August 14, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what falls in newest ranking; plus Jeter/Marlins poll. Vote now!; also, Me Week on Highly Questionable, my Sunday column on Fins/Canes QBs, your verdict on Cutler signing, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 14. Click on Pencils for our new Back In My Day from last week's LeBatard Show. 2) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-Atlanta preseason opener, Jay Cutler poll, Fins in fantasy rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Cote on ESPN's Highly Questionable Uh oh: It's Me-Week on HIghly Questionable, according to me. I'll be in-studio on ESPN's HQ show today, Tuesday and Wednesday, in the middle of Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre. Shows airs 4:30 p.m.

Latest Sunday column: The anomaly of Dolphins, Canes' simultaneous QB upheaval: Quantifying how rare it is that the Fins and UM both are going into a season with new quarterbacks. And both can blame plain rotten luck. Click on Double QB Quandary A Rarity to read.   

JetermiaMARLINS: ON SALE OF CLUB TO JETER GROUP, GREATNESS OF STANTON: Jeffrey Loria agreeing to sell to the group fronted by Derek Jeter of course makes us wonder, "What's next?" But first ... LET'S PARTY! Click on New Owner, New Hope to read my latest column. On Stanton: Underappreciated nationally, overshadowed in his own city, the Marlins' slugger is having one of the great seasons in Miami sports history, having hit his MLB-leading 41st home run last night, one from tying Gary Sheffield's 1996 club record. My column is an unabashed appreciation. Click on A Diamond, Shining to read. Now, weigh in on what Marlins fans are talking about. Take a dip in our poll 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, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DEREK JETER: Group fronted by 'The Captain' gets winning bid for Marlins: Jeffrey Loria has agreed to sell the Marlins for $1.2 bllion to the group led by New York venture capitalist Bruce Sherman and fronted by ex-Yankees star Derek Jeter. Will they be great owners? That's for later. For now, that they're not Loria is good enough. 

2. DOLPHINS: Ready or not, here comes Cutler!: Fins won preseason opener without him, and now host Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night with new QB Jay Cutler expected to start in first game action as a Dolphin. He's 'Club's best Jay since Fiedler!' Dolfans hope they can set the bar a bit higher.

3. MARLINS: At least Stanton's worth price of admission: Fish are sinking to 14th straight year sans playoffs as six-game homestand continues, but at least Giancarlo Stanton is reason to still pay attention, with an MLB-leading 42nd home run yesterday now projecting to season total of 59. Going, going ... Gone-Carlo!

4. HURRICANES: UM marks CanesFest with QB battle still unsettled: The Hurricanes' annual CanesFest fan event was held Saturday at Hard Rock after a closed morning scrimmage. Fans, three weeks from your season opener, do you know who your starting quarterback is? If so, would you please let Mark Richt know?

5. GOLF: Thomas wins PGA as season's final major wraps up: Little-known Justin Thomas, 24, won year's fourth and last major, the PGA Championship, in Charlotte, N.C. Did you know that when The Masters, U.S. Open and British Open get together for drinks they privately make fun of the PGA?justin thomas, 24

6. HEAT: Historic foreign game scheduled: Leaked highlights of next season's NBA schedule find Heat opening Oct. 18 in Orlando, playing club's first-ever international game Dec. 9 in Mexico and hosting Cleveland just once, March 27. So now LeBron has plenty of time to plan that "rest day."

7. SOCCER: EPL leads way as international soccer league play opens: League seasons began in English Premier League and across globe. Storybook start? Top English star Wayne Rooney, 31, scoring only goal of game in his emotional return to Everton after 12 years at Manchester United.

8. WRESTLING: Downtown Miami hosts WWE event Sunday: WWE was back in South Florida with a non-televised "house show" Sunday evening at the Heat's bayside arena. It featured SmackDown performers as part of SummerSlam Heatwave Tour, whatever the hell any of that means.

9. TRACK: World championships going on. And on. And...: The IAAF track and field world championships have been going on seemingly forever in London. Dear track: We sort of like you for two weeks every four years during the Summer Olympics. Otherwise, don't push it.

10. CIVIL UNREST: White supremacists wreak havoc in Charlottesville: This would be No. 1 in overall importance, of course. My question: What genius granted a demonstration permit to a bunch of hateful, racist, neo-Nazi losers?

Missing the HB10 cut: Countdown 13 days 'til McGregor vs. Mayweather, the only fight I've ever been sick of even before it happened ..... Has Kenny Easley's Hall of Fame induction speech in Canton ended yet?

POLL RESULT: CUTLER POLARIZING, BUT MOST POSITIVE ON SIGNING: We asked, "What best reflects your opinion of the Dolphins signing of quarterback Jay Cutler?" Your answer: Very positive, 14.91 percent; Positive, 42.34%; We'll see, 23.17%; Negative, 6.52%; and Very negative, 13.05%. Broken down, that's 57.25% thumbs-up versus 19.57% thumbs-down, nearly 3-to-1 in favor, with the rest in between.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-14-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. San Francisco at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish, sizzlin' Stanton welcome Giants.

2. Highly Questionable, 4:30 p.m.: I'm cohost on ESPN. Hey my blog, my shameless plug.

3. Dolphins practice, ongoing: Readying Cutler for his Thursday preseason debut.

Select other recent columns -- Immortality Calling (with Jason Taylor in Hall, who's next?). Right Time, Right Quarterback (Dolphins should have gone with Kaepernick). Also: The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 07, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what lands where in Miami sports as new week begins; plus Fins sign Cutler, my Sunday column on who's next for Hall of Fame, your verdicts on Dolphins/Hurricanes QB upheaval, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 7. Talked Jay Cutler and Jason Taylor on Paul Castronovo Show this morning. Always happy to be on with Paul. 2) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill injury with what-next poll, who'll-be-Canes-starting-QB poll, anniversary of me singing 'Letting Go' & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: What Miami stars are next for Hall of Fame?:  With Jason Taylor the latest member of the club, who's on deck among former or current South Florida pro-team sports stars? We explore the possibilities and odds. Click on Immortality Calling to read.

Latest Dolphins column: The case for Kaepernick: In wake of Thursday's Ryan Tannehill injury, Dolphins should consider Colin Kaepernick the best of available option. Click on Right Time, Right Quarterback for my column. 

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tannehill knee injury casts pall, Fins sign Cutler: With Saturday's scrimmage in the books and the first exhibition game only three days away, this season will start just like the last one ended: With QB Ryan Tannehill out injured indefinitely, victim of that same left knee. The question was what to do next. The answer came Sunday with the 1-year, $10 million signing of ex-Bears QB Jay Cutler. Isn't it weird: How Tannehill looks better and better to fans vs. alternatives when he isn't there?

2. JASON TAYLOR: Miami's great No. 99 enters Canton: The Dolphins' great defensive end and career sacks leader Taylor stepped into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and into immortality as one of seven Class of '17 inductees Saturday night in Canton, Ohio. Reference to his having played at AKron, I loved his "20 years to go 20 miles" theme. Well done. Just wish his longtime running mate Zach Thomas could have gone in with him.

3. MARLINS: Fish back on road, chasing consolation of .500: Marlins are in midst of a seven-game road trip following a 5-2 homestand that drew the Fish within four games of a .500 record. Hey, with a playoff spot looking pretty hopeless, you reach for the nearest consolation prize available, right?

4. HURRICANES: UM crashes Top 20 in early preseason polls: The Canes entered at No. 18 in the preseason coaches' poll, and were 16th in the initial ESPN Power Rankings. Imagine how high they might rank if they had a proven starting quarterback or knew who that person would be!?

5. DAVID BECKHAM: Miami group wins league approval: Major League Soccer owners this week authorized moving forward on David Beckham's bid, with the league expected by September to officially announce a Miami expansion team for 2020. Golden shovels, please. Better get to breakin' ground on that stadium, Becks.

6. HEAT: Projected standings have Miami seventh in East: Spoiler alert! ESPN has projected the Heat will finish seventh in the Eastern Conference this season with 42.3 wins. That's mediocre. But it will be interesting to see how Miami manages to get that one-third of a win.

7. SOCCER: Neymar switches clubs in record deal: Rising soccer superstar Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain on a record transfer fee worth $263 million U.S. For that kind of money, he better have scored a hat track on the flight to France.

8. BASEBALL: Amazing Dodgers on historic run: Los Angeles is on a .709 clip this season and on a 43-7 run, the best 50-game stretch by any MLB team since 1912. And the Dodgers just acquired an ace-level starter in Yu Darvish. Which is like Bill Gates finding money. 

9. MIAMI FC: NASL club eliminated from U.S. Open Cup: Miami FC was eliminated at home 1-0 by Cincinnati of the USL in a disappointing finish to a sterling run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Might we suggest an NASL championship as a decent consolation prize?

10. GOLF: Season's final men's major on deck: The PGA Championship, season's final major, begins this Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson the betting favorites. FORE! No, it's just those three, really.

Missing the HB10 cut: Justin Gatlin beat Usain Bolt in the 100 meters at the IAAF track & field world championships in London. In between doping bans, Gatlin is really good ..... Steph Curry shot 74 and missed the cut at a Web.com golf event. Maybe it was habit, but the king of the 3's was sinking too many 3-putt greens ..... Watched the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions last night. I think Kenny Easley is still talking. ..... Team World beat Team Africa in the annual NBA Africa Game. Geez, let the host continent win, already! ..... LaVar Ball has gone a few days without doing anything idiotic. Is he OK? ..... Heat dancer auditions on Sunday will send 40 young women on to a four-day boot camp. That seems really uncomfortable, dancing in boots ..... A softball team of 12-14 year-old girls from Mechanicsville, Va. was disqualified from a championship game for a Snapchat photo in which six girls were giving middle fingers to the team they'd just beaten. Ah, sportsmanship!

POLL RESULTS: KAEPERNICK, PERRY WIN YOUR SUPPORT FOR DOLPHINS, HURRICANES: We called it "Quarterback Quandary X2," invited your opinion, and got it in a massive response. Dolphins: We asked, "If Ryan Tannehill is out injured, who would you prefer to be the Dolphins' starting quarterback to begin the 2017 season?" And you voted Colin Kaepernick 46.5 percent, Matt Moore 32.2%, Jay Cutler 17.8% and Robert Griffin III 3.5%. Kaepernick was up to about 58% before the race narrowed, but he still won comfortably. Hurricanes: We asked, "Which quarterback do you predict will emerge as the Miami Hurricanes' starter this season?" And you voted N'Kosi Perry 54.8 percent, Malik Rosier 31.6%, Evan Shirreffs 7.1% and "s

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-7-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Washington, 7:05 p.m.: Fish 7-game road trip visits NL East-leading Nats.

2. Dolphins practice, 8:45 a.m.: Turning page at QB as preseason opener nears.

3. Track world championships, 2 p.m.: IAAF track & field worlds continue in London.

4. Big3 basketball, 8 p.m.: Old-guy hoops tour moves to Lexington, Ky.

Select other recent columns -- The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 31, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what falls where on this week's list; plus El Clasico Miami rises to expectations (with our column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 31. Thank you, July. All-Star Game to El Clasico, you've been a month we won't forget. 2) It's Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): El Clasico goes sans Ronaldo, Dolphins 'offensive arsenal' ranked No. 3 in NFL as camp opens, Jarvis Landry named Fins' biggest star & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MY EL CLASICO COLUMN: RONALDO MISSED A HECK OF A GAME: The absence of Real Madrid star Ronaldo was glaring, unfortunate and unnecessary, but Barcelona and Real lived up to billing anyway in a scintillating 3-2 Barca win last night that filled hard Rock Stadium for the rivals' first-ever U.S. meeting. Click on He Missed a Heck Of a Game for my column from the game. Here are my three previous columns on Miami's biggest soccer week ever: Juventus, PSG Entertain As Decisions Loom (from Wednesday's match; It Began With An Accidental Infatuation (how the seed was Joe Robbie's unlikely love of soccer; and World-Sized Spectacle (perspective on magnitude of Miami hosting El Clasico).

Latest Dolphins column: Higher hopes, higher heat: Going from good to great is harder than going from mediocre to good. That is the Dolphins' challenge as 2017 training camp unfurls. I explore in my latest Fins column. Click on The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami Dolphins to read.

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

Hotbutton1. SOCCER: Barcelona 3, Real Madrid 2 caps huge soccer week in Miami: El Clasico filled Hard Rock Stadium Saturday night with scintillating soccer as futbol titans and mega-rivals Barca and Real lit it up in their historic, first-ever U.S. meeting. The big question leading up to the match? Forget “Where's Waldo?” It was "Where's Ronaldo!?" Alas, the answer: Not in Miami. Shoulda been here but guess what. Match was so great, we barely missed him.

2. DOLPHINS: Buoyant Fins aiming high as training camp unfurls: ESPN ranking of NFL “offensive arsenals” this week listed Dolphins a lofty No. 3 overall. Mediocre to-good is easy; now the pressure is building on the Fins to go good-to-great. How will they handle it? We find out together.

3. HURRICANES: QB battle center-stage as UM opens camp: As FIU stags its third fall workday of Butch Davis era today, Canes are poised for first fall practice on Tuesday as Mark Rich Year II unfurls. Hopes are high but much depends on open quarterback spot. Malik Rosier? Evan Shirreffs? Maybe true freshman N'Kosi Perry? Whomever wins, inexperience will lead UM.

4. MARLINS: Sale talks stalling at trade deadline: With closer A.J. Ramos dealt to Mets, Monday is MLB trade deadline as Fish saw four-game win streak end Sunday and continue six-game homestand. Meanwhile Jeffrey Loria's sale of club continues to not get done. Dear Jeff: You wanted what you wanted, now the market has responded. Wanna sell? Lower the price!

5. MIAMI FC: NASL club hosts U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal: NASL's Miami FC hosts USL's FCF Cincinnati Wednesday night at FIU in duel of underdogs for a spot in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Following Barca-Real, call this one El Pequeno Clasico.

6. HEAT: Miami denies offer for Irving, but...: ESPN's NBA expert Adrian Wojnarowski identified the Heat among six teams that have made offers to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. The Heat in turn publicly denied they have made an offer. Hmm. I'll side with Woj, thanks.

7. USMNT: U.S. wins Gold Cup championship: U.S. Men's National Team kept its record perfect under new coach Bruce Arena by beating Jamaica 2-1 to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship, a regional but notable international title.

8. MLB: Hall of Fame celebrates Induction Weekend in Cooperstown: Speeches came Sunday as Jeff Bagwell, Pudge Rodriguez and Tim Raines headed the Cooperstown Class of '17. Pudge and Raines played for Marlins but not long enough to go in as Fish. So they're dead to me!

9. UFC: Jon Jones makes most of comeback vs. Daniel Cormier: UFC 214 looked a good one Saturday night and saw Jones return from a one-year suspension with a third-round TKO over Cormier, with Jones reclaiming the light-heavyweight title he held from 2011-15.

10. NFL: Dire results in new study on brain injuries: A new study found a sample of 111 brains of former NFL players showed 100 with evidence of CTE injury. Asterisk: They were donated brains from families who strongly suspected their loved ones were impaired. Sort of like doing a study of cancer patients and discovering 99.9 percent had cancer.

Missing the HB10 cut: As a new lawsuit impedes his stadium progress, David Beckham heard Stephen Ross throw shade on an MLS team's likelihood of success in Miami. Beckham still hopes to field a team by the end of the decade. We need to start asking, "What decade, exactly?" ..... LaVar Ball had an AAU female referee replaced mid-game after she gave him a technical. The good news? I won my bet that LaVar could not go an entire week without embarrassing himself ..... USC said paroled O.J. Simpson would not be welcome on the sideline or at Trojans events, surprising absolutely nobody ..... Rangers' Adrian Beltre got ejected from the on-deck circle. Congrats, Adrian, for redefining how to be an idiot ..... Answer: There's a Monster Jam next weekend at the Sunrise arena. Question: What is maybe the most ridiculous motorsports event on Earth? ..... Thursday there's a $2 million prize in a 5-on-5 challenge called The Basketball Tournament. Dear organizers: How 'bout you take some of that money and buy your event an actual name ..... Answer: Ravens just signed barely known arena-league QB David Olson. Question: "Why do people keep saying Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed?" ..... There are reports a $10 million cricket franchise is coming to South Florida, surprising analysts who were unaware there were cricket franchises.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-31-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Washington at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish play 1st of 3 vs. NL East power.

2. MLB trade deadline, 4 p.m.: And then the dealin's done. 

3. Dolphins training camp, ongoing: Fins' 5th open-to-public workout in Davie.

4. FIU football practice, ongoing: Third fall workday of Butch Davis era.

Select other recent columns -- Blockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for Riley (on Kyrie Irving-to-Heat possibility). Paroled But Not Free (O.J. SImpson). Don't Hold Your Breath (LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat (Venus Williams' Wimbledon run). Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 26, 2017

It was easy answer, once. Not now. Who is Miami Dolphins' biggest star? Poll too close to call. Last day to vote!; plus soccer's Wonderful Wednesday with my 2 El Clasico Week columns, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 26. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the latest LeBatard Show podcast with your's truly in studio. 2) We Didn't Start the Fire. Billy Joel song title, and my reality. Follow me on Twitter here to watch my valiant but failed Sunday attempt to start a fire with two sticks. 3) Almost Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, El Clasico Miami Week, your Kyrie Irving-to-Heat verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Happy 74th birthday today, Mick Jagger. Thank you for making even me feel young." --Greg Cote

JUVENTUS-PSG IN MIAMI TONIGHT TOPS A WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY FOR SOCCER!: How's this, futbol fans. All tonight, in order: Barcelona vs. Manchester United, 7 p.m. in an International Champions Cup match in Maryland. Juventus vs. Paris Saint-Germain, 8:30 p.m. in ICC play from Miami's Hard Rock Stadium. U.S. men vs. Jamaica, 9:30 p.m. for the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship in Santa Clara, Calif. And then Manchester City vs. Real Madrid, 11:30 p.m. in an ICC game in Los Angeles. (Barcelona and Real Madrid, of course, will meet in El Clasico Saturday in Miami). My two columns on Miami's biggest soccer week ever:

It Began With An Accidental Infatuation: Today's special-section column on how this week in Miami began in '70s with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer. 

World-Sized Spectacle: Our Sunday column putting in perspective the magnitude of Miami hosting El Clasico, the first-ever Barcelona-Real Madrid match held in U.S.

DolphinstarAS DOLPHINS OPEN TRAINING CAMP ... WHO IS TEAM'S BIGGEST STAR?: As the Dolphins report for Davie training camp today/Wednesday and stage their first practice Thursday, it was interesting to me to see the cover of the Dolphins' new 2017 media guide. It depicts not any one player but three unidentified players hugging in celebration. Maybe this is by design to emphasize team over individual? But it also strikes me the Dolphins do not have one clear-cut "star," an unequivocal "face of the franchise" who merits a cover photo above all others. Is there that player in Miami? If so, who? I offer a poll here that aims to answer the question. For most of two decades here that answer was Dan Marino. Many other years the answer has been clear. Now? By however you would define the phrase "biggest star," what current Dolphins player most earns that title entering the 2017 season? Here are my top five candidates, alphabetically, plus an "other" category, and you may choose only one. Hey nobody said life was fair. Or easy. Take a dip in our poll and vote now!

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 7-26-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Int'l Champions Cup, 8:30 p.m.: Juventus vs. Paris Saint Germain in Miami.

2. Gold Cup, 9:30 p.m.: U.S. vs. Jamaica for the CONCACAF championship.

3. Int'l Champions Cup, 7 p.m.: Barca-Man U in Md., then Man City-Real 11:30.

4. Marlins at Texas, 8:05 p.m.: Fish wrap up 6-game road trip.

5. FINA World Championships, 11:30 a.m.: Major swim meet continues in Hungary.

Select other recent columns -- Blockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for Riley (on Kyrie Irving-to-Heat possibility). Paroled But Not Free (O.J. SImpson). Don't Hold Your Breath (LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat (Venus Williams' Wimbledon run). Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era Ebbs. The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports Hall. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty City. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 24, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Dolphins camp? El Clasico? Kyrie Irving? Marlins? Paradise Camp? Spieth? O.J.? See who's No. 1 and what falls where; plus our Sunday column, your Kyrie-to-Heat trade verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 24. Almost Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kyrie Irving-to-Heat trade poll, O.J.'s parole, Brady jersey tops in Florida, your LeBron/Wade-back-to-Heat verdict, The List (Marlins HRs) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Sunday column: The magnitude of El Clasico Miami: How big is it that Miami is hosting the first El Clasico --Barcelona vs. Real Madrid -- ever held in the United States? This big: It could be the biggest soccer game ever played in America, or at least the biggest since the Brazil-Italy final of the 1994 World Cup held in Pasadena, Calif. And it could be the biggest sporting event, from a global view, ever held in South Florida, exceeding even Super Bowls. Click on World-Sized Spectacle to read.

ICYMI: Our column on O.J. Simpson's parole: Simpson, now 70, was paroled and in October will be set free after serving nine years in prison for armed robbery, but he'll forever be guilty of the public's conviction he got away with murder in the '90s. Click on Paroled But Not Free to read.

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

Hotbutton1. SOCCER: El Clasico Miami headlines huge week: The annual International Champions Cup rocks Hard Rock Stadium bigger than ever with Juventus vs. Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday and then headliner Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, El Clasico, on Saturday.  Added drama decorates the week, with Ronaldo very questionable to make the trip for Real Madrid and with Barcelona star Neymar reportedly about to sign with PSG. We just hosted the MLB All-Star Game, but guess what. Worldwide, El Clasico is bigger.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins set to open full training camp: After Dolphins rookies reported last week, the full squad reports for training camp in Davie on Wednesday, with the first practice scheduled for Thursday. Team has very high hopes of making playoffs again, but Vegas' low expectations (7.5 over/under on wins) beg to differ. Somebody's dead wrong, but who?

3. HEAT: Kyrie Irving, Wade speculation keep things interesting: Heat re-signed Udonis Haslem (of course); meanwhile, amid speculation Dwyane Wade could end up back in Miami this season at a bargain rate, Cleveland all-star Irving is asking for a trade with the Heat among places he'd like to land. Cancel that vacation, Pat Riley. No such thing as an offseason. Go to work!

4. MARLINS: Fish on road as trade deadline looms: Marlins following a lousy 1-5 homestand are in midst of a six-game road trip as talks to sell the team continue and the July 31 trade deadline nears. Fish already have dealt Adeiny Hechavarria and David Phelps for prospects. No fire sale ahead (we hope), but more deals coming.

5. O.J. SIMPSON: Notorious ex-NFL star wins parole: His parole means O.J. will be out of prison in October after serving nine years for armed robbery. Of course most people continue to think he got away with double murder in the '90s, a steadfast belief from which he remains permanently ineligible for parole.

6. GOLF: Spieth wraps up British Open triumph in England: Branden Grace set a majors-record-low 62 on Saturday but it was Jordan Spieth in the ultimate with a 3-shot victory. This is the oldest major in golf. The first British Open was in 1860. I was there. I recall it being windy that day.

7. HURRICANES: ACC vote, Paradise Camp make big week for UM: Canes football held its annual Paradise Camp, a brilliant Mark Richt invention in which ex-UM stars return to mingle with recruits and Richt falls backward off a 10-meter diving board. Meanwhile ACC media members anointed UM to win the Coastal Division. Even scarier than Richt's backward dive? Facing FSU. 

8. CYCLING: Froome win as Tour de France (finally) ends: Brit Chris Froome (rhymes with zoom) won his fourth Tour de France on Sunday as cycling 's crown jewel ended along the Champs-Elysees. No PEDs, either. That we know of.

9. SOCCER: U.S. men reach Gold Cup final: U.S. beat Costa Rica 2-0 last night to reach the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Yanks will face Jamaica, surprisingly, not Mexico, for the title Wednesday night in Santa Clara, Calif. "Let's gooooo States!"  

10. POKER: New Jersey man wins WSOP main event: Scott Blumstein, 25, of Brigantine, N.J., on Sunday won the World Series of Poker final table in Las Vegas and its $8.15 million grand prize. "I can do that, too!" dreamed a million millennials, 999,999 of whom are laughably wrong.

Missing the HB10 cut: Lavar Ball pulled his Big Ballers AAU team off the court Saturday and forfeited the game after he was called for technical foul, confirming to the few remaining doubters what an ego-driven moron he truly is ..... Did I dream it or did it actually happen? Was it Michael Vick who counseled unemployed Colin Kaepernick to cut his Afro? ..... Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns in scandal related to his calls to an escort service. He claimed a "misdial." America snorted laughter and said in unison, "Yeah, right!" ..... Did you watch the WNBA All-Star Game yesterday? Yeah, me neither ..... Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor are annoying even when not speaking ..... Roger Federer hadn't won a major since 2012 and was nearing hasbeen-hood before Wimbledon last week gave him two this year. See, Tiger, there may be hope for you yet! ..... Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Pudge Rodriguez are set for baseball's Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown next week. No offense, but that's a bit low-watt on the starpower, no? ..... Feds are reviewing the endangered species status of the Florida panther, with only 230 or so thought left on earth. Even more rare: Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Finals ..... The state granted Miami's Magic City Casino permission to replace its dog races with jai-alai matches. "Damn!" said one of the greyhounds. "And just when I was finally gaining on that !@#$ing rabbit!"

POLL RESULT: VERY STRONG SUPPORT FOR PROPOSED KYRIE IRVING-TO-HEAT TRADE: We asked, "Would you want the Heat to trade Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving and Channing Frye?," a deal that would be workable based on ESPN's Trade Machine. You said: "Yes" 67.9 percent, "No" 21.5% and "Nit sure" 10.6%. (You may still vote in the previous blogpost).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-24-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Texas, 8:05 p.m.: Fish begin second leg of 6-game road trip.

2. FINA World Championships, 11:30 a.m.: Major swimming event goes on in Hungary.

3. Int'l Champions Cup, underway: Lyonaisse vs. Nanjing soccer in China.

Select other recent columns -- Don't Hold Your Breath: On chances LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat: Venus Williams' Wimbledon run. Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsVerdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up BigHome Run Derby Is KingMiami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing ItThere Should Be A Place For IchiroThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceWhat's Next, Marlins? NFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 22, 2017

A proposed 5-player trade that brings Kyrie Irving to Miami Heat. Would you do it? New poll. Vote now; plus Tom Brady wins Florida, O.J.'s parole, your LeBron/Wade-back-to-Heat verdict, The List (Marlins HRs), Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Dolcover1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 22. The Dolphins chose a group celebration for the cover of their newly minted 2017 Media Guide (pictured), rather than singling out any one player. Could be to underline the 'no-I-in-team' concept. Might also be that team has no one obvious face of the franchise at the moment. 2) For this week's "Greg Cote Tuesday" podcast from the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, click here. 3) Almost Dolphins time. Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Likelihood LeBron/Wade play again in Miami with polls, ex-Dolphins and Hurricanes in All-Time NFL Draft, good and bad news in Canes ACC vote & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: O.J. Simpson paroled, but he'll never be totally free: Simpson, now 70, was paroled Thursday and in October will be set free after serving nine years in a Nevada prison on an armed robbery conviction. But he'll forever be guilty of the public's conviction that he got away with double murder in the '90s, and for that he is ineligible for parole. Click on Paroled But Not Free for my latest column.

Good and good by Marlins on trade, Heat on re-signing U.D.: Two of our big teams done good with personnel moves Thursday. The Marlins trading reliever David Phelps to Seattle for four prospects was smart. The Fish farm system is  bare, under-talented, and needs the infusion. And the Heat re-signing veteran Udonis Haslem for a 15th season was right. A captain and leader, U.D.'s role and value on the team is far, far beyond minutes played or points scored.

KirvingPROPOSED KYRIE IRVING-TO-HEAT TRADE: LIKE IT? VOTE NOW!: You know that Cavaliers all-star point guard Kyrie Irving (pictured right) is seeking a trade and has listed Miami among four preferred destinations, along with San Antonio, Minnesota and New York. There are many reasons why Irving landing on the Heat likely would not happen. 1) Cleveland might not oblige to trade him. 2) Cavs are free to trade him to a team not on his wish list. 3) Irving reportedly prefers the Spurs, and Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns are pushing hard on behalf of the Timberwolves. Also, because Irving wants out in order to become the focal point and get out from under LeBron James' shadow, acquiring Irving would seem to lessen any chance LeBron might end up back in Miami as early as next summer. BUT! If Irving-to-Heat did have any shot at happening, here is the deal that would work in terms of the salary cap and contract exchanges, according to ESPN's Trade Machine:

HEAT GET: PG Kyrie Irving, PF Channing Frye.

CAVALIERS GET: PG Goran Dragic, SF Justise Winslow, PG Tyler Johnson.

I would make that trade. Frye at 34 is a role player and a throw-in on this deal, but in Irving you are getting a four-time all-star in his early prime at age 25, a guy coming off career-high 25.2-point scoring and a 40-percent 3-point shooter. He's a shoot-first, pass-second point guard, but maybe that famous Heat "culture" can balance that a bit. As for what you're giving up, Dragic is very good, but Irving is better. Winslow still could have a promising future but in two seasons has shown mixed results. Johnson is about to get pricey for a guy coming off the bench. So, would you make the above trade if you were the Heat? Take a dip in our poll and vote now.

SAY IT AIN'T SO, FLORIDA! TOM BRADY'S IS STATE'S TOP-SELLING NFL JERSEY: As Dolphins rookies reported for training camp this week, we bring you shocking news. OK, maybe not that shocking. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- the man most responsible for keeping a thumb on the Miami Dolphins and Dolfans' dreams -- has the No. 1 selling-NFL jersey in the state of Florida, according to most recent sales at nflshop.com (see map; click on image to enlarge). Brady is tops in Jerseystate17 states, but who'd-a believed F-L-A would be one. Nationwide, the top five-selling jerseys are Marshawn Lynch, Brady, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Deshaun Watson.The latest top five at Dick's Sporting Goods are Brady, James Conner, Elliott, Prescott and Carson Wentz. (Conner is the Steelers rookie running back and cancer survivor; he ranks 11th on the NFL's sales list). How to explain Brady winning the state of Florida? 1) He is such a national star, at a glamour position, for a great team, that he surely moves jerseys in every state. 2) There isn't a ton of competing starpower from state players, Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In Dick's national top 50 in sales, Dolphin Jarvis Landry ranks 25th and QB Ryan Tannehill is 33rd, while the Jags' Leonard Fournette is 45th and the Bucs' Jameis Winston is 50th. That suggests Landry likely is making a run at Brady within the state. I think we'll start to see Fins RB Jay Ajayi turning up on some of these lists. 

POLL RESULTS: FAIR OPTIMISM ON WADE RETURNING TO HEAT, MUCH LESS ON LEBRON: We asked, in separate polls each offering four choices, "Will LeBron James or Dwyane Wade every play for the Miami Heat again?" On LeBron: Yes 6.7 percent, Decent chance 7.2%, Small chance 26.8% and No 59.3%. On Wade: Yes 31.2%, Decent chance 23.3%, Small chance 23.3% and No 22.3%. Combining the Yes and Decent-chance votes, LeBron returning had only a 13.9% optimism factor compared to 54.5% for Wade.

THE LIST: MARLINS BEST HOME RUN TRIOS: Entering Saturday play, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (30), Marcell Ozuna (23) and Justin Bour (21) had combined for 74 home runs -- projecting statistically to a combined season total of 128. We wondered how that would compare with the best power trios for one season in franchise history. Answer: It would be on top. Easily. Most combined homers by three Marlins in one season:

Year    HRs    Players

2017   128    Stanton/Ozuna/Bour projected total

2008    97     Ramirez 33, Jacobs 32, Uggla 32

2007    94     Cabrera 34, Uggla 31, Ramirez 29

1996    85     Sheffield 42, Conine 26, White 17

2004    83     Cabrera 33, Lowell 27, Gonzalez 23

2003    82     Lowell 32, Lee 31, Encarnacion 19

2005    82     Cabrera 33, Delgado 33, Encarnacion 16

Note: Marlins team record for most homers in a season is 208, set in 2008. The 2017 projected total is 189.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 7-22-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. U.S. vs. Costa Rica, 10 p.m.: Gold Cup soccer semifinal in Arlington, Tex.

2. Marlins at Cincinnati, 7:10 p.m.: Fish continue 6-game road trip.

3. Int'l Champions Cup, 6 p.m.: Juventus-Barcelona, then PSG-Tottenham at 8.

4. British Open, underway: Third round of golf's oldest major.

5. WNBA All-Star Game, 3:30 p.m.: Rare national spotlight, on ABC from Seattle.

Select recent columns -- Don't Hold Your Breath: On chances LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat: Venus Williams' Wimbledon run. Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsVerdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up BigHome Run Derby Is KingMiami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing ItThere Should Be A Place For IchiroThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceWhat's Next, Marlins? NFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 15, 2017

Venus' Wimbledon run ends in defeat but still a marvel: My new column; plus Marlins score big 0 in major category, El Clasico Miami still hopeful on Ronaldo, Dolphins rocket up $$$ chart, your Heat-offseason verdict, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 15. Rolling Stone, increasingly list-crazy, lists the 100 Greatest Movies of the 1990s. Click here for the countdown. 2) Almost Dolphins time. Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): AL wins Miami All-Star Game, your Home Run Derby vs. ASG verdict, Heat-offseason poll, ESPY Awards & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Venus' remarkable Wimbledon run falls just short: My new column: My Sunday column, newly online, is on the marvel of Venus Williams even in defeat Saturday in the Wimbledon women's final, at 37 the oldest woman in a major final since 1994. Click on An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat to read.

CUPBOARD BARE: MARLINS PLACE ZERO PLAYERS ON TOP-PROSPECTS LIST: Here is a challenge the next Marlins owner will inherit. Miami suffers a complete shutout in Baseball America's new 2017 midseason ranking of the Top 100 Baminor-league prospects, which includes guys recently drafted. To put that in perspective, the Fish's four NL East rivals combine to place 21 players on the list: Braves--9 players (ranked 10th, 23rd, 25th, 33rd, 41st, 42nd, 55th, 72nd and 76th); Phillies--7 players (46th, 47th, 52nd, 69th, 81st, 92nd, 98th); Nationals--3 players (8th, 70th, 95th); and Mets--2 players (4th, 50th). Miami's barren minor-league cupboard is why fans should expect to see more veterans traded for prospects. That began with the recent trade of shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to Tampa Bay. More infusion of young talent via trades -- though not another fire sale -- should be expected before the July 31 trade deadline. Click here for the complete Top 100.

REPORTS ASIDE, RONALDO EXPECTED FOR EL CLASICO MIAMI: Rosters for El Clasico Miami -- Barcelona vs.Real Madrid July 29 at Hard Rock Stadium -- were Ronaldoannounced Tuesday, the day the Marlins hosted the All-Star Game. That overshadowed the news, but the soccer world has since been abuzz that superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured) did not appear on Real Madrid's roster for the International Champions Cup tournament play including Miami. Barcelona's roster includes stars Lionel Messi, Luis Sanchez and Neymar, with no notable omissions. Some media outlets have since reported (erroneously) that Ronaldo not being on the roster means he definitely will not play in Miami, but that is not a certainty  -- at least not yet, or not officially. Ronaldo, 32, led his native Portugal to a third-place finish in the recent FIFA Confederations Cup tournament and perhaps could use a rest. Also, he has a July 31 court date scheduled in Spain related to tax-fraud charges against him. With those factors in mind his omission from Real Madrid's ICC roster was ominous, but I am told there still remains a strong chance he will travel to play in the Barca-Real game on the 29th. Soccer fans and Miami hope so, because Ronaldo vs. Messi is a big part of what makes El Clasico a classic. Stay tuned.

DOLPHINS CRACK FORBES' 2017 MOST-VALUABLE-TEAMS LIST: Forbes has issued its annual World's Most Valuable Teams list for 2017, a Top 50, and the Miami Dolphins are the only South ForbesFlorida franchise on it, smack in the middle at No. 25 with a value of $2.38 billion. That marks a 28 percent increase from the previous year, 10th-biggest plus on the list. (The Dolphins ranked 33rd, at $1.85B, in 2016). The Marlins, about to be sold for $1.2 billion, would not make the list at that value; 50th place was at $1.75B. The Heat were just below that. Overall, the Dallas Cowboys rank No. 1 in the world with a value of $4.2 billion, followed by the New York Yankees at $3.7 billion. The most valuable NBA team, the New York Knicks, rank seventh at $3.3B. After the 'Boys and Yanks in the top five comes English soccer power at Manchester United at $3.69 billion, and then the two teams in this month's El Clasico Miami, Spanish soccer titans Barcelona and Real Madrid, $3.64 and $3.58 billion, respectively. Click here for the full Top 50.

POLL RESULT: HEAT OFFSEASON A SUCCESS, ALTHOUGH VERDICT MIXED: We asked, "Has this been a successful Miami Heat offseason?" And "yes" was a clear winner with 58.2 percent. But it was 25.3% "no" with the other 16.5% undecided, meaning better than 4 in 10 had doubts.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 7-15-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

Wimbledon, 9 a.m.: Venus Williams goes for women's title in London.

L.A. Dodgers at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: After meltdown-loss last night, Fish continue homestand.

Heat vs. Memphis, 6 p.m.: Heat kid squad ends summer-league season.

U.S. vs. Nicaragua, 7 p.m.: Gold Cup men's soccer match from Cleveland.

Yankees at Red Sox, 4 p.m.: Sports' best rivalry adds Aaron Judge mania.

Select other recent columns -- Our Miami All-Star Week columns: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era Ebbs: From Tuesday's ASG. Verdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up Big: From Home Run Derby. Home Run Derby Is King: Why power show has become bigger than ASG. Miami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing It: We're not typical All-Star host. There Should Be A Place For IchiroHonoring such greats should be what All-Star Game is about. Others: Venus, Rising: On Williams' Wimbledon run to finals. to read the column. The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks: A farewell to Bosh. Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 12, 2017

Miami steps up big in All-Star Game/Home Run Derby doubleheader, with my latest column from ballpark; plus was Heat offseason a success? Poll. Last day to vote!; also, ESPY Awards, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 12. I'll be in-studio twice this week with the LeBatard Show, Thursday and Friday. 2) Know any Dolphins fans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Aaron Judge wins Home Run Derby, Miami All-Star Primer and grading the Big Four events, Derby vs. ASG poll, Hot Button Top 10, your ESPN Body issue result & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Our Miami All-Star Week columns:

NEW: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era Ebbs: Column from Tuesday's ASG.

Verdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up Big: Column from Monday night's Home Run Derby. 

Home Run Derby Is King: Why the Monday power show has become bigger than even the All-Star Game.

Miami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing It: We are definitely not a typical All-Star host.

There Should Be A Place For IchiroHonoring greats like Ichiro should be what All-Star games are about.

AFTER SIZZLING HOME RUN DERBY, AL BEATS NL 2-1 in MIAMI ALL-STAR GAME: It was AL 2, NL 1 Tuesday night in the 88th All-Star Game culminating the first Midsummer Classic Allstargame Ajudgeheld in Miami, the game won on a solo homer by Robinson Cano of Seattle in the 10th inning. Marlins had Giancarlo Stanton starting as designated hitter (manager choice) and batting second, and Marcell Ozuna starting in left field (fan vote) and batting eighth. But Stantonn was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and Ozuna 0-2 with one K. After 14 years with the ASG winner determining home-field advantage in the World Series, the ASG was back to purely ceremonial this year. That's good and makes sense, although it did make the game less important -- all showcase, no real stakes. Mike Trout missed the game injured and other guys of special interest to Miami (Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado) didn't make the team, but the game didn't lack for starpower. Tough act to follow, though, after the show Yankees phenom Aaron Judge (pictured) put on the previous night in taking the Home Run Derby crown from Stanton. There is a broad perception (see poll result below) that the Derby has usurped the ASG as the All-Star break's biggest event. The game did not exactly fight back and reassert itself Tuesday. Cano's late homer won it, but it's tough to think what he did topped Judge.

POLL RESULT: HR DERBY IS BIGGER THAN ALL-STAR GAME: We asked which Miami All-Star Week event you most look forward to watching, and Monday's Home Run Derby swamped Tuesday's All-Star Game by 69.5 percent to 30.5%.

KolynykHAS THIS BEEN A SUCCESSFUL HEAT OFFSEASON? NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: How'd Pat Riley do? Has the team improved? Is Miami in a better spot relative to the competition? The case for YES: The Heat re-signed key components it could have lost in free agency (led by Dion Waiters and James Johnson) from a team that went 30-11 in last season's second half, and added young big man Kelly Olynyk (pictured) from Boston. The case for NO: Miami went hard after top free-agent prize Gordon Hayward and not only lost him, but lost him to the rival Celtics. The Heat essentially stood pat with a 41-41 team other than adding Olynyk, a consolation prize after losing Hayward. We assume no major deals and maybe only minor tinkering are yet to come. Your Heat-offseason verdict goes here:

EspysSLIM PICKINGS FOR LOCALS ON ESPY AWARDS TONIGHT: The annual ESPY Awards tonight will include 32 categories, but South Florida team athletes were shut out of the nominees, and local individuals are few. They are: Serena Williams (from Palm Beach Gardens), nominated for Best Female Athlete and Best Female Tennis Player; Brad Koepka (born West Palm Beach), nominated for Best Male Golfer; and Lexi Thompson (from Coral Springs), nominated for Best Female Golfer. In a related award, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), founded by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, won an ESPN Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 7-12-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Cincinnati at Miami FC, 7:30 p.m.: It's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at FIU Stadium.

2. Heat vs. Washington, 6 p.m.: Miami kiddies in summer-league playoff in Vegas.

3. Wimbledon, underway: Men's quarterfinal matches from London.

4. ESPY Awards, 8 p.m.: ESPN's annual grandiose self-promotion from L.A. 

5. Tour de France, underway: Stage 11 of famed cycling race.

Select other recent columns: The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks: A farewell to Bosh. Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron: On Heat's fight for Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 10, 2017

Judge wins Home Run Derby verdict but Marlins come up big; plus is HR Derby now bigger than All-Star Game? Poll. Vote now!; also, we grade the Big 4 All-Star events, latest Hot Button Top 10, your 'Body' verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 10. Classy. Chris Bosh with a full-page ad in Sunday's Miami Herald, a thank-you letter to Miami and Heat fans. 2) Know any Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): An homage to Bosh and Ichiro, ESPN Mag's 'Body' issue poll, Heat rebound with Olynyk, your Barcelona-Real Madrid vs. All-Star Game verdict, McCartney and Rod/Cyndi concert reviews & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Our All-Star Week columns:

Verdict to Judge, But Marlins Big in Home Run Derby: Column from Monday night's Derby. 

Home Run Derby Is King: Why the Monday power show has become bigger than even the All-Star Game.

Miami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing It: We are definitely not a typical All-Star host.

There Should Be A Place For Ichiro: Honoring greats like Ichiro should be what All-Star games are about.

YOUR MIAMI ALL-STAR PRIMER: GRADING THE BIG FOUR EVENTS: It's been all build-up, fan fests and ancillary events. Until now. Sunday began the real stuff as the Miami All-Star Week festivities swung to Marlins Park and action on the field:

HomerunderbyTODAY: HOME RUN DERBY -- Yankee Aaron Judge beats Twins' Miguel Sano in final of 33rd annual HR Derby. Defending champ Giancarlo Stanton of Marlins bowed out in first round and so did teammate Justin Bour, but both with dramatic one-home losses. Judge beast Bour in a 23-22 epic. The HR Derby is more popular than ever and this year featured among its 10 participants the hometown hero Stanton, who wrecked the record book in winning last year, and the phenom Judge, the talk of 2017. It was a terrific show, and a living up to billing by Judge. Event grade: A. To many fans, this event is more anticipated than the ASG itself.

AllstargameTUESDAY: 88TH ALL-STAR GAME -- It's NL vs. AL (7:30 p.m., Fox) in the Midsummer Classic, just as it has been since the 1930s. Marlins have Marcell Ozuna as an NL starter and Stanton as a reserve. After 14 years with the winner determining home-field advantage in the World Series, the ASG is back to purely ceremonial this year. That's good and makes sense, although it does make the game less important -- all showcase. Mike Trout will miss the game injured and other guys of special interest to Miami (Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado ) didn't make the team, but the game won't lack for starpower. Event grade: B. Nobody really cares who wins. And the game MVP will be second-star of the week after the Derby champion.

AllstarsundaySUNDAY: FUTURES GAME / ALL-STAR LEGENDS & CELEBRITY SOFTBALL GAME --  Futures Game: The U.S. beat the World team 7-6 in the sparsely attended Futures Game featuring top minor-leaguers, some of whom might be playing in the Tuesday ASG in a few years. It was 19th annual event, with U.S. now leading the World 12-7. Marlins participants were 3B Brian Anderson and pitchers Tayron Guerrero and Jonathan Hernandez, all from Double-A. Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Christian Yelich and many future stars have passed through the Futures Game. The fun is trying to pick out the future stars from this one-game sample. Event grade: C-plus. You likely hadn't heard of any of the players, but still a fun  game with big meaning for the participants. All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game: This hit 'n giggle affair followed the Futures Game, and drew a much bigger, full crowd. Former players in it included Pudge Rodriguez, Andre Dawson and Rickey Henderson. "Celebrities" included Jamie Foxx and a bevy of not-really-stars such as Dascha Polanco, William Levy, Jencarlos Canela and others you've likely not heard of, either. Event grade: D. Old former players and mostly C-list celebs pretending to play softball. An adjunct of All-Star Week begging to be retired.

MIAMI ALL-STAR WEEK POLL: Just for fun, let's pretend the Television God (who can be mean) has decreed you can only watch Monday's Home Run Derby or Tuesday's All-Star Game -- but not both. You must choose. So go ahead. I dare you. Which interests you more? Vote 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, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MLB: Finally! Miami hosts All-Star Game: Seventeen years later -- Miami was awarded the 2000 game only to have it taken away -- Monday's Home Run Derby and Tuesday's 88th All-Star Game come to Marlins Park. It should be two nights of non-stop feelgood and cheering ... well, assuming they don't inadvertently introduce Jeffrey Loria.

2. HEAT: Team recovers admirably from Hayward loss: Miami suffered big free-agency loss with Gordon Hayward choosing Boston, but recovered nicely by getting the Celtics' Kelly Olynyk and also re-signing Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Wayne Ellington. Pat Riley was on the canvas, but not long, then the Godfather got up.

3. MARLINS: Hot Fish ride 10-game road trip into break: Marlins completed long road trip Sunday in San Francisco winning six of past eight games to close season's first half and head home to host All-Star festivities. After the break, with playoff contention still a longshot, we'll settle for a completion of the sale of the team, thank you.

4. CHRIS BOSH: Quietly, last of Big 3 officially departs Heat: It happened on Fourth of July in midst of Gordon Hayward's decision so got overshadowed, but the last of the Heat's Big 3 era officially ended this past Tuesday for the gentleman-athlete whose career was felled by blood clots. He said thanks to fans in a full-page Sunday letter in the Herald. Classy. Farewell, Chris.

5. MIAMI FC: Local club hosts big U.S. Open Cup match: OK, it isn't Barcelona-Real Madrid. But NASL club Miami FC hosts USL team Cincinnati this Wednesday night at FIU in the quarterfinal round of the U.S. Open Cup tournament. Event is in its 104th year. Um, it's kind of a big deal.

6. WIMBLEDON: Fortnight in London begins second week: Play resumes today. An American man last won Wimbledon in 2000 (Pete Sampras), and a U.S. woman not a Williams sister hasn't won since 1999 (Lindsay Davenport). With Serena out on maternity leave, anybody betting that's about to change?

7. NBA: Harden gets richest contract extension: Houston gave MVP runnerup James Harden a four-year extension (through 2022-23) worth $170, richest extension in league history. So his Mom was wrong, after all, when she said, "No company will ever hire you with that beard!"

8. PANTHERS: Forget 'Where's Waldo?' Where's Jaromir!: It has been a rocky Cats offseason marked by letting leading scorer Jonathan Marchessault go in the expansion draft and then parting ways with Jaromir Jagr. The ageless wonder remains unsigned, meaning he's a bargain. Bring back Jaromir! 

9. TOUR DE FRANCE: Signature cycling event nears midpoint: Monday is 10th of 23 daily Stage races. Not positive who's leading at the moment, but whomever it is, take a urine sample, please.

10. ESPY AWARDS: Manning to host event's 25th edition: ESPN's silver-anniversary ESPY Awards play out Wednesday night with Peyton Manning hosting. Betting over/under on variations on that seven-syllable "Nationwide is on your side" jingle: 1,065.

Missing the HB10 cut: Lonzo Ball had an awful summer-league debut for the Lakers. Cannot confirm rumors his signature sneakers have been marked down to $469.95 ..... Heat summer-league team won its first in Las Vegas Saturday after going 0-5 in Orlando. So apparently what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas ..... Amanda Nunes pulled out of UFC 213 because she was sick. Sick of getting kicked and punched, probably ..... Police first said Venus Williams was at fault in a deadly auto accident and then said she wasn't. Um, pretty bad mistake to make, cops! ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Todd Marinovich is making a comeback at age 48. Marinovich was most recently in the news when arrested on drugs while naked." ..... An old friend once observed that "99 percent of people look better with clothes on." That reminds me, ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual 'Body' issue just came out as the usual parade of ego-drenched athlete narcissism ..... Actual headline this week: "FBI investigated complaints that Bobby Knight groped women during visit to U.S. spy agency" ..... Countdown: 20 days 'til Barcelona-Real Madrid, a bigger event for Miami than even the All-Star Game, according to blog and Twitter polls by me ..... Answer: "He spent the Fourth of July in Ghana searching for his 'personal independence' and decrying the American holiday." Question: Why do NFL teams continue to not sign Colin Kaepernick? ..... Tom Brady is writing  a self-help book about conditioning and fitness. His main suggestion to others: Have incredible talent, become really rich, be exceptionally handsome and marry a supermodel ..... Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is accused of using a machine to stamp his autographs. That's terrible! Back in my day, star QBs had the decency to have the team trainer hand-forge their signature ..... On Thursday ESPN will debut a 30 for 30 documentary on the Mike and The Mad Dog radio show, perhaps the strongest indication yet they truly have run out of good ideas ..... The four-day X Games begin this Thursday in Minneapolis, answering the question, "The X Games are still around!?!"

POLL RESULT: THUMBS DOWN FOR RIDICULOUS 'BODY' ISSUE: We asked, "What do you think of ESPN The Magazine's annual 'Body' issue?" And "ridiculous" routed "great" by 53.4 percent to 28.8%. The other 17.8% were undecided.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-10-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Home Run Derby, 8 p.m.: Stanton defends title at Marlins Park in ASG co-headliner.

2. Heat vs. Washington, 4:30: Miami kiddies in another Vegas summer-league game.

3. Wimbledon, underway: Round of 16 matches as play resumed in London.

Select other recent columns: The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks: A farewell to Bosh. Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron: On Heat's fight for Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 08, 2017

ESPN's 'Body' issue: Great or ridiculous? Poll. Final day to vote!; plus Kelly Olynyk, an homage to Bosh and Ichiro, your Barca-Real vs. All-Star Game verdict, Paul McCartney concert review, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 8. Interesting, in-depth piece in Rolling Stone here on the fatal auto accident for which tennis star Venus Williams has been implicated and sued -- but won't be criminally charged. 2) Know any Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Hayward, All-Star Game vs. Barcelona-Real Madrid with poll, 'Body' issue narcissism parade & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

AN HOMAGE TO BOSH, ICHIRO: Our two newest columns both are about farewells, in a way. Chris Bosh: The Heat officially parted ways with Bosh on Tuesday -- on the Fourth of July, in the midst of Gordon Hayward's free-agent decision. Bosh's was a gradual goodbye to begin with, and the timing of it becoming actual was overshadowing. As the third of the Big 3 Bosh was never Bosh Ichirofully appreciated even before the blood clot issues truncated his career. Off the court he was in many ways the most interesting of the Big 3, erudite, with interests beyond the bouncing ball. Click on The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks to read that column, from today's paper, in full. Ichiro: After 14 years of determining home-field advantage in the World Series, a ridiculous idea, the All-Star Game (Tuesday at Marlins Park) is back to what it should be: Ceremonial, a showcase, a celebration of history and heritage. Who wins doesn't matter, but moments and memories do. In that context I write that MLB should include the Marlins' Ichiro in Tuesday's game. In what likely is the final months of a Hall of Fame career, give him a curtain call in his adopted hometown. Stuff like that is what All-Star Games should be about. Click on There Should Be A Place For Ichiro to read that column, from today's All-Star Game special section, in full.

EspnboddyissueESPN'S 'BODY' ISSUE: GREAT ... OR RIDICULOUS?: ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual 'Body' issue hit newsstands this week. (Are there still newsstands?) It celebrates the athletic form with artfully nude (non-explicit) photography. There is argument on either side whether this concept is wonderful or awful. It's wonderful because it is empowering; not only perfect bodies are shown. And athletes should be proud of their bodies. It is awful because it is exploitative (much like Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit issue) and it is the ultimate in athlete ego-stroking -- narcissism on parade. I tend to think the latter, that it's a pretty ridiculous thing. I mean, look at the photo we've shown from the current issue, of the U.S. national women's hockey team. Is that empowering? Is it sexy? Or does it just make you laugh and think, "Seriously!?" I mean, it's so dumb it's hilarious, really. But that's me. Now, your turn. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results:

KellyoADDING OLYNYK A BIG PLUS FOR HEAT: It doesn't make up for the free agency sting of losing top prize Gordon Hayward to the Celtics, no.  But Miami has recovered admirably, first re-signing its own top FA Dion Waiters, and now signing ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk, 26, the floor-spacing 7-foot center who will complement the Heat frontcourt nicely. Miami also has managed to its own two top free agents, James Johnson and Dion Waiters, along with Wayne Ellington. Bonus: Josh McRoberts finally gone to free cap space. Miami fans hated Olynyk in Boston green, but he'll prove popular here. Also is reportedly a strong lockerroom guy who should fit that much-ballyhooed "Heat culture" that the team loves to talk about and that fans dutifully have adopted to recite as if it were some tangible god. Pat Riley took a big hit with Hayward, but the Godfather wasn't on the canvas long.  

POLL RESULT: UPSET? YOU SAY BARCELONA-REAL MADRID IS BIGGER THAN ALL-STAR GAME: We asked which major July event you consider to be the bigger, more prestigious for Miami to host, and you said El Clasico Miami: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid soccer with 46.1 percent over Major League Baseball All-Star Game with 40.4%. The other 13.5% voted even/too close to call. Maybe that isn't an upset. We asked same question on Twitter, with no "undecided" option, and Barca-Real defeated the ASG by 57-43%.

Rodcyndi MaccaREVIEWS: THE ENDURING MAGIC OF PAUL McCARTNEY; ROD 'N CYNDI AN ODD MIX THAT WORKS: A pair of concert reviews from this week... Paul McCartney: Saw the great Sir Paul at the Heat's arena last night and he did not disappoint with a career-spanning flexing of one of the great canons in music history: the Beatles, Wings and his solo stuff. He was very chatty with banter and song backgrounds. The video augmentation was terrific. Metallica also played Miami last night, at Dolphins stadium, and they are metal legends. But if you have the chance to see McCartney, still rocking and relevant at 75, do not pass it up. Rod Stewart/Cyndi Lauper: We saw the twinbill Thursday night at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, and with some trepidation. Stewart/Lauper was an impulse buy to attend and seemed an odd pairing, but they clicked in the opening of their joint tour. Lauper opened and rocked harder than anticipated in her set, even delivering an edge to her saccharine "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," performed to a political video backdrop exhorting women's rights and funding for Planned Parenthood. She's a strong live performer, quirky in her Brooklyn banter. The sold-out house wanted Rod, though, of course. He delivered. His signature rasp of a voice, live, is not his strongsuit, but Stewart makes up for its with a sexy charm still percolating at age 72. The largely female audience ate it up. Thankfully Stewart stayed away from his latter-career standards remakes and rocked with mostly older stuff, his stage setting and large backing band conveying a Motown flavor. His audience-pleasing 90-minute set hit all the right notes.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 7-8-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at San Francisco, 10:05: Next-to-last roadie before All-Star break.

2. Heat vs. San Antonio, 8 p.m.: Vegas summer debut for Miami after 0-5 in Orlando.

3. Wimbledon, 8 a.m.: Third-round matches continue in London.

4. U.S. vs. Panama, 3:30: In Gold Cup soccer tournament.

5. San Francisco at Miami FC, 7:30 a.m.: NASL matchup at FIU Stadium.

Select other recent columns: Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron: On Heat's fight for Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote