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 25, 2017

Do you agree with NFL relaxing rules to allow TD celebrations? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Canes brace for Friday must-win in ACC; also, Marlins column, a clue in death of Cortez Kennedy?, new Back In My Day video, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, May 25. Thoughts and condolences with the loved ones of the victims of the Manchester concert terrorism in the U.K. R.I.P., innocents. So terribly sad that a miserable coward in a suicide vest can wreak such sorrow. #GivePeaceAChance. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from Tuesday'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): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday Marlins column & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New column: The Marlins' mysterious future: In what figures as a blockbuster summer for sports in South Florida, who buys the Marlins and what they do with the roster looms as the great unknown. Easy to say blow-it-up-and-start-over, but that wouldn't be easy. Or smart. Click on What's Next, Marlins? for my latest column.

EzpartyPARTY'S ON! NFL RELAXES RULES ON END-ZONE CELEBRATIONS: At this week's NFL spring owners meeting, the lords of King Sport reduced overtimes in the regular season from 15 to 10 minutes (because everybody loves ties!), flip-flopped host cities for the 2021 and '22 Super Bowls, and approved the Raiders' stadium lease in Las Vegas. But the talking-point, clearly, was a seismic shift on allowing personality back into the game -- as in, end-zone celebrations. Yes, the Old Fuddy-Duddy has loosened the corporate collar. The "No Fun League" is ready to party. New rules give players much leeway in how they celebrate a touchdown. Once banned but now allowed: orchestrated end-zone dance parties, using the football as a prop and group celebrations. As a further example, the NFL said players may now "roll around or flap their arms like snow angels on the ground again if they choose." Defensive players who just allowed the TD that ignited the celebration might not like it. I'm more interested in what you think. For me, it's good for the league, it's fun -- as long as the celebrating is reasonably brief and does not devolve into taunting. What say you? Take a dip in our poll and let us know.

TezHEADACHES A CLUE IN DEATH OF UM FOOTBALL GREAT CORTEZ KENNEDY?: Miami Hurricanes football great, Cortez Kennedy, the dominating defensive tackle, has died at age 48, Orlando police said Tuesday. Kennedy died alone in Orlando, where he lived. Police are investigating but initially reported nothing suspicious. A relative told the New York Times that Kennedy recently had been experiencing headaches. Kennedy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 after an 11-year career with the Seattle Seahawks in which he made eight Pro Bowls. Kennedy made the Associated Press NFL All-Decade team for the 1990s. "Tez" was the third overall pick in the '90 NFL draft out of UM after a stellar Canes career that included his being MVP of the 1989 national championship team. Kennedy is one of six former Canes inducted into Canton, and he and fellow Hall of Famer Warren Sapp are considered the greatest defensive tackles in school history.

JimmCANES WIN ACC TOURNEY OPENER, KEEP HOPE ALIVE TO CONTINUE 44-YEAR NCAA STREAK!: UM  yesterday beat Georgia Tech 6-5 in 13 innings in the Canes' ACC Tournament opener in Louisville. The Canes now face Wake Forest on Friday at 11 a.m., delayed from Thursday by rainouts in other games Wednesday. The winner advances to Saturday's semifinals. UM considers Friday's game a must-win in terms of the Canes staying alive to reach the NCAA Tournament for a record 45th straight season. Click on The Weight of History for my column by me previewing the Canes' challenge in the tourney. Original post: Miami Hurricanes baseball owns the top of our blog's marquee today. Most years at this time, UM is planning for a near-certain NCAA Regional host's role and dreaming of getting back to the College World Series in Omaha. This time, though, that's getting way ahead of ourselves. UM's record-setting 44-year NCAA streak is in jeopardy after an uncommonly common 29-26 regular season. Can the young men of Jim Morris (pictured) win the ACC tourney to secure an automatic bid? Or, falling short of the title, can they win win two games this week or perhaps even three to make an at-large invitation likely? That positions UM, a four-time national champion, in the unlikely role of underdog. Odds are against the Canes. That also lends an unusual drama to the start of conference-tournament play for Miami. Will Morris' next-to-last season end in ignominy? UM last missed the NCAAs in 1972. Today we begin to learn if the weight of that 44-year streak lifts or crushes the Canes.

THE LIST: LOCAL PLAYERS IN MLB DRAFT: The MLB Draft is June 12 and, according to Baseball America's Top 200 prospects list, here are the players from South Florida high schools who are highest rated:

Rank    Player, Pos., School

38        Mark Vientos, SS/3B, American Heritage (Plantation)

50        M.J. Melendez, C, Westminster Christian (Palmetto Bay)

59        James Marinan, RHP, Park Vista (Lake Worth)

60        Jake Eder, LHP, Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale)

68        Jeter Downs, SS, Pace (Miami Gardens)

75        Joe Perez, RHP/1B, Archbishop McCarthy (Southwest Ranches)

89        Shane Drohan, LHP, Cardinal Newman (West Palm Beach)

Note: Among college players, three Gators, one Seminole but no Miami Hurricanes make Top 200.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 5-25-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 8:30 p.m.: Cavaliers up 3-1 at Celtics as Cleveland tries to close out Eastern finals.

2. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Ottawa at Pittsburgh in a winner-take-all Game 7 of Eastern finals.

3. Dolphins OTA day: Third of three this week, but this one's closed to the public, too.

[Note: Marlins off today, and UM/ACC baseball game postponed until Friday].

Select other recent columns: 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 01, 2017

Grade the Dolphins' 2017 draft: Last chance to vote in poll!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), list of state players drafted, your verdict on Harris pick, HB Daily (Mon), Happy birthday Willie (with new song) & more

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

May1) It is MONDAY, May 1. Happy new month, all! 2) Miami's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring from Congress. Ihave not always agreed with her politics, but it's my impression she had has a trail-blazing career that was big and important. Congratulations. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. 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 draft Harris No. 1 with poll, Day 2 picks, my Mock Draft with results, The List (Fins draft), Neil Diamond concert review & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

ZachtMy Sunday column on Dolphins draft: Two decades later, Zach Thomas reminds us why the late rounds of a draft are so important. ICYMI, click on The Kid From Pampa to read. Also, click on Right Pick For Right Reasons for my earlier column on Dolphins first-round choice Charles Harris.

DolphinsGRADE THE DOLPHINS' 2017 DRAFT: LAST CHANCE TO VOTE!: I know, I know. Instant grading is a strange thing. It probably takes three years to fully, fairly and accurately say how a team's draft fared. But who's got the patience for that!? I invite your grade simply from an initial-impression perspective, based on where the Dolphins were picking, what you think their needs were and who they drafted. A complete list of the newest Dolphins is below. Now tell Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier and Adam Gase how you think they did the past three days. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results:


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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS/NFL DRAFT: Mizzou's Harris leads Fins' defense-first draft: Missouri sack-man Charles Harris, whose spin move makes offensive tackles dizzy, went No. 1 in Miami's defense-heavy draft as the annual meat market wrapped up Saturday. As for the pass rusher's Fins future? Is closer to Cam Wake than to Dion Jordan too much to ask? 

2. MARLINS: Fish end slump as sale talk accelerates: Fish had lost four straight before Sunday's Justin Bour-fueled win over Pittsburgh and now host Tampa Bay for a pair starting tonight as pending sale of team continues to override season. The Jeb Bush/Derek Jeter group is reported frontrunner, but that's if Jeb proves much better at raising capital than at running for president.

3. NBA: Playoffs' conference semifinals underway: First round ended Sunday with Jazz advancing on road in a Game 7, now conference-semifinal round unfurls in full with Cleveland and San Antonio hosting Game 1s tonight. Can Raptors make it tough on LeBron James? Well, you know mosr of Miami hopes so, anyway.

4. HURRICANES: Nine Canes including Kaaya go in draft: UM's nine NFL Draft picks were the most of any state school, with tight end David Njoku the only first-rounder. Quarterback Brad Kaaya eventually was taken in the sixth (of seven) rounds. YSSB: Ya Shoulda Stayed, Brad!  

5. NASCAR: Junior announces this is final season: Joey Logano won Sunday. But the bigger news: Dale Earnhardt Jr. said 2017 will be his final year of racing after battling a concussion most of last season. That means Homestead will be his last race. Dear NASCAR: Finagle the rules to make sure he's in the four-man finals contending for his only season title. Thank you.

6. HORSE RACING: We're five days from Kentucky Derby: Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown season starts next Saturday at Churchill Downs, with Florida Derby winner Always Dreaming among the favorites. Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola owns the horse. Hope it runs better than his hockey team did this season.

7. HEAT: No playoffs, but Miami still in the headlines: ESPN The Magazine had a big profile of Heat prez Pat Riley, a reminder that Riley out of the playoffs is still more interesting than any front-office executive in them. Meanwhile Heat's Dion Waiters said every playoff team should be thankful it isn't facing Miami. And believe it or not, he was serious!

8. NHL: Conference semifinals underway: It's down to the final eight in the skate for Lord Stanley's Cup and, with the Panthers not in it, I cannot bring myself to feign the interest to say much more.

9. PANTHERS: Cats not thrilled with lottery outcome: Florida Panthers finished 10th in the NHL Draft lottery for June's draft, two spots lower than their percentage had indicated as a likelihood. GM Dale Tallon said they're looking for a big-time scorer. Get in line, pal.  

10. TENNIS: Sharapova returns from doping ban: WTA star Maria Sharapova reached the semifinals before losing in a tournament in Germany that marked her return to tennis after a 15-month ba. Timing is good. With her career nemesis Serena Williams on maternity leave, Maria might actually have a shot.

Missing the HB10 cut: Barcelona and Real Madrid official have assured their full rosters will be in Miami for their July 29 El Clasico. Which, said three months in advance, means precious little ..... Chelsea at Everton in a huge EPL match Sunday. Alas, Toffees fell hard at Goodison, 3-nil ..... That Cubs-Red Sox series was a likely World Series preview, according to Cubs and Red Sox fans ..... Canes baseball took two of three at Boston College. The phrase "too little, too late" comes to mind ..... Aaron Hernandez is still dead. Whoa! Too soon?

AsiataDOLPHINS DAY 3 DRAFT IS BEEFY WITH TWO DT'S, OG BEFORE CLOSING WITH WR: Miami began its Day 3 draft by taking Utah guard Isaac Asiata 164th overall after a minor trade-up. Asiata is pictured looking mean, which is good. He's 6-3 and 323 pounds and has had weight issues but is draft's sixth-rated guard and at a need position for Miami. Fins followed that by selecting 310-pound LSU defensive tackle David Godchaux, targeting another position in need of depth. Then they added yet another DT in Oklahoma State's Vincent Taylor, who grades as a better prospect that Godchaux. Miami's fourth and final Day 3 pick was wide receiver Isaiah Ford of Virginia Tech, not a position need, but in the last round, what the heck. Below is an ongoing chart of Fins' final 2017 draft haul: 

Dolphins' final 2017 draft:

Player, School, Pos.                          Round (Overall)  PosRank     OverallRank     Grade 

Charles Harris, Missouri, DE/OLB          1 (22nd)         1 (as OLB)  18                       90
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State, ILB      2 (54th)          7                 78                       76
Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson, CB          3 (97th)         21               138                       63
Isaac Asiata, Utah, OG                               5 (164th)       6                 129                       67  
Davon Godchaux, DT, LSU                        5 (178th)       25               ---                        30
Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State       6 (194th)       15              151                       60
Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech               7 (237th)       35               218                      47

Poll result: Solid approval for Harris pick at No.1: We asked your initial reaction to the Dolphins drafting Missouri pass-rusher Charles Harris 22nd overall, and it was 47.9 percent "like it" and 21.9% "love it" -- a combined thumbs-up of 69.8%. That isn't overwhelming approval, but it's solid. The remaining votes were 13.3% "don't like it" and 5.0% "hate it," with the other 11.9% undecided.

COMPLETE FINAL LIST: MIAMI HAS MOST STATE-COLLEGE PLAYERS DRAFTED, WITH KAAYA TO LIONS IN 6TH: It's 27 and counting now, with UM's Brad Kaaya the sixth Hurricane to go, WR Stacy Coley the seventh, and safety Adrian Colbert the eighth:

Miami Hurricanes (9): TE David Njoku 1st round (29th overall) to Browns  /  S Rayshawn Jenkins 4-113 to Chargers  /  CB Corn Elder 5-152 to Panthers  /  OG Danny Isidora 5-180 to Vikings  /  DE Al-Quadin Muhammad 6-196 to Saints  /  QB Brad Kaaya 6-215 to Lions  /  WR Stacy Coley 7-219 to Vikings  /  S Adrian Colbert 7-229 to 49ers  /  FB Marquez Williams 7-240 to Jaguars.

FIU Panthers (1): TE Jonnu Smith 3-100 to Titans.

FAU Owls (1): DE  Trey Hendrickson 3-103 to Saints.

Florida Gators (8): LB Jarrad Davis 1-21 to Lions  /  S Marcus Maye 2-39 to Jets  /  CB Quincy Wilson 2-46 to Colts  /  CB Teez Tabor 2-53 to Lions  /  LB Alex Anzalone 3-76 to Saints  /  OG David Sharpe 4-129 to Raiders  /  DT Caleb Brantley 6-185 to Browns  /  DT Joey Ivey 7-228 to Cowboys.

Florida State Seminoles (4): RB Dalvin Cook 2-41 to Vikings  /  DE DeMarcus Walker 2-51 to Broncos  /  OT Roderick Johnson 5-160 to Browns  /  CB Marquez White 6-216 to Cowboys.

UCF Knights (1): CB Shaquill Griffin 3-90 to Seahawks.

South Florida Bulls (3): RB Marlon Mack 4-143 to Colts  /  WR Rodney Adams 5-170 to Vikings  /  OT Kofi Amichia 6-212 to Packers. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-1-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Tampa Bay at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: State rivals open 4-game "Citrus Series," 2 here then 2 in Tampa.

2. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Raptors-Cavaliers, Rockets-Spurs in two 2nd-round Game 1s.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Capitals at Penguins in 2nd-round with Pittsburgh up 2-0.

Select other recent columns: Home Run For Miami, the latest, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. 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.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILLIE NELSON!: The country music icon turned 84 Saturday and still going strong, touring, making new music. Here's a new song from him. Enjoy!

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 29, 2017

What do you think of Dolphins taking Missouri DE Charles Harris in 1st round? Poll. Last chance to vote!; plus Fins stick with D in 2nd round, Cote slays Kiper/McShay in Mock Draft; also, Neil Diamond concert review, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, April 29. It's NFL Draft Week in America! 2) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins pre-draft poll, updated NHL odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Cote slays the Mock giants!: ESPN draftniks Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both scored four bull's-eyes in their Mock first rounds -- exact player to exact team. Kiper correctly had Garrett to Browns, Fournette/Jags, McCaffrey/Panthers and Davis/Lions. McShay had Garrett, Fournette, McCaffrey and Davis to Titans. The Herald's Mock Man Greg Cote -- hey, that's me! --doubled both experts with eight (!) first-round bull's-eyes. I correctly had Garrett, Fournette, McCaffrey, Adams to Jets, Harris/Dolphins, Bolles/Broncos, Charlton/Cowboys and Watt/Steelers.

MY TAKE ON HARRIS PICK: OH YEAH!: [Click on Right Pick For Right Reasons for my full column on Miami's choice of Charles Harris]. I correctly had Miami selecting the Mizzou pass rusher 22nd overall in my Mock Draft (see below), so naturally I am somewhat predisposed to think the Dolphins did the right thing and made a great selection. But it's true. They could have taken Canes tight end David Njoku or Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp, but this first round should have focused on defense, and did. They could have then chosen Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, a highly graded defender whose stock had dropped, but he had off-field issues that led to that tumble. In Harris the Dolphins get a quality talen, an outside-linebacker or end who brings a fierce pass rush -- a role of need. Read the column linked above for my full take. Now, how the Dolphins did in the first round Thursday night is up to you. Here's your poll. Vote now!

 

POLL RESULT: DOLFANS DREAMING OF REUBEN FOSTER: We asked which potential Dolphins first-round draft pick among seven listed would you most hope Miami selects, and Alabama LB Reuben Foster dominated 53.8 percent. Western Kentucky OG Forrest Lamp also had sizable support with 23.8%, followed by Florida LB Jarrad Davis with 12.1%. Then it was Ohio State CB Gareon Conley 4.5%, Michigan State DT Malik McDowell 3.4%, Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey 1.4% and Washington CB Kevin King 1.1%.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS PICKS IN NO. 22 RANGE: Miami is slotted to select 22nd overall tonight. Dolphins first-draft picks in the 20 to 24 range, chronologically:

Year    Pick    What happened

1971    22      Traded to Baltimore as compensation for Don Shula

1975    23      Drafted Tampa OT Darryl Carlton

1978    24      Traded to San Francisco for RB Delvin Williams

1979    24      Drafted Michigan OT Jon Giesler

1980    21      Drafted Alabama CB Don McNeal

1982    24      Drafted Southern Cal OG Roy Foster

1991    23      Drafted Miami WR Randal Hill

1994    24      Drafted Mississippi DT Tim Bowens

1996    20      Drafted Baylor DE Daryl Gardener

1999    24      Traded to San Francisco in trade-down

2000    23      Traded to Carolina in 1998 trade-up

2004    20      Traded to Minnesota in trade-up

2017    22      Drafted Missouri DE Charles Harris

REVIEW: THE STRANGE EXPERIENCE OF A NEIL DIAMOND CONCERT: I like seeing great music acts I've not seen before, and counted Neil Diamond in that category, so my wife and I attended Ndiamondhis nearly sold-out show at the Panthers' arena in Sunrise Wednesday night. He'd been on my personal radar since his iconic Hot August Night double-album in 1972, and I was eager to see him. He played just over 2 hours, with the canon of songs to carry it. He is not a great singer in a classic sense, but at 76 his voice remains strong. I was most struck by the manner of his performance. He is very theatrical, from opening note to the hand gestures that close a song. There is melodrama to a Diamond concert. HIs lyrics and delivery can be a bit  overwrought, sometimes bordering on schmaltzy. He knows how to milk a crowd, how to strike an emotional chord. He engaged the audience. Appropriately, for a 50th anniversary tour, the childhood photos and videos shown behind him were interesting, and enhancing. He's still that kid born and raised in Brooklyn. (Which is funny, considering his best-known and most-loved hit, Sweet Caroline, became the anthem of the Boston Red Sox). There were times you rolled your eyes at the over-the-top drama of his performance, and yet his adoring audience ate it up. His style ages well, plays well to his older demographic. (Put it this way: I felt young in that crowd). The guitar he plays mostly is an ornament. His main instrument is a microphone, and a connection to his crowd. Diamond is a gifted songwriter, a poetic lyricist, a showman, a real pro. He's a Hall of Famer with unequivocal cause.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 4-29-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Pittsburgh at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish try to snap 3-game losing skid.

2. NFL draft, noon: Day 3 wraps it up with rounds 4 through 7.

3. NHL playoffs, 3 p.m.: Ottawa, Washington host 2nd-round Game 2s.

4. Hurricanes at Boston College, 1:30 p.m.: UM baseball in 2nd of 3-game set.

[NBA playoffs have the day off].

Select other recent columns: Home Run For Miami, the latest, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. 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 08, 2017

Marlins next-owner poll: Jeter? Jeb? Someone else? 5 candidates. Last day to vote!; plus Heat playoff odds tumble (updated), your verdict on Romo, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Legolandbeachretreat1) It is SATURDAY, April 8. Interesting story here on how Vegas sportsbooks are split on whether to refund bets on Dustin Johnson after his (very) late withdrawal from The Masters. 2) LegoLand Florida's Beach Retreat adjunct (pictured) opened Friday in Winter Haven. How delightfully weird! 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): Jeter/Bush among Marlins bidders, playoff odds swing against Heat, '18 NCAA title odds, Romo to CBS with poll, your Marlins expectations verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"LaVar Ball, briefly out of the spotlight, sought it again this week by blaming his son's UCLA team's ouster from NCAA Tournament on teammates he referred to as 'three white guys.' Not to repeat myself, but: You, sir, are an idiot." --Greg Cote

Marlinslogo ForsalePOLL: NAME YOUR FAVORITE POTENTIAL NEW MARLINS OWNERSHIP GROUP: I have a new column out touting Derek Jeter to replace (supposedly) departing Jeffrey Loria as Miami Marlins owner. Click on Because Jeter Is Everything Loria Is Not to read that column. Now it's your turn. Select your preferred next Marlins owner from among the currently identified plausible options. Vote now:

UPDATED: HEAT PLAYOFFS ODDS TUMBLE: Miami remains the 9th seed but is now one full game off playoff pace behind Chicago and Indiana after last night's hurtful loss in Toronto. 9thWith it, ESPN's Basketball Power Index playoff odds now give Miami only a 39.3 percent shot, down from 52.5 percent%. The Bulls' likelihood is now put at 94.7% and the Pacers' at 75.0%. The Heat's ace in the hole and best hope? A tiebreaker edge over Indiana, which would end up securing that 8th seed if their final records are tied. Closing schedules, though, still clearly favor CHI/IND and grow skepticism on Miami's playoff chances:

Chicago Bulls 39-40: @ Brooklyn .241 tonight; vs. Orlando .354 and vs. Brooklyn .241.

Indiana Pacers 39-40: @ Orlando .354 tonight; @ Philadelphia .354 and vs. Atlanta .519.

Miami Heat 38-41: @ Washington .608 tonight; vs. Cleveland .646 and vs. Washington .608.

Poll result: Romo a Hall of Famer? Oh hell no!: We asked if QB-turned-CBS analyst Tony Romo had a Hall of Fame-worthy NFL career, and it was 79.3 percent no and only 11.6% yes. The other 9.1% were undecided.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 4-8-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Washington, 7 p.m.: Miami, in final road game, still fighting to sneak in playoffs.

2. Buffalo at Panthers, 7 p.m.: Home finale for Cats' hugely disappointing season.

3. The Masters, 3 p.m. (TV): Third round of year's first golf major.

4. Marlins at N.Y. Mets, 7:10 p.m.: Fifth of six-game season opening road trip for Fish.

5. Duke at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball opens three-game ACC series.

Select other recent columns: 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. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. 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 CityIs 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

April 06, 2017

Heat still playoff-unlikely even with big win; plus Jeter, Jeb join list of interested Marlins buyers; also, Romo/Canton poll (last day to vote!), '18 NCAA title odds, lamb-flavored potato chips, Hot Button Daily, expectations bar you set for Fish & more

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

Lambchips1) It is THURSDAY, April 6. Comic great Don Rickles has died at 90. R.I.P. 2) Back In My Day: Potato Chips. Click here for our latest BIMD from yesterday's LeBatard Show. 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): Marlins Opening Day poll and list, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

2018 men's NCAA Tournament title odds: Out today via Bovada, Kentucky opens as favorite at 9-1, with North Carolina second at 12-1 to repeat. Florida Gators are 25-1 (tied for 12th), FSU Seminoles are 33-1 (tie 17th) and Hurricanes ar 40-1 (tie 21st).

DEREK JETER, JEB BUSH REPORTEDLY NOW AMONG INTERESTED MARLINS BUYERS: Confirming long-percolating rumors, Fox Business Network and FoxBusiness.com reported this Jeterafternoon (story here) that former Yankees superstar Derek Jeter (pictured) is fronting a group interested in buying the Miami Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. The report sources "people with direct knowledge" and says Jeter is being represented in talks with Marlins president David Samson by Wall Street executive and former Morgan Stanley brokerage chief Gregory Fleming. Jeter has long been open about his interest in owning a sports team, especially in baseball. Fox Business reports another bidding group is led by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Citigroup. A third bidding group is said to have the financial backing of Goldman Sachs. Loria made plain at the start of recent spring training that he plans to sell and as soon as this season. The asking price has been reporte as high at $1.6 billion but many believe the actual sale price could be half of that. Earlier this spring, yet another potential bidder was the Kushner real estate, but that possibility seemed to have cooled for now related to a Kushner son being married to Donald Trump's daughter and Loria's possible nomination as ambassador to France.

UPDATED: ODDS STILL AGAINST HEAT MAKING PLAYOFFS: Really big win in Charlotte last night lifted Miami to the 8th seed (with tiebreakers), but Heat still are deemed unlikely to make the playoffs. Can't really blame the 11-30 record at midseason because Miami clawed successfully back from that to get on playoff Miamiheatpace, climbing as high as the 7th seed. No, it was the two bad home losses in a row and four L's in six games overall (The Missing Dion Waiters Effect) before last night. Chicago, Indiana and Miami now all have identical records, but each of those three teams' remaining schedules hugely favors the Bulls and is toughest by far for the Heat. That is why ESPN's Basketball Power Index now gives Chicago a 93.4 percent playoff likelihood, Indiana 75.8% and Miami only 31.8%. Comparing the remaining schedules:

Chicago Bulls 38-40: @ Philadelphia .359; @ Brooklyn .244; vs. Orlando .346 and vs. Brooklyn .244.

Indiana Pacers 38-40: vs. Milwaukee .513; @ Orlando .346; @ Philadelphia .359 and vs. Atlanta .506.

Miami Heat 38-40: @ Toronto .608; @ Washington .603; vs. Cleveland .654 and vs. Washington .603.

ON TONY ROMO TO CBS: Tony Romo abruptly retires from the Cowboys and NFL and immediately becomes CBS Sports' main NFL game analyst as the network dumps Phil Simms and Romosimmsinstalls Romo alongside play-by-play ace Jim Nantz on featured games. Controversial? Yes, I guess, because former CBS mainstay Bonnie Bernstein Tweeted angrily that the decision was "total crap" and unfair to Simms because Romo has zero broadcast experience. Hey, here's a bulletin. No former NFL star is hired for his on-air background, his dulcet tones or even for the likelihood he might actually excel in his new role. Former stars are hired because they are former stars. Well-known. Apt to attract viewers. It's how Phil Simms got hired. And Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Rich Gannon, Troy Aikman, Steve Young and every other ex-QB handed a mic. Some turn out to be pretty good. Most don't. Simms wasn't. That he got replaced should surprise nobody who follows sports broadcasting. That he got replaced by other ex-QBs even less a shock. Whether Romo "deserves" his new job isn't the most interesting question about him. The one I pose in this poll is, because I think it's debatable, with a pretty strong argument on either side. Vote now.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 4-6-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. The Masters, 3 p.m. (TV): First round of year's first golf major from Augusta.

2. Marlins at Washington, 4 p.m.: Fish try to avoid sweep in season-opening road series.

3. Heat rivals, 7 p.m.: MIA fans will be rooting against Bulls (at PHI) and Pacers (vs. MIL).

4. St. Louis at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats' next-to-last home game of season.

5. Men's Frozen Four, 6 p.m.: From Chicago, for all of you college hockey fans.

Poll result: Confidence in Marlins slips: That's based on identical polls we took at the start of spring training in mid-February and at the start of the season this week. The combination of "playoffs or contending" has fallen from 53.2 percent to 41.5%, while the combination of "mediocre or worse" has risen from 46.9% to 58.5%. The breakdown:

Poll answer                                              Feb.        Now

The playoffs, finally!                              16.8%      10.0%

Contending team that just misses    36.4%      31.5%

Mediocre team never really in hunt  37.1%      46.2%

Post-Jose, a bad season                          9.8%       12.3% 

Select recent columns: Federer and Nadal Deliver, the latest, 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. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. 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 CityIs 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

March 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes/NCAAs, Fernandez saga, Heat down to 8, viva Team USA!, tennis, Cats, cricket; plus Cote says thanks, Chuck Berry, your Jose verdict, Hot Button Daily & more

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

Chuckberry1) It is MONDAY, March 20. R.I.P., Chuck Berry (pictured in his latter years), the influential rock 'n roll guitar icon, gone over the weekend at age 90. Rest in Peace, Johnny B. Goode. 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): We name our March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Love & Regret/Jose Fernandez saga with poll, UM men fall in NCAAs & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

'Cote's Coterie' lifts us to final four!: A late surge of support Sunday carried us past Mike Ryan and into the final four of Slice Miami's annual sports media poll. I'm now up against Amber Wilson in the semifinals. Uh oh. Click on Slice Miami Final Four to vote.

My bracket update: Still solid: As the NCAA Tournament pauses and exhales I stand tied for ninth place among some 90 entries in a LeBatard & Friends pool. I have 12 teams still alive in the Sweet 16. Is that pretty good? Or average? Took a hit though with Duke falling. I'd had the Devils reaching the (but not winning) the championship game. By the way, to this point, favorites (based on seeding) are 38-10, a 79.2 percent win rate. Once again, the Cinderella aspect of March Madness appears largely oversold.

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. HURRICANES / NCAA TOURNAMENT: Miami makes quick exit from March Madness: An unexpectedly good season ended so badly for Canes men in a very disappointing 78-58 opening loss to Michigan State Friday night in Tulsa. How is your bracket looking as we arrived Sunday at the Sweet 16? Mine is a sieve leaking a torrent of my own tears. (It isn't, really. But it's funnier to say that...)

2. JOSE FERNANDEZ: State says Jose at wheel, caused crash: The story that couldn't possibly get any worse keeps getting worse. The latest: A report confirming Fernandez was at the wheel and to blame for fatal boat crash. Isn't a tragedy worst when you know it should never have happened? (Click on A Complicated Legacy for my column on latest development in saga).

3. HEAT: Can we please start a “We're No. 8!” chant?: Heat fell from 7th to 8th seed with Sunday's home loss to portland -- only the team's sixth loss in past 29 games. Meantime Dwyane Wade is out for the rest of season in Chicago, another reminder Heat seems more and more right to have let Wade go.

4. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Stanton homers as Team USA wins, makes final four: Americans beat Dominican Republic late Saturday in San Diego, 6-3, led by Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's go-ahead home run. Winner-take-all game eliminated D.R. and lifted U.S. to WBC championship round at Dodger Stadium and a semifinal vs. Japan. Team USA has never won this event. "Can you believe it?" said a clearly annoyed Abner Doubleday. Let's gooooo States!

5. TENNIS: Miami Open begins on Key Biscayne: Andy Murray and especially Serena Williams are among major withdrawals with injuries for the two-week event starting Monday. I feel like Serena is so good she could at least reach the semifinals playing on crutches. Meantime, IMG, which owns the event, assures it will remain on Key Biscayne long-term. That means the Miami Open has won the Miami Open.

6. UM WOMEN: Canes win NCAA opener, carry banner for UM hoops: Miami survived upset-minded Florida Gulf Coast, 62-60, at home Saturday in its NCAA Tournament opener and will now face Quinnipiac Monday night 9, home again. What the Hurricanes men failed to do, the women did: Avoid a one-and-done.

7. PANTHERS: Don't write Cats off yet. Almost. But not yet: Florida is six points off NHL playoff pace with only 11 games left after getting spanked 4-0 Sunday in Pittsburgh. Somewhere between simply needing a lot of luck and needing a miracle rest the Panthers' chances.   

8. BOXING: Mayweather-McGregor penciled in for September: The hype has begun with Conor McGregor saying he's going to "shock the world" and win by boxing against heavily favored Floyd Mayweather in their mixed boxing/UFC bout rumored for September. Am I alone in wishing there were a way they both could lose?

9. NFL FREE AGENCY: Report: Teams awary of Kaepernick because of Trump: An AFC GM said teams are hesitant to sign available QB Colin Kaepernick for fear of a an onslaught of negative Tweets from Donald Trump. And in other free agency news, the Dolphins have done pretty good so far but not quite as good as the Patriots. Or did that go without saying?  

10. CRICKET: India beats Australia, I think: Actual lead of news story I read Sunday morning: "RANCHI, India (AP) -- A 199-run seventh-wicket partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha gave India a 152-run lead after they declared their first innings at 603-9 against Australia on Sunday." Anyone who has any idea what any of that means, would you please keep it to yourself?

Missing the HB10 cut: Congrats to our blog's March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Ken Whiteley of Chattanooga, Tennessee ..... Canes baseball fell to 8-13 Saturday. Sorry to place you below cricket, Jim Morris, but until you start winning, no Top 10 for you! ..... NASCAR runs today in Phoenix. It will be loud. I won't watch. 

Poll result: Shaky support for Marlins honoring Fernandez with uniform patch: We asked if, in light of this week's report putting Jose Fernandez behind the wheel of the fatal boat crash that killed him and two others, it still is appropriate that the Marlins this season to wear a uniform patch honoring Jose. The results: 39.2 percent "Yes. Because of all he meant to Miami and to the Marlins." "No. Not when he caused the tragedy that took two other lives"; and 28.0% "Not sure. I can see both sides." That's a plurality who still favor the patch, but roughly another 60% who are against it or have misgivings. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-20-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. Quinnipiac at Hurricanes, 9:10 p.m.: UM women host 2nd-round game for spot in Sweep 16.

2. Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico, 9 p.m.: First World Baseball Classic semifinal game from L.A.

3. Miami Open tennis, 10 p.m.: Main draw starts Tuesday, but qualifying matches happening today.

4. Marlins vs. Braves, 1:05 p.m.: Spring game in Lake Buena Vista.

Select recent columns: A Complicated Legacy, the latest, on developments in the Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on the NCAA Tournament. D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  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 13, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Starring Canes and Selection Sunday, Team USA collapse, white-hot Heat, ice-cold Cats, El Clasico; plus didn't we invent baseball?, concert review (Smokey Robinson), Lorde, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, March 13. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Thank you Mae Riback, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Canes out in ACCs, ESPN analyst slams Dolphins for Stills/Branch deals, how/why 'The Ballad Of 1440' happened & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

NCAA title odds by conference: Via Bovada today, odds on which conference will produce the men's NCAA Tournament national champion: ACC 11-4, Pac-12 7-2, Big 12 19-4, Big East 6-1, SEC 19-2, Big Ten 22-1, field (any other conference) 19-2.

LordeMy sweet Lorde: Really like Lorde and like her new song, "Green Light," that she performed on SNL last night. Click here to see the song's official video. Side note: Lorde is 20. In the video, for reasons unknown and as pictured, she looks 40.

ICYMI: Thank you, Mae Riback: This was a recent short human-interest column about my finally meeting my oldest fan, and it has gotten an extraordinary outpouring of positive response. If you missed it, click on Thank you, Mae Riback 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. NCAA TOURNAMENT: Hurricanes to face Michigan State in opener: Selection Sunday set the 68-team men's NCAA Tournament field last evening, including a Miami Hurricanes vs. Michigan State first-round matchup Friday night at 9:20 p.m. in the Midwest regional in Tulsa. Canes, 8-seeds, have opened as 2-point favorites over the 9-seed Spartans. So. Ready? "Gentlemen (and ladies) ... start ... your ... brackets!"

2. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Team USA, Dominicans advance: Four-team round robin play at Marlins Park ended Sunday night with the U.S. and Dominican Republic advancing to the next round of the WBC. The D.R. is defending champion while underachieving Team USA has never won a WBC title or even medaled. Um, didn't we invent baseball!? Tick-tock, fellas. Represent, dammit!

3. HEAT: Miami still 1 back in playoff chase: Heat is on a 21-5 run even after losing at Indiana Sunday as it awaits a five-game homestand starting Wednesday, but still is 1 game back of the 8th seed and playoff pace. Meanwhile coach-of-the-year talk has begun for Erik Spoelstra. That's the plus side of starting 11-30. Nowhere to go but up.

4. SOCCER: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona confirmed for Miami: Months of rumors are now reality. “El Clasico,” the best rivalry in international club soccer, is coming to Hard Rock Stadium July 29. Major event? I'd liken it to a Super Bowl, but that might flatter the NFL. (Barcelona, by the way, just engineered the greatest comeback in Champions League history in overcoming a 4-0 hole to oust Paris St. Germain).

5. NFL: Dolphins busy as free agency underway: Miami spent big to keep S Reshad Jones and WR Kenny Stills as free agency began, and also signed former Pro Bowl LB Lawrence Timmons and reacquired TE Anthony Fasano. A team that made the playoffs for first time since 2008 is acting like it's serious about building something. Dolfans call that "a pleasant change."

6. PANTHERS: Reeling Cats sink from playoff race: Florida made it eight losses in past nine games in falling at Tampa Bay Saturday and now is seven points off NHL playoff pace. There is a phrase for chances Cats still make the postseason. It is, "Miracle on Ice." 
 
7. UM WOMEN: It's Selection Monday for Katie Meier's Canes: Women's NCAA field materializes this evening, and 16th-ranked Canes expect to be around a No. 5 regional seed. UM women have shaky history in NCAAs, so pressure will be on.
 
8. TONY ROMO: What's happening with poor Tony?: They're trading him. They're not trading him. What the Dallas Cowboys do with unseated veteran quarterback Tony Romo has become the biggest drama of NFL free agency.
 
9. NASCAR: Truex wins Las Vegas: Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday's NASCAR race. Gee, you think a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway had any bets placed on it? Now Vegas is getting the Oakland Raiders too as the line between gambling and sports fades to non-existence.
 
10. CANES BASEBALL: Sunday win eases rough start for UM: Once-ranked Miami is now 5-9 after beating Georgia Tech to take two of three in its ACC home series. That's still only 3-9 since a 2-0 start for Jim Morris' guys. Oy.

Missing the HB10 cut: Nothing personal, UFC, but are people really supposed to be excited by a "Belfort vs. Gastelum" fight? ..... Although at least they actually fought. It's still all talk on Mayweather vs. McGregor, and probably will be for months ..... Did you all spring forward one hour? Line of the day seen on Twitter but funny only to the anti-Trump crowd: "Can we please spring forward four years?"

"LET'S GOOOOOOOO STATES!" TIME FOR TEAM USA TO REMIND WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC WHO INVENTED THIS SPORT: [Update: After a blown-lead loss to the Dominican Republic the U.S. beat Canada on Sunday to advance in the WBC] Original post: This is the fourth World Baseball Classic going on, with first-round WbcmiamiMiami games at Marlins Park, as well as in Seoul, Tokyo and Jalisco, Mexico. The United States team has yet to win a WBC championship or even earn any sort of medal by finishing in the top three. It is a disappointment bordering on embarrassment. Team USA manager Jim Leyland (the former Marlins championship skipper) bristles at the topic, but it is real. How can the country that invented baseball watch Japan (in 2006 and '09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) win WBC titles when the American team always has so many more major-leaguers as a national-team talent pool? This is the subject of today's latest column by me. Click on Time For Team USA To Win This Thing to read. The U.S. (featuring Marlins Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich) rallied to beat Colombia last night 3-2 in 10 innings. Tonight at 6:30 comes the WBC's signature game for Miami: U.S. vs. defending champ Dominican Republic in a sold-out game. The Americans can secure an advance to the second round by winning. Crowd will be raucous and the stakes high. Supposedly the crowd will be pro-Dominican. We'll see. Can't wait.

CONCERT REVIEW: SMOKEY ROBINSON: A LOT TO LIKE, BUT...: Wife and I went to see Motown icon Smokey Robinson earlier this week at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. I was Smokeynever a super-fan. My appreciation of what we used to call soul music from that era tended more towards the grittier sound of Stax/Memphis than the more polished stuff coming out of Motown/Detroit. I'll take the funk of Al Green and The Staple Singers, thanks. Still, I try to see legendary performers I have never seen, and wanted to check Smokey off that list. As a solo performer or with the Miracles, he's a Hall of Famer whose career I respect. The first half of the show did not disappoint. He performed all of the familiar hits, and very well, his distinctive voice still clear and strong. He engaged with the audience. I learned that a few famous songs by others, like "My Girl" by the Temptations, were written by Smokey. Also learned that his signature hit, "Tears Of a Clown," happened because Stevie Wonder had written the music and gave it to Smokey. Great stuff. Alas, the second half of the show dragged when Robinson got into a bunch of slow jams and morphed into romantic/sexy mode, complete with hip grinds. Umm, how to say this delicately? Smokey, sir, you're 77 now. Your voice and songs are enough.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-13-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Selection Monday, 7 p.m.: Women's turn as NCAA Tournament field set for Canes, others.

2. Marlins vs. New York Mets, 1:10 p.m.: Spring game in Port St. Lucie.

3. Manchester United vs. Chelsea, 3:30 p.m.: FA cup soccer match.

4. Netherlands vs. Israel, 6 a.m.: World Baseball Classic second-round game.

Select recent columns: D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic last night. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

ICYMI: 'THE BALLAD OF 1440': A final spin of our new autobiographical song...

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 06, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes hoops, WBC, non-LeBron, fading Cats, Gunnevera; plus our ghost tour of Miami's sports past, your NFL Combine verdict & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, March 6. Good day, folks! 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): Super Saturday in SoFla sports, NFL Scouting Combine with poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Sunday column: A ghost tour of Miami's sports graveyard: IA conversation with an eye-witness to Joe Namath's famous Super Bowl guarantee in Miami got me reminiscing about our sports past and all of the teams that have come and gone. Click on A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past to read.

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM men close season, prepare for ACC Tournament: No. 25 Canes men ended regular season Saturday with a loss at No. 15 Florida State. Now the real season season starts, with Canes' ACC Tournament opener (after a first-round bye) on Wednesday at noon vs. Syracuse in Brooklyn. Then it's Selection Sunday for NCAA Tournament in six days … and then … Madness!

2. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Games at Marlins Park on deck: We're already bored with spring training. The solution? Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and three other Fish will take a break to play in the WBC, with Marlins Park hosting U.S., Dominican Republic, Colombia and Canada for six games starting this Thursday.

3. HEAT: LeBron sits as Cavaliers get pounded: Is LeBron James returning with Cavaliers to play in Miami still a big deal? Not when he doesn't bleepin' play it isn't. Miami crushed Cavs 120-92 last night as both LeBron and Kyrie Irving sat out, leaving hot Heat still 1 1/2 games back in playoff chase. Teams meet again tonight in Cleveland. (Psst, I think LeBron will play).

4. PANTHERS: Cats deal at deadline, try to regain spark: Florida acquired scoring punch in Thomas Vanek at NHL trade deadline. They need it. They need something. Panthers have now lost five of past six after Saturday's home loss to Dallas, and are now two points off playoff pace. It's there for you, Cats. But you gotta go get it.

5. HORSE RACING: Gunnevera win Fountain of Youth: Gunnevera took Saturday's annual Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in a major Kentucky Derby prep race. Now we see if the horse can live up the expectations for Churchill Downs that have been newly minted.

6. UM WOMEN: Team Katie falls to Duke in ACC semifinals: Nice little ACC tourney run ended in Conway S.C. yesterday as Canes women fell to Duke, 57-52, one win short of reaching today's championship game. Next stop: NCAA Tournament.

7. NFL: Dolphins scout, Canes audition as Combine nears end: NFL's weeklong pre-draft Scouting Combine in Indianapolis ends Monday, with Dolphins figuring what to do with 22nd overall pick while nine Hurricanes have been auditioning. Think of the annual meat market as a beauty pageant for men.

8. GOLF: Doral too quit as an era ends: It should have been championship Sunday on Doral's Blue Monster as the PGA Tour played here for the 56th straight March. Instead, for the first time since 1961, no pros for us.

9. CANES BASEBALL: Ugh. UM's rough start continues It was rubber game of home series vs. Dartmouth Sunday and Canes got spanked 5-0. Now 4-6 after 10 games, this is not the rollicking start to the season that Jim Morris imagined or hoped for.

10. SOCCER: Major League Soccer season underway: The 22nd MLS season has begun. Maybe by the 23rd or 24th seasons roll around David Beckham will finally have realized that team in Miami. Dare we dream? Maybe by the 25th season...?

Missing the HB10 cut: Miami honored the late Herald giant Edwin Pope with a PopeFest celebration at The Clevelander at Marlins Park. It was hosted by Dan LeBatard and Greg Cote, yet was a huge success, anyway.

Poll result: Interest in NFL Scouting Combine is minimal: Teams love it as a major draft-preparation tool. Players love it for the chance to raise their stock. Fans don't love it. We asked what is your interest level in the NFL Scouting Combine, and it was 31.8 percent "non-existent," 30.1% "low," 27.3% "medium" and only 10.8% "high."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-6-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Cleveland, 8:30 p.m.: Gee, maybe LeBron will even play this time.

2. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 1:05 p.m.: Fish welcome division rival to spring game in Jupiter.

3. NFL Scouting Combine, 9 a.m.: Pre-draft meat market ends in Indy. Finally!

Select other recent columns: A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: Amar'e Joins the Shame Club, NFL's Arrested Development, The Wonder of Coach L, It's What's Great About Sports, The Miracle of Liberty City, Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!Loria: The End Of An ErrorThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote