The new Hot Button Top 10 starring NCAA winnowing to Final Four, Heat stretch run, tennis, Fish, Cats, horses; plus Kaepernick vs. Moore as Dolphins backup QB. New poll. Vote now!; also Elton John, Venus Williams, my bracket, Hot Button Daily (Sun) & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is SUNDAY, March 26. A most happy 70th birthday yesterday to a lifelong favorite of mine, Elton John, pictured then and now. I have been a huge and continuing fan since the '70s, augmenting my love of his music with an admiration for his many philanthropic works that set the standard for the music industry. The word is grossly overused in entertainment but it fits this man: Superstar. So happy his milestone birthday found him in a great place and the happiest he has ever been. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kiper's surprise Mock pick for Dolphins, Team USA wins WBC crown, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (70 games), Sweet 16 title odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.
My Sunday column: The curious unemployment of Colin Kaepernick: I explore what could be the NFL blackballing of Colin Kaepernick in my latest Sunday column. Click on Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick? to read. Kaepernick threw 16 TDs vs. only four interceptions, topped a 90 rating and was second among NFL QBs in rushing yards last season. He'd make somebody an exciting backup option for the right price -- Dolphins included. Agree. Find a Kaepernick vs. Matt Moore poll here directly below the new Hot Button Top 10.
Bracket update: Ouch. I now stand tied for 27th among 90 teams in a LeBatard & Friends pool after Saturday's results. I need North Carolina (my national champ) to survive today. I also have Oregon sill alive on my otherwise smoldering bracket.
HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MARCH 26): 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. NCAA ELITE EIGHT: Finally! Field narrows Sunday to Final Four: Gonzaga and Oregon punched Final Four tickets on Saturday. Now Sunday's last of the Elite Eight games will bring us (at last) to the Final Four teams in NCAA men's tourney. Are you still alive in your office pool? Or was that your bracket I saw smoldering in tatters on the side of the road this morning?
2. HEAT: 5th seed? No playoffs? Anything possible as stretch run begins: Ten games left starting in Boston Sunday and then a huge one Tuesday in Detroit could find Heat rising as high as the fifth playoff seed or missing postseason altogether. Who says NBA regular seasons don't matter?
3. TENNIS: Miami Open reaches midpoint on Key Biscayne: Not as much interest on the women's side in a field missing injured Serena Williams, but we'll gladly take a Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer men's final next Sunday (please) as the annual fortnight ends at Crandon Park Tennis Center.
4. MARLINS: WBC stars rejoin team as spring winds down: Team USA's Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich rejoined Marlins from World Baseball Classic for final week of spring training. WBC champions to NL East also-rans. Hope Stanton and Yelich didn't get too used to all that winning.
5. PANTHERS: Cats win big but still need miracle on ice: Florida is down to eight games and still seven points off playoff pace even after last night's big 7-0 home win over Chicago. As a disappointing season ebbs do you remember how a big offseason had the Cats talking Stanley Cup? Yeah they'd probably rather that you'd forgotten.
6. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream hosts Florida Derby in six days: Gunnavera will try to solidify his status as a Kentucky Derby favorite in next Saturday's major prep race, the annual Florida Derby at Gulfstream. Always nice to see horses take back center stage at a horsetrack these days, albeit briefly.
7. NCAA WOMEN: Sunday, Monday award Final Four tickets: Four games today and Monday will set the women's Final Four. Stanford-Notre Dame and Mississippi State-Baylor go at it today.
8. NFL/DOLPHINS: Looks like free agency came and went quietly: Um, is that all there is? Dolphins didn't make a big splash, and biggest questions that remain nationally involve the possible landing spots for QBs Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and Jimmy Garoppolo. But the draft is getting close!
9. TIGER WOODS: Eldrick still hoping to be ready for The Masters: Year's first major is April 6-9 at Augusta, and Tiger Woods -- his long-awaited comeback from back ailmenbst forever delayed or aborted -- says he wants in. Do we believe him? Do we still care?
10. CANES BASEBALL: UM tries to avoid sweep today: Once-ranked Miami now is struggling at 10-13 and tries to avoid being swept today at No. 8 North Carolina. The season he dreamed of is a nightmare thus far for Jim Morris.
Missing the HB10 cut: Sorry, UM football. You don't have the courtesy to open your spring practices to the public, you don't get in the HB10 ..... The Lakers unveiled a 1,200-pound dunking statue of Shaquille O'Neal. So it's about life-sized, then ..... OK UCLA finally lost. Can we all stop interviewing LaVar Ball now please? ..... U.S. men's soccer crushed Honduras, 6-0, reminding us that Jurgen Klinsmann really did need to go ..... Ultra Music Festival ends today in Miami, the only event at which drugs not only are allowed, but are required.
POLL: COLIN KAEPERNICK VS. MATT MOORE AS DOLPHINS BACKUP QB?: Relax, people. It's just for fun...
THE UNDERAPPRECIATED WONDER OF VENUS WILLIAMS: [Update: Venus won her opening match in the Miami Open, defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-4-,6-3, and plays again today] Original post: As Serena Williams skips this Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne with a knee injury, we take the occasion to give the credit that is due to the overshadowed, underappreciated career of older sister Venus Williams. Serena said recently of Venus: "There’s no way I’d be at 23 [Grand Slam titles] without her. There’s no way I’d be at one without her. There’s no way I’d be anything without her. She’s the only reason the Williams sisters exist." Serena says her drive to be better than her big sister is what drove her to greatness. But imagine all of the additional major title Venus might have won if her greatest rival hadn't been her own sister? Click on An Ode to the 'Other' for my column in tribute to Venus.
THE LIST: TOP 5 GREATEST VENUSES OF ALL-TIME: Our own order:
1. Venus (second planet from the sun)
2. Venus Williams (tennis player)
3. Venus de Milo (ancient Greek statue)
4. Venus Flytrap (carnivorous plant)
5. Venus (surprising humane 2006 Peter O'Toole film about aging)
1. Heat at Boston, 6 p.m.: Miami holding 8th seed with eye on moving up.
2. NCAA Elite Eight, 2 p.m.: Florida-South Carolina, then Kentucky-UNC play for spots in Final Four.
3. Miami Open, 11 a.m.: Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams among headliners on today's card.
4. NCAA women, noon: Two games for first two spots in women's Final Four.
5. Marlins vs. St. Louis, 1 p.m.: Teams that share Jupiter spring home go at it again.
"WHERE TO NOW, ST. PETER?," ELTON JOHN, 1970: Tumbleweed Connection was the first Elton John album that really struck me, with its influences in country and Americana but also rock and even psychedelia. I had no idea then that the music of this man would become a lifelong friend...
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