May 22, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Celtics stunna, horses, Fish, Fins -- see what falls where, with some surprises, exclusively here; plus our Marlins column, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, May 22. Happy birthday weekend to my eldest son, Christopher! You grew up good, kid. We love you! 2) Our latest Back in My Day video: Click on BIMD: Gas Jockeys to watch. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Analyzing Whiteside's All-NBA snub, your preferred NBA Finals verdict, The List (Heat draft), Chuck Berry's first-ever video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column: Another tortured season for cursed Marlins fans: Reeling Fish have lost 20 of past 25 and have second-worst record in baseball. Now the sale of the team to the Bush/Jeter group may be collapsing. Marlins fans -- the diehards, the ones who don't quit -- deserve a medal. Click on Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse for my latest Sunday 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. NBA: Celtics win, but nothing will stop a LeBron-Steph rematch Finals: OK, well, yes, technically, I suppose the Boston Celtics or San Antonio Spurs could. Butu who are we kidding? Spurs now down 3-0, and Celtics still down 2-1 with Isiah Thomas out even after last night's last-second win after once trailing by 21. (Don't get your hopes up, Beantown). Can't LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers and Steph Curry's Golden State Warriors just start the Finals right now?

2. HORSE RACING: Longshot Cloud Computing stuns in the Preakness: Cloud Computing, a 13-1 longshot, won the 142nd Preakness Stakes on Saturday, taking a Triple Crown off the table for 2017 as Derby champ Always Dreaming (owned by Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola) faded Panthers-like to eighth place.

3. MARLINS: Little smells worse than stinking, rotting Fish: They finally won on Saturday; even so, after a wretched 1-8 homestand, Miami is 1-3 on latest road swing and has lost 20 of its past 25 games to sink to the second-worst record in MLB. Should be quite the festive mood as the stinkin' Fish host that All-Star Week, huh?

4. DOLPHINS: Fins set offseason practice schedule: Fins Weekend, the golf/fishing fundraiser, ended Saturday. Meanwhile the Dolphins announced 10 OTA practice days would take place this week (May 23-25) and then May 30-June 1 and June 5-8. OTA stands for “organized team activities,” which sounds like summer camp when you'd make log cabins of popsicle sticks.

5. UM BASEBALL: Canes open ACC tourney on Tuesday: Canes ended a disappointing regular season on the upswing Saturday with a sweep of Virginia Tech and the season's first  four-game win streak. Now, though, UM must come up huge in this week's ACC Tournament in Louisville for any chance to continue its record NCAA playoff streak. Hurricanes open Tuesday at 11 a.m. vs. Georgia Tech.

6. NHL: Can Ottawa and Nashville get off the schneid?: Anaheim has won a Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh has won four, including last year's. The other two conference finals teams, Ottawa and Nashville, have won zero in a combined 42 seasons. So there's your rooting interest, puckheads. (Ottawa is down 3-2 but Nashville can advance with win tonight). 

7. AUTO RACING: Pole to Dixon in Indy 500 qualifying: Weekend qualifying that wrapped up Sunday set the field for next week's Indianapolis 500, with Scott Dixon on the pole after the fastest qualifying lap in 21 years. The Indy 500: the one day of the year IndyCar racing owns the motorsports stage and king NASCAR must curtsy.

8. HEAT: Can Spo avoid a complete awards whitewash for Miami?: No Heat player made All-NBA first, second or third teams -- no surprise, although thought Hassan Whiteside might have snuck onto the third. No Heat players is a top-three finalists for any postseason award, either. But! Erik Spoelstra made the final three for Coach of the Year, at least.

9. SAILING: America's Cup sets sail in four days: Biggest event in sailing, the month-long America's Cup, begins this coming Friday in Bermuda. Weird choice for host, no? Ever heard of the Bermuda Triangle? Stay out of it, fellas!

10. SOCCER: Miami FC advances in U.S. Open up: The 104th annual all-comers tournament for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has reached the round of 32 with NASL's Miami FC still alive. Local lads next face USL's Tampa Bay Rowdies May 31.

Missing the HB10 cut: The World OutGames Miami, Olympics-style competition aimed at athletes from the LGBT community, kicks off this coming Friday and runs through June 4 ..... Tennis' French Open begins this coming Sunday, but with Serena Williams out pregnant and Roger Federer skipping it, call it the Semi-French ..... Heat didn't get lucky in NBA draft lottery and will pick 14th next month. Still, only four times in Pat Riley era has Miami picked higher ..... Conor McGregor has signed on. Now if they'll offer Floyd Mayweather a ton more, we might have actually have a fight someday! ..... WNBA season is underway. Note to self: Start paying attention, a little, in the playoffs. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-22-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 9 p.m.: Warriors up 3-0 seek to sweep Spurs in G4 of Western finals in San Antonio.

2. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Nashville, up 3-2 and home, tries to close out Anaheim in G6 of Western finals.

[Note: Marlins off today before continuing West Coast roadie in Oakland].

Select recent other columns: Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The 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

May 20, 2017

Breaking down the numbers on All-NBA snub of Heat's Whiteside; plus your preferred NBA Finals verdict, Hot Button Daily (Sat), The List (Heat draft), new Chuck Berry video & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, May 20. Happy birthday to my eldest son, Christopher! You grew up good, kid. We love you! 2) Our latest Back in My Day video: Click on BIMD: Gas Jockeys to watch. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mock-draft guesses for Heat, Csonka on plight of Buoniconti/Kiick, preferred NBA Finals matchup poll, Jimmy Johnson goes hip-hop, R.I.P. Chris Cornell & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

ON HEAT'S (MAKE THAT WHITESIDE'S) ALL-NBA SNUB: The NBA announced its first, second and third-team All-NBA teams, five players each, two guards, two forwards, one center -- and no Miami Heat player to be found. Not a surprise. We should be getting used to it. The Heat placed 19 players on one of the three teams in a near continuous run from the 1996-97 season through 2013-14, but this marks the third straight season Miami has been shut out. Fair or snubbery? Goran Dragic had a nice season but you can't argue he was one of the NBA's six best guards. Hassan Whiteside had the best argument to maybe sneak onto the third team at center. We compare Whiteside's major stats with those of the three centers who were honored:

HassanwhitePlayer, Team                              G    Pts        FG%    Reb    Blk       PER

Anthony Davis, Pelicans (1T)      75    28.0     .505    11.8   2.23     27.6

Rudy Gobert, Jazz (2T)              81    14.0    .661     12.8   2.64     23.3

DeAndre Jordan, Clippers (3T)   81    12.7    .714     13.8   1.65     21.8

Hassan Whiteside, Heat            77     17.0    .557     14.1   2.10     22.7

Conclusion: Davis primarily plays a power-forward role and his being placed at center did not help Whiteside's cause. Whiteside certainly had a case to be 3T over Jordan, but, even though these are individual honors, team performance often is a tiebreaking factor with voters, and Clippers made the playoffs while Heat (narrowly) did not. Whiteside was not even close to making the third team, alas. He also finished behind Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns, Grizzlies' Marc Gasol and Pelicans' DeMarcus Cousin in the center vote -- meaning Whiteside was seventh at the position. Anybody think it's ridiculous New Orleans had two supposed centers getting votes? Consolation? Well, Whiteside is the best pure center in the Eastern Conference, anyway. Heat also is shut out in five of the six official awards categories, with no top-three finalists for MVP, Sixth Man, Most Improved, Rookie of Year or Defensive Player. However, Erik Spoelstra is in top three for Coach of Year, along with Spurs' Gregg Popovich and Rockets' Mike D'Antoni. Awards show airs June 26 on TNT.

POLL RESULT: GIVE US CAVS-WARRIORS ... AGAIN: We asked what possible NBA Finals matchup you most hope to see, and Cavaliers-Warriors won hugely with 54.0 percent, followed by Celtics-Warriors at 22.7%, Celtics-Spurs with 18.0% and Cavs-Spurs at 5.3%. Combining votes, the team you most want to see in the Finals is Golden State 76.7%, Cleveland 59.3%, Boston 40.7% and San Antonio 23.3%.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 5-20-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Preakness, 6:30 p.m.: Derby winner Always Dreaming tries to keep Triple Crown dream alive.

2. NBA playoffs, 9 p.m.: Warriors up 2-0 at Spurs in Game 3 of Western finals.

3. Marlins at L.A. Dodgers, 10 p.m.: Stinkin' Fish have now lost 19 of past 23 games.

4. Virginia Tech at Hurricanes, 1 p.m.: UM baseball regular-season finale prior to ACC tourney.

5. NHL playoffs, 7:15 p.m.: Nashville at Anaheim in Game 5 of Western finals tied 2-2.

Select recent columns: Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback: My oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

THE LIST: BEST HEAT DRAFT PICKS BELOW 14TH: Miami selects 14th overall in the June 22 NBA Draft. How much impact can be expected? Here are the club's most successful draft picks below that 14th spot, based on number of career games (including playoffs) played for Miami. These are the only eight with at least 100 games:

Games    Player, College                        Selection       Heat span

479         Grant Long, Eastern Michigan   33rd/1988     1988-95

360         Kevin Edwards, DePaul             20th/1988     1988-93

235         Eddie House, Arizona State      37th/2000     2000-03, '10-11

223         Dorell Wright, no college         19th/2004     2004-10

204         Rasual Butler, LaSalle              53rd/2002     2002-05

196         Matt Geiger, Georgia Tech       42nd/1992     1992-95

159         Sherman Douglas, Syracuse      28th/1989     1989-92

119         Josh Richardson, Tennessee     40th/2015     2015-current

CHUCK BERRY'S FIRST-EVER VIDEO: The rock 'n roll founding father died in March at age 90. A posthumous album, simply named CHUCK, is to be released June 16. The first single from it, "Big Boys," also features Berry's first-ever official video, presented below. I like the song, though it is a blatant retread of the familiar guitar licks Berry leaned on his entire career, delivering a propulsive, driving beat. The video is sweet, too, though it would have been greatly enhanced (assuming it was made before his death) by a cameo from Berry himself. Anyway ... enjoy!

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 18, 2017

NBA Draft projections for Heat at 14th include a tantalizing risk: My latest column; plus R.I.P. Chris Cornell, Csonka's open letter on plight of teammates, the NBA Finals matchup you want (poll), hip-hop Jimmy-J, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, May 18. R.I.P., Chris Cornell. See video at bottom of this post. 2) Latest Back in My Day video: Click on BIMD: Gas Jockeys to watch. 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday column, HB Daily & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Newest column: The Heat, the draft and Harry Giles: Click on Big Risk For Big Upside to see how a top-five talent could fall to Miami at 14th, and why the Heat, with proper assurances, should pounce if the get the chance.

HarrygilesMOCK-DRAFT FORECASTS FOR HEAT WITH 14TH OVERALL PICK: The June 22 NBA Draft looms after last night's lottery saw no miracle for the Heat, who'll select 14th overall. Miami had a 0.5 chance at the No.1 pick and 1.8% to get in the top three. Instead the Heat will pick mid-round as the odds forecast, and ESPN.com's post-lottery mock draft predicts Miami will end up with Duke freshman forward Harry Giles (pictured right). Sayeth the mock: "It might be a few weeks before we know what NBA doctors think of Giles' knee. If he's red-flagged medically, he could drop up to 10 spots on our board, depending on the diagnosis. However, if doctors are satisfied that his knees are Johncollinsin good shape, the Heat will get a steal at No. 14. Many scouts feel Giles has the most raw talent of any player in the draft. And the Heat can afford to bring him along slowly, getting him fully healthy and explosive again before unleashing a Hassan Whiteside-Giles frontcourt from hell." My take: See my column, linked above. Always like the Duke pedigree, agree on the big upside, and power forward should be a pretty obvious target priority for Miami. Giles is a red-flag risk because of two ACL knee surgeries. But if Miami had medical assurances this would be a tantalizing, dynamic risk-pick if the opportunity arose. (ESPN has only one state player-college player going in its mock first round: Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac to Minnesota seventh overall). Another mock draft, by CBS Sports today, has Giles and his knees falling to 20th and Miami at 14 taking Wake Forest forward John Collins (pictured left). A third mock, by Sports Illustrated, has Heat selecting Indiana forward OG Anunoby. Well, at least everybody agrees it'll be a forward.

LARRY CSONKA SPEAKS OF HIS TEAMMATES' HEALTH STRUGGLES: In his blog at LarryCsonka.com, under the headline, My Teammates Battles (and we forgive him the missing apostrophe), the great former Dolphins running back speaks of the brain-injury issues affecting Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick, a plight that inspired this column by me. The photo shown, of Zonk with Kiick, is from Csonka's article, which we reprint here fully:

"Last Tuesday, my teammate, Nick Buoniconti, went public regarding his current health challenges in an article with Sports Illustrated online.  Subsequently, stories have been published on my running mate, Jim Kiick, as well. I usually see my teammates at the Dolphins alumni event each year so I was aware of some issues with both men.  However, I wasn’t aware of the extensive Zonkproblems both have been dealing with, especially with Nick.  Learning this, of course, saddens me a great deal. I’ve seen Jim the past few years at games.  In fact, I was at a game last fall with both Jim and Mercury [Morris] and had a great visit. I always ask how his health is and how he’s doing with the rest of his life.  We might discuss typical health issues a lot of us experience at our age but he always assures me that he’s, basically, doing fine in all aspects. When Jim and Mercury Morris joined me in Alaska a few years ago to tape an episode for NFL Films, "A Football Life," I noticed Jim was grumpier than usual and worrying more about small details. That wasn’t like the Jim Kiick I knew and played along side of. When I asked him about it, he joked and said he liked being a grumpy old man! As the media has written, Jim is in an assisted living facility in South Florida. I’m glad he’s there. He needs part-time care. However, he’s not as bad off, at this point, as the media has depicted.  At times he requires more attention than others but I know he and Mercury visit, go out for subs and hang out fairly often without any issues. Jim can still function in that capacity and enjoy life with his friends. What the future holds?  We don’t know. Jim has been diagnosed with dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s and suspected CTE. After a multitude of testing, Nick’s exact diagnosis is still ongoing. Each are dealing with different challenges. Football was a much more dangerous sport when we played than it is today. Unfortunately, many of us from that era are now paying the price. I’ve been lucky so far and count my blessings daily. However, I realize I have some of the same risk factors as others who played on the gridiron. I continue to exercise, eat right and take supplements for good brain health. I have several aches and pains but I, basically, feel good and try to maintain a positive outlook on my future. I believe football is a safer game now.  On one hand, I don’t like how new rules have changed the game I knew and played but if the changes truly make the game safer, then it’s worth it! I’ve always maintained (and sometimes with great controversy) kids shouldn’t play tackle football until junior high for a few reasons. In many cases, they are not well coached and, more importantly, not properly equipped. A child running around on a Pop Warner field with a sloppy helmet isn’t cute to me … it’s an outrage! Also, recent research points to young brains being at the highest risk of lasting effects from trauma. Young, developing brains cannot withstand that kind of hit without some repercussions sometime in their life (according to research I’ve read). Jim and Nick are great friends of mine.  Even though we only occasionally see each other, I think of them and my other teammates often. We shared a unique bond for an extraordinary period of time in our lives and still share in the historic success of our team. I hope better times come for both of them and I look forward to another visit this fall."

--Zonk

WHAT IS THE NBA FINALS MATCHUP YOU'RE MOST HOPING TO SEE?: San Antonio and Golden State are one game into their NBA Western finals, with the Warriors up 1-0 after what was (depending on your view) either than epic comeback by the Warriors or an epic choke by the Spurs. Now, we get a Boston-Cleveland Eastern finals after the Celtics Game 7 home win over Washington last night. That presents four possible combinations of NBA Finals we might see. I prefer a Warriors-Cavaliers rematch (click LeBron And Steph To the Rescue for my column why). You may or may not agree. Take a dip in our poll and say which NBA Finals you prefer to see:

Foxhiphop FoxhiphopFOX-TV NFL CREW DRESSES UP AS HIP-HOP POSSE FOR NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER: Yes, that's right, LeBron. I said posse. Sue me. The network's Charissa Thompson tweeted this out for some damned reason. Is it Halloween already? It continues a trend of younger-demographic-seeking sports entities pandering to hip-hip fans. We have seen it with Stephen A. SMith in promos on ESPN and with others. Ordinarily the prize for most-ridiculous in a pandering Fox photo shoot such as this would by default go to Terry Bradshaw -- every time. But I must give the dubious 'honor' here to Jimmy Johnson, our own esteemed former Canes and Dolphins coach. At far right you see the group photo. To the left I have isolated the shot of Jimmy looking like a Harry Caray impersonator auditioning for an old white Run DMC cover act.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 5-18-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at L.A. Dodgers, 10 p.m.: The 1-8 homestand sucked. Maybe 6-game roadie will bring luck.

2. Virginia Tech at Hurricanes, noon: UM baseball 3-game set ends regular season, precedes ACC tourney.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Nashville up 2-1 and home vs. Anaheim in Game 4 of Western finals.

[Note: NBA playoffs are off today].

Select recent other columns: NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback: My oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

R.I.P., CHRIS CORNELL:

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 15, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top10 (updated): See where flashing boobs and rat poop fall among the actual sports stuff; plus Happy Mother's Day, my Sunday column, HB Daily (Sun) & more

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

Mom1) It is MONDAY, May 15. Hope y'all made it a wonderful and Happy Mother's Day to all the terrific moms out there! Was missing my own mom Sunday, but so grateful for the one my wife turned out to be. 2) The Marlins won a game! The Marlins won a game!! 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Boobs Flasher with video, dichotomy of opinion on Dolphins with your verdict, sad tale of Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick, David Beckham's acting debut & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Cavaliers and Warriors will rescue the playoffs they've helped ruin: This has been a bad NBA postseason, but the inevitable third straight Golden State-Cleveland Finals will save it. Click on LeBron And Steph To the Rescue 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. NBA: Wait ends for well-rested Warriors, almost for Cavaliers: While the lousy teams stake hopes on Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery, the best are still playing. Well-rested Cleveland and Golden State players could all have grown James Harden-esque beards in the time they've waited for conference finals to start. Epic Warriors rally won Game 1 over San Antonio Sunday in West finals; Cavs await tonight's Wizards-Celtics Game 7 survivor. 

2. MARLINS: Boobs and losing mark week for struggling Fish: Miami has lost 12 of past 15 games before beating Braves Sunday, and more fans were talking about that woman behind home plate who flashed her boobs than about the team. At least that took our minds off all of the losing for a weird minute.

3. DOLPHINS: Making offseason news for unfortunate reasons: Vegas over/under on wins put Fins at only 7 ½, predicting big dropoff. Then, Sports Illustrated tells the woes of '70s Dolphin stars Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick in series on effect of brain injuries. Now, rival Buffalo Bills hire away Fins player-personnel chief Joe Schoen to be assistant GM. No games, but a bad week for Miami.

4. NHL: Final four underway in conference finals: It's Pittsburgh-Ottawa and Anaheim-Nashville still standing. Predators and Senators are seeking their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and Ottawa's would be the first by a Canadian team since 1993. (But I wouldn't bet on it, neighbor).
 
5. DEREK JETER: Yankees honor ex-captain: Yankees icon Derek Jeter, one of the prospective future owners of the Miami Marlins, was honored between games of a doubleheader Sunday at Yankee Stadium. A-Rod wasn't there. Or, did that go without saying? 

6. SOCCER: Miami MLS team inches forward: David Beckham's hope of Major League Soccer in Miami, now in its fourth year, progresses with plan to buy land for Overtown stadium. Becks has small role in new King Arthur film -- fitting, since realizing this team has been like pulling a sword from stone.

7. UFC: Miocic retains heavyweight belt: Stipe Miocic enacted a first-round knockout of Junior dos Santos Saturday night in UFC 211 in Dallas to retain his  heavyweight crown. The fight lasted 142 seconds. You picked a bad time to go to the bathroom.

8. CHRIS BOSH: Ex-Heat star embroiled in bizarre suit: The owners of video porn site X-Art.com are suing former Heat star Chris Bosh over the rental of his California waterfront mansion. The plaintiffs claim the luxury abode contained, among other problems, rat poop. No, seriously.

9. MIAMI FC: Team tops NASL standings: In only its second season, Miami FC has risen to the top of the spring standings in the eight-team NASL. I would congratulate all involved, if I knew any of their names.

10. MASTERS BASKETBALL: Coral Springs hosts annual event: The 33rd national tourney of the Masters Basketball Association drew hundreds of 40-and-older teams from across the U.S. to Coral Spring, with one team featuring 64-year-old Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Cannot confirm the event's theme song was Aerosmith's Dream On. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Tom Brady will be on the cover of the Madeen '18 video game. Is that the over-40 edition? ..... Dana White says he's close to an agreement on that Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight. It'll be pay-per-view gold. Because P.T. Barnum was right! ..... KFC is marketing a new romance novella with Colonel Sanders as the desirable stud. "Harland, is that a drumstick in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" ..... UM baseball will have only four games left after today before ACC Tournament. Will NCAA playoff streak continue? Let's bring in Al Michaels for the answer: "Do you believe in miracles?" ..... Been a couple days since LaVar Ball said anything stupid. Can somebody check to make sure he's OK?

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-15-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 8 p.m.: Wizards at Celtics in Game 7 to see who meets Cavaliers in Eastern finals.

2. Houston at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Off Sunday win, Fish seek to finish homestand strong.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Ottawa up 1-0 at Pittsburgh for Game 2 of Eastern finals.

Select recent other columns: The Dolphins' Eight Ifs, on issues explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His, on what it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium, on N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy, on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 08, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what falls where; plus Chris Bosh sued by porn website; also, LaVar Ball/$495 sneakers poll, R.I.P. Art Hertz, Colonel Sander's romantic side, your eSports verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Arthertz1) It is MONDAY, May 8. Belated condolences and an R.I.P. to Art Hertz, 83 (pictured), the Miami civic giant and former Orange Bowl Committee president. Got to know Art pretty well from my years covering Hurricanes football in the '80s. Good man. 2) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): First 2018 mock draft has bad news for Dolphins and Canes, Heat's foray into eSports/gaming with poll, updated Fins/Marlins title odds, your who-runs-this-town verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Porn, rat poop a part of lawsuit against Chris Bosh: I ain't lyin'. Click here for the story.

Latest column: Wade must check ego for any shot at Heat reunion: In my latest Sunday column I explore what could happen this summer if Wade opts out of his Bulls contract -- but might only happen if he came at a bargain price with no demands on his role. Click On The Team's Term's, Not His 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. HORSE RACING: Always Dreaming takes a muddy Kentucky Derby: Always Dreaming -- Todd Pletcher-trained, with John Velazquez aboard and co-owned by Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola -- beat the mud and a big field Saturday to usher in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown at Churchill Downs. They call it the "Run For the Roses." Which also is what I do when I suddenly realize I’ve forgotten my wife’s birthday.

2. NBA: Prelims to get to Cavaliers-Warriors continue: Cleveland swept Toronto on Sunday and tonight Golden State looks to do the same in Utah. It is looking more and more like an inevitable third consecutive Cavs-Warriors Finals, which is exactly what American wants. Or doesn't. I can't decide.

3. MARLINS: Fish back to open long homestand Monday: Flailing Fish had lost nine of 11 before winning at Mets Sunday, and now face St. Louis tonight to open a nine-game homestand. Meanwhile three groups are now bidding to buy the club from Jeffrey Loria. How perfectly fitting would it be for Loria to end his unpopular reign by not selling to the fan-preferred Derek Jeter group?

4. DOLPHINS: Harris, other draftees in Fins’ rookie minicamp: Top pick Charles Harris and other draftees wrap up Miami’s weekend rookie minicamp Sunday — as much a meet-’n-greet as actual football work. Circle June 13-15, the first mandatory full minicamp, when things start to get serious.

5. LAVAR BALL: Would you buy a $495 pair of sneakers?: Super-dad LaVar Ball and his Big Baller Brand introduced a $495 signature sneaker for his NBA rookie-to-be son Lonzo Ball, thereby exponentially increasing the pressure on Lonzo to be an instant superstar. If I'm spending $495 on sneakers they'd better be stuffed with about $400 in cash.

6. NHL: Nashville first through to conference finals: Nashville became the first team to win its conference semifinal series, and now Pittsburgh can advance with a win tonight. We could see Game 7s in three of the four second-round series. That's the way you do a postseason, NBA!

7. N-WORD: Racist fan in Boston ignites outcry: A dumbass Red Sox fan shouted the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones and was banned for life from Fenway Park. Official apologies and national conversation ensued. I wonder if the fan who yelled received an I-know-what-you're-going-through note from Steve Bartman? 

8. BOXING: Alvarez pounds Chavez in Vegas fight: Canelo Alvarez won an easy decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a battle of Mexican favorites last night in Las Vegas. The weight class was super middleweight. Alas, nothing super about the fight.  

9. HURRICANES: UM breaks ground on new football facility: It was news when UM announced plans for a new $34 million indoor football practice facility. It will be news when it opens its doors in 2018. Not sure it was news this week when people in dress shoes and hardhats stood around with gold shovels for a groudbreaking, but we sure covered it like it was. Slow news week?

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes playoff hopes on deathbed: Jim Morris' guys are an uncommonly common 24-23 and in grave jeopardy of seeing their record NCAA playoff streak come to an end. Doctors are standing by ready to call a time of death. Might take the miracle of an ACC title to save the season.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes men's basketball is ranked No. 7 in the nation in an NBC Sports (very early) preseason Top 25 ranking newly out. And the bar is set. High ..... NASCAR did Talladega Sunday, with Ricky Stenhouse under the checkered flag ..... Ping pong balls ready? The NBA Draft Lottery is May 16 ..... Answer: UM tennis player Piotr Lomacki rose two spots, to No. 62, in the latest ITA singles rankings. Question: Whaddya mean they might wanna think about ranking fewer players? ..... Champion Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb found dead at 37. I'd never heard of him. R.I.P., anyway ..... At auction yet again: That rare 1909 T-206, the original Honus Wagner baseball card. I don't wanna say it might be a fake, but if you look closely you can see an ESPN banner on the outfield wall.

BallLAVAR BALL AND HIS $495 SNEAKERS: I have a new mini-column out on LaVar Ball's new line of $495 sneakers started for his son, Lonzo, 19, the UCLA guard about to enter the NBA. Click on The Gall Of Ball to read. It used to be you became an NBA star and from that grew the merchandise. But Dad (pictured) and his Big Baller Brand have flipped the switch. It is audacious. It might even be smart. But it also is off-putting to a lot of people as its heaps a ton of pressure on Lonzo Ball to be an instant star in order to sell sneakers and save the family brand. What are you rooting for to happen? Take a dip in our poll:

ColonelCOLONEL HARLAND SANDERS: SUPER-STUD: How KFC has brought its iconic Colonel Sanders back to life in advertising is smart, and fun. Companies that have brand ambassadors that famous are dumb to move away from them. (Who remembers his first name is Harland, by the way?) The latest dab of genius is a "romance novella" (pictured) that casts the Colonel as a stud. (Background story here). They're giving it away with the purchase of a $20 bucket of chicken, and it sounds wonderfully awful. The book. Not the chicken. Spoiler alert: In the book, Tender Wings Of Desire, the Colonel carries the gorgeous redhead to his castle (shown in the background), where together they enjoy a lavish banquet of fried chicken, after which the unhinged Colonel carries the woman into a fully appointed sex dungeon below and dons a rubber mask for hours of bondage games. OK, I made up that last part. The Colonel would never do that!

POLL RESULT: SORRY, GAMERS, BUT THAT AIN'T A SPORT: We asked if you consider eSports/competitive video gaming to be an actual sport, and it was 77.9 percent "no" to only 22.1% "yes."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-8-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. St. Louis at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish 13-17, needing spark, as they open 9-game homestand.

2. NBA playoffs, 9 p.m.: Warriors up 3-0, can close out 2nd-round playoff series with sweep at Jazz.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Penguins 3-2 and home, looking to close out series with Capitals.

Select other recent columns: Not In Our Stadium, on the N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why the Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 24, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Dolphins' draft, LeBron, Fish, Canes, Hernandez, Heat, Messi, Serena; plus our Jose statue column, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, April 24. Welcome to NFL Draft Week! 2) Did you mark national Record Store Day by visiting your local indie shop on Saturday and buying a couple of LPs? Guess what: Those stores are open year-round! 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins not ruling out offense for first draft pick, Fins' 2017 schedule with notes, Canes-Noles, on Aaron Hernandez, your verdicts on Jose statue and Sherman trade & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column: On Jose Fernandez statue controversy: Many are against the Marlins building a statue to honor Fernandez since toxicology reports indicated he was negligent and impaired in the boat crash that killed himself and two others. I too am uneasy over the idea. And, yet, I see the potential for a greater good because the statue will be a constant reminder not only of his life, but how it ended. Click on The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose 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. DOLPHINS/NFL DRAFT: Finally, it's Draft Week in Miami!: Newly released league schedule finds Miami back on the NFL map with four prime-time games (amazing what ending your playoff drought can do), but bigger news is this week's NFL Draft Thursday through Saturday. The most likely result for the Fins' No. 1 pick? That, no matter who it is, most Dolfans were sort of hoping for the other guy instead.

2. NBA: LeBron leads first-round sweep: The NBA playoffs' first round dragged on moved along with four more games Sunday and one team, Cleveland, became the first to advance with a sweep of Indiana. The Cavaliers had overcome a 26-point deficit in Game 3, and LeBron James averaged nearly a triple-double in the series. Selfishly, his excellence is making it very difficult on his haters. Damn you, LeBron!

3. MARLINS: Fish win second straight in nine-game road swing: Marlins are six games (3-3) into season's second longest road trip and fighting to hang with the Nationals in the NL East race as they head to Philadelphia. The goal: To still be a playoff contender when hosting All-Star Game later this summer. And dare say beyond?

4. HURRICANES: Football, baseball share campus spotlight: UM's football spring practice wrapped up for Mark Richt with Saturday's scrimmage (still with no clear starter at quarterback), while Jim Morris' baseball Canes -– trying to save their season -– split two games in home series with rival Florida State before Sunday's finale was rained out.

5. AARON HERNANDEZ: Ex-football star kills self: More cheers than tears met the news the ex-Patriot and convicted murderer hanged himself in prison. But does that say more about him or us? A tragedy, a shame, a waste. Everybody lost. Man, I'm starting to depress myself.

6. HEAT: Exit meetings wrap up the strangest of seasons: Pat Riley said he'd like to work this offseason to keep this Heat team together. Hopefully he meant team that went 30-11 in the season's second half, and not the one that was 11-30 at the turn.

7. NHL: Playoffs' first round is complete: Ottawa and Washington winning Sunday completed the first round in the long hunt for the Stanley Cup, with eight teams advancing to the second round starting Wednesday. Ottawa made it two Canadian teams still alive as that country girds for not winning the Cup yet again.

8. SOCCER: El Clasico renews sport's best rivalry: Arsenal beat Manchester City and will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final, but the bigger match in some ways Sunday was Barcelona riding the brilliance of Lionel Messi for a 3-2 win over Real Madrid in a renewal of soccer's greatest club rivalry. Teams play in Miami this July 29 and already you can't buy a ticket without taking out a second mortgage.

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis star pregnant with first child: Serena, engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, revealed she is 20 weeks pregnant and will take several months off from tennis. "Thank God!" said the other women who can never beat her.

10. NASCAR: Bristol hosts washed out Sunday race: Bleak weather conditioned postpone it til Monday. Sorry, gearheads. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Headline on ESPN.com today: 'FAU wraps up successful spring, Kiffin says.' And you wondered why Lane Kiffin was a great hire? Because ESPN is paying attention to FAU Owls spring practice ..... Saturday was Record Store Day. Colleague David J. Neal: "What's next, Rotary Phone Day?" ..... Sailing's 35th America's Cup begins in one month. It's a wind-wind situation. Sorry. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 4-24-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: One 1st-round Game 5 and two 4s, with Golden State in position to advance.

2. NASCAR race, 1 p.m.: Sunday's rained-out race in Bristol, Tenn., postponed 'til today.

Select other recent columns: Everyone's Shouting Defense, But..., on Dolphins and first round. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 17, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 starring Heat, Fish, playoffs, Landry, Jose, Canes; plus my Spoelstra column, our NBA playoff preview/predix, Jose Fernandez documentary, your verdict on whether Heat season was success, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

Taxmarch1) It is MONDAY, April 17. Thousands of Americans in Washington, D.C. and 160 other cities across the country including Miami participated in Saturday's Tax March to protest President Donald Trump's historic refusal to release his tax records. I don't care what your politics are or who you voted for. There must be transparency from the highest office in the land, as there has been throughout our history until now. 2) Know any Dolfans? Give them joy. Buy each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Was-Heat-season-a-success poll, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Final Standings, Heat miss playoffs, NBA title odds, Jarvis Landry's big boast, McShay's latest Fins mock, Marlins' start & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Sunday column: On Erik Spoelstra's season of triumph: Seldom has a .500 record and no playoffs been a season that felt better, but the Heat's year was just that. Click on Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph for my latest Sunday column.

"What a momentous Saturday! It was Jackie Robinson Day in baseball with everybody wearing No. 42. Even bigger, April the giraffe finally had her baby!" --Greg Cote

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Valiant surge for naught as Miami misses playoffs: Seems like it should be illegal -- that a team that went 30-11 in the season's second half failed to make to make playoffs. Miami clearly would be the No. 1 seed in the NBA version of the NIT! Heat ended disappointed, but rarely has finishing a no-playoffs .500 been so worth cheering and felt so close to triumphant. 

2. MARLINS: Fish wrap up first homestand of season: Marlins took three out of four from the rival Mets and now set out on mammoth nine-game roadie. A 7-5 record so far shares the NL East lead and is encouraging. In MLB, barely above .500 keeps you in playoff chase a long time.

3. NBA PLAYOFFS: Cavs' near-loss tops marquee as postseason begins: Cleveland's 109-108 win over Indiana and three by-seed upsets marked the launch of the playoffs with eight Game 1s over the weekend. Can anything stop a third straight Warriors-Cavaliers Finals? Well, the Cavs might, based on their recent performance.

4. DOLPHINS: Draft looms as Landry hones boasting skills: We're 10 days from first round of NFL Draft, but Dolphins star receiver Jarvis Landry's confidence already is in midseason form as he predicted Miami would sweep the New England Patriots. Hmm. If only the doing was as simple as the saying.

5. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Statue, documentary for late Marlins star: Word leaked that club will unveil 10-foot statue of Fernandez. Dear sculptor: If you want it true to life, Jose's bronze likeness better be smiling. Meanwhile a new Univision documentary about his life, JDF16, premiered Saturday. Jeffrey Loria declined to participate. Wait. Is that a bad thing?

6. HURRICANES: UM football nears end of spring practice: Spring practice is the biggest waste of time and money in college sports. But for those who like it, Canes enter the last week of offseason work and wrap it up this coming Saturday. 

7. BASEBALL: MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day: Every player wore Robinson's No. 42 Saturday and the Dodgers unveiled a statue of the man who broke baseball's color barrier -- 70 years to the day after he did it. "Better late than never" seems to apply.

8. PANTHERS: Tallon back in charge as club admits mistake: The Florida Panthers promoted the man they never should have demoted, making Dale Tallon general manager and director of hockey ops again following a disappointing non-playoff year. Move should have come with following official club statement: “Oops.”

9. NHL PLAYOFFS: Two teams jump to 3-0 series leads: Pittsburgh and St. Louis sit pretty with 3-0 series leads as NHL first-round playoffs continue today. Five of 16 teams after the Stanley Cup are Canadian. Will this be the year Canada finally win its first Cup since 1993? Naaah!

10. SOCCER: UEFA quarterfinals open amid bus bombing: Europe's Champions League quarterfinals began rocked by terrorist scare as two bombs targeted the team bus of Germany's Borussia Dortmund, injuring one player. Remember the good old days (not so old) when sports used to be our escape from reality rather than a reminder of it? 

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins coach Adam Gase hired Joe Vitt as a "consultant" focusing on special projects. Gase's wife is Vitt's daughter, but that did not factor in the hiring (!) ..... Former Hurricane Adrienne Motley was a third-round pick in the WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever. Gotta love a league where 5-9 is not short ..... Ex-Patriot Aaron Hernandez was found not guilty of double murder. Although, when one is already serving a life sentence for another murder, I'm guessing the celebration of a subsequent acquittal is somewhat muted ..... Sentences I Never Imagined I'd Read Or Write: "A stuck elevator temporarily kept Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson from discussing low income housing with former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning" ..... NBC Sports.com headline: "[Tony] Romo hasn't filed retirement papers yet (and it doesn't matter)." Um, so then why are you writing about !? ..... Keep waiting for Canes baseball to turn it around and start winning. And waiting. And...

NbaposNO MIAMI HEAT, BUT NBA PLAYOFFS START ANYWAY. A PREVIEW: NBA postseason commenced Saturday and Sunday with eight first-round Game 1s -- including three by-seed upsets, by the Bulls, Bucks and Jazz. Can anybody get in the way of a third consecutive Golden State-Cleveland Finals? (Doesn't seem so). Here is our series-by-series preview and predictions for the opening round, with all betting odds via our friends at Bovada:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

No. 1 Boston (53-29) vs. No. 8 Chicago (41-41) -- Season series tied 2-2. Favorite: Celtics 1-5 odds; Bulls 7-2. Likeliest result: Celtics win 4-1 (2-1 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Isaiah Thomas 28.5, Jimmy Butler 25. This is the series in which the Miami Heat woulda/shoulda/coulda been facing Boston. Our pick: UPSET! Bulls win 4-3. Dwyane Wade alone has more playoff experience than the entire Celtics roster. Will be only the fifth 8-1 upset since NBA went to current playoff format in 1984.

No. 2 Cleveland (51-31) vs. No. 7 Indiana (42-40) -- Cavaliers won season series 3-1. Favorite: Cavs 1-11; Pacers 13-2. Likeliest result: Cavs win 4-1 (7-4 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: LeBron James 28, Paul George 25. Our pick: Cavaliers win 4-1. LeBron is king of the first round. Hasn't lost even a single 1R game since 2012.  

No. 3 Toronto (51-31) vs. No. 6 Milwaukee (42-40) -- Raptors won season series 3-1. Favorite: Raptors 1-4; Bucks 3-1. Likeliest result: Raptors win 4-1 (12-5 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: DeMar DeRozan 27.5, Giannis Antetokounmpo 23. Our pick: Raptors win 4-1. A blowout. Raps getting Kyle Lowry back last week makes all the difference.

No. 4 Washington (49-33) vs. No. 5 Atlanta (43-39) -- Wizards won season series 3-1. Favorite: Wizards 5-11; Hawks 9-5. Likeliest result: Wizards win 4-1 (3-1 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: John Wall/Bradley Beal both 23, Paul Millsap/Dennis Schroder both 17.5. Our pick: Wizards win 4-2. Don't think much of Hawks, who have minus point differential, worst of any team in postseason.

Combined average percentile likelihood of team winning series: Based on a combination of ESPN Experts Panel, Basketball Power Index, FiveThirtyEight.com and ESPN fans poll: Cavaliers 78.75%, Raptors 76.25%, Celtics 73.50%, Wizards 72.50%. 

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

No. 1 Golden State (67-15) vs. No. 8 Portland (41-41) -- Warriors won season series 4-0. Favorite: Warriors 1-100; Trail Blazers 22-1. Likeliest result: Warriors win 4-0 (1-1 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Damian Lillard 28, Steph Curry/Kevin Durant both 26.5. Our pick: Warriors win, 4-0. Shock if Portland comes close, let alone wins. 

No. 2 San Antonio (61-21) vs. No. 7 Memphis (43-39) -- Season series ted 2-2. Favorite: Spurs 1-11; Grizzlies 13-2. Likeliest result: Spurs win 4-1 (8-5 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Kawhi Leonard 25.5, Mike Conley 19. Our pick: Spurs win 4-1. Don't put much weight on that 2-2 season series. Per ESPN: Teams whose point differential was at least 5.0 per game better than their opponent's (Spurs' is 6.7 points better), are 48-3 in best-of-seven series since 2000.

No. 3 Houston (55-27) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma City (47-35) -- Rockets won season series 3-1. Favorite: Rockets 5-17; Thunder 11-4. Likeliest result: Rockets win 4-1 (11-5 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Russell Westbrook 33.5, James Harden 29.5. Our pick: Rockets win 4-2. Westbrook vs. Harden makes this the most must-see of all the opening series. And all four season games were very close, so I don't discount OKC's upset shot.  

No. 4 L.A. Clippers (51-31) vs. No. 5 Utah (51-31) -- Clippers won season series 3-1. Favorite: Clippers 5-11; Jazz 9-5. Likeliest result: Clippers win 4-1 or 4-3 (both 3-1 odds). Projected scoring-average leaders: Blake Griffin 22, Gordon Hayward 21.5. Our pick: UPSET! Jazz win 4-3. Clips won home-court on a tiebreaker, but just a weird hunch here.

Combined average percentile likelihood of team winning series: Based on a combination of ESPN Experts Panel, Basketball Power Index, FiveThirtyEight.com and ESPN fans poll: Warriors 96.75%, Spurs 89.50%, Rockets 72.50%, Clippers 51.75%.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 4-17-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Two first-round Game 2s, Pacers-Cavs followed by Grizzlies-Spurs.

2. Marlins at Seattle, 10:30 p.m.: Fish open nine-game road trip, season's second-longest.

3. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: Four first-round Game 3s, with Nashville and Anaheim both up 2-0.

4. Boston Marathon: Although, unless you're running in it, do you really care?

Jdf16JOSE FERNANDEZ DOCUMENTARY OUT: It was reported this week the Marlins later this season will unveil a permanent 10-foot statue to honor their late pitching ace Jose Fernandez, who died last September along with two others in a boating accident. Saturday, Univision debuted a 46-minute documentary film on Jose titled JDF16. The doc was filmed in Cuba and Florida and shares an intimate look at a young pitcher who risked his life to flee Cuba by boat in search of freedom a career in baseball. It aired on Univision Deportes TV and also is now available online at UnivisionNoticias.com. WATCH THE ENTIRE DOCUMENTARY HERE, with availability in two languages. Version presented is in Spanish with subtitles; simply click the Espanol button to hear the narrative in English. (For a text version of the documentary with photos, click TEXT). 

POLL RESULT: YES, THIS HEAT SEASON WAS A SUCCESS: Most times, perhaps, a .500 record and no playiffs would nt satisfy high-expectation Heat fans. But when that season started 11-30 and ended in a playoff chase? We asked: All things considered, how do you rate this past Miami Heat season? And you voted 83.9 percent "successful" vs. only 16.1% "not a success."

Select recent columns: Heat Must Seek Next Level, the latest, suggesting two players to target. Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityLoria: The End Of An Error and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 13, 2017

Was this Heat season a success? New poll. Vote now!; plus Luddite's Heat season MVP revealed, Heat miss playoffs, NBA title odds, Landry's big boast, McShay's 3-round Dolphins mock, Marlins' start, Back In My Day video, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, April 14. Click on Express Lanes for my latest Back In My Day video rant from this week's LeBatard Show. 2) Know any Dolfans? Why not buy each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins' Opening Night win sandwiched around Heat's biggest games of season, keepin' it Brockmire & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My new column: 'Melo or Hayward for Heat?: Carmelo Anthony (via trade) or Gordon Hayward (in free agency) might be interesting options as the Heat approach the summer. Click on Heat Must Seek Next Level for my latest column.

POLL: WAS THIS HEAT SEASON A SUCCESS?: Weird Miami Heat season to judge, right? BY this franchise's standards, an even .500 record of 41-41 and no playoffs (barely) would not normally constitute success. And yet that record after an 11-30 first half of the season is something close to a sporting miracle, an astounding turnaround. So, in the simplest terms, how would you judge this Heat season. Take a dip in our poll and vote now:

HwhitesideCHAMPION REVEALED! HASSAN WHITESIDE REIGNS IN THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP FINAL 2016-17 STANDINGS: Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we went old-school, stripped it down, combined the Original Big Three statistical categories, and this season offered a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP --and Hassan Whiteside reigns as champion ahead of Goran Dragic in a (fairly) close race. We brought you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami finished at 41-41 after last night's season-ending home win over Washington, here is The Luddite's 16th and final installment.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Final Standings:

1. Hassan Whiteside           2,458

2. Goran Dragic                 2,186

3. James Johnson              1,628

4. Tyler Johnson                1,529

5. Dion Waiters                 1,077

Second five: Rodney McGruder 876; Wayne Ellington 851; 8. Josh Richardson 845; Willie Reed 733; and Luke Babbitt 500.

Others: Justise Winslow 355; Derrick Williams 234; Josh McRoberts 232; Okaro White 201; and Udonis Haslem 73.

WON AND DONE: HEAT NEEDED SMALL MIRACLE BUT DIDN'T GET ONE, WINNING BUT FALLING SHORT OF PLAYOFFS: [Update: Heat beat Washington 110-102 but narrowly miss playoffs because neither Chicago nor Indiana cooperated and lost. Click on Heat Fell Short But Did Not Fail for my column from the game] Original post: You know the drill by now entering this last day of the NBA regular season. The Miami Heat will make the playoffs only if they beat Washington at home tonight and if either Chicago (home vs. Brooklyn) or Indiana (home vs. Atlanta) loses, with each game starting at 8. Under the best of Spocircumstances, that would be unlikely. ESPN's Basketball Power Index playoff chances entering tonight puts the Bulls at 88.7 percent, Pacers at 83.7% and Heat at just 27.6%. The mighty BPI projects all three will win tonight, which would leave Miami 41-41 but losing a tiebreaker to Dwyane Wade (ouch) and Chicago for the 8th and final East playoff ticket. Plainly, the Heat must win and then get help tonight from either Brooklyn or Atlanta. The problem: 1) Brooklyn is awful even at full strength but announced it will sit out six players tonight including leading scorer Brook Lopez and starting guard Jeremy Lin. So Chicago will be playing a facsimile of an awful team, one that is all but conceding the game to the Bulls. 2) Atlanta secured the fifth seed last night so has zero to play for in the second game of a back-to-back at Indiana. So the Hawks will "rest" five players tonight including leading scorer Paul Millsap with the playoffs starting Saturday, offering little resistance to Indiana. In fairness, the Heat also are catching a break tonight because, with Washington already locked into the fourth seed, the Wizards tonight will "rest" three players including stars John Wall and Bradley Beal. (Just as the Heat also caught a big break Monday when the Cavs "rested" LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Miami). In any case, in a Tweet last night, Heat owner Micky Arison already seemed resigned to putting a positive spin on narrowly missing the playoffs, writing: "#HEATNation forget what other teams are doing ... Let's make [Wednesday] amazing. Win & 30 & 11 for the second half. So proud of this team!" Pictured right: A focused Heat coach Erik Spoelstra tries to mentally will a playoff spot.

NBA title odds: Via sportsbettingdime.com, Warriors a strong NBA championship favorite at 6-5, with Cavaliers 4-1 and Spurs 9-1. Russell Westbrook is even/odds for league MVP, with James Harden close at 3-2. (Bovada has Warriors a prohibitive 5-8 fave, with Cavs 10-3 and Spurs 6-1).

LandryON JARVIS LANDRY'S BIG BOAST: Dolphins star receiver Jarvis Landry, in London this week as part of an NFL promotional tour, predicted Miami would sweep the New England Patriots this season, meaning winning both games. "If you're a competitor, that's the way you should feel, and I don't mind saying it," Landry elaborated. "It's time for a change. I have all the respect in the world for the Patriots, and I respect Tom Brady tremendously. But they're not our big brother anymore." The Dolphins last swept the Pats in 2000, so, um, they sort of are Big Brother until which time the Fins prove -- with actions, not words -- that they are not. Landry credits a reboot on the Dolphins' mindset under second-year coach Adam Gase, saying, "He's flipped the switch with us. New England's won the division 14 of the last 16 years, something like that? It's ridiculous. It's a problem. We cannot let that happen anymore. What I've seen is, when we play that game, sometimes we focus on the guys on the other side of the line instead of just focusing on us. And I want to be part of that change. I want to go into the games against New England expecting to win — that's something we need to do." My take: Good for Landry. Sometimes you need to broadcast your confidence aloud to stamp it as real. And Landry, with 288 catches and two Pro Bowls in three seasons, has earned the right to be vocal and occupy a leadership role. A little bravado looks good on the Miami Dolphins. Now let's see how it fits.

McShay's 3-round Mock picks for Fins, Canes: ESPN's Todd McShay vomited his three-round NFL Mock Draft this week, and has these picks for Dolphins: 1st round (22nd overall)--Ohio State CB Gareon Conley; 2nd (54th)--Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham; 3rd (97th)--San Diego State guard Nico Siragusa. Conley would be a logical, solid pick. I mentioned him prominently in my recent Sunday column; click Dolphins Draft Wish List to read. McShay's other two picks for Dolphins also make some sense, position-wise. He has Hurricanes TE David Njoku going 13th overall (a tad high)to Arizona -- and no other UMers in the first three rounds. So I say it for only the 100th time: Ya shoulda stayed, Brad Kaaya! 

OzunaON MARLINS' START: Nine games (six on the road) and a 4-5 record is a very small sample size, but early signs for the Marlins are somewhat encouraging. The lineup will be above-average in run production, led by an outfield trio (Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna) that could be as good as any in baseball. Ozuna (pictured), supposedly the least of the three, is batting .389 with four homers and MLB-leading 16 RBIs. Health is a big key, though, as thin depth looms as Miami's biggest concern. Pitching also has the potential to be solid, starters to bullpen. The rotation of Edinson Volquez, Dan Straily, Tom Koehler, Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley is star-less but could be effective. Chen shows early signs of being the guy Miami thought it was getting, not last year's mess. Conley can be a star. If Straily proves as good as he was last year for the Reds, this could be a solid rotation. The problem? I do not think the Marlins are as good as the Nationals or Mets from their own division. But if Miami can take advantage of the lousy Braves and Phillies, Fish have the potential to be an 85-win team that hangs in the playoff chase. At least that's what it says here. In mid-April.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 4-14-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7 p.m.: NL East rivals play second of four-game series.

2. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: First-round series continue with four Game 2s.

3. Hurricanes at Pitt, 2 p.m.: Win-needy UM baseball plays ACC doubleheader.

Select other recent columns: Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off Wednesday's season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityLoria: The End Of An Error and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 01, 2017

Declared! It's another Super Saturday in South Florida sports as Final Four, Florida Derby, Miami Open lead parade; plus Hot Button Daily (Sat), The List (I and II), your verdict on NBA MVP & more

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

Aprilfool1) It is SATURDAY, April 1. Happy new month, all! Mind The Who's advice today and don't get fooled (again). 2) Jo Konta beats Caroline Wozniacki today in Miami Open women's final. 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (75 games), Dolphins' struggle to close gap with Pats, NBA MVP poll, Marlins in fantasy drafts, your verdict on Kaepernick & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"UConn's shocking upset loss in NCAA Final Four is the best thing that could have happened to women's basketball." --Greg Cote

SupersatDECLARED! IT'S ANOTHER SUPER SATURDAY IN SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS!: We don't officially declare a Super Saturday (or Sunday) often. Maybe a few times a Ncaaff Fladerby Miaopenyear? But today qualifies. If you are a Miami sports fan and you can't find something to love today, check your pulse. You may be dead. There's the Final Four of the men's NCAA Tournament, of course, with Miami-native coach Frank Martin leading underdog South Carolina vs. Gonzaga and then Oregon facing North Carolina. There is the annual Florida Derby at Gulfstream, and let's see if Gunnevera is all that in a major prep event for thoroughbred racing's coming Triple Crown season. There is the women's final at the Miami Open, and fast-rising Jo Konta beating Caroline Wozniacki for her first title on Key Biscayne was an interesting finish even though we'd have preferred Venus Williams make it. Also, the Panthers play at Boston, the Marlins host Detroit in Jupiter to wrap up spring training, and Hurricanes baseball continues its ACC home series vs. Wake Forest.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 4-1-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA Final Four, 6 p.m.: South Carolina-Gonzaga, Oregon-North Carolina in men's FF from Phoenix.

2. Florida Derby, 6:40 p.m.: Gunnevera betting fave in 66th running of major Kentucky Derby prep race.

3. Miami Open, 1 p.m.: It's Caroline Wozniacki vs. little-known Jo Konta for women's championship.

4. Detroit vs. Marlins, noon: Fish's final spring-training game in Jupiter.

5. Panthers at Boston, 1: Playoff-eliminated Cats playing out the string.
 
THE LIST I: FLORIDA SCHOOLS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: History of the 13 Division 1 schools from state of Florida in men's NCAA Tournament, ranked by number of appearances:
School                            Apps.   Most recent   Best finish
Florida                              20      2017                Champion in 2006, '07
Florida State                    15      2017                Runner-up in 1972
Miami                                9       2017                Sweet 16 in 2000, '13, '16
Jacksonville                     5       1986                Runner-up in 1970    
UCF                                     4       2005                1st round
Florida Gulf Coast            3       2017                Sweet 16 in 2013
South Florida                    3       2012                2nd round in 2012
Florida A&M                      3       2007                1st round
North Florida                    1       2015                1st round
Florida Atlantic                1       2002                1st round
Florida International       1      1995                 1st round
Bethune-Cookman          0       ---                    ---
Stetson                               0       ---                    ---   
 
THE LIST II: FLORIDA DERBY RUNNERS WHO WON KENTUCKY DERBY: Twenty-three horses who have competed in the Florida Derby went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Here are the five most recent, all of whom won at Gulfstream before doing the same at Churchill Downs:
Year    FL/KY Derby-winning horse
2016    Nyquist
2013    Orb
2008    Big Brown
2006    Barbaro
2001    Monarchos
 
Poll result: It's Westbrook (easily) for NBA MVP: We asked who would get your vote to this point for NBA MVP from among six leading contenders, and it was Thunder's Russell Westbrook a runaway winner with 53.0 percent, with Rockets' James Harden a distant second at 20.1%. Then it was Spurs' Kawhi Leonard with 11.0%, Cavs' LeBron James at 10.4%, Celtics' Isaiah Thomas at 3.7% and Warriors' Steph Curry at 1.8%. (Warriors' Kevin Durant got skunked; no votes).
 
Select recent columns: The Long Chase, the latest, on Dolphins' struggle to make up ground on Patriots. Missing Waiters, on Dion Waiters' value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed quarterback. Method to the Madness?, on the bizarre LaVarBall. Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, previewing the tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on developments in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, on World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. Also: The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 31, 2017

Updated: The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (75 games); plus Dolphins' struggle to catch Pats; also, NBA MVP poll, where Marlins are going in fantasy drafts, Cats eliminated, your verdict on Kaepernick, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, March 31. The Florida Panthers, preseason Stanley Cup dreamers, are officially eliminated from playoff contention. 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): Hot Button Top 10, Colin Kaepernick with poll, ode to Venus Williams with List, Elton John with video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New column: Dolphins' struggle to make up ground on New England: Miami by most accounts has had a strong offseason in free agency. The Patriots have had a better one. As Robert Kraft brags about Bill Belichick coaching into his 80s and Tom Brady playing another six or seven years, we analyze the state of the Fins' efforts to catch their division nemesis. Click on The Long Chase to read.

THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (75 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 37-38 after last night's win at the New York Knicks, here's The Luddite's 15th installment, with 70-game rank in parentheses.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (75 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      2,210

2. Goran Dragic (2)             1,977

3. James Johnson (3)          1,439

4. Tyler Johnson (4)            1,386

5. Dion Waiters (5)              1,077

6. Rodney McGruder (7)       790

7. Wayne Ellington (6)          768 

8. Josh Richardson (8)         709

9. Willie Reed (9)                662

10. Luke Babbitt (10)          484

Others: Justise Winslow 355, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 179, Udonis Haslem 72.

NbamvpNBA MVP RACE: AND YOUR WINNER IS...: It's an unusually bunched field as the NBA regular season winds down and voting for NBA Most Valuable Player nears. James Harden is generally considered the frontrunner but Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard have strong cases and are joined by the usual suspects like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Steph Curry, along with an interesting longshot in Isaiah Thomas. (Sorry, Heat fans. I know Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside are having nice seasons, but let's keep it real here, shall we?) By the way, the NBA MVP trophy is sponsored by a Kia, a tiny economy car not a single NBA player drives. This poll of actual MVP contenders is alphabetical. Vote now...

StantonyelichSTANTON, YELICH TOP-DRAFTED MARLINS IN FANTASY THUS FAR: It isn't a shock, but based on live ESPN.com MLB snake-draft results as of late Monday, RF Giancarlo Stanton leads Miami by ranking 39th overall with an average selection number of 40.7. LF Christian Yelich ranks 45th at 47.0, followed by 2B Dee Gordon at 63rd and 64.7. Other Fish in the overall top 200 are CF Marcell Ozuna 124th, C J.T. Realmuto 154th and reliever A.J. Ramos 159th. (Anecdotally, I have surveyed several friends who have had their drafts already and have found it pretty common for Yelich to also be the top-picked Marlin ahead of Stanton). By position rank, top Marlins are Stanton 4th RF, Yelich 4th LF, Realmuto 5th C, Gordon 8th 2B, Ozuna 10th CF, Ramos 18th RP, Justin Bour 22nd 1B, Martin Prado 22nd 3B and Adeiny Hechavarria 40th SS. Notice any position missing? Yes. And it stands out. Call it the Jose Effect. Miami's top-ranked starting pitcher is 90th among SPs -- Dan Straily, who was 14-8 with the Reds last season. Consensus No. 1 draft pick overall with an average selection spot of 1.4? Angels CF Mike Trout. Top draftees by Miami's NL East rivals: Nationals 1B Bryce Harper, 10th overall; Mets SP Noah Syndergaard, 20th overall; Braves 1B Freddie Freeman, 25th overall; and Phillies CF Odubel Herrara, 137th overall.

Poll result: A big fat "no" to Colin Kaepernick: We asked, just for fun, if you'd prefer to see an available Colin Kaepernick instead of as Matt Moore as the Dolphins' backup quarterback, and it was 57.6 percent "no" vs. 23.6% "yes." The other 18.8% voted "not sure but worth pondering."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 3-31-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:
1. Miami Open, 1 p.m.: Rafael Nadal, then Roger Federer in night session, play semifinal matches.
2. New York at Heat, 8 p.m.: Miami tries to protect its current 7th seeding.
3. Women's Final Four, 7:30 p.m.: Stanford-South Carolina, Mississippi State-UConn from Dallas.
4. Detroit at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Fish play next-to-last spring game in Jupiter.
5. Wake Forest at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball begins big ACC home series.
 
Select recent columns: The Long Chase, the latest, on Dolphins' struggle to make up ground on Patriots. Missing Waiters, on Dion Waiters' value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed quarterback. Method to the Madness?, on the bizarre LaVar Ball. Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, previewing the tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on developments in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. Also: The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote