March 04, 2017

I declare today Super Saturday in SoFla sports: LeBron-Heat, Canes X2, Cats and horses lead rollicking parade!; plus NFL Combine poll (last day to vote!), too-quiet Doral, Shame Club, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, March 4. Enough please with the pointless debate on whether Dwyane Wade should/will rejoin the Heat this summer. It isn't a debate. Won't happen. Zero chance. But only because less than zero isn't possible. 2) You a Dolfan? Know any? Buy our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): PopeFest a raging success with videos, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (60 games) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Heat's Erik Spoelstra named NBA Coach of the Month for February! So ridiculous. Why not have a Coach of the Week? Better yet, a Coach of the Day!" --Greg Cote

My latest columns: The sad quiet of Doral, and Amar'e Stoudemire: I visited a too-quiet Doral, where, for the first time since 1961 this week, a PGA Tour golf tournament is not happening. Click on A Tradition Ends In Silence to read that column. I also have a second, shorter, online-only column today on Amar'e Stoudemire's controversy over his anti-gay sentiments. Click on Amar'e Joins the Shame Club for that.

SUPER SATURDAY!: LEBRON VISIT, CANES X2, CATS AND HORSES OH MY!: It's rare I anoint a Super Saturday in South Florida sports, but today qualifies. It's one of those crowded-calendar Supersatsports days (see Hot Button Daily below) that makes you glad you live here. If you can't find something to watch today or tonight that engages you, check your pulse. LeBron James and the Cavaliers visit the Heat with Miami 1 1/2 back in the playoff chase -- so an upset of the ex we love to hate and hate to love would be doubly big. The Panthers have lost four of past five and need to shake their mini-funk as they host Dallas with the Cats two points behind that 8th seed and playoff pace. Hurricanes women's basketball faces rival Duke in the ACC Tournament semifinals. The UM men visit Florida State to close their regular season, with ACC tourney seeding in play. The Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park is a major Kentucky Derby prep race in which Irish War Cry (5-2 odds), Practical Joke (3-1) and Gunnevera (7-2) are close to tri-favorites. Oh, and the Marlins play a spring game vs. the Braves in Lake Buena Vista. I mean, with all of that watch, there is absolutely no excuse today to be caught watching even a nano-second of the NFL Scouting Combine. Seriously.

CombineDO YOU CARE ABOUT THE NFL SCOUTING COMBINE?: It is happening all week in Indianapolis, the NFL's annual pre-draft meat market in which draft prospects (nine former Hurricanes are there) are measured, tested, interviewed and analyzed. It is a good and convenient thing for teams like the Dolphins -- one-stop shopping. It is good for players, though mostly for those expected lower picks who get a chance to stand and and improve their stock. But should fans care? ESPN and NFL Network are televising it and covering it as if fans do care. Share your thoughts on the Combine in this poll. I find it boring and wouldn't if you paid me, but I may be in the minority. Let's see.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 3-4-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Cleveland at Heat, 8 p.m.: Doesn't sizzle like before, but a visit by LeBron still stirs emotions.

2. Dallas at Panthers, 7 p.m.: A game Cats, 2 points off playoff pace, should win.

3. Hurricanes vs. Duke, 2:30 p.m.: 7th-seed UM women face 2-Duke in ACC Tournament semifinal.

4. Fountain of Youth, 5:30 p.m.: Stakes race at Gulfstream is major prep for Kentucky Derby.

5. Hurricanes at Florida State, 4 p.m.: 25th-ranked UM men vs. 15-Noles in regular season finale.

Select other recent columns: NFL's Arrested Development, on league's cluelessness on how to handle player arrests. The Wonder of Coach L, off Canes' win over Duke. It's What's Great About Sports, on Heat and Panthers' concurrent surge. The Miracle of Liberty City, on how youth football there is about more than scoring TDs. Also: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! 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 01, 2017

PopeFest: Thanks for making celebration of Edwin Pope a huge success! Sharing thoughts and videos; plus over/under on Marlins wins, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (60 games), my NFL player-arrests column, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, March 1. Happy new month, all! 2) You a Dolfan? Know any? Buy our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, World OutGames Miami, your Tannehill vs. 3 options verdict, Seinfeld on his game & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Over/under on Marlins wins: MLB victory over/unders via Bovada find Cubs on top at 95.5. In NL East it's Nationals 90.5, Mets 88.5, Marlins 76.5, and Braves and Phillies both 73.5.

My latest column: NFL still all over map on arrested players: The NFL has banned certain player with arrest histories from this week's Scouting Combine, but will welcome those same into its draft. College and pro football could get serious on this if they chose, but it's easier (and self-serving) to just pretend to care. Click on NFL's Arrested Development for my latest column.

Popefest2'EDWIN POPE DAY' IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY CRESCENDOS WITH CELEBRATION: Thanks to the hundreds who showed up last night for PopeFest at The Clevelander/Marlins Park -- a celebration of the life and career of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope. Dan LeBatard and I were pleased to co-host the event in honor of our great friend and mentor. Guests included championship football coach Howard Schnellenberger, Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese, Miami-Dade School Board icon G. Holmes Braddock, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Dave Barry, sports broadcasting's Hank Goldberg, ESPN's Amin Elhassan and king of Liberty City Luther (Uncle Luke) Campbell, in addition to Heat, Dolphins and Orange Bowl Committee officials. The crowd also includes readers, of course, folks who never met Edwin but felt like they knew him through his writing. Evening highlights included the proclamation of "Edwin Pope Day" by Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez. Here are couple of videos from last night.

Video 1: LeBatard, Cote and Hank Goldberg share thoughts and feelings about Edwin Pope:

Video 2: Cote welcomes the crowd, mayor proclaims "Edwin Pope Day":

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (60 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 27-33 after Monday night's 96-89 loss at Dallas, here's The Luddite's 12th installment, with 55-game rank in parentheses.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (60 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,734

2. Goran Dragic (2)             1,580

3. James Johnson (3)          1,120

4. Tyler Johnson (4)            1,107

5. Dion Waiters (5)               885

6. Rodney McGruder (6)      626

7. Wayne Ellington (7)         562

8. Willie Reed (9)                523

9. Josh Richardson (8)         495

10. Luke Babbitt (11)          370

Others: Justise Winslow 355, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 120, Udonis Haslem 72.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 3-1-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Philadelphia at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami enters game 2 back of 8th place in playoff chase.

2. Marlins at Houston, 1:05 p.m.: Spring game vs. Astros in West Palm Beach.

3. Arkansas at Gators, 7 p.m.: No. 12 UF men in next-to-last regular season game.

4. ACC women's tournament, 1 p.m.: In Conway, S.C., with UM Hurricanes' first game Thursday.

5. NHL trade deadline, 3 p.m.: But no big Panthers deals expected.

Select other recent columns: The Wonder of Coach L, off Canes' win over Duke, on job Jim Larranaga has done this season. It's What's Great About Sports, on Heat and Panthers' concurrent surge. The Miracle of Liberty City, on how youth football there is about more than scoring TDs. Also: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! 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

February 27, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring en fuego Heat, Canes bedeviling Duke, sinking Cats, Fish, Daytona, Fins; plus World OutGames Miami, PopeFest info, Seinfeld, Tannehill, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, February 27. You a Dolfan? Know any? Buy our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill vs. 3 options with poll, hot Panthers return home, Radio Friday & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: On Larranaga, Canes beating Duke: This was supposed to be a down year for a depleted Hurricanes men's team. Instead it is headed to Top 25 after beating visiting Duke 55-50 Saturday. The season is a testimony to coach Jim Larranaga. Click on The Wonder of Coach L for my column. 

PopefestPOPEFEST! 1 DAY 'TIL THE CELEBRATION OF EDWIN POPE: A public celebration in honor of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope will be held this Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Clevelander at Marlins Park -- the first event in his honor held in Miami and open to the public. The celebration is free. However, due to seating capacity, only a limited number of invitees are being chosen from among those who RSVP'd and described what Pope meant to them. You can still try to sneak in by RSVP'ing now to edwinpopememorial@gmail.com

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday, updated Mondays, 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. HEAT: Miami stays hot on court, says nah on trades: Heat has now won 16 of past 18 games including both since the All-Star Break and enters tonight's game in Dallas a mere 1 game off playoff pace. Meanwhile Miami made no moves before last week's NBA trade deadline. “I'm glad we didn't do anything stupid,” said Pat Riley. Well that's a low bar. But maybe smart, too. Maybe a team capable of winning 16 of 18 is sort of good enough as is?

2. HURRICANES: UM men beat Duke in huge home win as postseason nears: Canes men hosted and handled No. 10 Blue Devils, 55-50, Saturday behind freshman Bruce Brown, and are down to two regular-season games left. And No. 17 UM women ended their regular season 21-7 by beating Georgia Tech Sunday. With ACC tourneys looming, there'll be no NIT-picking this year with UM. NCAA invites await both Canes teams.

3. PANTHERS: Cats cool down at home, still chasing 8th seed: Florida has followed a 5-0 road trip by losing three straight at home with Sunday's loss here to Ottawa and is now 3 points off playoff pace. Suddenly slumping Cats have some tough clawing and scratching to do to have any shot at that bodacious preseason Stanley Cup talk.

4. MARLINS: Spring is sprung for real as fake games begin: Marlins' spring-training games began with a win Saturday in Jupiter fueled by a Christian Yelich homer. Can we end the season now and go straight to the playoffs? Also it was reported the late Jose Fernandez just had a baby girl. Whether uplifting memories or stuff like lawsuits or reports he'd been previously divorced, Jose will continue to loom over this season.

5. NASCAR: Kurt Busch win in Daytona 500 kicks off new season: "Gentlemen (and Danica Patrick), start your season!" What ends at Homestead in November begins Sunday at Daytona with Kurt Busch prevailing with a late flurry.

6. GOLF: Fowler dominates, wins Honda Classic: Colorful Rickie Fowler's fourth PGA Tour title was by a commanding four shots Sunday in the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. Hard to say which will be louder today with Fowler: the gallery following him. Or his clothes.

7. UM BASEBALL: Ouch. Canes get swept in Gainesville: Miami lost three straight to Florida up there ending Sunday. This has unquestionably been the nemesis opponent in Jim Morris' Canes career. As of now, Morris' epitaph would read, "Yes. But he couldn't beat the Gators."  

8. DOLPHINS: Fins get three compensatory draft picks: Miami gets one added third-round pick and two in the fifth round, based on players gained and lost in free agency. Then again, almost every NFL team gets added picks, which is why this only ranks eighth on the HB10. 

9. TENNIS: Sock wins by default at Delray Beach Open: Top-ranked American Jack Sock won the Delray Beach Open, a second-tier ATP men's event, anticlimactically Sunday when No. 1-seeded Milos Raonic withdrew with a hamstring injury. Sorry, fans. Them's the breaks.

10. NBA: Cousins to Pelicans biggest deal before trade deadline: DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins aligns with Anthony Davis in New Orleans and I read a headline to the effect, "Watch out, Golden State! Power shift!" Then I laughed uncontrollably for the next four minutes. 

Missing the HB10 cut: PopeFest! Huge party Tuesday at The Clevelander at Marlins Park will honor late, great Miami Herald icon Edwin Pope. It's being put on by Dan LeBatard and Greg Cote. Hopefully it'll be good, anyway ..... Dolphins signed six ex-players including Dan Marino to ceremonial one-day contracts. Team denied it wa a publicity stunt ..... Former WNBA star Candace Wiggins said she guessed 95 percent of players in the league are gay. Which is absurd. Gotta be higher than that, no? ..... A transgender wrestler, female-becoming-male Mack Beggs, won the girls 110-pound Texas state title to complete a 56-0 season. Which is heartwarming, other than the testosterone he's using in his transition providing a possible advantage in competition ..... The Jets cut center Nick Mangold and 943 Dolphins fans immediately tweeted Miami should sign him ..... Vince Young is eyeing a comeback. If only any football teams were eyeing Vince Young.

'WORLD OUTGAMES MIAMI 2017" IS COMING TO TOWN: It was announced this week that a major 10-day event that combines sports, culture and human rights will make its U.S. debut in Miami this May 26 through June 4, with registration now underway online at outgames.org. (Florida residents can save $100 off registration by signing up before April 14 and entering code OutgamesFLLRES). Athletes from more than 40 countries are expected to compete in some 400 events across some 30 sports, with Opening and Closing Ceremonies scheduled for Marlins Park. "World OutGames Miami will welcome thousands of athletes, participants, spectators and thought leaders from around the world as a strong statement of unity, inclusiveness and healthy competition," said CEO Ivan Cano, who calls the event "a life-changing experience which will inspire, motivate and celebrate the human spirit." World OutGames, held every four years like the Olympics, brings together LGBTQ athletes -- many from countries where homosexuality remains illegal and hidden. In a spirit of true inclusiveness, however, World OutGames are open to anyone 18 or older, regardless of sexual orientation. In addition, a youth program for those ages 14 to 17 will be held via Pridelines Youth Services, a Miami-based non-profit group that offers a safe place for LGBTQ youth and others. The event also will include a three-day Global Conference on Human Rights. Organizations and business interested in supporting World OutGames Miami may click here or visit www.outgames.org. Why am I writing about and promoting this event? Simple. Two reasons, and they are not in order of importance: 1) This is a major sports-related event coming to my town. And 2) Paths of acceptance and inclusion are severely and I think unfairly narrowing under the new presidential administration, making life tougher for those of any sexual orientation but heterosexuals. I don't think that's right, I don't believe most people think that's right, and an event like this and support for it are a way to push forward the ideals of inclusion, acceptance and goodwill.

POLL RESULT: BIG WIN FOR TANNEHILL: We asked, in a just-for-fun poll, who you would most like to see as the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback in 2017 among four choices, the response was huge, and and it was Ryan Tannehill 75.1 percent, Jimmy Garoppolo 13.0%, Tony Romo 10.0% and Jay Cutler 1.9%.

JerrySEINFELD ON HIS A-GAME: My wife and I and a son and his girlfriend attended the Jerry Seinfeld show at the Hard Rock last night, and I don't believe I have ever laughed as much -- harder or more nonstop -- at any standup comic's show I have ever seen, live or on film. Seinfeld, at 62, is as great as he has ever been. He owned the audience, start to finish. Wonderful show. This is the third time we have seen him live and I still am amazed (and impressed) that none of his show is spent talking about the eponymous '90s sitcom that made him famous. Nary an mention of Elaine or George or that era. He's moved on, stayed fresh. A Marvel to see live.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-27-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Dallas, 8 p.m.: Hot Miami enters day only 1 back of 8th seed in East.

2. Hurricanes at Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.: Off big Duke win, next-to-last regular season game for UM men.

3. Marlins at Minnesota, 1:05 p.m.: Marlins' 3rd spring game is in Fort Myers.

4. Not much else. Sleepy  Mondays often follow full Sundays in sports kingdom.

Select recent columns: The Wonder of Coach L, the latest, off the Canes' win over Duke, on the job Jim Larranaga has done this season. It's What's Great About Sports, on Heat and Panthers' concurrent surge. The Miracle of Liberty City, on how youth football there is about more than scoring touchdowns. Also: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, surveying Heat as trade deadline neared. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from start of Marlins spring training. Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of friend, mentor and Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 24, 2017

Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill vs. 3 biggest available names out there. Poll. Last day to vote (and this time I mean it!); plus it's Radio Friday, my Heat/Panthers-surge column, PopeFest, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, February 24. Heat stood Pat, did nada before yesterday's NBA Trade Deadline. Bor-ring! 2) Hope you watched the premiere of the documentary on Liberty City youth football this week on Viceland. Click The Miracle of Liberty City for the related column by me. 3) You a Dolfan? Know any? Buy our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Magic of Liberty City youth football (with video), Greg Cote at age 7 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Friday: Tuesday is my usual spot, but I'm also in today for an absent Stugotz on the Dan LeBatard Show, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN, and with the national show televised on ESPNU (10-noon) and ESPN2 (noon-1). 

My latest column: Heat, Panthers remind us that sports is in miracle business: Two cadavers wiggled toes on the morgue table and then sat bolt upright as the Heat and Panthers surged from awful seasons to playoff contention and reminded us of sports' unending capacity to surprise. Click It's What's Great About Sports for my latest column.

POPEFEST! GET INVOLVED IN THE CELEBRATION OF EDWIN POPE'S LIFE: A public celebration in honor of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope has been set for this coming Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Clevelander inside Marlins Park -- the first event in his honor held in Miami and open to the public. The celebration is free. However, due to seating capacity, only a limited number of invitees may be chosen from among those who RSVP and describe what Pope meant to them in his long career. Don't miss out. RSVPs should be emailed now to: edwinpopememorial@gmail.com

RYAN TANNEHILL VS. THE THREE BIGGEST AVAILABLE NAMES OUT THERE: Preemptive strike: This is a fun-poll only. I'm not starting rumors. To my knowledge there is next to zero chance TannyRyan Tannehill won't be the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins again in 2017. He'll be coming off the first injury of his career, but he also will be coming off a career-best 93.5 passer rating and 67.1 completion percentage and helped guide Miami to its first playoffs since 2008. He'll turn 29 as training camp opens in late July (time flies), but there is every reason to think he is just now coming into his prime, that his career remains on the upswing, and that he'll be even better as the comfort with Adam Gase's offense further grows. (Quick aside: Let's wait and see on how much adding tight end Julius Thomas will help. They're getting him for a seventh-round draft pick, which says much about the plummeting arc of his career). OK, back to the quarterback. So I think Tannehill is solid here, solid with Gase. But! New reports this week say the Bears actively are trade-shopping Jay Cutler, who thrived under Gase in 2015. Tony Romo's availability remains out there. Jimmy Garoppolo, too. So this fun-only poll (!) gives you those four choices on whom you'd rather see as Fins starting QB to start the 2017 season. It is an opportunity for Dolfans to profess their faith and confidence in Tannehill ... or to show perhaps that such confidence has yet to be fully earned? Do we love Tanny yet, Miami? Or is the metaphoric jury still out? The four names in the poll are listed alphabetically. So let's see how this goes. Just for fun, of course!

CatsFIRE ON ICE: PANTHERS RETURN HOME AS HOTTEST TEAM, BUT DOUBTS LINGER: Florida, after an astounding 5-0 road trip -- a franchise first -- and eight wins in past nine games, returned home Wednesday to a 4-3 loss to Edmonton, and the Cats today are two points off playoff pace entering tonight's home date with Calgary. At last the team is healthy and playing like the cocky bunch that was talking Stanley Cup before the season. And, finally, that weird, panicked coaching change after 22 games is perhaps beginning to look somewhat less dumb than it has. A couple of cautionary points, though: Of the 10 East teams with at least 66 standings points, the Panthers are the only one with a negative goals differential -- and it's minus-14. Cats also are only 23rd of 30 teams in goals scored. The proving and the living up to preseason expectations are not finished.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 2-24-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Atlanta, 8 p.m.: Will Heat stay hot as they return from All-Star Break?

2. Calgary at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats now two points off playoff.

3. Hurricanes at Florida, 6:30 p.m.: UM baseball opens three-game set at nemesis Gators.

4. Honda Classic, all day: Second round of PGA Tour event at PGA National.

5. Delray Beach Open, 12:30 p.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event nears Sunday finale.

Select recent columns: It's What's Great About Sports, the latest, on Heat and Panthers' concurrent surge. The Miracle of Liberty City, on how youth football there is about more than scoring touchdowns. Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, surveying Heat at break as trade deadline nears. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of friend, mentor and Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 21, 2017

Details on open-to-the-public Miami celebration of the late, great Edwin Pope; plus the magic of Liberty City youth football (with video), Greg Cote at age 7, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, February 21. Hope you all enjoyed your Presidents Day, to the degree that's still possible in 2017. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Whiteside column, your Marlins-expectations verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

EpopeDETAILS: CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF EDWIN POPE IN A PUBLIC EVENT IN MIAMI: A public celebration in honor of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope has been set for next Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Clevelander bar inside Marlins Park. A private ceremony was held this past weekend in Okeechobee for Pope, who passed away Jan. 19 at age 88, but this will be the first event in his honor held in Miami and open to the public. The celebration is free and will include an open bar and light food. However, only a limited number of invitees may be chosen from those who RSVP and describe what Pope meant to them in a Herald career that began in 1967 through his retirement as full-time sports columnist in 2003. RSVPs should be emailed as soon as possible to: edwinpopememorial@gmail.com. The event is being hosted by two of Edwin's biggest fans, ESPN Radio's Dan Le Batard and the Herald's Greg Cote. Hey. That's me!

NEW DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHTS THE MAGIC OF LIBERTY CITY YOUTH FOOTBALL: I was pleased to interview Miami icon Luther Campbell (Uncle Luke, pictured) yesterday for my new column to help promote a forthcoming Libcity Lukedocumentary film about the Liberty City Optimist youth football program he helped found more than 20 years ago. It has produced current NFL stars such as Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper, Devonta Freeman, Teddy Bridgewater and Duke Johnson and continues to be a thriving community focal point on Saturdays during football season. I wrote about this now because the film, Rivals: The Boom Squad, is premiering Wednesday night at 10:30 on the Viceland cable channel. Click Viceland.com and click channel finder to track down where you can see it. There also will be a live local showing of the 45-minute film on Sunday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 N.W. 22nd Ave., Miami. A 30-second trailer is presented directly below. The Liberty City Warriors, Gwen Cherry Bulls and other teams thrive because they are needed in a city that can be a tough place for kids to grow up, too often under the threat of gun violence. It is about more than football. As Campbell told us, "Our purpose is to save lives." Click on The Miracle of Liberty City to ready my full column.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 2-21-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins spring training, 9:30 a.m.: Another workday in Jupiter, with spring games starting next weekend.

2. South Carolina at Gators, 7 p.m.: No. 13 UF hosts 'Cocks in SEC men's game.

3. Delray Beach Open, 11 a.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event continues.

Other select recent columns: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, my new one, surveying Heat at the all-star break. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from the start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

GREG COTE, AGE 7: In the autobiographical song I'll soon post on social media, called "The Ballad of 1440," there is a lyric that refers to "Tonka tanks on a pebble drive." Well, lo and behold, looking through scrapbooks, I unearthed an old photo (very) of me around age 7 playing with said tank. Wish I still had it. I leave you with that ghostly photo today...

Mekid2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring ridiculous ASG, Heat plans, Marlins weirdness, sizzling' Cats, Hurricanes, Dolphins; plus is he whale enough? (my Whiteside column), your verdict on Marlins expectations & more

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

Prezday1) It is MONDAY, February 20. It is the federal holiday Presidents Day, which of course can mean only one thing. That's right. "Not My Presidents Day" anti-Trump protests across America. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins open spring training with expectations poll, Kate Upton revealed, ode to the Monopoly thimble & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Heat, Whiteside: My new Sunday column: We're coming into Pat Riley Season: Trading deadline, then draft, then free agency. So, the question hovering over the Miami Heat at the all-star break: Is Hassan Whiteside "whale" enough for Riley? Good enough to be the centerpiece around which Riley can build another champion? Click on Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? to read in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 19): 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: Ridiculous All-Star Games breaks scoring records: The West beat the East 192-182 in NBA's 66th All-Star Game on Sunday night (sans any Heat participants, alas) in New Orleans. That was a record for total points, as was MVP Anthony Davis' ASG-record 52 points. But league's biggest news Sunday was Pelicans acquiring DeMarcus Cousins to pair with Davis in frontcourt. Look out, Warriors?

2. HEAT: And what does Miami have in store post-break?: Heat resume play this coming Friday only two games off playoff pace after winning 14 of last 16 games before the All-Star break. But first, up next: What you got planned for that Feb. 23 (Thursday) trade deadline, Mr. Riley? Anything? Or will you stand Pat?

3. MARLINS: Full spring work underway as sale talk turns weird: Full-squad spring training got underway Friday up in Jupiter as talks to sell the club took a weird turn. I mean, what were the odds that Jeffrey Loria maybe becoming U.S. Ambassador to France might somehow cause the frontrunning buyer to back out?

4. PANTHERS: Sizzling Cats hovering around playoff pace: Florida on Saturday won its fourth straight and seventh of past eight to get on playoff pace but is one point off entering tonight's game in St. Louis. Meanwhile Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,900th career NHL point the day he turned 45. Who else gives middle age a good name like this dude?

5. HURRICANES: Big games in play for UM men, women as regular seasons ebb: Miami's 16th-ranked women's fell at No. 13 Duke on Sunday, now the Canes men play at No. 14 Virginia tonight as last few games of regular season help shape NCAA seeding for both. CBS featured Jim Larranaga Sunday in its "Men Of March" series.

6. UM BASEBALL: Diamond Canes fail to nail down sweep in season-opening series: Jim Morris' guys got clobbered on Sunday but still took two of three from Rutgers in their season-opening home series at the Light. Reaching Omaha the imperative as usual in Morris' next-to-last season.

7. DOLPHINS: Team extends Wake's contract: Cam Wake is 35, but last season proved he ain't done yet, and the Dolphins rewarded him on Saturday with a two-year, $19 million contract extension. Everybody's happy except opposing quarterbacks.

8. NASCAR: Elliott, Dale Jr. on Daytona front row: NASCAR season -- funneling to the title run in Homestead in November -- begins this coming Sunday with the Daytona 500, and qualifying runs yesterday found Chase Elliott winning the pole position and Dale Earnhardt Jr. joining him on the front row.

9. TENNIS: Delray Beach Open tennis gets going: Running through next Sunday, it's a second-tier pro event on the men's ATP tour. Low on starpower, but if watching Jack Sock play is your thing, then go for it.

10. BOATING: Miami International Boat Show ends today: Four-day event's 76th edition has drawn thousands to Miami Marine Stadium. But you know that it's like they say: You are never happier than the day you buy a boat … other than the day you finally unload that money-eating monster you hardly used.

Missing the HB10 cut: Unlike his predecessors, President Donald Trump declined to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. Like championship teams eager to visit the White House, it seems like another presidential tradition is dying ..... Nine ex-Hurricanes led by Brad Kaaya have been invited to the March 2-5 pre-draft NFL Scouting Combine. Let the meat market begin! ..... UConn women's team won its 100th straight game (streak is now 101), and it's sort of embarrassing. C'mon, women's basketball. A little parity, please? ..... Urgent reminder: the Sailing World Cup is now less than 100 days away ..... Major League Soccer season is almost upon us as David Beckham marks what feels like the 20th anniversary of his protracted, stalling efforts to see a team in Miami.

Poll result: Mild optimism for Marlins to contend, but not to make playoffs: We asked what you realistically expect of the Miami Marlins this season, and a plurality of 37.6 percent voted "mediocre team never really in the hunt. But another 36.1% voted "contending team that just misses playoffs," while 17.3% voted "the playoffs, finally!" The other 9.0% voted for "post-Jose, a bad season." Overall, that's 53.4% who see a contending team vs. 46.6% who do not.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-20-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Panthers at St. Louis, 8 p.m.: Hot Cats, now one point off playoff pace, seek fifth straight win.

2. Hurricanes at Virginia, 7 p.m.: UM men face ranked foes in three of last four games including No. 14 Cavaliers.

3. Delray Beach Open, 11 a.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event continues.

4. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show wraps up at Miami Marine Stadium.

Select recent columns: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, my new one, surveying Heat at the all-star break. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from the start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 18, 2017

How will Marlins do this season? Set the early bar on expectations. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Cam Wake, my Fish column, Edwin Pope news, what Kate Upton is (not) wearing, ode to the Monopoly thimble, new Hot Button Daily & more

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

Mepic1) It is SATURDAY, February 18. We're about to put out a new song, "The Ballad of 1440," an autobiographical tale of a little boy in Hollywood, Florida who grew up to have an unexpected life. Click on image at left to see larger version. Will post a video of song on social media later this month. Stay tuned. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump sticks nose in Marlins' sale, Branden Albert, Shane Battier, 3 Fins in PFF 101, Fish farm barren, your Villain Purge verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins extend Cam Wake contract: Announced today, it's through the 2018 season.

My new Marlins column: From Jupiter and the team's first full-squad workday of spring training, I wrote of how nothing is ever simple for this team. Still getting over the Jose Fernandez grief, now the players deal with questions about the prospective sale of the team and other off-field stuff. Click on French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! to read.

Edwin Pope news: The Miami Herald longtime former sports columnist, who passed away earlier this year,  is being honored today in Okeechobee in a private celebration for family, friends and colleagues. There had been no public event planned. However, myself and Dan LeBatard are putting together a Miami event to honor Edwin that will be free and open to the public. Stay tuned for details. 

MattinglyWHAT IS YOUR OPTIMISM ON MARLINS SEASON AS TEAM STAGES FIRST FULL-SQUAD SPRING WORKOUT?: I'll be up in Jupiter for a column today as the Marlins stage their first full-squad workout of the spring. Much swirls around this team (as usual). The tragic offseason death of Jose Fernandez is a huge loss both from emotional and baseball standpoints. Now the team also deals with the distracting speculation about Jeffrey Loria selling the team and the White House-related Kushner family maybe buying and the possible offer to Loria of an ambassadorship to France (!) tossing a monkey wrench. But somewhere amid all of that there will be a baseball season, Miami's second under manager Don Mattingly (pictured). Most NL East estimations are that the Nationals are clear favorites and the Mets are next, with the Marlins in the middle -- better, at least, than the Braves and Phillies. The playoffs seem a longshot. Again. Although the Marlins toying around with .500 and contention seems plausible. We invite your thoughts on the matter. Take a dip in our poll and set the expectations bar on this Marlins season.

KateUptonNO, IT IS NOT SEXIST TO SHOW THIS COVER PHOTO IN MY BLOG BECAUSE IT'S FROM A SPORTS MAGAZINE AND SHE IS WEARING (HALF OF) WHAT COULD ALMOST BE A SWIMSUIT, SORT OF: Cover your eyes, Junior! And click on the image to see a larger version, Dad. The Sports Illustrated "swimsuit issue" continues as a sublime and ridiculous slice of Americana and an annual $$$-maker for SI. This year three models get the cover prize of this week's current issue, with Kate Upton pictured here, setting a record in the category, "Minimalist Swimwear." (Note to self: Consider an abrupt career change; apply to be a Sports Illustrated photographer. Unless, that is, SI's budget and staffing have gone the way of the newspaper, in which case the person taking this photo may have been the lone remaining SI editor, or perhaps one of the other models using a smartphone). Where was I ? Is this a swimsuit bottom or jewelry? How come on my occasional forays to the beach I see not a person who looks like this (un)dressed like this, but rather a matronly, waddling Canadian packed into a black one-piece like 20 pounds of potatoes crammed in a 10-pound sack? That's a rhetorical question. Keep doing the great work you do, Kate Upton!

ThimbleFAREWELL, THIMBLE. R.I.P.: The Monopoly board game is retiring its Thimble after 82 years. The Thimble, though never respected like the Dog or the Tophat, has stood sturdily across the generations, moving inexorably around the board, easing past the Iron, passing go, landing on Free Parking, staying out of jail, quietly making money for its owners. Farewell, great, humble Thimble, and a thumb's up to you. Gone ... but never forgotten.   

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 2-18-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Clemson at Hurricanes, noon: UM men playing for NCAA Tournament seeding in final regular games.

2. Panthers at Los Angeles, 10 p.m.: Playoff-chasing Cats have won three in row and five of past six.

3. NBA All-Star events, 8 p.m.: Including 3-Point and Slam-Dunk contests.

4. Kansas at Baylor, 1 p.m.: A men's Final Four feel with No. 3 at No. 4.

5. Rutgers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: Second of three in opening baseball series at The Light.

Select recent columns: French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, the new one, from the start of Marlins spring training. Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View, on how Heat's recent run has Miami poised to be buyers at trade deadline as possibility of first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James looms. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 16, 2017

Trump keeps messing with Miami, but when he threatens to screw up Loria selling Marlins, he's gone TOO FAR!; plus Branden Albert, Shane Battier, 3 Dolphins honored, Fish farm barren, 'The Ballad of 1440,' your Villain Purge verdict & more

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

Mepic1) It is FRIDAY, February 17. We're about to put out a new song, "The Ballad of 1440" (pictured right), an autobiographical tale of a little boy in Hollywood, Florida who grew up to have an unexpected life. Click on image to see larger version. Will post a video of song on social media later this month. Stay tuned. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Villain purge: Loria-LeBron poll, Marlins World Series odds as spring training begins & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Branden Albert, Shane Battier: Weird: Media inaccurately reported Dolphins had waived veteran tackle Branden Albert. Or was it inaccurate? Evidently team decided to release Albert then changed its mind and will try to trade him. In any case, Laremy Tunsil will take over at left tackle. Congrats: Heat hire poplar ex-player Shane Battier as director of basketball development and analytics, and there is speculation he may be groomed as Pat Riley's eventual replacement.

HEY TRUMP, KEEP YOUR FINGERS OFF MIAMI SPORTS!: First Donald Trump's ownership of the golf course caused the controversy that was among the factors that imperiled the future of annual PGA Tour event at Doral. Then as president, Trump messed with the Florida Panthers' hierarchy by nominating Cats owner Vincent Viola to be Secretary of the Army. (Who knew there was a Secretary of the Army!?) Viola accepted, then later withdrew from consideration, citing business ties. Now, the Trump Administration reportedly is considering nominating Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to be U.S. Ambassador to France. Huh? Whu!? Is the qualification because Jeff once owned the Montreal Expos, and they speak a lot of French up there? Or maybe because The Donald can picture him wearing a beret? Or is it that Ambassador to France is the standard perk that comes with a $125,000 campaign contribution? In Franceany case, this is just Trump Loriabizarre. Think about it. The Kushner family -- which is directly tied to the White House because son Jared Kushner is Ivanka Trump's husband and thus the president's son-in-law -- is negotiating with Loria to buy the Marlins for a reported $1.6 billion. But now the family says it will cease efforts to buy the club if Loria is nominated for the ambassadorship. "Our family has been friends with Jeff Loria for over 30 years, been in business together, and even owned a AAA baseball team together," Joseph Meyer, Kushner's son-in-law, said in a statement. "Although the Kushners have made substantial progress in discussions for us to purchase the Marlins, recent reports suggest that Mr. Loria will soon be nominated by the President to be Ambassador to France. If that is true, we do not want this unrelated transaction to complicate that process and will not pursue it. The Kushners remain interested in purchasing a team and would love to buy the Marlins at another time." Whoa now. Let us get this straight. A family with direct ties to Trump wants to buy the Marlins. But Trump possibly throwing this goofy little gift at Loria could screw up the whole deal. So strange. Does all of South Florida want Loria to sell the Marlins ASAP? Oui, oui! Hopefully this Ambassador to France story is short-lived, because it is ridiculous. I mean, are we to believe Loria is going to walk away from a potential $1.6 billion windfall because he'd rather be dealing with terrorism concerns in Paris? C'mon! Jeffrey, please put out the inevitable statement that says how flattered you are to be considered for the position yada yada yada but no thanks. Then get back to selling the Marlins so Trump can set up that direct hotline to Don Mattingly in the dugout to make executive orders on pitching changes.

Pff101THREE DOLPHINS, OTHER NOTABLE NAMES ON PFF'S LIST OF TOP 101 PLAYERS OF 2016: Pro Football Focus' Top 101 players of 2016 (because a Top 100 would be too ordinary) includes a trio of Dolphins in RB Jay Ajayi 31st, pass-rusher Cam Wake 45th and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh 52nd. In the AFC East only the Patriots (of course) have more -- five guys led by overall No. 1 Tom Brady. Bills and Jets have one each. Buffalo's guy is bully-guard Richie Incognito (98th), one of three ex-Dolphins to make it along with Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes (43rd) and Giants rusher Olivier Vernon (71st). Vernon is one of four ex-Hurricanes on the list along with Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (24th), Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (58th) and Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (92nd). Other notables: Chargers rusher and St. Thomas Aquinas alum Joey Bosa (32nd) and Colts receiver and ex-FIU Panther T.Y. Hilton (54th).

BraxtongarrettTHE FISH FARM IS BARREN: Trading away top prospects has withered the Miami Marlins' minor-league talent level -- the farm gone barren -- and the latest proof comes today with Baseball America's list of 2017 Top 100 Prospects. Check out the NL East. The Braves have eight on the list, ranked 3rd, 11th, 37th, 48th, 66th, 67th, 77th and 78th. The Phillies have four, ranked 12th, 17th, 41st and 80th. The Mets have three, ranked 8th, 71st and 100th. The Nationals have two, ranked 13th and 52nd. The Marlins? Only one. Lefty pitcher Braxton Garrett (pictured) is ranked 76th and not projected for MLB arrival until 2020. The home farm has empty rows and dry crops. Not good, Fish fans. Not good. 

Poll result: Villain purge: Loria selling tops beating LeBron: We asked which of these 2017 possibilities should please Miami sports fans more, and it was Jeffrey Loria finally selling the Marlins with 61.9 percent and LeBron James ousted from playoffs by Heat at 38.1%.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 2-17-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins spring training, 1:15 p.m.: Full squad is on field for first time this spring up in Jupiter.

2. Panthers at Anaheim, 10 p.m.: Cats have won two straight as they chase that No. 8 East seed.

3. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show continues at Miami Marine Stadium.

4. That about does it. Another light day.

Select recent columns: Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View, the latest, on how Heat's recent run has Miami poised to be buyers at trade deadline as possibility of first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James looms. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

 

February 15, 2017

Villain purge! Which would be most pleasing: Heat beating LeBron in playoffs or Loria finally selling Marlins? Poll. Last day to vote; plus Heat's franchise value, UM's Njoku to Dolphins, Series odds as Fish begin spring training, Hot Button Daily & more

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

Cotevalentine1) It is WEDNESDAY, February 15. Hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day! Pictured is something the radio show  made up, with me as Cupid. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to learn me or to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Loria selling Marlins column, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, your own Heat MVP verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Heat's NBA market value: Forbes' 19th annual NBA franchise valuations, out today, show the Miami Heat the 10th most valuable club at 1.35 billion -- nearly exactly the leaguewide average of $1.36B. The New York Knicks are valued No. 1 at $3.3 billion. No wonder they can afford all those security guards to oust Charles Oakley!

Kiper mock has Njoku to Dolphins: Former Hurricanes tight end David Njoku goes to Dolphins with draft's 22nd overall pick, says ESPN's Mel Kiper today in his second mock draft. That's be a dynamic pick at a need position, but I still defense is the likelier play with Miami's No. 1 pick. 

Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View: The Heat endured a second straight loss Monday at home to Orlando. Nevertheless, the 13 straight wins before that has Miami poised to be buyers at this month's trade deadline as the possibility looms of a first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James and Cleveland. Click on Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View for my latest column.

Loria LebronVILLAIN-PURGE: WHAT WOULD BE BIGGER? BEATING LEBRON IN PLAYOFFS OR LORIA FINALLY LEAVING?: Which do we want more? Which would be bigger? What would please South Florida most? Would it be the Heat meeting the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first-round of the NBA playoffs and (against odds) eliminating turncoat LeBron James? Or would it be wildly unpopular Jeffrey Loria finally selling the Miami Marlins? Unfortunately, there is no choice for "both!" in this poll. You must decide. Take a dip in our poll and vote now.

MarlinsMARLINS' SPRING-OPENING WORLD SERIES ODDS: Two teams in the NL East are projected to be good. Two teams are seen as really bad. In the middle: the Marlins as the team's 25th season slowly unfurls this week with the start of spring training in Jupiter -- amid sweet reports that Jeffrey Loria has an agreement in place to sell the club. (Click on Loria: The End Of An Error for that column). World Series odds are via Bovada. In the division it's Nationals at 10-1 (tie 4th), Mets 18-1 (8th), Marlins 75-1 (tie 19th), Braves 100-1 (tie 23rd) and Phillies (150-1, tie 25th, or last). Marlins were 40-1 to end last season; blame the dropoff largely on Jose Fernandez's tragic death. Overall, Red Sox and Cubs begin as co-betting favorites at 9-2, followed by Indians at 8-1.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 2-15-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Houston, 8 p.m.: Miami tries to end two-game skid and enter All-Star break on the upbeat.

2. Georgia Tech at Hurricanes, 8 p.m.: Top 25 remains elusive for UM men as team hosts ACC game.

3. Panthers at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.: Cats, five points off playoff pace, must begin to make a move.

4. Marlins spring training, 9:30 a.m.: Partial team hits field for second day of work in Jupiter.

5. No, that'll about do it for today.

Select recent columns: Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View, the latest, on how Heat's hot streak (even with two straight losses) has Miami poised to be buyers at trade deadline as possibility of first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James looms. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported likely sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 13, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Heat back at it, Loria's decision, Cats in hunt and UM hoops lead way; plus The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings (55 games), "Spobama," disrespect for Whiteside in your Heat MVP verdict & more

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

Spobama1) It is MONDAY, February 13. Spobama, pictured right, a photo mashup of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and ex-prez Barack Obama. Saw this on Twitter @brassjazz, loved it and thought you might too. 2)Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century (pictured) makes the perfect gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to learn me or to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Rollicking Heat with polls, your greatest-2016-champion verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Thank you, Jeffrey Loria: Looks like immensely unpopular Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has finally figured out how to do something that will be unanimously cheered and make Marlins fans overjoyed. Sell the team. Reports are, he plans to do just that, and soon. Click on Loria: The End Of An Error for my latest column.

Heat win streak ends at 13 games in loss at Philly: Click on Spoelstra Leads the Parade for my Heat column on season's second-half surge.

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: Hot Miami sees 13-game win streak end; back at it tonight: Scorchin' Heat had won 13 consecutive games before Saturday night's 117-109 loss in Philadelphia, and now returns home Monday night vs. Orlando. A Heat team once 11-30 is now only two games off playoff pace. But will Miami now lapse back into losing? Let's find out starting tonight.

2. MARLINS: Fish set for spring training as sale rumors fly: Team's weekend Fan Fest concluded Sunday, now players begin to report Tuesday for spring training in Jupiter. Meanwhile owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly has a "handshake agreement" to sell team. That sound you hear? Marlins fans cheering.

3. PANTHERS: Cats need solid road trip to stay in hunt: Florida won in Nashville 7-4 Saturday night to begin a five-game roadie and make it four wins in past five games. Team is only three points off playoff pace despite being in league's bottom five in goals scored. Saturday was a good sign, though. Remember Cats: Support Your Local Goaltender.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men fall at No. 4 Louisville: Hurricanes might have cracked Top 25 with big upset at Louisville Saturday but fell short, losing 71-66 after leading at halftime. A spectator entered the UM huddle in first half before being apprehended by security. I apologized. An NCAA Tournament bid is still very much still in play for Team Larranaga. Meanwhile No. 16 UM women routed visiting Clemson 81-57 on Sunday.

5. BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Brazilians dominate Fort Lauderdale tour stop: The Fort Lauderdale Major, an FIVB World Tour pro event, wrapped up Sunday with Brazil winning the women's gold medal match, after Brazil's men also had won. Which answers the question, "What? You mean beach volleyball is played more than once every four years at the Olympics?"

6. DOLPHINS: Annual charity bike ride draws thousands: Saturday's seventh annual Dolphins Cancer Challenge drew the largest crowd of participants in its history as thousands of riders raised funds to fight cancer. If only the Dolphins consistently did as well on the field as they do in the community.  

7. GOLF: McCarron wins Allianz Championship in Boca: Don't call it the Senior Tour anymore, but the PGA Tour's older division completed its event in Boca Raton on Sunday with Scott McCarron carding a one-shot victory. Must be nice: Still getting paid to not be as good as you used to be.

8. UM BASEBALL: Canes  season open in five days: Jim Morris' guys held their First Pitch Banquet on Friday and Fan Fest on Saturday. Now the season opens in four days with a Friday-through-Sunday home series vs. Rutgers at The Light. As always three words define this program's standard: Omaha Or Bust.

9. KEVIN DURANT: K.D. big winner in first return to Oklahoma City: Durant's response to the booing that OKC fans had saved up for him? Thirty-four points in a 130-114 rout by Golden State on Saturday.

10. UCONN WOMEN: Team seeks 100th straight win on Monday: And you thought the Heat's 13-game streak was impressive? Geno Auriemma's top-ranked UConn win seek their 100th win in a row tonight vs. No. 6 South Carolina. Streak is great for UConn. But for women's college basketball? Hmm.

Missing the HB10 cut: German tennis players were aghast prior to women's Fed Cup opening ceremony in Hawaii when an outdated version of German national anthem was performed -- one harking to Nazi/Hitler era. Supposedly it was an accident, but I blame Steve Bannon ..... Charles Oakley was booted from a Knicks game at the Garden. If the Knicks were any more dysfunctional, they'd be the Browns ..... Under Armour's president called Donald Trump an "asset" to the U.S. Under Armour spokesman Stephen Curry said that was accurate if you dropped the letters "et" from the end ..... Patriots Super Bowl parade was Tuesday. As further proof it wasn't a dream, Tom Brady woke up Sunday morning wearing five Super Bowls rings being spooned by Giselle Bundchen. Damn him! ..... At least six Patriots won't attend the White House honor in protest of Trump. Get the feeling that sports tradition may slowly wither over next four years? ..... No. 17 Gators men beat visiting Texas A&M 71-62 Saturday but No. 14 Seminoles fell at Notre Dame 84-72. One out of two ain't bad. For the Gators ..... Golfer Jordan Spieth got into ugly verbal altercation with what he called adult "professional autograph seekers." Good for Spieth! Anybody over the age of 12 asking for an autograph is probably a memorabilia cretin ..... Germaine de Randamie decisioned Holly Holm atop last night's UFC 208 card in Brooklyn. Germaine de Randamie sounds like a bottle of riesling ..... R.I.P., Fab Melo, who died unexpectedly in Brazil at 26. Never did much in NBA, but had an epic name.

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (55 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 24-31 after Saturday's end to the 13-game winning streak, here's The Luddite's 11th installment, with 50-game rank in parentheses. Dragic, by the way, has narrowed his deficit to Whiteside from 216 points to 129 in past five games. 

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (50 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,573

2. Goran Dragic (2)              1,439

3. James Johnson (4)          1,027

4. Tyler Johnson (3)            1,001

5. Dion Waiters (5)               740

6. Rodney McGruder (6)      566

7. Wayne Ellington (9)        518

8. Josh Richardson (7)        483

9. Willie Reed (8)                  482

10. Justise Winslow (10)      355

Others: Luke Babbitt 320, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 99, Udonis Haslem 72.

Poll results: Dragic is MVP in landslide, and winning trumps lottery: We had two Heat polls, and you had two clear verdicts. We asked who has been team's Most Valuable Player so far this season, and it was Goran Dragic with a commanding 72.7 percent. Then it was Hassan Whiteside a distant second at 12.5% followed by Dion Waiters 7.2%, James Johnson also 7.2% and Tyler Johnson 0.3%. We asked if it's better for Heat to keep winning and make playoffs as likely low-seed expected to lose in first round or to get back to losing for increased lottery shot at top-three draft pick, and "winning" won easily with 83.6 percent.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-13-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Orlando at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Its' 13-game win streak done, Miami tries to start another one tonight.

2. South Carolina at UConn, 9 p.m.: No. 1 UConn women go for 100th straight win, but SC is No. 6.

3. Texas at Florida State, 7 p.m.: FSU women are No. 5 and Texas is No. 11.

4. No, that'll about do it.

Select recent columns: Loria: The End Of An Error, my latest, on team's reported likely sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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Twitter @gregcote