The new Hot Button Top 10, starring Heat at the break, 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.
1) It is SUNDAY, February 19. Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century (pictured) makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins open spring training with expectations poll, Kate Upton revealed, ode to the Monopoly thimble & more. 3) 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 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:
1. NBA: Hot Heat take an All-Star break: New Orleans hosts NBA's 66th All-Star Game on Sunday night (sans any Heat all-star participants, alas) with Miami only two games off playoff pace after winning 14 of last 16 games before the break. Up next: What you got planned for that Feb. 23 trade deadline, Mr. Riley? Anything? Or will you stand Pat?
2. MARLINS: Full spring work begins 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?
3. PANTHERS: Sizzling Cats climb up onto playoff pace: Florida on Saturday won its fourth straight and seventh of past eight and now are on playoff pace, tied for seventh in the East. 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?
4. HURRICANES: Big games on deck for UM men, women as regular seasons ebb: Miami's 16th-ranked women's team visits No. 13 Duke on Sunday and Canes men play at No. 14 Virginia Monday as last few games of regular season shape NCAA seeding for both. Oh, and CBS will feature Jim Larranaga Sunday at 7 p.m. in its "Men Of March" series.
5. UM BASEBALL: Diamond Canes go for sweep in season-opening series: Alleged "flagship station" 560-WQAM declined to air UM's first two games of the season vs. Rutgers. So how about some love for Jim Morris' guys as they try to complete a three-game series sweep today?
6. 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.
7. NASCAR: Daytona 500 qualifying today: NASCAR season -- funneling to the title run in Homestead in November -- begins next Sunday with the Daytona 500, and qualifying runs today will set the grid.
8. 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.
9. BOATING: Miami International Boat Show ends Monday: 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.
10. NCAA BRACKET: Trump breaks with presidential tradition: Unlike 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 tradition is dying.
Missing the HB10 cut: 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 / SUN 2-19-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:
1. NBA All-Star Game, 8 p.m.: No Heat presence, but 66th ASG goes off from New Orleans.
2. Hurricanes at Duke, 1 p.m.: No. 16 Canes women in Durham to face No. 13 Blue Devils.
3. Rutgers at Hurricanes, 1 p.m.: UM baseball wraps up season-opening home series.
4. Daytona 500 qualifying, 3 p.m.: Qualifying runs for next Sunday's NASCAR season-opening race.
5. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show continues 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.
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