo's availability remains out there. Jimmy Garoppolo, too. So this fun-only poll (!) gives you those four choices on whom you'd rather see as Fins starting QB to start the 2017 season. It is an opportunity for Dolfans to profess their faith and confidence in Tannehill ... or to show perhaps that such confidence has yet to be fully earned? Do we love Tanny yet, Miami? Or is the metaphoric jury still out? The four names in the poll are listed alphabetically. So let's see how this goes. Just for fun, of course!

CatsFIRE ON ICE: PANTHERS RETURN HOME AS HOTTEST TEAM, BUT DOUBTS LINGER: Florida, after an astounding 5-0 road trip -- a franchise first -- and eight wins in past nine games, returned home Wednesday to a 4-3 loss to Edmonton, and the Cats today are two points off playoff pace entering tonight's home date with Calgary. At last the team is healthy and playing like the cocky bunch that was talking Stanley Cup before the season. And, finally, that weird, panicked coaching change after 22 games is perhaps beginning to look somewhat less dumb than it has. A couple of cautionary points, though: Of the 10 East teams with at least 66 standings points, the Panthers are the only one with a negative goals differential -- and it's minus-14. Cats also are only 23rd of 30 teams in goals scored. The proving and the living up to preseason expectations are not finished.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 2-24-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Atlanta, 8 p.m.: Will Heat stay hot as they return from All-Star Break?

2. Calgary at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats now two points off playoff.

3. Hurricanes at Florida, 6:30 p.m.: UM baseball opens three-game set at nemesis Gators.

4. Honda Classic, all day: Second round of PGA Tour event at PGA National.

5. Delray Beach Open, 12:30 p.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event nears Sunday finale.

Select recent columns: It's What's Great About Sports, the latest, on Heat and Panthers' concurrent surge. The Miracle of Liberty City, on how youth football there is about more than scoring touchdowns. Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, surveying Heat at break as trade deadline nears. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of friend, mentor and Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring ridiculous ASG, Heat plans, Marlins weirdness, sizzling' Cats, Hurricanes, Dolphins; plus is he whale enough? (my Whiteside column), your verdict on Marlins expectations & more

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

Prezday1) It is MONDAY, February 20. It is the federal holiday Presidents Day, which of course can mean only one thing. That's right. "Not My Presidents Day" anti-Trump protests across America. 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): Marlins open spring training with expectations poll, Kate Upton revealed, ode to the Monopoly thimble & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Heat, Whiteside: My new Sunday column: We're coming into Pat Riley Season: Trading deadline, then draft, then free agency. So, the question hovering over the Miami Heat at the all-star break: Is Hassan Whiteside "whale" enough for Riley? Good enough to be the centerpiece around which Riley can build another champion? Click on Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? to read in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 19): 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: Ridiculous All-Star Games breaks scoring records: The West beat the East 192-182 in NBA's 66th All-Star Game on Sunday night (sans any Heat participants, alas) in New Orleans. That was a record for total points, as was MVP Anthony Davis' ASG-record 52 points. But league's biggest news Sunday was Pelicans acquiring DeMarcus Cousins to pair with Davis in frontcourt. Look out, Warriors?

2. HEAT: And what does Miami have in store post-break?: Heat resume play this coming Friday only two games off playoff pace after winning 14 of last 16 games before the All-Star break. But first, up next: What you got planned for that Feb. 23 (Thursday) trade deadline, Mr. Riley? Anything? Or will you stand Pat?

3. MARLINS: Full spring work underway as sale talk turns weird: Full-squad spring training got underway Friday up in Jupiter as talks to sell the club took a weird turn. I mean, what were the odds that Jeffrey Loria maybe becoming U.S. Ambassador to France might somehow cause the frontrunning buyer to back out?

4. PANTHERS: Sizzling Cats hovering around playoff pace: Florida on Saturday won its fourth straight and seventh of past eight to get on playoff pace but is one point off entering tonight's game in St. Louis. Meanwhile Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,900th career NHL point the day he turned 45. Who else gives middle age a good name like this dude?

5. HURRICANES: Big games in play for UM men, women as regular seasons ebb: Miami's 16th-ranked women's fell at No. 13 Duke on Sunday, now the Canes men play at No. 14 Virginia tonight as last few games of regular season help shape NCAA seeding for both. CBS featured Jim Larranaga Sunday in its "Men Of March" series.

6. UM BASEBALL: Diamond Canes fail to nail down sweep in season-opening series: Jim Morris' guys got clobbered on Sunday but still took two of three from Rutgers in their season-opening home series at the Light. Reaching Omaha the imperative as usual in Morris' next-to-last season.

7. DOLPHINS: Team extends Wake's contract: Cam Wake is 35, but last season proved he ain't done yet, and the Dolphins rewarded him on Saturday with a two-year, $19 million contract extension. Everybody's happy except opposing quarterbacks.

8. NASCAR: Elliott, Dale Jr. on Daytona front row: NASCAR season -- funneling to the title run in Homestead in November -- begins this coming Sunday with the Daytona 500, and qualifying runs yesterday found Chase Elliott winning the pole position and Dale Earnhardt Jr. joining him on the front row.

9. TENNIS: Delray Beach Open tennis gets going: Running through next Sunday, it's a second-tier pro event on the men's ATP tour. Low on starpower, but if watching Jack Sock play is your thing, then go for it.

10. BOATING: Miami International Boat Show ends today: Four-day event's 76th edition has drawn thousands to Miami Marine Stadium. But you know that it's like they say: You are never happier than the day you buy a boat … other than the day you finally unload that money-eating monster you hardly used.

Missing the HB10 cut: Unlike his predecessors, President Donald Trump declined to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. Like championship teams eager to visit the White House, it seems like another presidential tradition is dying ..... Nine ex-Hurricanes led by Brad Kaaya have been invited to the March 2-5 pre-draft NFL Scouting Combine. Let the meat market begin! ..... UConn women's team won its 100th straight game (streak is now 101), and it's sort of embarrassing. C'mon, women's basketball. A little parity, please? ..... Urgent reminder: the Sailing World Cup is now less than 100 days away ..... Major League Soccer season is almost upon us as David Beckham marks what feels like the 20th anniversary of his protracted, stalling efforts to see a team in Miami.

Poll result: Mild optimism for Marlins to contend, but not to make playoffs: We asked what you realistically expect of the Miami Marlins this season, and a plurality of 37.6 percent voted "mediocre team never really in the hunt. But another 36.1% voted "contending team that just misses playoffs," while 17.3% voted "the playoffs, finally!" The other 9.0% voted for "post-Jose, a bad season." Overall, that's 53.4% who see a contending team vs. 46.6% who do not.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-20-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Panthers at St. Louis, 8 p.m.: Hot Cats, now one point off playoff pace, seek fifth straight win.

2. Hurricanes at Virginia, 7 p.m.: UM men face ranked foes in three of last four games including No. 14 Cavaliers.

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

4. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show wraps up at Miami Marine Stadium.

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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 18, 2017

How will Marlins do this season? Set the early bar on expectations. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Cam Wake, my Fish column, Edwin Pope news, what Kate Upton is (not) wearing, ode to the Monopoly thimble, new Hot Button Daily & more

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

Mepic1) It is SATURDAY, February 18. We're about to put out a new song, "The Ballad of 1440," an autobiographical tale of a little boy in Hollywood, Florida who grew up to have an unexpected life. Click on image at left to see larger version. Will post a video of song on social media later this month. Stay tuned. 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): Trump sticks nose in Marlins' sale, Branden Albert, Shane Battier, 3 Fins in PFF 101, Fish farm barren, your Villain Purge verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins extend Cam Wake contract: Announced today, it's through the 2018 season.

My new Marlins column: From Jupiter and the team's first full-squad workday of spring training, I wrote of how nothing is ever simple for this team. Still getting over the Jose Fernandez grief, now the players deal with questions about the prospective sale of the team and other off-field stuff. Click on French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! to read.

Edwin Pope news: The Miami Herald longtime former sports columnist, who passed away earlier this year,  is being honored today in Okeechobee in a private celebration for family, friends and colleagues. There had been no public event planned. However, myself and Dan LeBatard are putting together a Miami event to honor Edwin that will be free and open to the public. Stay tuned for details. 

MattinglyWHAT IS YOUR OPTIMISM ON MARLINS SEASON AS TEAM STAGES FIRST FULL-SQUAD SPRING WORKOUT?: I'll be up in Jupiter for a column today as the Marlins stage their first full-squad workout of the spring. Much swirls around this team (as usual). The tragic offseason death of Jose Fernandez is a huge loss both from emotional and baseball standpoints. Now the team also deals with the distracting speculation about Jeffrey Loria selling the team and the White House-related Kushner family maybe buying and the possible offer to Loria of an ambassadorship to France (!) tossing a monkey wrench. But somewhere amid all of that there will be a baseball season, Miami's second under manager Don Mattingly (pictured). Most NL East estimations are that the Nationals are clear favorites and the Mets are next, with the Marlins in the middle -- better, at least, than the Braves and Phillies. The playoffs seem a longshot. Again. Although the Marlins toying around with .500 and contention seems plausible. We invite your thoughts on the matter. Take a dip in our poll and set the expectations bar on this Marlins season.

KateUptonNO, IT IS NOT SEXIST TO SHOW THIS COVER PHOTO IN MY BLOG BECAUSE IT'S FROM A SPORTS MAGAZINE AND SHE IS WEARING (HALF OF) WHAT COULD ALMOST BE A SWIMSUIT, SORT OF: Cover your eyes, Junior! And click on the image to see a larger version, Dad. The Sports Illustrated "swimsuit issue" continues as a sublime and ridiculous slice of Americana and an annual $$$-maker for SI. This year three models get the cover prize of this week's current issue, with Kate Upton pictured here, setting a record in the category, "Minimalist Swimwear." (Note to self: Consider an abrupt career change; apply to be a Sports Illustrated photographer. Unless, that is, SI's budget and staffing have gone the way of the newspaper, in which case the person taking this photo may have been the lone remaining SI editor, or perhaps one of the other models using a smartphone). Where was I ? Is this a swimsuit bottom or jewelry? How come on my occasional forays to the beach I see not a person who looks like this (un)dressed like this, but rather a matronly, waddling Canadian packed into a black one-piece like 20 pounds of potatoes crammed in a 10-pound sack? That's a rhetorical question. Keep doing the great work you do, Kate Upton!

ThimbleFAREWELL, THIMBLE. R.I.P.: The Monopoly board game is retiring its Thimble after 82 years. The Thimble, though never respected like the Dog or the Tophat, has stood sturdily across the generations, moving inexorably around the board, easing past the Iron, passing go, landing on Free Parking, staying out of jail, quietly making money for its owners. Farewell, great, humble Thimble, and a thumb's up to you. Gone ... but never forgotten.   

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 2-18-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Clemson at Hurricanes, noon: UM men playing for NCAA Tournament seeding in final regular games.

2. Panthers at Los Angeles, 10 p.m.: Playoff-chasing Cats have won three in row and five of past six.

3. NBA All-Star events, 8 p.m.: Including 3-Point and Slam-Dunk contests.

4. Kansas at Baylor, 1 p.m.: A men's Final Four feel with No. 3 at No. 4.

5. Rutgers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: Second of three in opening baseball series at The Light.

Select recent columns: French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, the new one, from the start of Marlins spring training. Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View, on how Heat's recent run has Miami poised to be buyers at trade deadline as possibility of first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James looms. 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. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 16, 2017

Trump keeps messing with Miami, but when he threatens to screw up Loria selling Marlins, he's gone TOO FAR!; plus Branden Albert, Shane Battier, 3 Dolphins honored, Fish farm barren, 'The Ballad of 1440,' your Villain Purge verdict & more

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

Mepic1) It is FRIDAY, February 17. We're about to put out a new song, "The Ballad of 1440" (pictured right), an autobiographical tale of a little boy in Hollywood, Florida who grew up to have an unexpected life. Click on image to see larger version. Will post a video of song on social media later this month. Stay tuned. 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): Villain purge: Loria-LeBron poll, Marlins World Series odds as spring training begins & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Branden Albert, Shane Battier: Weird: Media inaccurately reported Dolphins had waived veteran tackle Branden Albert. Or was it inaccurate? Evidently team decided to release Albert then changed its mind and will try to trade him. In any case, Laremy Tunsil will take over at left tackle. Congrats: Heat hire poplar ex-player Shane Battier as director of basketball development and analytics, and there is speculation he may be groomed as Pat Riley's eventual replacement.

HEY TRUMP, KEEP YOUR FINGERS OFF MIAMI SPORTS!: First Donald Trump's ownership of the golf course caused the controversy that was among the factors that imperiled the future of annual PGA Tour event at Doral. Then as president, Trump messed with the Florida Panthers' hierarchy by nominating Cats owner Vincent Viola to be Secretary of the Army. (Who knew there was a Secretary of the Army!?) Viola accepted, then later withdrew from consideration, citing business ties. Now, the Trump Administration reportedly is considering nominating Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to be U.S. Ambassador to France. Huh? Whu!? Is the qualification because Jeff once owned the Montreal Expos, and they speak a lot of French up there? Or maybe because The Donald can picture him wearing a beret? Or is it that Ambassador to France is the standard perk that comes with a $125,000 campaign contribution? In Franceany case, this is just Trump Loriabizarre. Think about it. The Kushner family -- which is directly tied to the White House because son Jared Kushner is Ivanka Trump's husband and thus the president's son-in-law -- is negotiating with Loria to buy the Marlins for a reported $1.6 billion. But now the family says it will cease efforts to buy the club if Loria is nominated for the ambassadorship. "Our family has been friends with Jeff Loria for over 30 years, been in business together, and even owned a AAA baseball team together," Joseph Meyer, Kushner's son-in-law, said in a statement. "Although the Kushners have made substantial progress in discussions for us to purchase the Marlins, recent reports suggest that Mr. Loria will soon be nominated by the President to be Ambassador to France. If that is true, we do not want this unrelated transaction to complicate that process and will not pursue it. The Kushners remain interested in purchasing a team and would love to buy the Marlins at another time." Whoa now. Let us get this straight. A family with direct ties to Trump wants to buy the Marlins. But Trump possibly throwing this goofy little gift at Loria could screw up the whole deal. So strange. Does all of South Florida want Loria to sell the Marlins ASAP? Oui, oui! Hopefully this Ambassador to France story is short-lived, because it is ridiculous. I mean, are we to believe Loria is going to walk away from a potential $1.6 billion windfall because he'd rather be dealing with terrorism concerns in Paris? C'mon! Jeffrey, please put out the inevitable statement that says how flattered you are to be considered for the position yada yada yada but no thanks. Then get back to selling the Marlins so Trump can set up that direct hotline to Don Mattingly in the dugout to make executive orders on pitching changes.

Pff101THREE DOLPHINS, OTHER NOTABLE NAMES ON PFF'S LIST OF TOP 101 PLAYERS OF 2016: Pro Football Focus' Top 101 players of 2016 (because a Top 100 would be too ordinary) includes a trio of Dolphins in RB Jay Ajayi 31st, pass-rusher Cam Wake 45th and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh 52nd. In the AFC East only the Patriots (of course) have more -- five guys led by overall No. 1 Tom Brady. Bills and Jets have one each. Buffalo's guy is bully-guard Richie Incognito (98th), one of three ex-Dolphins to make it along with Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes (43rd) and Giants rusher Olivier Vernon (71st). Vernon is one of four ex-Hurricanes on the list along with Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (24th), Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (58th) and Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (92nd). Other notables: Chargers rusher and St. Thomas Aquinas alum Joey Bosa (32nd) and Colts receiver and ex-FIU Panther T.Y. Hilton (54th).

BraxtongarrettTHE FISH FARM IS BARREN: Trading away top prospects has withered the Miami Marlins' minor-league talent level -- the farm gone barren -- and the latest proof comes today with Baseball America's list of 2017 Top 100 Prospects. Check out the NL East. The Braves have eight on the list, ranked 3rd, 11th, 37th, 48th, 66th, 67th, 77th and 78th. The Phillies have four, ranked 12th, 17th, 41st and 80th. The Mets have three, ranked 8th, 71st and 100th. The Nationals have two, ranked 13th and 52nd. The Marlins? Only one. Lefty pitcher Braxton Garrett (pictured) is ranked 76th and not projected for MLB arrival until 2020. The home farm has empty rows and dry crops. Not good, Fish fans. Not good. 

Poll result: Villain purge: Loria selling tops beating LeBron: We asked which of these 2017 possibilities should please Miami sports fans more, and it was Jeffrey Loria finally selling the Marlins with 61.9 percent and LeBron James ousted from playoffs by Heat at 38.1%.

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

1. Marlins spring training, 1:15 p.m.: Full squad is on field for first time this spring up in Jupiter.

2. Panthers at Anaheim, 10 p.m.: Cats have won two straight as they chase that No. 8 East seed.

3. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show continues at Miami Marine Stadium.

4. That about does it. Another light day.

Select recent columns: Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View, the latest, on how Heat's recent run has Miami poised to be buyers at trade deadline as possibility of first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James looms. 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. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

 

February 15, 2017

Villain purge! Which would be most pleasing: Heat beating LeBron in playoffs or Loria finally selling Marlins? Poll. Last day to vote; plus Heat's franchise value, UM's Njoku to Dolphins, Series odds as Fish begin spring training, Hot Button Daily & more

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

Cotevalentine1) It is WEDNESDAY, February 15. Hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day! Pictured is something the radio show  made up, with me as Cupid. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to learn me or to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Loria selling Marlins column, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, your own Heat MVP verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Heat's NBA market value: Forbes' 19th annual NBA franchise valuations, out today, show the Miami Heat the 10th most valuable club at 1.35 billion -- nearly exactly the leaguewide average of $1.36B. The New York Knicks are valued No. 1 at $3.3 billion. No wonder they can afford all those security guards to oust Charles Oakley!

Kiper mock has Njoku to Dolphins: Former Hurricanes tight end David Njoku goes to Dolphins with draft's 22nd overall pick, says ESPN's Mel Kiper today in his second mock draft. That's be a dynamic pick at a need position, but I still defense is the likelier play with Miami's No. 1 pick. 

Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View: The Heat endured a second straight loss Monday at home to Orlando. Nevertheless, the 13 straight wins before that has Miami poised to be buyers at this month's trade deadline as the possibility looms of a first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James and Cleveland. Click on Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View for my latest column.

Loria LebronVILLAIN-PURGE: WHAT WOULD BE BIGGER? BEATING LEBRON IN PLAYOFFS OR LORIA FINALLY LEAVING?: Which do we want more? Which would be bigger? What would please South Florida most? Would it be the Heat meeting the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first-round of the NBA playoffs and (against odds) eliminating turncoat LeBron James? Or would it be wildly unpopular Jeffrey Loria finally selling the Miami Marlins? Unfortunately, there is no choice for "both!" in this poll. You must decide. Take a dip in our poll and vote now.

MarlinsMARLINS' SPRING-OPENING WORLD SERIES ODDS: Two teams in the NL East are projected to be good. Two teams are seen as really bad. In the middle: the Marlins as the team's 25th season slowly unfurls this week with the start of spring training in Jupiter -- amid sweet reports that Jeffrey Loria has an agreement in place to sell the club. (Click on Loria: The End Of An Error for that column). World Series odds are via Bovada. In the division it's Nationals at 10-1 (tie 4th), Mets 18-1 (8th), Marlins 75-1 (tie 19th), Braves 100-1 (tie 23rd) and Phillies (150-1, tie 25th, or last). Marlins were 40-1 to end last season; blame the dropoff largely on Jose Fernandez's tragic death. Overall, Red Sox and Cubs begin as co-betting favorites at 9-2, followed by Indians at 8-1.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 2-15-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Houston, 8 p.m.: Miami tries to end two-game skid and enter All-Star break on the upbeat.

2. Georgia Tech at Hurricanes, 8 p.m.: Top 25 remains elusive for UM men as team hosts ACC game.

3. Panthers at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.: Cats, five points off playoff pace, must begin to make a move.

4. Marlins spring training, 9:30 a.m.: Partial team hits field for second day of work in Jupiter.

5. No, that'll about do it for today.

Select recent columns: Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View, the latest, on how Heat's hot streak (even with two straight losses) has Miami poised to be buyers at trade deadline as possibility of first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James looms. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported likely 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. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 13, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Heat back at it, Loria's decision, Cats in hunt and UM hoops lead way; plus The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings (55 games), "Spobama," disrespect for Whiteside in your Heat MVP verdict & more

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

Spobama1) It is MONDAY, February 13. Spobama, pictured right, a photo mashup of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and ex-prez Barack Obama. Saw this on Twitter @brassjazz, loved it and thought you might too. 2)Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century (pictured) makes the perfect gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to learn me or to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Rollicking Heat with polls, your greatest-2016-champion verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Thank you, Jeffrey Loria: Looks like immensely unpopular Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has finally figured out how to do something that will be unanimously cheered and make Marlins fans overjoyed. Sell the team. Reports are, he plans to do just that, and soon. Click on Loria: The End Of An Error for my latest column.

Heat win streak ends at 13 games in loss at Philly: Click on Spoelstra Leads the Parade for my Heat column on season's second-half surge.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Hot Miami sees 13-game win streak end; back at it tonight: Scorchin' Heat had won 13 consecutive games before Saturday night's 117-109 loss in Philadelphia, and now returns home Monday night vs. Orlando. A Heat team once 11-30 is now only two games off playoff pace. But will Miami now lapse back into losing? Let's find out starting tonight.

2. MARLINS: Fish set for spring training as sale rumors fly: Team's weekend Fan Fest concluded Sunday, now players begin to report Tuesday for spring training in Jupiter. Meanwhile owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly has a "handshake agreement" to sell team. That sound you hear? Marlins fans cheering.

3. PANTHERS: Cats need solid road trip to stay in hunt: Florida won in Nashville 7-4 Saturday night to begin a five-game roadie and make it four wins in past five games. Team is only three points off playoff pace despite being in league's bottom five in goals scored. Saturday was a good sign, though. Remember Cats: Support Your Local Goaltender.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men fall at No. 4 Louisville: Hurricanes might have cracked Top 25 with big upset at Louisville Saturday but fell short, losing 71-66 after leading at halftime. A spectator entered the UM huddle in first half before being apprehended by security. I apologized. An NCAA Tournament bid is still very much still in play for Team Larranaga. Meanwhile No. 16 UM women routed visiting Clemson 81-57 on Sunday.

5. BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Brazilians dominate Fort Lauderdale tour stop: The Fort Lauderdale Major, an FIVB World Tour pro event, wrapped up Sunday with Brazil winning the women's gold medal match, after Brazil's men also had won. Which answers the question, "What? You mean beach volleyball is played more than once every four years at the Olympics?"

6. DOLPHINS: Annual charity bike ride draws thousands: Saturday's seventh annual Dolphins Cancer Challenge drew the largest crowd of participants in its history as thousands of riders raised funds to fight cancer. If only the Dolphins consistently did as well on the field as they do in the community.  

7. GOLF: McCarron wins Allianz Championship in Boca: Don't call it the Senior Tour anymore, but the PGA Tour's older division completed its event in Boca Raton on Sunday with Scott McCarron carding a one-shot victory. Must be nice: Still getting paid to not be as good as you used to be.

8. UM BASEBALL: Canes  season open in five days: Jim Morris' guys held their First Pitch Banquet on Friday and Fan Fest on Saturday. Now the season opens in four days with a Friday-through-Sunday home series vs. Rutgers at The Light. As always three words define this program's standard: Omaha Or Bust.

9. KEVIN DURANT: K.D. big winner in first return to Oklahoma City: Durant's response to the booing that OKC fans had saved up for him? Thirty-four points in a 130-114 rout by Golden State on Saturday.

10. UCONN WOMEN: Team seeks 100th straight win on Monday: And you thought the Heat's 13-game streak was impressive? Geno Auriemma's top-ranked UConn win seek their 100th win in a row tonight vs. No. 6 South Carolina. Streak is great for UConn. But for women's college basketball? Hmm.

Missing the HB10 cut: German tennis players were aghast prior to women's Fed Cup opening ceremony in Hawaii when an outdated version of German national anthem was performed -- one harking to Nazi/Hitler era. Supposedly it was an accident, but I blame Steve Bannon ..... Charles Oakley was booted from a Knicks game at the Garden. If the Knicks were any more dysfunctional, they'd be the Browns ..... Under Armour's president called Donald Trump an "asset" to the U.S. Under Armour spokesman Stephen Curry said that was accurate if you dropped the letters "et" from the end ..... Patriots Super Bowl parade was Tuesday. As further proof it wasn't a dream, Tom Brady woke up Sunday morning wearing five Super Bowls rings being spooned by Giselle Bundchen. Damn him! ..... At least six Patriots won't attend the White House honor in protest of Trump. Get the feeling that sports tradition may slowly wither over next four years? ..... No. 17 Gators men beat visiting Texas A&M 71-62 Saturday but No. 14 Seminoles fell at Notre Dame 84-72. One out of two ain't bad. For the Gators ..... Golfer Jordan Spieth got into ugly verbal altercation with what he called adult "professional autograph seekers." Good for Spieth! Anybody over the age of 12 asking for an autograph is probably a memorabilia cretin ..... Germaine de Randamie decisioned Holly Holm atop last night's UFC 208 card in Brooklyn. Germaine de Randamie sounds like a bottle of riesling ..... R.I.P., Fab Melo, who died unexpectedly in Brazil at 26. Never did much in NBA, but had an epic name.

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (55 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 24-31 after Saturday's end to the 13-game winning streak, here's The Luddite's 11th installment, with 50-game rank in parentheses. Dragic, by the way, has narrowed his deficit to Whiteside from 216 points to 129 in past five games. 

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (50 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,573

2. Goran Dragic (2)              1,439

3. James Johnson (4)          1,027

4. Tyler Johnson (3)            1,001

5. Dion Waiters (5)               740

6. Rodney McGruder (6)      566

7. Wayne Ellington (9)        518

8. Josh Richardson (7)        483

9. Willie Reed (8)                  482

10. Justise Winslow (10)      355

Others: Luke Babbitt 320, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 99, Udonis Haslem 72.

Poll results: Dragic is MVP in landslide, and winning trumps lottery: We had two Heat polls, and you had two clear verdicts. We asked who has been team's Most Valuable Player so far this season, and it was Goran Dragic with a commanding 72.7 percent. Then it was Hassan Whiteside a distant second at 12.5% followed by Dion Waiters 7.2%, James Johnson also 7.2% and Tyler Johnson 0.3%. We asked if it's better for Heat to keep winning and make playoffs as likely low-seed expected to lose in first round or to get back to losing for increased lottery shot at top-three draft pick, and "winning" won easily with 83.6 percent.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-13-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Orlando at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Its' 13-game win streak done, Miami tries to start another one tonight.

2. South Carolina at UConn, 9 p.m.: No. 1 UConn women go for 100th straight win, but SC is No. 6.

3. Texas at Florida State, 7 p.m.: FSU women are No. 5 and Texas is No. 11.

4. No, that'll about do it.

Select recent columns: Loria: The End Of An Error, my latest, on team's reported likely 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. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 06, 2017

Pats' monstrous Super Bowl rally tops updated Hot Button Top 10, also starring surging Heat, Jason Taylor, Canes; plus, debate "greatest," but not "winningest." Belichick will never surpass Shula for most career victories & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, February 6. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Taylor gets into Canton, predicting football Hall of Fame class, week's final Super Bowl With a Smirk & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

A Super Bowl to save a season: This has been a bad season for the NFL in general, but Falcons vs. Patriots in Super Bowl 51 is matchup capable of being spectacular and saving the season. Click on Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue to read my Sunday column previewing the game.

Patriots 31, Falcons 23: Click on Super Bowl Gem for my full prediction capsule on today's Super Bowl. (I got the score pretty close, If I do say so).

'GREATEST COACH' DEBATE MAY BE LOSING CAUSE, BUT SHULA HAS TWO DISTINCTIONS THAT REMAIN HIS ALONE: "Bill Belichick closing in on Don Shula!" somehow became a Donbillmanufactured subplot to this Super Bowl from a Miami perspective. I get it. It's easy. But it's also a false narrative, for two reasons. 1) "Greatest coach ever," alas, is a train that may have already left the station for Shula. The Dolphins' icon was 2-4 in Super Bowls. Belichick just won his fifth. I don't know that there are a lot of NFL scholars and historians who would not already give the greatest-ever nod to New England's guy. But! 2) The two great distinctions that will always keep Shula's name in the greatest-ever argument -- most career victories and only Perfect Season -- seem safely his. I laugh at the suggestion Belichick is a real threat to Shula's career mark of 347 overall victories. He would have to win at his current pace and still be coaching at age 72 to have a shot, and maintaining that current pace will be tougher indeed when Tom Brady (finally) retires presumably after one or two more years. The likelihood of Belichick winning and coaching long enough to surpass 347 wins seems roughly as likely as the odds another team will equal Miami's 1972 Perfect Season. Could happen, but wouldn't bet on it. History might already see Belichick as "greater," but the distinctions of "winningest" and perfection are safely with Shula.

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. SUPER BOWL: Monstrous rally grows Patriots dynasty: Awful game much of the way, but Patriots made a thriller of Super Bowl 51, rallying from 21-0 and 28-3 holes to win in overtime, 34-28. Massive choke by the Falcons? Maybe. But Tom Brady had a little to do with that, no?

2. HEAT: Surging Miami seeks 11th straight tonight: Heat crushed visiting Philadelphia 125-102 Saturday night behind Hassan Whiteside's 30 points and 20 rebounds to win a 10th straight and now begins a four-game road trip tonight at Minnesota. Might disappoint lottery-minded fans, but eighth seed and playoffs are no longer out of reach for the way-hot Heat.

3. HURRICANES: UM football claims signing-day bounty: Miami loaded up on National Signing Day with a 24-man bounty that ESPN ranked as the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation. "We nailed it!" said Mark Richt … then again, so did every other college coach in America on signing day.

4. HALL OF FAME: Dolphins' Taylor among new inductees: LaDainian Tomlinson was a lock. Nobody else was. But ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor was among the seven who got in, along with Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Jerry Jones, Kenny Easley and Morten Andersen. Congrats, J.T. Now what about Zach Thomas.

5. PANTHERS: Barkov, Huberdeau back on the ice: Florida has reinforcements as it chases a playoff spot as young stars Sasha Barkov (out previous 15 games) and Jonathan Huberdeau (out all out season) returned from injuries Friday to spark Cat's third straight win. That's two fewer excuses for Cats to miss the playoffs.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women outshining men: UM men were only 3-5 since Jan. 1 before winning Friday, but Canes women are 17-5 and ranked 16th entering Monday game at No. 6 Florida State. Coach Katie Meier got her 300th career win. Adding a few more in March would be nice.

7. SOCCER: U.S. men beat Jamaica in friendly: After a scoreless draw vs. Serbia in Bruce Arena's debut as coach, the U.S. men beat Jamaica 1-0 Saturday night in Chattanooga. Now, it's what's next on the team's calendar that matters and will judge Arena: World Cup qualifying.

8. GOLF: Comeback short-lived, Tiger out again: He's out a year and a half with various back ailments, he comes back, and he can't finish the tournament, withdrawing with back spasms. Hate to say, but it may be time for Tiger Woods to call it quits.

9. BARKLEY-LEBRON: Basketball beef gets personal: Broadcaster Charles Barkley called LeBron James "whiny." LeBron shot back with a litany of bad stuff Chuck has done in the past. C'mon, kids. Play nice!

10. BASEBALL: It's just about here, folks: Miami Marlins hold their annual stadium FanFest next Saturday and Sunday, the precursor to when players negin to report for spring training. Ready or not, almost time to play ball!

Missing the HB10 cut: The 2017 FIVB world beach volleyball tours opens with the Fort Lauderdale Major beginning Tuesday, a five-star men's and women's event featuring Kerry Walsh Jennings and a bunch of people I've never heard of ..... Falcons QB Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP Saturday night. Correctly had a feeling Tom Brady would be lifting the more coveted hardware Sunday ..... Five days until Kevin Durant makes his first return to Oklahoma City. Thunder fans already are practicing their booing in preparation ..... The Winter X Games have been going on. The question is, WHY!?

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-6-17: What events on the Monday, Feb. 6 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Heat at Minnesota, 8 p.m.: Good shot at 11th straight win tonight at Timberwolves.

2. Hurricanes at Florida State, 7 p.m.: No. 16 UM women visit No. 6 Seminoles.

3. Um, pretty much nothing. Light post-Super Bowl Monday.

Select recent columns: Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue, the latest, previewing today's Super Bowl. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2017

Dolphins' Taylor elected to Hall of Fame! How I did on my Canton predictions; plus latest and Super Bowl With a Smirk, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, February 4. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Me and Dwyane Wade and Twitter and wine, the fourth Super Bowl With a Smirk, our Falcons-Patriots SB prediction & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

BREAKING: Jason Taylor voted into Canton: Ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Also elected" LaDanian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, Morten Andersen, Jerry Jones and Kenny Easley. That's seven in all. How's I do on my predictions? (See below). Six of the guys I had with a 50 percent chance or better got in. I thought John Lynch and Terrell Owens would, but they didn't. I thought Andersen wouldn't make it, but he did. Overall, not too bad on my guesswork. My original post is below:

CantonCANTON CALLING: HANDICAPPING HALL OF FAME LIKELIHOOD FOR JASON TAYLOR, OTHER 17 FINALISTS: Pro Football Hall Fame does the Big Reveal tonight at 8 on Fox, and what's intriguing is that only RB LaDainian Tomlinson is an absolute, you'd-bet-your-life lock to get in. There is big, wide debate on whether the Dolphins' contender, DE Jason Taylor, is likely to make it or has no real shot. I rank the 15 finalists and three senior/contributor nominees by likelihood of induction, with my betting odds on each:

DEAD-CERTAIN LOCK:

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (99% percent likely / 1-100 odds): Bet the house, the car and your entire family.

LIKELY:

QB Kurt Warner (75% / 1-2): God's will?

S Kenny Easley (70% / 1-2): Just watch. At least one Senior nominee has gotten in every year since 1997.

MAYBE:

S John Lynch (65% / 2-3): State of the art

Owner Jerry Jones (60% / 1-1): And Jimmy Johnson didn't make it to finalist round. Ouch. 

RB Terrell Davis (60% / 1-1): Fairly short career could hurt.

OT Joe Jacoby (60% / 1-1): Boss Hog.

WR Terrell Owens (60% / 1-1): Controversial. Media didn't like him. So what!

JtDE Jason Taylor (50% / 5-4): Most experts call him a longshot in first year of eligibility, but he's sixth all-time in sacks, returned more fumbles for TDs than anybody, won a Defensive Player of the Year award and is only pass rusher on the ballot, which helps. Don't be surprised if he gets in this time, or if he doesn't, but I absolutely think Taylor is a certain future Hall of Famer (eventually) and has a big chance right now time.

SLIM SHOT:

PK Morten Andersen (35% / 8-1): Punter Ray Guy remains only specialist/foot-man in Hall.

G Alan Faneca (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday.

OT Tony Boselli (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday II.

Coach Don Coryell (25% / 15-1): No Super Bowls, .572 win percentage. Meh.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (25% / 15-1): If he didn't get in immediately, probably never happen.

NEGLIGIBLE CHANCE:

WR Isaac Bruce (20% / 20-1): Big numbers, but Fort Lauderdale native and Dillard High alum spent much of pro career overshadowed on own team by Torry Holt.

C Kevin Mawae (15% / 25-1): Hall of Very Good. 

S Brian Dawkins (15% / 25-1): Hurts him that Lynch and Easley are both on ballot.

CB Ty Law (10% / 30-1): No ugly mustard-yellow jacket for you!

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK: BIDDING ADIEU FOR WEEK WITH AGRODOLCE, TAYLOR SWIFT, 22 COWS, 1.7 MILLION POUNDS OF CHICKEN WINGS AND ONE ORANGUTAN: Super Bowl With a Smirk bids farewell with our last of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game:

SmirkYou know Super Bowl Week is winding down and the game is finally near when the official parties kick in.

The 26th annual Taste of the NFL, a "Party With a Purpose" fundraiser, happens Saturday night at the University of Houston with dishes by chefs representing every league city.

Featured on the tony menu this year: Atlanta’s Roasted Quail, Parsnips, Onion Soubise and Cranberry Agrodolce vs. New England’s Cavatelli, Housemade Sausage, Butternut Squash and Shaved Truffle Butter.

AgrodolceObvious edge there to Atlanta. I mean, who doesn’t love soubise and agrodolce!?

In case you wondered, Miami, last in a Super Bowl 32 years ago, will be represented on the menu by Stone Crab Bisque and Rum-Glazed Bacon with a Glaze of Dolfan Tears.

Let’s hope there is no controversy at Saturday’s Taste of the NFL like there was last year, when the chef representing the Patriots was kicked out for intentionally deflating other chefs’ souffles.

(*) Maxim, Rolling Stone and Playboy will be among other major party hosts as a bevy of rented women and once-famous hip-hop stars make the rounds. Taylor Swift is hosting a "Super Saturday Night" party and can be expected to act all surprised to be there.

(*) Smirk culled through a stack of his exclusive A-list invites to celebrity soirees and chose to attend a Super Bowl party being hosted by the estranged second cousin of Gloria Estefan’s former gardener.

(*) Hall of Fame voters met Friday in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room to decide which new inductees will be announced Saturday. LaDainian Tomlinson is the only absolute for Canton, but ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor has a good shot. Should we expect a Tweet from President Trump that the election was rigged?

Kmkey(*) Keegan-Michael Key (of Comedy Central’s "Key & Peele") hosts the NFL Honors awards show Saturday, with winners announced in 16 categories including league MVP — likely Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Could be a shutout for Dolphins, although Cam Wake has a shot at Comeback Player of the Year. Miami also is a finalist for the Kaepernick Cup for anthem kneeling.

(*) Fox, ESPN and NFL Network are girding for pregame shows that will last longer than the game itself. ESPN’s pregame will include a 13-minute segment on how Wilson footballs are made. No, seriously. What they might not tell you: all of the footballs to be used on Sunday required the hides of 22 cows, one of them a cherished doe-eyed Guernsey named Lulu.

(*) ESPN’s pregame also will feature a tribute to Chris Berman on his final major workday before the network shoves him unceremoniously into awkward semi-retirement.

Chicken(*) The National Chicken Council says the estimated 1.3 billion chicken wings eaten on Sunday will weigh 1.7 million pounds or 300 times the combined weight of the 32 NFL teams, surprising analysts who were unaware there was a National Chicken Council.

(*) The annual NFL Foundation Super Bowl golf tournament was held Friday as dozens of former players drove the course loudly griping about their various ailments and lack of benefits.

(*) Acara, an orangutan at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, has predicted a Falcons victory.

(*) There was a brawl on Sad, Sad Radio Row at the SB Media Center on Friday when producers for rival Bangor, Maine, radio stations got into a kickfight over first dibs on Patriots backup long-snapper Tug McGillicutty.

Madea(*) Finally, our parting Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Why do what every other party in America is doing? As the Falcons and Patriots are lining up for the opening kickoff and the din of your guests reaches an excited pitch, abruptly switch the channel from the game to "A Madea Christmas" airing on BET.

Click Smirk I, Smirk II, Smirk III and Smirk IV for this week's previous Smirks.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-4-17: What events on the Saturday, Feb. 4 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Philadelphia at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami favored to bag its 10th straight win.

2. Hall of Fame announcement, 8 p.m.: Canton's big reveal could include Jason Taylor.

3. Hurricanes at North Carolina State, 3 p.m.: UM men, 3-5 since start of year, seek spark.

4. Kentucky at Florida, 8:15 p.m.: No. 8 Wildcat men a big test for No. 24 Gators.

5. Cleveland at New York, 8:30: Because LeBron James at Carmelo Anthony is still a show.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. 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. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 26, 2017

Analyzing Canes' 2017 football schedule game-by-game, predicting season record; plus new 'Back In My Day' (Worn Look), The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings, Miami flavor to this Super Bowl & more

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

Mtm1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 26. R.I.P., Mary Tyler Moore (pictured), gone at 80. 2) A new Miami Herald Facebook page debuted this week. Click HERE to visit. 3) Cubs win World Series! Trump Elected President! Heat win fifth straight! 4) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century (and it includes a lot of vintage stuff from the late great 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. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl, Montoya wins Miami Race of Champions & more. 6) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

LeBron, Serena, Brady, Tiger: Appreciate them while you can: Each of those all-time greats is on stage this week, the perfect time to appreciate them all. Click on Greatness Times Four for my newest column.

Miami in the Super Bowl, Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions held here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

SmokeBREAKING DOWN CANES' 2017 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE GAME-BY-GAME: The challenge here is that, with quarterback Brad Kaaya gone a year early for the NFL Draft, we can't yet know the impact that will have on a UM team that finished 9-4 and ranked No. 20 last season after crushing West Virginia 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Who'll be the new QB and how good will he be? But this we do know: Our faith in Mark Richt, our faith in Manny Diaz and that young defense, and an incoming recruiting class that could end up ranked in top-10 nationally all lead us to believe Miami will be as good as last season and more likely better. UM might very well be an underdog in only one game -- Sept. 16 at Florida State -- although an Oct. 28 trip to North Carolina and a Nov. 4 visit by Virginia Tech will be major challenges. Taking care of business in all the other games and winning at least one of those three is the path to the elusive 10-win season. Handle the rest of the schedule and win two of those three and you're talking major bowl and maybe a shot at College Football Playoff contention. That's optimistic with the QB flux and all, but optimism is merited right now. Breaking down the schedule game by game:

Sept. 2 vs. Bethune-Cookman -- An all-but-certain win for the Canes and a soft opening for whomever is the new quarterback. UM is 3-0 all-time vs. Larry Little's old school from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. B-C was 4-6 last year, and Miami won 45-0 when schools last met to open the 2015 season. Estimated Win Likelihood (EWL): 95%

Sept. 9 at Arkansas State -- Another very likely win, but a big step up from Bethune and not an opponent to be taken lightly. Arkansas State went 7-1 in Sun Belt last year and was 8-5 overall including a nice 31-13 win over UCF In the AutoNation Cure Bowl. UM leads all-time series 2-0 including a 41-20 win in 2014. EWL: 80%

Sept. 16 at Florida State -- Miami will be a clear underdog, on the road, against a nemesis that has beaten the Canes seven straight times including 20-19 last year. FSU now leads all-time series 30-29. Noles finished 10-3 and ranked No. 8 in '16 after a thrilling 33-32 win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl game. This will be first time these ACC state rivals have met in the season's opening month since 2009. EWL: 35%.

Sept. 23 vs. Toledo -- A very likely win, although Toledo was a bowl team last year after going 9-4 including 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference. Miami beat the Rockets in the school's only previous meeting way back in 1987. EWL: 80%.

Sept. 29 at Duke -- A return to the scene of that eight-lateral, kickoff-return Miami miracle in 2015. Friday game could be a challenging roadie, but one that should find UM expected to win. Blue Devils were 4-8 last season and 1-7 in ACC. Miami is 12-2 all-time in this ACC series, with three straight wins including 40-21 last season. EWL: 65%.

Oct. 12 vs. Georgia Tech -- Following the bye week, Canes will be expected to win this challenging Thursday ACC home date, although Yellow Jackets were 9-4 and a bowl winner last season. Teams are 11-11 all-time, though UM has won seven of past eight meetings including a 35-21 victory last season. EWL: 60%

Oct. 21 vs. Syracuse -- UM should be a heavy home favorite over Orangemen. Canes lead all-time series 15-7 including five straight wins, although this will be these teams' first meeting since 2003 back in the BIg East days. 'Cuse finished 4-8 last year and 2-6 in ACC. EWL: 75%.

Oct. 28 at North Carolina -- Tough roadie poses UM's biggest loss-threat since FSU. Miami trails all-time series 11-9 and has lost past two, 20-13 last season and 59-21 on last visit to Chapel Hill in 2015. Tar Heels went 5-3 in ACC last year and 8-5 overall with loss to Stanford in Sun Bowl. EWL: 50%.

Nov. 4 vs. Virginia Tech -- A loss-threat and a challenging test UM should be glad is at home. Miami leads all-time rivalry 20-14 but is only 5-9 in past 14 meetings, including a 37-16 loss last year. Hokies were 6-2 in ACC last year and finished 10-4 overall and ranked No. 16 after beating Arkansas in the Belk Bowl. EWL: 55%.

Nov. 11 vs. Notre Dame -- Fighting Irish's first visit to Miami since 1989 is biggest "event" game on schedule other than FSU. Miami trails all-time series 18-7-1, with four losses in a row including 30-27 in South Bend last year. Leprechauns sank to 4-8 last year but were 10-3 in '15, so it's hard to know how good ND will be. But Canes, at home, figure to be favored. EWL: 65%.

Nov. 18 vs. Virginia -- UM should be a heavy home favorite over a Cavaliers team that was miserable last season: 1-7 in the ACC and 2-10 overall. Canes lead all-time series 8-6 including two wins a row with last year's 34-14 victory at Virginia. EWL: 85%.

Nov. 24 at Pitt -- A Friday roadie closes the regular season and likely will see Miami favored. Pitt was a credible 8-5 with a bowl loss last season, Canes always seem to have Pitt's number. UM leads all-time series 25-10-1 including a 51-28 rout last year, and also has won the past six straight trips to Pittsburgh. EWL: 55%.

Predicted final regular-season record: 10-2.

UPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (MIDSEASON/40 GAMES): Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 15-30 on four straight wins after Monday night's home upset  of Golden State, here's The Luddite's ninth installment, with 40-game rank in parentheses:

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (45 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,315

2. Goran Dragic (2)            1,099

3. Tyler Johnson (3)             870

4. James Johnson (4)           779

5. Dion Waiters (6)              538

6. Josh Richardson (5)         483

7. Rodney McGruder (7)     428

8. Willie Reed (9)               369

9. Justise Winslow (8)        355

10. Wayne Ellington (10)    354

Others: Luke Babbitt 259, Josh McRoberts 232, Derrick Williams 231, Udonis Haslem 61, Okaro White 10.

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': THE WORN LOOK: Enjoy!

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

Twitter @gregcote