July 03, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring Heat and Hayward, Fish All-Star selections, farewell to Jagr. See who else makes it and what falls where; plus my Sunday column, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 3. Ready for the Fourth. I'll have a butt in the Egg! 2) Happen to know any 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): Heat chase Hayward in free agency with poll, your Serena-McEnroe verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column: Riley-Ainge animus the back-story to Heat free agency: LeBron James and Danny Ainge are the two men Pat Riley most wants to beat. Now, Riles must top one (for Gordon Hayward) for a chance to topple the other. Click on Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron 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. HEAT: Free agency underway as Miami, Riley woo Hayward, now wait: Heat summer league play for rookies is underway in Orlando (Miami is 0-2) but nobody cares. It's free agency! Pat Riley season! No LeBron- or Durant-sized whales are changing teams this summer, so Heat has top-target Gordon Hayward as its priority. But Celtics want him, too, so Riley will have to out-duel his most disliked fellow executive, Danny Ainge, to get him. All await Gordo's big decision. Delicioso!

2. MLB: Ozuna, Stanton make it on Selection Sunday for Miami All-Star Game: Baseball on Sunday evening reveal its NL and AL starters and full rosters for next week's All-Star Game at Marlins Park, and two Fish made make it. Marcell Ozuna is in as a fan-vote starter, and Stanton made it as a reserve, or we'd have called the Snub Police to report a crime. Justin Bour is on the last-man-in ballot, so Miami could sneak in a third player.

3. PANTHERS: Cats busy to open NHL free agency, but lose Jagr: Doesn't get NBA attention, but hockey free agency also began Saturday. Florida Panthers targeted goal-scoring help in signing Russian winger Evgeni Dadonov among early moves, but also parted ways with Jaromir Jagr. At 45, Jagr is seeking a better deal elsewhere. Meaning, he could still be back.

4. MARLINS: Fish on 10-game road trip prior to break: Miami was on a four-game losing streak and 0-2 on this road swing before Sunday's win. This 10-game trip that will bring the season to the All-Star Break here. Meanwhile, looming ever closer: Jeffrey Loria's long-awaited and now imminent sale of the team to … somebody.

5. NBA: Winning the summer yet again: Steph Curry signs record deal with Golden State, which also gets Andre Iguodala back. Paul George to Oklahoma City. Chris Paul joins Houston. Blake Griffin stays with Clippers. Blockbuster summer already for the NBA. Might be for Miami, too, depending on what Gordon Hayward decides. 

6. WIMBLEDON: Williams sisters in news as fortnight begins: Bad week for Serena and Venus on doorstep of Wimbledon, which starts Monday. Serena, out on maternity leave, found herself enmeshed in that silly John McEnroe controversy over whether she could beat the 700th-ranked man. Worse: Venus, who's playing today, is being sued for allegedly causing an auto-accident death.

7. MIAMI FC: Local NASL team advances in U.S. Open Cup: Miami FC won again to reach quarterfinals of soccer's 104th annual U.S. Open Cup. Local lads will now take on Cincinnati of USL on July 12 at It's Still FIU Stadium To Me.

8. BOXING: Pacquiao loses in Australia: Manny lost his first fight in eight months in a controversial upset decision to Jeff Horn in Brisbane. Many thought Pacquiao actually won. Nonetheless, it may be time for PacMan to think about calling it quits.

9. SOCCER: Germany wins Confederations Cup final: Germany beat Chile 1-0 for the Confeds Cup title,a World Cup prep event. Speaking of international soccer, did you hear the great Lionel Messi just got married? I understand they were registered at Target.

10. COLLEGE BASEBALL: Gators win national title: Florida won College World Series to become only the fourth school to have won national titles in football, baseball and men's basketball. Wait. I work in Miami. Am I allowed to say that? 

Missing the HB10 cut: The Tour de France is underway. It was more interesting when it was wracked by scandal. Can we start a Lance Armstrong comeback rumor? ..... A die-hard Dolfan living in England got married in a Dolphins helmet, saying his vows through a facemask. So it is true. Being a Dolfan will drive you crazy ..... Team USA got clobbered 7-1 by New Zealand in America's Cup sailing. How great would it be if there arose a scandal in which the Kiwis were found to have illegally used outboard motors! ..... Upon re-signing Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers employees wore T-shirts that likened Griffin's influence to that of Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein. Which is ridiculous. What did those other guys ever to to earn Blake Griffin's company!? ..... ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual Body issue comes out this Wednesday. Dear Athletes: Modesty is a virtue, or hadn't you heard? ..... For the first time since 1988, ABC-TV this week revived the series, Battle Of the Network Stars, begging the question, "WHY!?!"

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-3-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at St. Louis, 7:15 p.m.: Fish move on in continuation of 10-game roadie.

2. Wimbledon, ongoing: First round matches on Day 1 from London.

3. Heat vs. Pacers, 5 p.m.: Miami rookies (0-2) play 3rd summer game in Orlando.

4. Tour de France, ongoing: Stage 3 of famed cycling event.

Select other recent columns: Riley Must Land Hayward Or Griffin to Keep Pace: Previewing Heat free agency. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat surprisingly 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. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. 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. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. 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. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, 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

June 25, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: See what falls where among Heat, Marlins, Panthers and others; also, your (surprising?) verdict on Bam Adebayo, The List (Heat 13s), HB Daily (Sun/Mon) & more

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

1) SUNDAY/MONDAY, JUNE 25-26. 2) Miss our latest Back In My Day? Click on Privileged Pets for the LeBatard Show podcast and scroll to around 51:30 mark. 2) Know any 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): Heat draft Bam Adebayor with poll, your preferred pick going in & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My column on Heat drafting Adebayo: Click on Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt for my column on the Miami Heat drafting Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo Thursday night. Most mock drafts and media experts see it as a "reach." John Calipari and Pat Riley disagree. I know where my benefit if doubt goes.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JUNE 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (early this week) 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. After a two-week vacation hiatus, we return with this week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami nabs Kentucky's Adebayo in NBA Draft: Most of the mock drafts and media experts are saying it was a “reach” for the Heat to take power-forward Bam Adebayo with the 14th pick. The combined resume' heft and expertise of John Calipari and Pat Riley politely disagree. Um, it seems pretty clear where the benefit of doubt should be going.

2. MARLINS: Fish continue big 10-game homestand: Miami in its 10-game homestand tries to avoid being 4-game-swept by the Cubs on Sunday and then moves on to three vs. Mets starting Tuesday, before 10 straight on the road brings us to All-Star Game Week at Marlins Park. Fish have been credible the past five weeks. Unfortunately those first six weeks of the season happened, too.

3. PANTHERS: Ouch. Cats let top scorer get away: Florida inexplicably let top scorer Jonathan Marchessault (30 goals last season) go to Las Vegas in NHL expansion draft, then traded Reilly Smith (40 goals past two years) in salary dump. This by a team that finished 23rd in scoring. Team wisely went offense in NHL Draft, at least. Dale Tallon better go get some more goals when free agency starts July 1.

4. NBA: Lonzo to Lakers in Draft, just like Dad wanted: UCLA's Lonzo Ball going second overall to the Lakers was the biggest national news in Thursday night's NBA Draft, much to the delight of his famous and obnoxious shoe salesman father, LaVar. Now -- and I mean this sincerely -- may LaVar please disappear and never be heard from again!

5. SAILING: America's Cup nears its crescendo: Reigning champion Oracle Team USA is on the ropes against Emirates Team New Zealand in the 35th America's Cup that ends Tuesday in Bermuda. Hot Button believes this event would be much quicker and more efficient if the boats would have outboard motors. But that's just us.

6. TIGER WOODS: “Professional help” latest chapter in saga: Following his recent DUI arrest the once-dominant Tiger, winner of 14 majors but none since 2008, announced he would seek “professional help,” which is broadly presumed to mean rehab for a pill addiction. I believe Woods officially now has more career controversies than major wins.

7. BIG3 BASKETBALL: Invented by the rapper Ice Cube, BIG 3 is 3-on-3, half-court pro summer basketball league that debuts Sunday in Brooklyn, featuring ex-NBA stars such as Allen Iverson, Mike Bibby, Chauncey Billups and Jermaine O'Neal, with coaches including Julius Erving and Ricky Barry. I'd call the venture “Has-Beens On Parade,” but that might be seen as mean.

8. SOCCER: Miami FC readies for U.S. Open round of 16: NASL club Miami FC has reached the final 16 in the U.S. Open Cup and will host MLS expansion team Atlanta United on Wednesday night at FIU Stadium. This event has been going on annually since 1914. Nice run by Miami.

9. COLLEGE BASEBALL: Gators make College World Series final two: Seminoles were eliminated but Florida Gators advanced to face LSU in best-of-three championship series. Final round starts Monday night in Omaha, where the UM Hurricanes are hell-bent to be next year in Jim Morris' final season.

10. TENNIS: Wimbledon next major on deck: Wimbledon begins next week (July 3), and the favorites tell you much about the state of tennis. Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are near-even on the men's side, while the women's field is wide open with Serena Williams on maternity leave. The she-fave? Karolina Pliskova, who has never won a major.

Missing the HB10 cut: ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual 'Body' issue is out next week, July 5. Official name of the Body issue: Narcissists On Parade ..... The NBA Awards Show on Monday finds Erik Spoelstra the only Heat finalist, but not a coach of the year favorite. I believe it may be a law that Gregg Popovich has to always win that award ..... The PGA Tour will start blood-testing players next season. "The Tiger Rule"? xx ..... West Palm's Brooks Koepka winning golf's U.S. Open last week was not nearly as interesting as the fact his actress-girlfriend Jena Sims appeared in Attack of the 50-Foot Cheerleader ..... Phil Mickelson split from his longtime caddie and the only people on Earth who cared were Phil, his caddie and golf writers ..... I'll hitchhike from Miami to Vegas if the pay-per-view nut for Mayweather-McGregor is less than $100. (Or, $99.99 to make you think you're getting a deal!)

POLL RESULT: CLOSE, BUT MOST HEAT FANS DON'T LIKE ADEBAYO PICK: We asked for your gut reaction to the Heat selecting Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo 14th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, and it was 56.4 percent overall disapproval vs. 43.6% approval. The favorable votes broke down as 28.3% "like it" and 15.2% "love it."

THE LIST: HEAT 13'S: New top draft pick Bam Adebayo will wear jersey No. 13 for the Heat. He'll be only the seventh player to do so, and only of those (Mike Miller) has played more than one season in Miami. Heats 13s, listed in order of regular-season points scored for Miami:

Player                        Years        Points    G/Avg.

Mike Miller                  2010-13    746      139/5.4

Kendall Gill                 2001-02    372       65/5.7

Shabazz Napier            2014-15    261       51/5.1

Alexander Johnson      2007-08     179       43/4.2

Luther Head                2008-09      43       10/4.3 

Jamal Robinson           2000-01       6        6/1.0

Bam Adebayo              2017-

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SUN-MON 6-25/26-17: Upcoming sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins homestand: Four-game Cubs series ends Sunday, then Mets visit.

2. BIG3 basketball: Allen Iverson, other NBA ex's in 3-on-3 league starting Sunday.

4. College World Series: Gators-LSU best-of-3 championship series starts Monday.

Select other recent columns: A 1-Man Mock Draft: My prediction for Heat's top pick. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: On Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. 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. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. 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. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, 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

June 19, 2017

Mayweather-McGregor: Will you watch? Poll. Last day to vote!: plus latest Hot Button Top 10. See what falls where; also, your next-Miami-champion verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Hfd1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 19. Hope it was a Happy Father's Day to all my fellow padres out there except LaVar Ball. Hope y'all had a wonderful Sunday with loved ones! 2) We talked Heat, Dolphins and other stuff in our Miami Herald Facebook Live debut last week. If you missed it, click here to watch. Also ICYMI, check us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a pictorial of our recent 12-day day European vacation in Spain, Italy and France. 3) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's next-champion poll, your verdict on Mount Rushmore-Plus of South Florida's biggest current sports stars & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MaymcgMAYWEATHER-MCGREGOR: WILL YOU WATCH?: It's official for Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. Boxing icon Floyd Mayweather vs. UFC star Conor McGregor (under boxing rules) in their much-awaited, long-delayed fight. It's a hybrid/oddity that has been criticized as a farce by some, especially with Mayweather a prohibitive betting favorite. It is the fight you hate to love and love to hate. I write about the polarizing nature of this event in my latest Sunday column; click on Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch to read. There is speculation the event could break records for pay-per-view revenue, because it will draw boxing fans, UFC fans, spectacle junkies and curiosity seekers. Yet for some reason, interest in this fight is a guilty pleasure. I think far more are actually interested in watching this fight than might admit it. So let's find out with this poll. Vote honestly.

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. After a two-week vacation hiatus, we return with this week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Draft, then free agency on deck for Miami: Heat select 14th overall in this coming Thursday's NBA Draft, team's third-highest pick since Dwyane Wade in 2003, and the free agency period soon follows. Miami and 28 other teams enter the summer all trying to figure out the same thing: How to close the wide gap with the champion Golden State Warriors?
 
2. MARLINS: Best homestand of season begins tonight: With Miami hosting All-Star Game in only three weeks, Marlins open their sexiest homestand of the season starting Monday vs. the NL East power Nationals, then reigning champion Cubs, then division-rival Mets. Fish have been 10-2 at Marlins Park since that nightmarish 1-8 homestand in May.
 
3. PANTHERS: Cats hire coach; Ovechkin on radar?: Florida hired Bob Boughner as a first-time NHL head coach amid rumors team may be among suitors for Washington scoring star Alex Ovechkin, who seems at crossroads with Capitals. Ovechkin, a seven-time 50-goal guy, would give Cats their most dynamic scorer since Pavel Bure in 1999-01.
 
4. GOLF: Former no-name Koepka U.S. Open: The 117th edition of season's second major got off to weird start in Erin, Wisc., with defending champ Dustin Johnson opening with 75, and an advertising blimp crashing near course. It ended with West Palm Beach native Brooks Koepka making the U.S. Open only his second win on the PGA Tour.
 
5. NBA: Major trade at top of draft: The Celtics and 76ers agreed to swap the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks in Thursday's draft, with Philly now planning to select Washington guard Markelle Fultz. It doesn't change likelihood Lonzo Ball and his Dad will go No. 2 to Lakers, unfortunately.
 
6. BOXING: Mayweather-McGregor is official at last: Boxer Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor will fight under boxing rules Aug. 26 in Las Vegas, it was confirmed last week.BIg outcry it's a farce and will be lopsided, yet the oddity-bout is expected to set pay-per-view records. 
 
7. DOLPHINS: Fins end offseason work: A three-day minicamp wrapped up offseason work, and Dolphins won't assemble again until the late-July start of training camp. Miami players, coaches and fans all seem optimistic for another playoff year, but the Las Vegas over/under on Fins wins is only 7 ½. Hmm. Somebody's wrong here. But who?

8. SOCCER: Big week on two fronts for Miami: Miami FC won again to continue its advance in the U.S. Open Cup. Meanwhile David Beckham cleared another hurdle in his bid to secure stadium land and finally realize his oft-delayed, oft-impeded dream of Major League Soccer here.

9. COLLEGE BASEBALL: CWS underway in Omaha: Eight teams including Florida and Florida State have begun play in Omaha to see which two will reach the three-game championship round. With end of Canes' long NCAA streak, won't be en easy watch for Jim Morris.

10. HURRICANES: UM football No. 15 by one estimation: Mark Schlabach's post-spring Top 25 for ESPN.com has the Canes 15th, for what it's worth. I might share that optimism, if I knew who UM's quarterback will be or if he'll be any good.

Missing the HB10 cut: India and Pakistan are playing a big cricket match somwhere, and I don't understand a word of it ..... Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo may leave Real Madrid after being accused of tax evasion by Spanish authorities. Surprised Real Madrid fans haven't started a GoFundMe to pay what he owes ..... Jim Harbaugh has invited the Obamas to serve as honorary captains at a Michigan game this fall. Cannot confirm Trump has signed an executive order to make honorary captains illegal ..... Want the exact definition of 'your football career  is over'? Comeback-attempting Vince Young got cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders ..... Sergey Kovalev will protest his eighth-round knockout loss to Andre Ward last night in Las Vegas, but nobody cares because it isn't Mayweather-McGregor ..... Roger Goodell said he does not believe unsigned Colin Kaepernick is being ostracized or blackballed, and everybody else brayed laughter ..... The Reds unveiled a Pete Rose statue depicting his iconic head-first slide. You can tell it's life-like, because there are betting tickets flying out of his rear uniform pocket.

POLL RESULT: MOST NEXT-CHAMPION FAITH GOES TO UM FOOTBALL: We asked which of South Florida's Big 5 sports teams is most likely to win a championship next, and Hurricanes football was your landslide winner with 60.6 percent. After that it was Dolphins with 17.2%, Panthers with 13.3% and, lagging way behind, Heat and Marlins with 4.4% each.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 6-19-17: Today's sports events of most interest to SoFla fans:

1. Washington at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Fish open 10-game homestand vs. division rival.

2. College World Series, 2 p.m.: Two games including FSU in must-win to stay alive.

Select other recent columns: No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. 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. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. 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. 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

June 13, 2017

Who is biggest current star in South Florida pro sports? It's biggest poll in history of blog. Today is last chance to vote!; plus Radio Tuesday, Warriors stake claim, Tiger Woods and your verdict, line on political discourse, Hot Button Special & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 13. We're back from our 12-day European holiday and happy to be back on the Dan leBatard Show With Stugotz today as usual. 2) Know any 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): Tiger Woods arrest with poll, Jeb Bush out of Marlins bidding, Canes baseball streak ends, firing of Terry Frei, World Fame 100 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, and 10 to 1 nationally on ESPN Radio, with the national show also airing on ESPN television platforms.

Our most recent columns: Golden State stakes claim to history, Tiger Woods' fall: For the Warriors as a team or LeBron James as a player, this NBA Finals was going to leave one of them looking a lot like the best there ever was. And it's Golden State. Click on History Calling Warriors, LeBron for my column previewing an especially special Finals. On Tiger, sports has never seen an athlete so great and dominant fall so far and hard. Click on A Fall From Greatness And From Grace to read.

NOTE TO READERS: Our major best-of poll closes around 2 pm. today and soon our Mount Rushmore-Plus. We'll also share thoughts from our Euro vacation, and hope you followed our tour of Spain, France and Italy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

WHO IS THE BIGGEST CURRENT STAR IN OUR BIG FOUR PRO SPORTS? LAST CHANCE TO VOTE!: Dolphins. Heat. Marlins. Panthers. (That's alphabetical). Of all the current players on those BigfourBig Four pro teams, who is the biggest star or the face of South Florida sports -- by however you would choose to define that. It was an easy answer for years when Dan MiamisportsMarino reigned. It was easy again when the Heat had LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Now, though, with the Heat's Big 3 a thing of the past and Jose Fernandez tragically gone, the answer has stopped being simple. The answer also might depend whether you put more weight on a player's greatness right now or spanning a full career. Below is my alphabetical list of our Top 20 current players in overall stature. It turned out to be eight Dolphins and four each of the other three teams. YOU MAY VOTE FOR YOUR TOP FIVE (5), and please do use all five of your votes. Then check back often to monitor evolving results because we'll be leaving this poll up the whole time we're away, until announcing our winners on June 12. This is the biggest poll in the history of our blog, both in length of ballot and duration of voting. If you find it tough to narrow your ballot to only five names, we'll have succeeded. By the way, I know that's an old Panthers logo in the illustration at right. Sorry. And remember: Please don't be unduly influenced by which team or sport happens to be your favorite. Respect all four teams as impartially as possible, perhaps as you might if you were an outsider examining another city's stars. We'll announce the results Tuesday afternoon, post-radio show. OK. Ready? Vote!

Remember to vote for your top FIVE (5)!

Deciphering a five-vote ballot: The maximum vote share for any one individual in this poll would be 20 percent, if all voters cast the maximum five votes each. The percentages you see multiplied by five equates to the percentage of times that player is included in voters' top fives. In other words, a player at 12% is being included on 60% of overall ballots.

TRUMP AND THE LINE TO RESPECT IN POLITICAL DISCOURSE: In the spirit of transparency, I did not vote for Donald Trump, and his performance in office has consistently reminded me why. I believe his occupying the White House, made dubious by Russian influence now under investigation, is the worst electorate mistake America has made in my lifetime. But there are lines to respect even in objecting to the office-holder. For me, poking fun at Trump is fine. For example, I delighted to see an immediate Urban Dictionary entry on his apparent Twitter misspelling of the word coverage as "covfefe": (Noun) When you want to say "coverage" but your hands are too small to hit all the letters on your keyboard. Now that's funny. (At least to Democrats!) But the controversy embroiling comedian Kathy Griffin? Not funny. At all. She posted and immediately apologized for a photo of herself holding what appeared to be Trump's bloody, disembodied head. CNN quickly and justifiably fired her as even the most Trump-loathing liberals joined the outcry against the offensive, over-the-line image. Object politically as you wish. It's still a free country. But what do we have left if we abandon our most basic tenets of civility?

POLL RESULTS: SHARPLY DIVIDED FEELINGS ON WHETHER TO FEEL BAD FOR TIGER: We asked, in the wake of his DUI arrest this week, "Do you feel bad for Tiger Woods?" Results skewed slightly anti-Tiger but mostly were mixed. It was 48.6 percent no, 41.2% yes and 10.2% undecided.

HOT BUTTON SPECIAL: Top 10 events in SoFla sports happening before our return from vacation June 12:

1. NBA Finals: Golden State and Cleveland through June 18 if needed. 

2. Marlins: Home through June 4, then on road June 5-11.

3. Stanley Cup Finals: Pittsburgh and Nashville through June 14 if needed.

4. French Open: Through June 11 in Paris.

5. UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid vs. Juventus in June 3 title match.

6. Dolphins OTA days: Next offseason practices are June 5-8.

7. MLB Draft: Happens June 12,with Marlins holding 13th pick.

8. WWE Summer Slam: Scheduled June 9 in Sunrise.

9. Belmont Stakes: Ends Triple Crown season June 10 in New York.

10. America's Cup sailing: Through June 27 in Bermuda.

Select other recent columns: Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. 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 31, 2017

Do you feel bad for Tiger Woods? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Jeb out as Marlins' buyer but Jeter bid lives on; also, 'World Fame 100,' UM baseball 44-year streak ends nobly, kneejerk reaction on Terry Frei, Hott Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, May 31. R.I.P., Frank Deford, famed sportswriter, gone at 78. Never met him, but much respect for who he was in this business. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, UM baseball streak ends, Tiger Woods' arrested, 50,000 Names tribute video, The List (Dolphins draft), your most-wins verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

ICYMI, our latest Sunday column: Golden State, LeBron on history's doorstep: For the Warriors as a team or LeBron James as a player, this NBA Finals is going to leave one of them looking a lot like the best there ever was. Click on History Calling Warriors, LeBron for my new Sunday column.

Tigerhappy TigersadSTRANGE LATEST CHAPTER IN THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF AN ALL-TIME GREAT: DO YOU FEEL BAD FOR TIGER WOODS?: Tiger is pictured in better days and in this week's booking mugshot. You know the weird story by now. Found asleep in his running car. Taken into custody at 2:49 a.m. Monday, booked at 7:18, released on his own recognizance at 10:50, to be will be arraigned in Palm Beach County Court July 5. But the DUI charge turned out not  to involve alcohol. He blew a perfect 0.00 breath test for that. Turned out to be a mix of prescription drugs, including painkillers, blamed on recent back surgeries. Said Woods in a statement: "I understand the severity of what I did, and I take full responsibility for my actions. I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly." Woods recently announced he'd miss the remainder of the 2017 PGA Tour season. Since his initial back surgery in MArch 2014 Woods has played only 19 Tour events with zero top-10s, his career majors number long stuck on 14. I feel bad for Tiger. Do you?

REPORT: JEB BUSH OUT OF RUNNING TO BUY MARLINS: The Associated Press, citing unidentified sources, first reports today that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has withdrawn from a bid to buy the Miami Marlins. Bush fronted the group led by ex-Yankees great Derek Jeter, who may continue to explore a bid with other money men. No reason for Bush's withdrawal was reported. "Gov. Bush has great respect for Derek Jeter, and Derek remains a great friend," the AP quoted a source. "And he's looking forward to a great rest of the season for the Marlins." The apparent frontrunner to buy the club now would appear to be the group fronted by businessman Tagg Romney (Mitt's son) that includes ex-Braves star pitcher Tom Glavine -- but not so fast on that. Bush had very little capital in the investment group, so that group very much would remain in the running with Jeter -- still involved -- out front. Today's no-Bush news, in effect, might end up meaning very little. Both groups had been considered nearly even in the running to make the deal. Existing owner Jeffrey Loria has lowered his asking price from $1.8 billion to (as of now) about $1.3B. There are reports the deal will be completed in the next couple of month so change of ownership might be ratified at the next MLB owners meeting in August.

JmorrisUM'S BASEBALL STREAK ENDS, BUT CANES WIN ANYWAY: The longest NCAA postseason streak in any sport -- Miami Hurricanes baseball's 44-year run -- ended Monday when UM was passed over for an at-large regional bid. It was a mild surprise but not a shock. After a 31-27 record, it's hard to argue the Canes got screwed. The nature of the tournament is that, as in basketball, automatic bids got to small-conference winners to fill much of the 64-team field. UM did get unlucky, though,as the first team out. UM coach Jim Morris was admirably gracious, saying, "It's an honor and a privilege to be part of the 44. It's a streak that's unmatched in any sport in NCAA history, so to be part of that and be part of that with coach [Ron] Fraser is an honor." Morris could have complained, claimed to have been cheated, claimed the selection committee didn't show proper reverence for his program's pedigree, or blamed the team's many injuries. Instead, no excuses. He took the high road. Good for him.

TerryfreiOVERREACTION IN FIRING OF TERRY FREI: I don't know Frei, until this week a Denver Post sportswriter, so this opinion is uninfluenced by friendship. He Tweeted something ill-advised. But I'm not sure it was a firing offense, given his immediate explanation and contrition. Frei Tweeted he was "uncomfortable" with a Japanese driver winning the Indy 500 on Memorial Day, harking to Pearl Harbor. For me, that was outrageous. The equivalent would have been me writing on Twitter that the Marlins should have sat Ichiro on Sunday for the same reasoning. That's pretty crazy. But, again, given the extenuating circumstances (Frei' s father fought in the war), and his fast apology, I feel bad that one lapse in judgement cost the man his job and reputation. Frei is pictured. A regrettably uttered or written sentiment can happen to any of us in this fast-paced business. I wish him well.

ESPN'S SECOND ANNUAL 'WORLD FAME 100': Click here for the full list, or stay here to save time. The top 10, in order: Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Lionel Messi, Roger Federer, Phil Mickelson, Neymar, Usain Bolt, Kevin Durant, Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods. Also notable: Serena Williams 19th, Tom Brady 21st and Dwyane Wade 24th. No current South Florida athlete made it. Thought maybe Jaromir Jagr and Ichiro had a chance to sneak in low.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 5-31-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Philadelphia at Marlins, 1:10 p.m: Fish have won 3 straight, are 4-1 in 10-game homestand.

2. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Pittsburgh leads Nashville 1-0 and home for Game two of Stanley Cup Finals.

3. French Open, 11 a.m: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic among notable on today's schedule.

4. Dolphins OTA day: Second of this week's three closed-to-public offseason practices.

[Note: NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

Select other recent columns: Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. 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 29, 2017

Respect and gratitude: Memorial Day 2017 (with video); plus updated Hot Button Top 10: See what falls where among UM baseball denied, NBA, Tiger arrest, Marlins, Fins, NHL; also, my Sunday column, Gregg Allman, most-wins verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Gallman1) It is MONDAY, May 29. R.I.P., Gregg Allman, pictured right, gone at 69. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from this past week's LeBatard Show. 3) 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): Dolphins vs. Canes most-wins poll, UM baseball reaches ACC semifinals, Fish vs. Trout, World OutGames Miami scandal & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Golden State, LeBron on history's doorstep: For the Warriors as a team or LeBron James as a player, this NBA Finals is going to leave one of them looking a lot like the best there ever was. Click on History Calling Warriors, LeBron for my new Sunday column.

MemdayMEMORIAL DAY 2017: RESPECT AND GRATITUDE: Ultimate respect and thanks on this Memorial Day 2017 for the thousands of Americans who have lost their lives fighting in our armed forces --fighting for us -- over our centuries of freedom. If someone should wish you a "happy Memorial Day" today, or mistake Memorial Day for Veterans Day, please politely correct them. This holiday is one of reflection, and gratitude, for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Every Memorial Day in my blog I present George Jones' 2002 video of his song, "50,000 Names." The song is about the Vietnam Memorial, but, more broadly, it is about the ultimate cost of freedom that we honor on this day. If you lost a loved one in military combat, this is for you:

Hot Button Top 10 going on holiday: Because of vacation, this will be the last Hot Button Top 10 for a little while. We'll be off the next two Sundays and return June 18.

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: Finally, it's on! The inevitable Warriors-Cavs Finals begins: It's the Golden State-Cleveland trilogy, LeBron-Steph III, and the rubber-match series begins Thursday night. Now all it has to be is the greatest Finals ever ending in a triple-overtime Game 7 to live up to expectations.

2. MARLINS: Can long homestand help fading Fish save season?: Miami hopes its current 10-game homestand, longest of the year (off to a 2-1 start), will help the Marlins start to turn around a sinking season. Fish thought that last time, too, just before the previous homestand in which they went 1-8. Now, tonight Marlins go for first two-game win streak since April 22-23.

3. UM BASEBALL: Canes denied NCAA bid, record streak ends!: UM went 2-1 in ACC Tournament with Saturdays' 12-4 semifinal loss in Louisville to North Carolina. That should have been enough, I thought, to earn an NCAA bid for record 45th consecutive year in Monday's selection show. Instead, UM was ddenied so the streak ends. Perspective: Canes' last time not in an NCAA Regional predated Dolphins' Perfect Season.

4. DOLPHINS: Another round of OTAs on deck: The next of the Fins' offseason “organized team activity” days are this Tuesday through Thursday. You know you're a football fan if you care about your team's no-pads, limited-hitting practices 3 ½ months before the season starts. otas wrap up june 5-8.

5. NHL: It's Nashville and Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup: Puck drops on Game 1 Monday. Pittsburgh has won four Stanley Cups including last season. Nashville is going for its first ever. Unless you live in western Pennsylvania, if you aren't rooting for the Predators, something's wrong with you.

6. MOTORSPORTS: Japan's Sato stuns in Indianapolis 500 goes: IndyCar racing owned the motorsport stage Sunday and delivered a surprise as journeyman driver Takuma Sato won the 101st "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Tokyo-born Sato, 40, was four years past his only previous IndyCar win. Bac home, he's Ichiro for a day!

7. TIGER WOODS: Woods arrested for DUI: The downward spiral of Tiger Woods sees a new chapter today following his overnight arrest for DUI in his hometown of Jupiter. The once-dominant golfer, recovering from back surgery, was booked at 7:18 a.m. and released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m. Pictured right from his booking photo: The new face of drunk.

8. TENNIS: French Open gets underway in Paris: A tennis tradition since 1891, French Open finds Rafael Nadal the clear men's favorite (he won today), but the women's side wide open, especially with No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber's shocking loss in first round Sunday. With neither Serena Williams nor Maria Sharapova playing, no Roger Federer, either, and now Kerber out, this major has taken a major hit in starpower.

9. SOCCER: Arsenal wins FA Cup final: Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 Saturday to win England's FA Cup. Call it an international soccer appetizer for the June 3 UEFA Champions League final in Wales as Real Madrid defends its European crown vs. Juventus.

10. WORLD OUTGAMES: Miami LGBTQ sporting event mired in scandal: The World OutGames Miami, set to have begun with an Opening Ceremony on Saturday, collapsed under a fraud investigation that canceled almost all athletic events. Was this thing being run by Fyre Festival promoters and Ja Rule or what!?

Missing the HB10 cut: Sailing's 35th America's Cup is underway in Bermuda. Quick tip for helmsmen: Avoid the Triangle ..... FAU reached C-USA baseball semifinals before losing Saturday. That and an 18-12 season could sneak Owls into NCAA Tournament. Give a hoot! ..... NASL's Miami FC faces Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday in next round of U.S. Open Cup. Am starting a GoFundMe campaign to buy Miami FC a nickname ..... Congrats, Canada! This makes it 23 straight seasons without a Stanley Cup ..... Sunrise arena will host WWE Summer Slam on June 9. Wonder who's scheduled to win? ..... Belmont Stakes coming up June 10, but, with no Triple Crown in play, not even Belmont cares ..... MLB Draft is set for June 12. Note to MLB: I know you're jealous that the NFL and NBA drafts get much more attention. Quick thought, baseball: Try having fewer than 4,687 rounds ..... R.I.P., Jim Bunning, workhorse pitcher from a day when starting pitchers actually completed games ..... Michael Vick wants a one-day contract to retire as a Falcon. And he should, doggone it!

POLL RESULT: UM FOOTBALL WILL OUT-WIN DOLPHINS IN 2017: We asked who is more likely to win the most games this coming season, and by not quote a 2-to-1 margin you had it 58.8 percent Hurricanes and 30.5% Dolphins. The other 10.7% answered, "Dead even. Got a coin?"

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-29-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA baseball selection show, noon: Hurricanes learn if streak stays alive with at-large bid.

2. Stanley Cup Finals, 8 pm.: Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of NHL Finals. 

3. Philadelphia at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish 10-game homestand continues vs. NL East rivals.

4. French Open, 11 a.m.: Men's favorite Rafael Nadal among those debuting in 1st-round matches.

[Note: NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

THE LIST: DOLPHINS NO. 1 PICKS ON DEFENSE: When I wrote recently that the Dolphins hope Charles Harris is their best No. 1 draft choice on defense in more than 20 years, here is what I meant. Miami's 10 most recent first-round picks on D prior to Harris:

Year    Player                        Results

(Results numbers are seasons, starts and Pro Bowls with Dolphins)

2013   Dion Jordan, DE          2-1-0

2010   Jared Odrick, DE         5-41-0

2009   Vontae Davis, DB         3-36-0*

2006   Jason Allen, DB           4-19-0

2001   Jamar Fletcher, DB      3-6-0

1996   Daryl Gardener, DT     6-77-0

1994   Tim Bowens, DT         11-155-2

1992   Troy Vincent, DB         4-55-0* 

1988   Eric Kumerow, DE       3-0-0

1987   John Bosa, DE            3-21-0

*-Davis and Vincent both made Pro Bowls, but not until after leaving Dolphins.

Select other recent columns: Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. 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 27, 2017

Who'll win more games, Dolphins or UM? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Canes in ACC semis, World OutGames scandal, Charles Harris, Fish vs. Trout, your NFL/celebration verdict, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Timpope1) It is SATURDAY, May 27. Pictured right: ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian as the Pope, via the great @angelresto28. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from this week's LeBatard Show. 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): NFL legalizes celebrating with poll, R.I.P. Cortez Kennedy, Canes baseball wins ACC Tournament opener, The List (MLB Draft) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: Why Charles Harris could be Dolphins' best defensive No. 1 pick in more than 20 years: Part of the reason: Harris is really good. Part of it, too. Miami hasn't had a first-round pick on defense make the Pro Bowl in a Dolphins uniform since Tim Bowens, who was drafted in 1994. Click on Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought for my latest column.

DolcaneWHO'LL WIN MORE GAMES IN 2017: DOLPHINS OR HURRICANES?: This is an easy answer as some football seasons approach. It isn't this year. It is debatable; there are good arguments on either side as both the Dolphins and Canes seem on the upswing under second-year head coaches Adam Gase and Mark Richt. Because it's debatable I'm curious what you think; hence, this poll. The Dolphins were 10-6 last season and made the playoffs for the first time in eight years. UM finished 9-4 after winning its first bowl game in 10 years. But can either improve on 2016? There are some doubts, based on Las Vegas betting odds. The Canes, post-Brad Kaaya, have uncertainty at quarterback, one reason for an over/under of 8 1/2 wins. And the Dolphins' betting over/under opened at a surprisingly low 7 1/2 wins. Say you have 100 bucks to go all in one which team wins more games in '17, Dolphins or Hurricanes. Who you got? Take a dip in our poll.

BIG DAY FOR MIAMI BASEBALL: UM WITH HUGE WIN IN ACC'S, FISH BEAT TROUT: Miami Marlins returned to Marlins Park Friday night to start a big 10-game homestand and started it right with an 8-5 win over Mike Trout's Los Angeles Angels. Think of Trout as what the Marlins wish Giancarlo Stanton was. Fish took a giant crap in the previous homestand, going 1-8, and had better find a spark fast to salvage a sinking season. On the college side, the Miami Hurricanes yesterday rallied from 2-0 down to beat Wake Forest 5-2 in their second game of the ACC Tournament in Louisville after UM won its opener. Miami now is in the Saturday semifinals vs. North Carolina. More important, being 2-0 in the ACCs and reaching the semis should be enough, win or lose today, for an NCAA Tournament bid -- and a continuation of UM's record streak of 44 years in a row of making the NCAAs.

FYRE FESTIVAL GOT NUTHIN' ON WORLD OUTGAMES MIAMI: The Fyre Festival fronted by Ja Rule was, of course, the recent disaster of a "luxury music festival" in the Bahamas that didn't happen, Wogigniting a barrage of lawsuits. Well, it isn't going much better for World OutGames Miami, the so-called "LGBTQ Olympics" that was supposed to have its Opening Ceremony tonight at Fillmore Miami Beach but instead is under investigation for fraud. The opening and closing ceremonies of the eight-day event have been abruptly canceled, and so have at least 17 of the 20 athletic events -- all at the last moment, after hundreds of athletes already had arrived. Miami Beach police and the Miami-Dade state attorney's office are investigating for misappropriation of funds. Said World Outgames in a press release: "It is with deep regret that due to financial burdens, World OutGames must cancel opening and closing ceremonies and sports programming with the exception of aquatics, country western dance and soccer. The Human Rights Conference and cultural programs will continue as planned. We thank everyone who has supported the effort and apologize to those who will be impacted by this difficult decision." Surely, litigation will ensue. Embarrassing for the World OutGames organization, and for the city of Miami Beach, which poured in at least $200,000 in advertising and support. Whether this turns out to have been willful fraud by World OutGames Miami or just massive incompetence, Miami Beach essentially got duped. The further shame: This was an ambitious event, at a time when LGBTQ rights are under attack and that community could have used the positivity of a successful Games, only to see them collapse in scandal. A shame.

NBA FINALS TWITTER VOTE: Follow me on Twitter @gregcote and vote in our NBA Finals polls. Update: Polls closed with 5,690 votes, and it was 56 percent predicting the Golden State Warriors would win, but 56% hoping the Cleveland Cavaliers would win. 

POLL RESULT: NFL SAYS PARTY ON, YOU SAY WOO-HOO!: We asked in a blogpoll what you thought of the NFL relaxing its rules to allow end-zone celebrations again, and it was 80.8 percent for it and only 14.6% against. The other 4.6% answered, "I'm chronically undecided."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 5-27-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Hurricanes vs. North Carolina, 4 p.m. but weather-delayed: UM baseball in ACC semis in Louisville.

2. L.A. Angels at Marlins, 4:10 p.m.: After Marlins win last night, Fish and (Mike) Trout do it again.

3. FA Cup final, 12:30 p.m.: It's Chelsea vs. Arsenal on the pitch at Wembley Stadium.

4. America's Cup, 8:30 p.m.: Sailing's jewel event begins with Opening Ceremonies in Bermuda.

[Note: NHL Finals begin Monday May 29. NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

Select other recent columns: What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. 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 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