August 09, 2016

Should Marlins sign a soon-available Alex Rodriguez? Poll. Laast day to vote!; plus Mark Richt column, Radio Tuesday, latest Hot Button Top 10 starring Ichiro 3K, Rio, Canton, Fins, D-Wade; also, your verdict on win totals for Canes/Dolphins & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, AUGUST 9. We're back from a near two-week hiatus from the blog while we were away vacationing along California's Central Coast. Might have more on that later. The Hot Button Top 10 returns after taking last Sunday off. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: After a week's vacation we're back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, with the national show also visible on ESPNU. We have a new Back In My Day ready to go.  

Step into the office, and expectations, of Mark Richt: We visited privately with Miami Hurricanes football coach Mark Richt yesterday, stepping into his office and his world. Click on The Weight Has Just Begun for the column that resulted.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Dwyane Wade's departure from Heat creating a chance for Dolphins and Canes. Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp nears. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that says it all.

SHOULD MARLINS SIGN A-ROD FOR REMAINDER OF SEASON?: What happened on Sunday with the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez was weird. It was announced his final game for the team would be this Friday, and that he would then segue into a role as team consultant and spring instructor. Hmm. It seemed less like a sudden retirement than it did New York pretty much telling A-Rod Arodto get lost but showing him the respect to make it seem like his decision. Rodriguez, even at 41, didn't seem like a guy ready to call it quits -- certainly not with one third of a season left. "Of course, I think I can play baseball," Rodriguez said. "You always think you have one more hit in you." It is important to note that A-Rod, after Friday, will be free to sign with any other team if that chance arose, and that he did not rule out that possibility. Miami Marlins, perhaps? It makes enough sense to at least consider. From A-Rod's view, he is from Miami. He lives here. The Marlins would be the perfect situation for him to have a proper farewell to the game, not the awkward, sudden goodbye from New York. From the Marlins' view, signing A-Rod for the remaining 47 games (after Friday) would boost attendance at least somewhat as it gave him a chance to get the four more home runs needed to reach 700. Ichiro got to 3,000 MLB hits in a Marlins uniform. Might A-Rod's milestone also come in a Fish uni? There is little question Rodriguez-to-Marlins make sense from his perspective and from that of the club's marketing side. Though his career has been tainted by steroids, I think he would be embraced by most Marlins fans. (Maybe not; the poll below will shed light on that). The one determining factor, the only one that matters: Would A-Rod, in a reserve/pinchhitter role, help the Marlins as they chase an NL wild-card spot? Is there room for him on the roster? That is all that matters. Miami should not sign A-Rod to be nice or as a publicity stunt in pursuit of slightly bigger crowds. No room for that in a playoff race. But if Don Mattingly thinks adding A-Rod's bat and experience would be a plus, then yes. I doubt this will happen, of course, but it's plausible enough to make it fun to consider. Take a dip in our poll, share your thoughts and check back often to monitor evolving results.

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

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Ichiro (finally) reaches 3,000 hits!: Marlins are in a pitched battle for that second NL wild-card spot as six-game homestand begins tonight vs. Giants, but the overriding news is Ichiro reaching 3,000 MLB hits with a triple last night in San Diego. He is only the 30th ever to do it. The Marlins should have sat Ichiro yesterday and let him reach the milestone at home. That's according to me and, I'd imagine, Jeffrey Loria. Nevertheless, congrats on a remarkable achievement -- one of the biggest ever by an athlete in a Miami uniform. 

2. OLYMPICS: Summer Games underway in Rio: Rio de Janiero is hosting the Summer Olympics through Aug. 21 and, other than crime, terrorist concerns, polluted water and other issues, all is going well. Back home, Hillary Clinton wished the U.S. athletes well. Donald Trump quickly Tweeted that crooked Hillary could not be more wrong.

3. ALEX RODRIGUEZ: A-Rod retiring, will become Yankees adviser: The Yankees and slumping veteran Alex Rodriguez of Miami announced Sunday that A-Rod would play his final game for the Yanks on Friday, then become a team adviser and instructor. So begins the five-year wait until Cooperstown first says no to steroids-tainted A-Rod.

4. NFL: First football game of season canceled in Canton: Saturday in Canton saw the induction of the six newest Pro Football Hall of Fame members led by Brett Favre. Sunday was to bring Colts-Packers in the season's first exhibition game, but the game was canceled because the paint used on the field was too hard, dried like cement and was a hazard to players. No, seriously. You can't make this s--- up, folks. Are you ready for some football? Apparently the field crew in Canton wasn't.

5. DOLPHINS: Fins three days from exhibition opener: Lots of extraneous stuff. Hard Rock looms as frontrunner for stadium naming rights. Training camp visitors include Peyton Manning and WWE star The Big Show. Ryan Tannehill's wife has a baby boy named Steel. NFL reinstates Dion Jordan, who immediately goes on injury list. But cutting through all that? Monday dawns the first game week of season, with exhibition opener this Friday at Giants. So here come your Dolphins. Ready or not...

6. HEAT: Wade's return to Miami set for Nov. 10: Dwyane Wade, in a Chicago Bulls uniform, makes his first return to Miami on Nov. 10, a Thursday night. That's in 94 days. Not that I'm counting.

7. HURRICANES: Media, fan events on deck as season draws nearer: UM's football media day was Monday, (click on The Weight Has Just Begun for my new column on Mark Richt), and then Canesfest fan events are this coming Saturday as Richt's debut season draws ever nearer. 

8. GOLF: Walker wins PGA Championship: Jimmy Walker won the PGA Championship, the year's final major. It was the first time Walker had been in the news since starring as J.J. in Good Times in the '70s.

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Playoff ends its New Year's Eve games: The College Football Playoff is ending its New Year's Eve semifinals after only one year. Explained a CFP official: "We really had our head up our a-- on that one!"

10. MICHAEL JORDAN: NBA icon breaks silence: Michael Jordan, always hesitant to share personal views, spoke out on the subject of gun violence. Turns out he's against it. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Giancarlo Stanton's 496-foot home run just landed ..... The Marlins unveiled their 2017 All-Star Game logo. Nothing went wrong and people thought it was pretty good ..... Dolphins owner Stephen Ross held a business seminar for five Fins players interested in post-football careers. His advice to them: Become a billionaire. Makes everything so much easier! ..... Michael Vick, 36, is working out in Broward hoping for one last NFL shot. Those who have watched him train tell us Vick is not doggin' it. (Sorry) ..... Steve Spurrier is back with the Florida Gators as ambassador and consultant. Also, as an ad-Visor ..... Jim Turner, fired as a Dolphins assistant coach for his role in Bulygate, has been suspended by Texas A&M for showing a sexually suggestive video during a women's football clinic. Turner is 51 but evidently still in middle school ..... FIU baseball player Nick Day saved the life of a man who'd been in an auto accident in Arizona. Player of the week? ..... Fort Lauderdale Strikers played heir final game at Lockhart Stadium. Hardly anybody cared, but the ghosts of 1977 wept ..... St. Thomas Aquinas' John Bosa is holding out as a Chargers rookie. How Not to Begin Your NFL Career 101 ..... It's a challenging year to be a Kyle Busch hater ..... A veteran scout who wished to remain anonymous has criticized as "uninformed" a veteran unnamed front-office official ..... Finally, a man died during Florida's annual lobster miniseason. I keep telling you cheapstakes to order a lobster at a restaurant or buy one at Publix. Much safer that way.

Poll results: Higher hopes for Hurricanes than for Dolphins: We invited you to set the bar on expectations for the coming Hurricanes and Dolphins seasons and you set it higher for UM than for the Fins. For the Canes overall it was 8.95 wins and for the Dolphins 8.29, even though UM plays at least four fewer games. The breakdown: Hurricanes--44.6% 9 wins; 31.6% 10-plus wins; 15.4% 8 wins; 4.5% 7 wins; and 3.9% 6-fewer wins. Dolphins--31.4 percent 9 wins; 29.6% 8 wins; 15.3% 10-plus wins; 14.2% 7 wins; and 9.5% 6-fewer wins.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 25, 2016

Canes football picked 2nd in ACC division; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Ichiro, Fins, Canes; also, NFL clears Peyton, football town again?, Tannehill a new daddy, SABR nerds coming, Dolphins fantasy leaders & more

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

Laurentannehill1) It is MONDAY, JULY 25. Ichiro is still at 2,996 hits after striking out yesterday as a pinchhitter.  He is not in tonight's starting lineup. 2) Former Dolphins receiver Greg Jennings retired this morning. 3) Pictured right is first-time mother Lauren Tannehill, whose baby delivered on Sunday made Ryan Tannehill a first-time daddy. Lauren is shown in a photo she posted on Twitter July 16. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA moves All-Star game with poll, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, Canes at ACC Football Kickoff, NFL MVP odds & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

NFL exonerates Peyton Manning: From the league today: "Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances." Cloud dissipates. R.I.P.: Retire In Peace.

Can Dolphins, Canes make this a football town again?: I explore the question in my latest Sunday column. Click on A Chance for Football to Retake Miami to read. The Marlins are hot at the moment, but, with Dwyane Wade gone from the Heat, a window opens for the Dolphins and UM football as both set forth with promising new coaches.  

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

SabrBaseball nerds on parade!: I'm kidding, sort of. Not everybody who belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is a nerd. Although you will find a disproportionately high percentage of statistics-obsessed sabermetric-heads, defined here as people who are aware of and casually refer to "babip" (batting average on balls in play). Anyway, SABR holds its 46th annual convention in downtown Miami at the Hyatt Regency this week, July 27-31, including a Friday ballpark session at Marlins Park. Think of it as like a comic-con for intellectually serious baseball fans including those who are convinced A's general manager Billy Beane may be the human incarnation of God. Fans may attend the convention, by the way, though it isn't free. Click on sabr.org/convention for details and and schedule.

AccCANES PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN ACC COASTAL: Miami Hurricanes are predicted to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division this season in a vote of ACC football media. UM received 50 first-place votes and 1,108 points to North Carolina's 121 and 1,238. Clemson is the pick in the Atlantic Division, its 148 first-place votes and 1,293 points beating Florida State's 42 and 1,176. For the overall conference championship it was Clemson 144 votes, FSU 39, North Carolina 7 and Louisville. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson is a huge favriet for ACC Player of the Year with 164 votes, followed by FSU RB Dalvin Cook with 18. Canes QB Brad Kaaya ties for fourth with 2 votes.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Ichiro on brink of 3,000 owns center-stage in Marlins homestand: Ichiro enters tonight's game with 2,996 hits. Dee Gordon is close to returning from suspension. And the Marlins are on playoff pace and looking to spend to acquire a starting pitcher before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Miami, you have run out of good excuses to not support this team.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins sign Foster, prepare to open first camp under Gase: Miami bolstered its running back situation by signing veteran Arian Foster as it prepared to open training camp under new coach Adam Gase with its first practice this coming Friday. Dolfans seem to love the Gase hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet.

3. HURRICANES: UM ceremonially kicks off start of football as first practice nears: Coach Mark Richt and QB Brad Kaaya spoke optimistically to media at ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte as program prepares for Aug. 4 start of preseason practice. Canes fans love the Richt hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet, either.

4. OLYMPICS: Russian doping scandal adds to beleaguered Rio Games: With the chaos-marred Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro only 12 days away, the IOC on Sunday ruled against a total ban of the Russian team over a doping scandal. Still, cheating Russians deserve a gall medal for gumption.

5. NBA: All-Star Game moved over controversial law: Its star players are outspoken against police-involved violence, now league itself steps into political arena by moving its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over that state's controversial anti-LGBT law. Leagues and athletes showing a social conscience? Good for them.

6. CYCLING: Froome wins Tour de France, again: Defending champion Chris Froome of Great Britain made it three wins in the last four years. I don't wanna say Froome had a safe lead, but he could race have raced Sunday's final stage on an 1890s-style bicycle with the giant front wheel and still finished first.

7. GOLF: Tiger still out as PGA Championship dawns: As year's final major, the 98th PGA Championship, begins this coming Thursday in New Jersey, Tiger Woods announced his back and other ailments will keep him out rest of the year. Tiger, don't keep telling us you're out. We assume that by now. Tell us when you're in.

8. BASEBALL: Griffey, Piazza inducted into Cooperstown: Baseball Hall of Fame added Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza in Sunday induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y. Griffey was untainted by even the slightest rumor of steroid use. Piazza? Wellllll...

9. SOCCER: Strikers out in U.S. Open, leaving Lockhart: The NASL Fort Lauderdale Strikers were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the all-comers U.S. Open Cup, losing 3-0 at the MLS Chicago Fire. Strikers also announced they are leaving iconic Lockhart Stadium for Central Broward Stadium. And the ghosts of 1977 wept.

10. POLITICS: Presidential race pivots from Republican convention to Democrats: Republicans just nominated Donald Trump, now Democrats are about to anoint Hillary Clinton as America tries to decide which candidate it dislikes and mistrusts less. To sports fans, it's like being forced to watch a game where you don't like either team.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Heat are quiet right now. Resting. It's very tiring not getting Kevin Durant and then losing Dwyane Wade! ..... Marlins' Christian Yelich went on Twitter to vehemently deny it was him seen in a video being, um, ah, extremely intimate with a female. After being informed his denial is what brought attention to it, he deleted his denial. "How NOT to Handle a Social Media Crisis 101" ..... White Sox ace Chris Sale shredded his uniform to protest the throwback style, missing Saturday's start. Talk about a fashion critic! ..... Derrick Rose says the Knicks are now being put in the same "super team" class as the Warriors. Yes, Derrick. But only by people who are mentally deranged ..... Jeff Gordon is coming out of retirement for a couple of races to replace concussed Dale Earnhardt Jr. Athletes are just not very good at retiring. Don't know when to. Don't know how to ..... An ESPN-affiliated ACC Network will debut in 2019. Yeah, because ESPN just doesn't have nearly enough platforms (!) ..... R.I.P., local basketball pillar Cesar Odio, 58, and ex-NFL coach Dennis Green, 67 ..... Somebody check on Miko Grimes. Make sure she's OK. Been almost a week since she last embarrassed herself and her husband on Twitter. ..... It's said the NFL doesn't like HBO's "Ballers." Should be the NFLPA that doesn't. Seems like every other scene in that series perpetuates stereotypes about black players partying on yachts ..... Saw the headline, 'Manny Pacquiao's return could revive interest in boxing'. And thought, "Man, how awful that boxing is that desperate!" ..... Answer: A new sport called "footvolley" -- soccer meets beach volleyball; no hands allowed -- will debut as a demonstration sport at Summer Olympics. Question: What do you mean there are too many ridiculous, made-up sports? ..... Hurricanes are about to reveal naming rights for their new football indoor practice facility. I cannot confirm the rumors: Greg Cote Dome.

JlandryEARLY FANTASY LOOK AT WHERE DOLPHINS PLAYERS RANK: The lists and cheat-sheets have begun trickling forth, which means fantasy football season is underway. ESPN's early standard-league Top 300 (full list here) includes nine Miami Dolphins, in this order: 42. Jarvis Landry (wr#21), pictured left; 52. DeVante Parker (wr#28); 95. Jay Ajayi (rb#36); 103. Arian Foster (rb#39); 164. Kenyan Drake (rb#55); 182. Leonte Carroo (wr#67); 194. Ryan Tannehill (qb#20); 197. Jordan Cameron (te#19); and 229. Kenny Stills (wr#85). Interestingly, at least to me, Ajayi and Foster are just about neck and neck. And surprisingly, to me, the Dolphins are not among the 22 defense/special teams to make the Top 300.

Poll result: Close, but most disagree with NBA moving its All-Star Game: We asked if you agree with the NBA pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of North Carolina's anti-LGBT law, and it was 54.3 percent "no," 42.8% "yes" and 2.9% "undecided or mixed feelings." That means most of our readers are more conservative than I am, but that's OK. Free country! I did find it interesting that "yes" votes led comfortably early on before the no's took over.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 18, 2016

Dolphins exhume career of Arian Foster; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Riley, Fish, Canes, Phil, Fins, France, ESPYs, UFC; also my Pat Riley column, your verdict on Stephen Ross & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Why Stephen Ross is smart and rich with rate-him-as-Dolphins-owner poll, D-Wade's ex-wife causing more trouble, HistoryMiami Museum's 'Beyond the Game,' updated World Series odds, the shame of Dani Mathers, your verdict on Brady/Fins & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On the Dolphins and Arian Foster: NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported via Tweet this afternoon, "RB Arian Foster is signing with the Dolphins, source said." Other reports are that it is a 1-year deal. Foster is coming off major knee surgery. Miami's interest in possibly recycling the used running back first surfaced in late March, when I wrote this column. Not much has changed in 14 weeks in term of my opinion.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or think they deserve another look: Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, the latest, as Riley admits regrets over Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

1. HEAT: Riley "floored" by Wade exit, admits regrets: Summer for the Heat ended with the team missing out on Kevin Durant and then losing Dwyane Wade, followed by an NBA Summer League that saw Miami's developmental players finish 6-5 and fail to reach today/Monday's title game in Las Vegas. Pat Riley on Saturday called it a "tough, summer, period," and admitted he regrets not doing more and being more personally involved in trying to keep Wade. No do-overs, Pat.

Hotbutton2. MARLINS: Stanton, Ichiro in spotlight as second half begins: Playoff-chasing Fish are hoping Giancarlo Stanton's record-setting Home Run Derby triumph during the All-Star break continues to carry over as season's second half is underway in midst of a seven-game road trip. Team's next big hope: That Ichiro's upcoming 3,000th hit milestone (he's within six) happens at home.

3. HURRICANES: ACC Football Kickoff ceremonially launches season: Canes reinstated RB Mark Walton after a DUI charge was dropped, lost WR Lawrence Cager for the year to an injury, and now prepare to open fall practice Aug. 4. But first the program heads to Charlotte for ACC Kickoff media events this coming Thursday. UM's three representatives will be new coach Mark Richt, star quarterback Brad Kaaya and, somehow, for reasons unclear, punter Justin Vogel.

4. GOLF: Phil falls in finale of British Open: Phil Mickelson, nearly as old as golf itself, opened with a majors-record-tying 63 but lost by three shots to Henrik Stenson on Sunday as the British Open wrapped up in in Scotland. Most outside of Sweden surely were rooting for Phil, but you felt good for Stenson raising the Claret Jug for his first major victory.

5. DOLPHINS: Brady ruling, Forbes list both pluses for Fins: As team auditions free agent running back Arian Foster and prepares to open training camp July 29, Dolphins caught break as appeals court upheld four-game Deflategate suspension of Patriots QB Tom Brady. Meanwhile Fins were ranked 33rd among Top 50 most valuable sports franchises in world by Forbes, at $1.85 billion, an increase of 42 percent in one year. Which means Stephen Ross already got his money back on those $400 million in stadium renovations.

6. CYCLING: Tour de France continues with heavy hearts: Cycling's premier annual race continues through this coming Sunday despite last week's terrorist attack that killed 84 in Nice, France on the country's southern coast. Don't care who wins the race, as long as civilization is winning over terror.

7. ESPY AWARDS: NBA stars' opening message steals show: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul began the broadcast with a poignant message against gun violence in wake of recent police-involved shootings. The handing out of awards that followed hardly mattered.

8. TIM DUNCAN: Spurs' all-time great retires: Duncan retired at age 40 as a five-time NBA champion and 15-time all-star. He is 17th in career points and No. 1 all-time in bland.

9. UFC: Mixed-martial arts franchise sells for $4 billion: Remember when you thought UFC was too brutally violent to catch on with the mainstream? When we thought it was a fad that wouldn't last? WME-IMG just bet $4 billion that we were wrong.

10. SOCCER: Strikers in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal this week: The NASL Fort Lauderdale Strikers will play at the MLS Chicago Fire this Wednesday in a the quarterfinal match of the all-comers U.S. Open Cup. If you reach the final, can we get Ray Hudson to call the game?

Missing the HB10 cut: Republican National Convention begins today in Cleveland. OK, y'all had the Cavs this year. That's enough winning ..... In tennis, Croatia stunned the U.S, in quarterfinals of the Davis Cup. "Even I'm surprised," said Davis ..... Max Kellerman will replace Skip Bayless on ESPN's 'First Take.' Stephen A. Smith took 15  minutes and used 4,688 syllables to say, "Welcome." ..... Bulletin: Miko Grimes is still an idiot ..... Miami gymnast Danell Leyva made the U.S. Olympic team replacing an injured teammate ..... Back for its season premiere on Sunday is HBO's "Ballers," starring Dwayne Johnson as a guy who isn't really that good an actor but became rich and famous anyway ..... The WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks are 20-1. Dare you to name a single player ..... HistoryMiami Museum premiered 'Beyond The Game," on the history of sports in the evolution of South Florida ..... Broncos signed Von Miller to a 6-year, $114.5 million deal, more than half of it guaranteed. "See, we're not the only ones with silly-big contracts," said the NBA ..... MLB All-Star Game drew a record-low 5.4 TV rating. I think that means Stanton hit more home runs Monday night than there were viewers on Tuesday ..... Red Sox-Yankees. It's still the best rivalry in sports and I'll hear no arguments ..... We're 19 days from start of Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio. "Holy s---! Really?" said Brazil. "We better get started on those facilities!" ..... Cooperstown prepares for next week's Hall of Fame Weekend events. As always, prohibited items include fireworks, glass containers and Pete Rose ..... Ricky Williams is entering the cannabis business. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Marlins signed top draft pick Braxton Garrett, surprising the zero people who worried they wouldn't ..... Manny Pacquiao is coming out of retirement. Or, did that also go without saying? ..... Dwyane Wade's ex-wife is trying to hit him up for more money. Or, did that also go without saying? ..... Cows fly. Hell is frozen. An American golfer, Brittany Lang, not a South Korean, won the U.S. Women's Open ..... That reminds me. Why is golf a new Olympic sport if none of the men golfers seem to want to compete? ..... Sepp Blatter is appealing his six-year ban from soccer, even though no one on the face of the Earth likes him including Mrs. Blatter ..... Bartolo Colon looks like the first runnerup in a Fred Flintstone lookalike contest ..... The Panthers wrapped up their five-day developmental camp and held a news conference to introduce new players, with GM Tom Rowe again all but promising a Stanley Cup. Give him credit. Lots of balls for a guy in a sport with no ball ..... A Playboy bunny named Dani Mathers body-shamed another woman on social media. So let me get this straight. A woman who wears a cottontail and rabbit ears made fun of somebody else? ..... The Miami Gun Show is back at Dade County Fairgrounds ending today. Because, once again, there just aren't nearly enough guns in America!!

Poll result: Mixed views on Stephen Ross as Dolphins owner. But a warming trend?: This is a change. Ross is not quite as unpopular as he once was. We asked what best describes your opinion of the job he is doing as Dolphins owner and a plurality of 37.5 percent voted "so-so but getting better." However, the negative votes (24.1% "not very successful," 16.7% "unmitigated failure") outnumbered the positive votes (14.5% "somewhat successful," 7.2% "very successful"). Positive spin? If you include "so-so but getting better" on the plus side, then the pro-Ross votes outweigh the anti-Ross votes by 59.2% to 40.8%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 11, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring Wade's goodbye, Fish at All-Star break, Wimbledon, Vive la Portugal?, Fins stadium, UFC 200, British Open, ESPYs; plus your verdicts on Wade statue, new face of Miami sports & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade-leaving aftershocks including build-a-statue and who's-now-face-of-Miami-sports polls, your verdict of booing Wade, LeBatard Show podcast dominance & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

MY DWYANE WADE COMMEMORATIVE SPECIAL-SECTION COLUMN: Click on Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure for Sunday''s farewell-Dwyane column.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime, on the stunning departure of Dwyane Wade. Heat Must Kiss-and-Make Up With Wade Now, warning of the imperative to sign Wade once the Durant dream was over. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Stunner! Wade leaves Heat for Chicago Bulls: After 13 seasons and three championships, Dwyane Wade is gone. Just like that. Gone in free agency to his hometown Chicago Bulls while his adopted city reels over the loss. He was D-Wade. This was Wade County. It still doesn't seem real. This would be numbers one through eight in our Hot Button, or maybe the whole Top 10, based on the proportional impact in our market. Across the NBA, only Kevin Durant choosing Golden State was a bigger free-agency story than Wade leaving Miami. Farewell, Dwyane. The ending may have been ugly, but the run was sublime. Thank you.

2. MARLINS: Four Fish to All-Star Game, Stanton to Derby at midsummer break: Marlins wrapped up first half of season Sunday strong in playoff contention after a third straight win, and send four players (Jose Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, A.J. Ramos, Fernando Rodney) to Tuesday's All-Star Game in San Diego. And Giancarlo Stanton will be in tonight's/Monday's Home Run Derby. Nice.

3. TENNIS: Wimbledon fortnight ends with perfect championship weekend: Wimbledon wrapped up Sunday with Brit Andy Murray winning the men's title after Serena Williams reigned with a record-tying 22nd major win. The perfect weekend for Wimbledon. 

4SOCCER: Host France falls to Portugal in Euro '16 finale: It was Portugal upsetting host 'France 1-0 in overtime Sunday afternoon in the Euro '16 championship match. After all the host nation had been through, including the Paris terrorist attacks, unless you were living in downtown Lisbon, you were probably hoping, "Vive la France!"

5. DOLPHINS: Club refutes speculation on construction delays: Crazy reports and rumors pinballing around suggested that Dolphin stadium renovation delays might force the Fins to play early-season home games Orlando. Wrong! Or so said the team, claiming all construction including the new canopy would be done by Sept. 1. Hmm. We'll see.

6. MMA: Depleted UFC 200 marks milestone for sport: UFC 200 went on as scheduled in Las Vegas Saturday despite the doping-related absence of Jon "Bones" Jones after the earlier withdrawal of Conor McGregor. Disappointed pay-per-viewers buyers, there's probably a class-action suit near you.

7. GOLF: Season's third major, British Open, begins this week: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are bunched as favorites to win the 145th British Open commencing Thursday at Scotland's Royal Troon. Bonus fact: A "troon," according urbandictionary.com, is "a girl that looks like she used to be a man." Hey, don't blame me. I'm just the messenger.

8. ESPN: Network's ESPY Awards air this week: The ESPYs air on Wednesday night. Because ESPN doesn't get enough attention. And because there are not nearly enough awards shows.

9. OLYMPICS: Embattled Rio Games now less than month away: With the Aug. 5 Opening ceremony fast approaching, the Rio Olympics look to be in great shape other than the minor matters of the Zika virus, unfinished facilities, bacteria-riddled water, athlete withdrawals, doping suspensions, body parts washing ashore and local police saying they cannot protect visitors from rampant crime.

10. NBA: Summer league pivots from Orlando to Vegas: The Heat bounced to a 3-0 start in NBA summer league play, which features mostly rookies and undrafted free agents. So Miami missed out on Kevin Durant and lost Dwyane Wade, but otherwise -- a good week!

Missing the HB10 cut: Chris Bosh "broke his silence" on Bill Simmons' new show but was not asked -- not once -- about his health. It'd be like having Trump as a guest and the presidential race is never discussed. You can't make this s--- up, folks ..... Panthers GM Tom Rowe and star defenseman Aaron Ekblad were touting Cats' Stanley Cup chances at a press conference. Love the confidence but, for now, less talking, more doing, please ..... Miami super-agent Drew Rosenhaus helped saved the life of an accident victim by offering roadside assistance. No word yet whether Rosenhaus waived his 5 percent fee ..... Seven MLS teams and only the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of second-tier NASL are alive in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. Strikers play at Chicago Fire July 20 ..... We ride FIU and AD Pete Garcia pretty hard, so, in fairness, today we note that FIU's athletic department is having its best academic year on record including a highest-ever overall grade point average of 3.1. So there! ..... You know the Dolphins are in deep offseason hibernation when I get a press-release from the club touting an upcoming third annual "Mom's Clinic," evidently geared to females who are football fans but requiring a tutorial ..... Break the ice at a party with this one: "Did you know it is 133 days until the NASCAR season finale at Homestead?!" You're welcome ..... The Tour de France continues, despite a spate of bicycle tires being punctured by strewn steroid needles ..... Somebody check to make sure Johnny Manziel is OK. It's been almost a week since he last was embroiled in an embarrassing calamity.

Poll result: It's "yes" on a Dwyane Wade statue: We asked if the Miami Heat should erect a statue of departed star Wade in front of the arena, and it was 64.1 percent yes, 29.8% no and 6.1% undecided.

GsPoll result: Post-Wade, Marlins' Stanton is face of South Florida pro sports: We asked what current athlete is now the face of South Florida pro sports, and Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) led with 28.2 percent, followed by his Marlins teammate Jose Fernandez with 23.3% and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill with 16.3%. Chris Bosh (6.7%) will have to earn back his status, while Hassan Whiteside (5.9%) must prove himself worthy. Interestingly, 14.1% voted "someone else" not listed in the poll. If you were thinking Justise Winslow or Jarvis Landry, sorry, they're not there yet.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 22, 2016

USA falls 4-0 to Messi, Argentina in Copa; plus, in other nudes, Dwyane Wade is naked in a magazine; also, what's-next-for-LeBron (odds and poll; vote now), Canes ousted at CWS, USGA dodges bullet, 2017 NBA title odds & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22. NBA title odds for 2017 out via Bovada show Warriors favorites at 2-1, then Cavaliers 9-4, Spurs 15-2 and Thunder 17-2. Miami Heat are tied for eighth at 33-1. 2) Florida Panthers announced 2016-17 schedule, with regular season opening at home vs. New Jersey on Oct. 13. 3) Hope it was a Happy Father's Day for all my fellow padres and papis! Christopher and I played golf at Inverrary East, on his dime. I played my worst round in three years but had a great time. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron fulfills promise, Hot Button Top 10, your verdict of rooting for or against LeBron & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so great they deserved another look: Trust LeBron On His Next Decision, the latest, on what's next for a King on top of his world. Rooting For LeBron to Make History, on our treasonous hopes entering Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

U.S. SOCCER PUT IN ITS PLACE BY MESSI, MIGHTY ARGENTINA: [Update: Argentina thumps U.S. last night 4-0 in Copa America semifinal, the Americans conceding a goal three minutes in and then a brilliant free-kick banana by the wondrous Lionel Messi. It was men against boys as the world's No. 1-ranked team dominated in possession with brilliant passing and tight defensive marking that left the U.S. with precious few scoring chances. But still an overall positive tournament for the U.S.]. Original post: Sports has just seen a major upset: Cleveland beating Golden State for the NBA championship after trailing 3-1 in Messi Dempseythe Finals. Will we see another shocker tonight? The U.S. beating world No. 1 Argentina in the Copa America Centenario semifinal tonight in Houston (9 p.m., FS1) would be an upset comparably big. It will require an American squad missing three suspended starters to neutralize Argentina's diminutive maestro Lionel Messi, the goal machine. Messi has bounced back from a rib ailment to scored four goals in the Copa in the minutes equivalent of less than two full games. The opponent and stage make this our national team's biggest home game since the round of 16 in the 1994 World Cup. (It's Colombia vs. Chile Wednesday in the other Copa semifinal, with the two winners meeting Sunday in New Jersey for the championship). For the U.S. it has been a solid tournament showing already, but pulling this upset to reach the final would be a major coup for both the USMNT and at-times embattled coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The coach was asked Monday f we might expect a defensive posture from the depleted Americans. No, he said: "We want to take the game to them. We want to go eye to eye, because we've done that tremendously well throughout this tournament. There's no need to change now." But to adjust, yes, with midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Jermaine Jones and forward Bobby Wood all suspended. Clint Dempsey has had a strong tournament for the U.S., and more of that will be needed. (Dempsey and Messi are pictured, left to right). Odds favor Argentina, of course. But more than they favored Golden State with a 3-1 series lead? It's one game. It's soccer. The stadium in Houston will be full. "This is a one-off," as Klinsmann reminded reporters. "Anything can happen."

DwadeAND IN OTHER NUDES, DWYANE WADE IS NAKED IN A MAGAZINE: Heat star and pending free agent Dwyane Wade, who has said he hopes to re-sign with Miami, appears artfully nude in ESPN The Magazine's annual Body issue, which will be online July 6 and on newsstands two days later. "Artfully nude" means he is completely naked but his body is posed and photographed in a way that shows neither his backside nor that most private region out front -- the area on an opponent that Draymond Green might try to kick during a game. I must say D.Wade's physique looks very good for a man of 34, or of any age. Naked athletes are nothing new; remember that the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton did the Body issue a couple of years ago. Was it just last year that Serena Williams posed en buff? Naked athletes and celebrities in general have become de rigeur, as anyone who follows Kim Kardashian on social media knows too well. There used to be a shock value, a titillation that no longer exists. Now it's sensory overload. It's too much information. I feel like filing a class-action cease-and-desist to get the Kardashians to please stop being publicly nude. I mean, OK, famous people, we know you're attention whores and that you're proud of your bodies. We get it. But, just for something different, how 'bout you surprise us and try a little modesty once in a while just to see how you like it. Dare you!

LebronwinsLEBRON REIGNS, FULFILLS HIS PROMISE ... NOW WHAT?: [Click on Trust LeBron On His Next Decision for my new column, now online] LeBron James jilted left Miami to return to hometown Cleveland with the promise of delivering that city its first major-sport championship since the Browns in 1964. He promised one championship, not "six or seven or..." OK, he's done that now. Promise fulfilled. LeBron is pictured last night holding the championship trophy and his NBA Finals MVP trophy, cradling both as if the were his babies. So now what? James is a pending free agent and starting on July 1 can do whatever he wants, go wherever he wants. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has reported sources in Miami telling him LeBron could possibly return to Miami if the Cavs won it all. Other speculation is that the Los Angeles Clippers could be the most enticing option for him. But would he dare leave Cleveland and its fans a second time, quite literally raining on their championship parade? I'll have a new column on LeBron's championship, legacy and future that should be online by early afternoon today. Meantime what is your gut feeling and best guess on where LeBron will be as next season begins? Not what you hope might happen, but what you'd bet will. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Betting odds on LeBron's summer decision: Odds out today via Bovada on where LeBron James qill be playing to begin next season: Cavaliers 1-4, Heat 5-1, Lakers 6-1, Clippers 11-1, Knicks 15-1. (Liking those Clippers odds, personally...)

OH-NO-MAHA!: HURRICANES FIRST TEAM OUT OF CWS WITH 5-3 LOSS: Miami won national College World Series championships in 1982, 1985, 1999 and 2001. This was the program's 25th appearance in Omaha. UM baseball's pedigree is beyond debate. But this also is true: The Canes have not done very well in Omaha since last winning in '01. The exited early in 2003, '04, '06, '08 and '15, and now they are the first of eight teams eliminated in a 5-3 loss to UC-Santa Barbara today, after a 5-1 loss to Arizona to open the double elimination CWS. Miami today got a solo home run by Zack Collins and run-scoring singles from Randy Batista and Collins but it was too little. This year's Canes were supposedly so much better and readier for the stage than last year's; so coach Jim Morris had said. UM at 5-1 odds were tied for second favorites to win it all after the top-ranked Florida Gators. Now the Canes are sent packing at 0-2, a very disappointing end to what had been a very good season prior to the stumble in Omaha.

USGA EMBARRASSED ITSELF AT OAKMONT: My God did the U.S. Golf Association dodge a bullet Sunday in the U.S. Open at Oakmont! Dustin Johnson (pictured) ended up winning by three shots, Dustinjohnsondespite incurring a one-stroke penalty when his ball ever-so-slightly moved on the green through no apparent fault of his. A tsunami of outrage would have ensued had that ruling ended up costing him his first major title. Even if the ruling was correct, the USGA erred in holding the possibility over his head, making him play much of the final round unsure if he'd be penalized. Fellow golfers like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth Tweeted their outrage on Johnson's behalf. The great Jack Nicklaus, who is sort of golf's conscience, called the situation "terrible" and said, "Golf is a game of honor. That's what the USGA believes in, and that's what players all believe in. And when you have a situation where the official said, 'Did you cause it to move?' and he says, 'No,' then that should be the end of the story." Jack's right, of course. Even as it ultimately lucked out, the USGA lost Sunday as much as Dustin Johnson won.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 20, 2016

He's King James again! LeBron, Cavs win NBA title: Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring NBA Game 7, Ichiro, U.S. vs.Messi, UM stumble, golf, O.J., Fins, Strikers; plus your verdict on LeBron rooting interest & more

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

Fatherday1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 20. Hope it was a Happy Father's Day to all of my fellow padres and papis! I'm blessed that my wife gave us two wonderful boys who are now terrific young men. Also thinking of my own Dad, who is dearly remembered and loved. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): I root for LeBron in Game 7 with poll, Canes baseball debuts in Omaha, U.S. soccer braces for Messi, Florida teams on Twitter, R.I.P. Prince Be your Home Run Derby verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat. 

Six-pack: Selected recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Rooting For LeBron to Make History, the latest, on our treasonous hopes for Sunday's Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Marlins' Ichiro's hits milestone. The Weight of Tradition, off Canes' Omaha-clinching baseball win. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Ali set template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

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

Hotbutton1. NBA: LeBron, Cavs make history in Game 7 triumph: Cleveland became the first team ever to be champions after trailing 3-1 in an NBA Finals as they won 93-89 at Golden State Sunday night, denying a Warriors team seeking to cap its record-setting regular season with a second straight title. LeBron James, who thoroughly outplayed Stephen Curry, was named Finals MVP. No matter the result, basketball fans were getting a Game 7 for the ages and, as it turned out, an historic finish. (Click on Rooting For LeBron to Make History, for my latest column, distinctly a minority opinion in Miami).
 
2. MARLINS: Fish on playoff pace, Ichiro surpasses Rose in hits, sort of: Fish have won five of past six and surged into playoff pace while Ichiro is within 20 hits of 3,000 in MLB entering Monday play with Miami in midst of 10-game homestand that will include four-game visit by mighty Cubs. Ichiro last week surpassed Pete Rose's career total if you include his Japan hits, which nobody does. Especially grumpy Pete.
 
3. SOCCER: U.S. reaches semifinals in Copa America: While Euro '16 moves to its knockout stage in France, Copa America Centenario being played in the U.S. is down to its semifinals. The host Americans made it and face a Tuesday semifinal vs. Argentina after La Albiceleste won Saturday night as expected. That will mean a suspensions-depleted U.S. team will have to defend Argentina's brilliant goal machine Lionel Messi. Oy! 
 
4. HURRICANES: UM faces early must-win in College World Series: Coach Jim Morris' Canes are already feeling their backs to a wall after losing 5-1 to Arizona Saturday night in their opener of the double-elimination College World Series. Miami plays UC-Santa Barbara Monday afternoon in a fight for survival. Only the top-ranked Florida Gators arrived in Omaha with better odds to win the title than UM's 5-1.
 
5. GOLF: Johnson wins rain-ravaged U.S. Open: American Dustin Johnson won the weather-ravaged U.S. Open at Oakmont by three strokes -- luckily for the USGA, which penalized him one stroke for a dubious rules infraction and would have come under fire had that cost him the win. Rain wrecked the first round and the schedule so that Phil Mickelson and others had to play 36 holes on Friday. U.S Open is only major Phil hasn't won, unfortunately still the case as he missed the cut.

6. O.J. SIMPSON: 'Made in America' doc revisits infamous trial: ESPN has been airing its five-part, 7 1/2-hour 30 for 30 documentary and it has met with mostly rave reviews, though some see it as a laborious rehash of what anybody under 35 knows well and probably followed intently as it was happening in 1995. The trial itself, from jury selection to verdict, lasted almost 11 months. This documentary seemed longer.

7. DOLPHINS: Offseason done, now Fins on hiatus 'til camp: Miami completed its offseason work with this week's three-day mandatory minicamp, which Reshad Jones finally showed up at after skipping the first day in a contract dispute, and now Fins are off until start of full training camp in late July. Meantime NFL.com is counting down the NFL's Top 100 players and it includes Fins Jarvis Landry 98th, Jones 64th and Ndamukong Suh 40th, with the top 30 yet to be revealed.

8. NHL: Three Panthers among awards-show finalists: Annual NHL Awards Show is this Wednesday, and Panthers finalists are Gerard Gallant (Adams award/coach of year), Jaromir Jagr (Masterton/perseverance) and Aleksander Barkov (Lady Byng/sportsmanship). NHL needs to name an award for the late Gordie Howe, and I'll bet will by next year. 

9. STRIKERS: Fort Lauderdale still alive in U.S. Open Cup: Soccer's all-comers tournament is down to its final 16 teams, 14 of them from MLS. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and New York Cosmos of the second-tier NASL are the others. FTL's round-of-16 match is June 29 at MLS' Orlando City.

10. FATHER'S DAY: Happy our day, fellow Dads: Sunday was Father's Day, and of course there are fathers on every team all across sports, although some of that is pending the outcome of paternity suits.

Missing the cut: FIU fires longtime baseball coach Turtle Thomas. Could be a good decision. Although it's just so tough imagining AD Pete Garcia making one of those ..... The NBA Draft is this Thursday, but the since the Miami Heat have no picks, it's dead to us ..... Daniel Suarez became first Mexican to win a NASCAR national-level race. Donald Trump announced plans to build a wall around his career ..... Dish drops NFL Network and NFL RedZone over a fee dispute. Not a problem. It isn't as if any of their subscribers watch football or anything (!) ..... "We won the offseason," said Rex Ryan, coach of a team that last made the playoffs in 1999 ..... It's 12 days 'til start of NBA free agency. In a weird coincidence, it's also 12 days 'til Hassan Whiteside buys something silly-expensive ..... That reminds me. Udonis Haslem said he'll be working out with Chris Bosh this summer. More pertinent: Will Bosh be back in uniform next season? ..... Fired Canes football coach Al Golden, now on the Lions staff, addressed his departure from UM but said so little it isn't worth repeating ..... Ravens waived tackle Eugene Monroe. They said it had nothing to do with his public advocacy of medical marijuana. "Yeah, right," said the entire country in unison ..... 'Too Much Information' redefined: When Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro were teammates in Seattle, as a pregame routine, Griffey would tickle Ichiro until he began sweating ..... Dear pitchers who want in on the Home Run Derby: the Derby is bad enough with real hitters in it. Stay in your lane ..... Answer: There reportedly will be a family fight over Muhammad Ali's $50 million estate. Question: Wait, isn't death supposed to bring people together? ..... Russia's entire track and field team has been banned from the Rio Olympics for doping. Too bad. If only they awarded a gold medal for cheating ..... Good for ESPN inviting leukemia-fighting Craig Sager to work the NBA Finals' Game 6 sideline ..... Jeremy Foley retiring after 25 years as Florida Gators athletic director -- and a good one ..... Countdown 8 days 'til Wimbledon ..... NHL is awarding an expansion team to Las Vegas. Like most who are new to Vegas, it figures to lose big right away ..... Two groups have bid around $4.1 billion to buy UFC. Still trying to find out who bid against me ..... The 24 Hours of Le Mans was Saturday. Let me find out who won so I can pretend to have heard of him ..... Dear Baylor athletic donors who want Art Briles rehired. Use some of that money to go buy a conscience ..... Answer: Cowboys RB Darren McFadden fractured an elbow trying to keep his iPhone from hitting the ground. Question: "What do you mean athletes sometimes injure themselves in stupid ways?" ..... Starting a new expression: "Man, you uglier than Steph Curry's Under Armor sneakers!"

Poll result: Most rooting against LeBron Sunday, but plenty of support, too: We asked if you'll be rooting for or against LeBron James in Sunday night's NBA Finals Game 7, and it was 60.2 percent "against" and 39.8% "for."

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 06, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Muhammad Ali, NBA Finals, Doral, Jose, Copa America, UM baseball, French, Cats logo, Fins; plus new columns on Ali and Richard Bleier, the Everybody Sucks vote & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 6. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Muhammad Ali 1942-2016, your Panthers logo verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

New columns on Muhammad Ali, Richard Bleier: The death of Ali, with so much of his history interwoven with Miami, is seismic. Overshadowed but still a sweet story worth your time: the struggles and rise of Richard Bleier. Links to both of my latest columns are immediately below.

"How did the world first learn that Muhammad Ali had died? America's most trusted news source: Marlins Park Jumbotron." --Greg Cote

The Last 5: My five most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, the latest, on how Ali set the template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, also new, on Richard Bleier's long climb to the Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MUHAMMAD ALI: Legendary boxing great passes away at 74: G.O.A.T. Greatest Of All Time. Ali might have been that in the ring. He definitely was that beyond boxing, a groundbreaking societal and cultural icon who probably was the most influential athlete of the 20th Century. R.I.P. to a true American original. Thank you, Champ. You said, "I am the greatest!" And you weren't lying.

2. NBA: Golden State in early command over LeBron, Cleveland: Warriors won NBA Finals Game 1 by 15 points despite Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shooting a combined 8-for-27, then won Game 2 last night 110-77 despite their two stars combining for a modest 35 points. Cleveland says it is still "Believeland," but, down 2-0 entering Wednesday's Game 3, it feels closer to "Grieveland." 

3. GOLF: PGA Tour leaves Doral, Miami after 55 years: A local tradition since 1962 died when Tour said it was leaving Donald Trump’s Doral course for Mexico City. Oh, the rich irony! But, hey, maybe Trump can get his wall built fast enough to keep the event from crossing the border!

4. MARLINS: Red-hot Jose stays en fuego on mound: Fish hit the road for nine games now after wrapping up their homestand Sunday against the Mets. Jose Fernandez, after going 6-0 in May with a 1.38 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 39 innings, matched a career-high 14 strikeouts Sunday in a 1-0 win. At this rate, if Miami stays in playoff chase, Fernandez will have Cy Young's attention.

5. HURRICANES: UM wins, advances to NCAA super-regional here: UM led Long Beach State 8-1 and hung on to win 9-8 last night here to win its NCAA Regional. The Hurricanes will now host Boston College in a super-regional this coming weekend in a best-oo-three series, with the winner advancing to the College World Series. More heavy stakes at The Light.

6. SOCCER: Host U.S. bows badly as Copa America gets underway: The 100th Copa America tournament finds favored Argentina debuting Monday night, led by Lionel Messi if his back issues and tax owes allow him. Meanwhile a very disappointing 2-0 opening loss to Colombia puts the American side in early trouble in the event it is hosting. A poor showing by the U.S. cojuld jeopardize the coaching future of Jurgen Klinsmann, according to a rumor I just started.

7. TENNIS: Serena falls in French Open final, Novak gets career Slam: Little-known Spaniard Garbine Muguruza denied Serena Williams her record-tying 22nd major in the French women's final. But in Sunday's men's final Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray to complete his personal career Grand Slam. Serena couldn't make history. Novak did.

8. PANTHERS: Cats unveil new logo to lukewarm response: Lukewarm is putting it generously. Nearly 70 percent preferred the old leaping-cat logo in our blog poll. The new shield design seems generic, right off the Logos 101 cookie-cutter. Then again, as long as you win, Panthers, nobody will much care.
 
9. NHL: Pittsburgh's Finals lead over San Jose cut to 2-1: Three one-goal games, two decided in overtime. Looks like Lord Stanley has himself a pretty good Finals after all. San Jose tries to tie it at home Monday night. Stanley Cup, do you know the way to San Jose? (Sorry).
 
10. DOLPHINS: Fins resume practices, move exhibition game: Miami stages four more OTA practices Monday through Thursday. Meanwhile team announced its exhibition home opener vs. Atlanta would be played in Orlando. And the preseason home finale could be played at FAU. They insist this has nothing to do with stadium renovation delays, but nobody believes them.

Missing the cut: Davie's Nova Southeastern won the NCAA Division II national championship in baseball. Top that, Hurricanes! ..... Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds admitted in an interview he'd been surly and acted stupid much of his career. Intended result: "Aw, he ain't so bad, after all!" thought Hall of Fame voters ..... Who in God's name is Michael Bisping? ..... We are two months from scheduled start of Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. And other than the Zika virus threat, the bacteria-infested waters and the massive construction delays, everything looks good! ..... Heat announced its three preseasom home games, for those of you who like to plan four months in advance to attend games that don't matter ..... There are 75 names on the latest College Football Hall of Fame ballot and, egregiously, Howard Schnelleneberger still is not one of them ..... UM's Sinead Lohan reached final four of NCAA women's tennis singles before losing ..... ESPN  has a new 30 for 30 documentary on O.J. Simpson. Spoiler alert: He did it, but was acquitted ..... Disgraced and dethroned FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his regime took $80 million in bonuses on their way out. Blatter: The Gift That Keeps On Taking ..... Dwyane Wade was 33rd in ESPN's "World Fame 100" rankings, further proof ESPN will make a list about anything ..... This just in. Knicks boss Phil Jackson has announced he'll be taking credit for all of new coach Jeff Hornacek's wins.

EverybodysucksBIPARTISAN POLITICAL INSULT: I am aware that much of America considers the looming presidential election to be the lesser of two evils. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are untrusted and disliked by many. Tens of millions of votes will be cast mainly to keep the other person out. I personally find one candidate much more evil than the other, but, in the bipartisan spirit of hating both, I present a photo that I found funny and that, to many, is sadly accurate. The best part of the photo, to me? The gentleman's genial smile as he holds the placard declaring America is doomed. Also -- wait a second. Hey! Is that guy shooting a bird at us!?

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

June 03, 2016

U.S. Soccer: Confessions of a not-always-unbiased sports columnist; plus like Panthers' new logo? Poll. Vote!; also, Muhammad Ali, Jose Fernandez's monster May, locals in 'World Fame 100,' Doral-PGA divorce, your NBA Finals verdict & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 3. I Tweeted out last night I think the Cavaliers will upset the Warriors and win the NBA Finals, but Game 1 did not feather that nest. When Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shoot a combined 8-for-27 and Golden State still sails, that's a bad sign for Cleveland. 2) Still cannot fathom that the Doral-PGA Tour divorce was not preventable. See link below for my column on the subject. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): PGA Tour dumps Doral, Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals polls, Tannehill 'wins' under-pressure vote, UM baseball & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 4: My four most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, the latest, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive.

Is end near for Muhammad Ali?: The legendary boxer, 74, whose career bloomed in Miami's 5th Street Gym, is hospitalized and today reportedly on life support with respiratory issues. He has suffered from Parkinson's disease and been in unsteady health for years. We wish for the full recovery.of one of America's bigger-than-sports sports icons.

CONFESSIONS OF A NOT-QUITE-ALWAYS-UNBIASED SPORTS COLUMNIST: The U.S. men's soccer team begins play vs. Colombia tonight at 9:30 in the Copa America tournament being held in Ussoccer
Copaamericathis country throughout June. I have a rooting interest, because I am an American before I am a journalist. Call it jingoism; I call it patriotism. I love my country. In a mood, I can get emotional during the national anthem. I get emotional watching the American squad parade en masse during an Olympic opening ceremony. And when U.S. soccer (men or women) is in a World Cup game or a major tournament like the Copa America, yes, I root for "us." (It is nothing personal, Colombia. I love that your supporters are passionate, too). If it is my country playing, I don't even bother to feign the neutrality that is otherwise a part of my profession. I do maintain that neutral curtain when covering our local pro teams. Even though I grew up a Dolphins fan, for example, I cannot be the child-fan I was when covering that team. I am a journalist covering the Dolphins. I am an American first watching U.S. soccer. Can you understand that? I hope so. But if not, I'll still be at home tonight (hopefully) cheering that first U.S. goal, and unabashedly so.

FLORIDA PANTHERS LOGO CHANGE: SHIELD REPLACES LEAPING CAT. GOOD IDEA?: The Marlins and Dolphins have both made significant logo changes in recent years, and now the Florida Panthers have done the same, jettisoning the original 1993-minted leaping panther, the claws-out version seeming to come at you in 3D, in favor of the head of a panthers pictured in a shield

Panthersoldlogo
ORIGINAL LOGO
Panthersnewlogo
NEW LOGO

under the word Florida. The old and new logos are pictured here. A logo change can be good, invigorating, as well as a boon to merchandise sales. Cha-ching. A logo change can be, bad, too. It can mess with tradition; it might prove unpopular. I liked the old/original Panthers logo, but I also get the desire for change after 23 years. The new logo is sleek, hard to dislike. It is inspired by the U.S. Army 101st Airborne shield, although I must say it reads more like a soccer logo, with that sports prone to shields and crests. I also would note the new logo is closer to the Carolina Panthers' logo than the original one was. Bottom line, for me? I'd-a probably kept the old one. It was more original. Different. The new one reads as more generic. Logo 101. But I'm more interested in what you think. You needn't be a passionate or even casual Panthers or hockey fan to vote. You can come at it from an artistic vantage or simply vote which design you'd rather have on your chest on a jersey. Vote and say why, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

JosefJOSE SHOULD ENTER CY YOUNG CHATTER THANKS TO MONSTROUS MAY: The NL Cy Young race has two clear frontrunners in Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta. No denying that. Kershaw, who won in 2013-14, has 105 strikeouts and five walks. Arrieta, who won last year, is 9-0 for the best team in baseball. That's a tall climb for Jose Fernandez. But the Marlins ace had better have at least joined the conversation after an historically good month of May. He is only the third starting pitcher since 1893 to be 6-0 with at least 50 strikeouts in May. The others: Roger Clemens in 1997 and Pedro Martinez in 1999 -- both of whom won the Cy Young that year. That's Cooperstown-quality company. (See how those three months compare below). Fernandez is now 22-1 in his career at Marlins Park. His starts have become must-see; his next one scheduled is here Sunday vs. the Mets. Jose staying in the Cy Young race will depend on him hanging statistically with Kershaw and Arrieta, but it also will depend on the Marlins hanging in the playoff chase, as they are now, just 1 1/2 games back in the wild-card standings. If Jose keeps pitching like it's May and is seen as the main reason Miami could end a 13-year postseason drought, he'll have a fighter's shot at the Cy. Here are the three greatest months of May by starting pitchers in MLB history:

Player, Team (Year)                        Record      ERA    K-BB / IP      Opp BA

Roger Clemens, Blue Jays (1997)      6-0        1.96   51-13 / 46.0   .215

Pedro Martinez, Red Sox (1999)        6-0        1.84   69-9 / 44.0     .228

Jose Fernandez, Marlins (2016)         6-0        1.38    56-11 / 39.0   .200

THE LIST: MARLINS IN CY YOUNG VOTING: Eight Marlins pitchers have received votes for the NL Cy Young Award. They are listed in order of most voting points (VP):

Pitcher                     Year    VP (1st)    Finished

Dontrelle Willis        2005   112 (11)    2nd 

Kevin Brown            1996    88 (2)       2nd

Jose Fernandez        2013    62 (0)       3rd

Josh Johnson           2010    34 (0)       5th

Carl Pavano             2004    6 (0)        6th

Bryan Harvey           1993   1 (0)         T8th

Al Leiter                  1996    1 (0)        T9th

Henderson Alvarez   2014   1 (0)        12th

Worldfame100 SerenaSERENA, D-WADE, OTHER SOFLA ATHLETES IN ESPN'S 'WORLD FAME 100': ESPN loves lists and analytics and celebrates fame like a schoolgirl, so naturally it has an annual "world fame" ranking that factors salary, endorsements, social media following and Google search popularity. The top five on the new one: 1st Cristiano Ronaldo, 2nd LeBron James, 3rd Lionel Messi, 4th Neymar and 5th Roger Federer. (Click here for full list). South Florida athletes who make it are 25th Serena Williams (from Palm Beach, pictured), 33rd Dwyane Wade, 68th Chris Bosh, 74th Venus Williams and (surprisingly, to me) 79th Amar'e Stoudemire. One SoFla ex- on the list besides LeBron: 88th Miguel Cabrera.

Poll: Landslide, twice! You predict Golden State will win NBA Finals, and want Warriors to win, too: Sorry, LeBron. Not a lot of love emanating from Miami or, as your geography puts it, South Beach. We asked which team you wanted to win and it was Warriors 75.8 percent to Cavaliers 24.2%. We asked which team you predict will win and it was Warriors 79.8% to Cavaliers 20.2%. For our viewing pleasure starting with Game 1 tonight, may the series be closer than these polls!

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May 19, 2016

Is mighty ESPN in trouble? Poll. Vote now; plus Justise Winslow honor, proof Joe Public still doubts Dolphins, my column on Riley's state-of-Heat address, navigating dog days of SoFla sports, your pessimism on Bosh & more

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

Trumpovercomb1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 19. I found the mock-poster at right to be clever and funny. But it's OK, Republicans. I make fun of Hillary's pantsuits, too. 2) Justise Winslow of Heat makes NBA All-Rookie second team, 11th Miami rook to make 1st or 2nd team. 3) R.I.P., 60 Minutes' Morley Safer, gone at 84. R.I.P. as well to the victims of the Egypt Air crash. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Will Chris Bosh play again with poll, changes coming to LeBatard Show, your was-Heat-season-a-success verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Conviction on Whiteside, Uncertainty on Bosh, the new one, on Pat Riley's state-of-the-Heat address. It's Pat Riley Season!, on Heat's looming offseason. Small Ball, Big Win, off Heat Game 6 home win over Toronto.

My new Pat Riley column from his State of the Heat address: Click on Conviction on Whiteside, Uncertainty on Bosh to read my latest column in full.

"The Dolphins returning to WQAM for the first time since 2009 is big news for the station but inconsequential to Dolfans, who don't care what spot on the dial feeds them their games." --Greg Cote

DolphinsJOE PUBLIC STILL HATES THE DOLPHINS AND THINK THEY'LL STINK AGAIN: Hiring Adam Gase didn't do it. Neither did free agency. Or a highly regarded draft led by Laremy Tunsil. As you read here before it was anywhere else on MiamiHerald.com, new NFL over/unders on win totals via Bovada suggest the betting public still thinks  very little of your Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins over/under of 7 wins is last in the AFC East behind the Patriots at 10.5 and the Bills and Jets both at 8. New England is in a five-way tie for first at 10.5 with the Panthers, Packers, Seahawks and Steelers. Miami's 7 is tied for fourth from the bottom. The only lower O/U's are the 49ers and Titans both at 5.5 and the Browns at 4.5.

DogdaysNAVIGATING AND SURVIVING THE DOG DAYS OF SPORTS IN SOUTH FLORIDA: Down here the dog days on our sports calendar are that yawning patch of spring and summer from the time the Heat are done until August, when football thunders in subtle as a solar eclipse. This year, the Summer Olympics in Rio also begin Aug. 5. But what until then? What to watch before football other than the rest of the NBA and NHL playoffs? Well here is your primer (and it includes football). Here are highlights of the local and national sports calendar from now through July:

MARLINS: Homestands May 20-24, May 30-June 5, June 17-26, July 8-10, July 22-31 / Fish vs. Braves at Fort Bragg July 3 / All-Star Game July 12.

DOLPHINS: OTAs May 24-26, May 31, June 1-2, June 6-9. Mandatory minicamp June 14-16.

CANES BASEBALL: ACC tournament May 24-29, then NCAA regionals (schedule to be announced), then College World Series June 18-29.

SOCCER: Fort Lauderdale Strikers NASL home games May 21, 27; June 12; July 2, 10, 13, 23. Miami FC home May 28; June 4; July 9, 16, 30 / Colombia vs. Haiti May 29 at Marlins Park / FA Cup final May 21 / UEFA Champions League final May 28 / Copa America in U.S. June 3-26 / Euro '16 in France June 10-July 10.

HORSE RACING: The Preakness May 21 / Belmont Stakes June 11.

AUTO RACING: Indianapolis 500 May 29 / NASCAR at Daytona July 2.

GOLF: U.S. Open June 16-19 / British Open July 14-17.

TENNIS: French Open May 22-June 5 / Wimbledon June 27-July 10.  

MISCELLANEA: NHL Awards Show June 22 / NBA Draft June 23 / Tour de France cycling July 2-24 / WWE Smackdown wrestling June 28 in Miami.

EspnIS ESPN IN TROUBLE?: Skip Bayless. Mike Tirico. Bill Simmons. Colin Cowherd. Keith Olbermann. Jason Whitlock. These are some of the prominent on-air personalitiies who have recently or in the past year or so departed from ESPN. The question: Does it matter? There is a growing narrative that the run of departures, coupled with declining subscriber numbers, suggests the Disney-owned ESPN brand is taking a hit and losing its once-commanding tight grip as the industry leader. Take a dip in our poll and share your thoughts:

Poll result: Surprising pessimism on Bosh's Heat future: The word surprising is mine. Poll results here don't often surprise me. This one did. We asked what you think is most likely to happen with Chris Bosh, and a plurality of 44.1 percent voted that he'd resume playing but have more blood-clot issues that might then abort his career. Nearly as many (40.6%) thought he would be forced to retire without every playing again. Only 15.3% voted that Bosh would resume his Heat career with no recurrence of health problems.

THE LIST: FA CUP CHAMPIONS: This Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London will mark the 135th FA Cup final of English soccer as Manchester United faces Crystal Palace. Man U goes for a record-tying 12th FA Cup title and Crystal Palace seeks its first ever. Most FA Cup finals wins:

Team                    FA Cups    Most recent

Arsenal                     12         2015

Manchester United    11         2004

Tottenham Hotspur    8          1991

Chelsea                     7          2012

Liverpool                  7          2006

Aston Villa                7          1957

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 16, 2016

Successful Heat season? Yes or no? New poll. Vote now!; plus Miami done 1 win shy of LeBron in 116-89 loss at Toronto; also, Winslow 6th in rookie vote, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your NBA favorite (no duh), history of Heat G7s & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 16. Heat's Justise Winslow today finished 6th in NBA rookie of the year voting, won in a landslide by Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat win Game 6, NBA favorite poll, Heat playoff foes list & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Small Ball, Big Win, the latest, off Friday's Heat Game 6 home win. Heat is America's Underdog, on how injuries and obstacles have cast Miami in an unaccustomed role. Be Careful What You Wish For, from Heat's Game 4 home win.

G7: TORONTO 117, HEAT 89: CLOBBERED! DONE. MIAMI'S SEASON ENDS ONE WIN SHY OF MEETING LEBRON: Clobbered. Out and done. Miami's injury-marred playoff run ended abruptly in Toronto Sunday in a decisive Game 7 loss to the Raptors in the NBA's Eastern semifinals -- the Heat falling one win short of meeting LeBron James and Cleveland in the next round. Heat lived by the small-ball to win Game 6 and died by it Sunday, outrebounded big, 50-30. Raptors also dominated in free throw attempts, 43-23. Toronto's aggressive defense kept any one Heat player from standing out, with Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade leading Miami with a modest 16 points each. Meanwhile Toronto's guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 63. This had been a tight, even series in every game. But not today. Hard to argue the better team did not advance. ..... Original post: This is why we love sports, right? Today. This. A winner-take-all Game 7. Loser gets an offseason. Winner gets LeBron James in an NBA Eastern finals starting Tuesday in Cleveland. Tipping off at 3:30 p.m. today up in Canada, the Raptors try to reach the East finals for the first time, Miator G7while the Heat try to be the first team ever to erase 3-2 deficits in two straight postseason series. "This is why we're in this business, to be challenged," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And there is no greater challenge than a Game 7." The pressure is on the Raptors today, as the favored home team and higher seed -- magnified by Toronto's 2-6 record in elimination games. A big question is if Miami will continue to play the small-ball that won Game 6, featuring mostly guards and small forwards on the court. With Chris Bosh out and Hassan Whiteside still out, Udonis Haslem and Amar'e Stoudemire did not play at all in Game 6 and Josh McRoberts played only 19  minutes. I'd expect more of the same today. Why change? The Heat are 7-1 in their last eight elimination games and going for a fifth straight today. Somebody's season ends today. Somebody else moves on. America will be watching. And so will LeBron.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami falls at Toronto in Game 7, one win shy of LeBron: Heat and Raptors kept rest of NBA waiting but final four finally is now set with Sunday's Miami Game 7 loss in Toronto. Winner gets Cleveland, which has been waiting an extra long time after a four-game sweep. Raptors best hope now? That LeBron’s rest has turned to rust.

2. MARLINS: Fish trying to stay hot on the road: Miami has now won 15 of its past 21 games including two straight at Washington with another strong effort by Jose Fernandez (5-2) on Sunday in midst of a seven-game road trip. It was a seven-game road win streak in late April that began the turnaround. Considering team's recent paltry home crowds, Fish may be better off heading to the airport than to Marlins Park.

3. NBA: It's three-fourths a marquee final four: It'll be MVP Steph Curry's Golden State vs. Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City in the West finals starting tonight. East finals begin Tuesday, with LeBron James' Cleveland awaiting Toronto. How much did Dwyane Wade want to complete a starry final-four quartet? (Meantime San Antonio was eliminated but Gregg Popovich is still looking for a reporter to rudely yell at).

4. PANTHERS: Cats make odd staff changes including Tallon: Florida fired a club a vice president, its director of hockey and an assistant coach among others. But the oddest move was Tom Rowe being named general manager with GM Dale Tallon bumped up to president of hockey operations. Tallon has turned around the Cats since arriving in 2010. If he is losing power any in this move, it's a bad one.

5. NHL: Fight for Stanley Cup down to final four: Tampa Bay leads Pittsburgh 1-0 in the East finals and St. Louis leads San Jose 1-0 in the West finals. Time now for our northern neighbor's national anthem: No, Canada.

6. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream announces major new race: The second leg of Triple Crown, The Preakness, is in five days, but Gulfstream made headlines this week in announcing the inaugural Pegasus World Cup would be run in January with a $12 million payout -- five times that of Kentucky Derby. Who said horse racing’s dead?

7. UM FOOTBALL: Canes moving closer to building indoor practice facility: This apparently is a big deal. Maybe UM will have better luck than the Dolphins, who built their indoor "bubble" facility in 2006 and have had one winning season in the 10 years since.

8. DOLPHINS: Officials insist renovated stadium will be done in time: Dolphins officials announced that massive stadium renovations currently underway are on schedule and would be done before the Aug. 25 home exhibition opener. Said anyone who has driven past the construction site lately: "Yeah, right."

9. WNBA: Women's league opens its 20th season: The WNBA's anniversary season opened Saturday but league still may not be entirely in the mainstream. Put it this way. If you know the defending champions are the Minnesota Lynx, chances are pretty good you live in Minnesota.

10. GOLF: Day dominates, wins The Players Championship: World No. 1 Jason Day was in charge with a wire-to-wire victory in the electrical storm-delayed Players Championship outside Jacksonville. They sometimes call this the "fifth major," although the four majors laugh to themselves at that.

Missing the cut: George Zimmerman continues to be a raging idiot. Updates as warranted ..... UM women's tennis is hosting first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and has reached Sweet 16 as Greg Cote continues a long-standing tradition of never having seen a single minute of college tennis played live ..... That reminds me, UM baseball season has flown, with Sunday the next-to-last regular season home game for the 3rd-ranked Canes ..... Rob Gronkowski will be on the cover of the Madden NFL 17 video game. They want the most realistic depiction possible, so I imagine he'll be shown holding a cocktail in one hand and a blond in the other ..... Peyton Manning secretly visited Dolphins HQ earlier this spring to counsel Ryan Tannehill. What, Dan Marino has been fired as ceremonial mentor? ..... The Dolphins signed ex-Lions DE Jason Jones, and nobody thought much of it ..... UFC 198 was Saturday. That's UFC CXCVIII to our Roman friends ..... Soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his man ponytail are leaving Paris Saint-Germain ..... The Cubs are off to the best start by any MLB team since 1984. Chicagoans are bracing for inevitable disappointment ..... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson continues collecting LPGA wins at age 21. When Greg Cote was 21, he was the first on his block to own a Pet Rock ..... I Googled the phrase "match made in hell" and saw the Las Vegas Raiders ..... The expansion Miami FC was NASL's only winless team entering Saturday play. Welcome to the league! ..... Canyon Barry, son of Hurricanes basketball legend Rick Barry, chose to transfer to Florida over UM, begging the question, "Who names their son Canyon?!" ..... UM's Sheldon McClellan was a late invitee to the NBA Draft combine ending Sunday in Chicago. Sheldon -- now there's a real first name ..... That reminds me. FIFA appointed a woman, Fatma Samoura, as secretary general. How about it, ladies? Why has the name Fatma not caught on in America? ..... And in other news, the entire country of Russia has tested positive for doping.

Poll result: No duh. Warriors the favorite for NBA championship: We asked which of the first three teams through to the conference finals will win the NBA title and it was Golden State 82.4 percent, Cleveland 11.5% and Oklahoma City 6.1%.

THE LIST: HEAT GAME 7'S: Today will be the 10th Game 7 in Heat playoff history. Ranking all 10 in order of importance based on how deep into the postseason they ocurred:

Year    Round                    Result

2013   NBA Finals            W vs Spurs 95-88

2012   Eastern finals         W vs Celtics 101-88

2013   Eastern finals         W vs Pacers 99-76

2005   Eastern finals         L vs Pistons 88-82

1997   Conference semis   W vs Knicks 101-90

2000   Conference semis   L vs Knicks 83-82

2016   Conference semis   L @ Raptors 116-89

2004   First round             W vs NO Hornets 85-77

2009   First round             L @ Hawks 91-78

2016   First round             W vs CHA Hornets 106-73

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote