May 15, 2017

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

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

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

Latest Sunday column: Cavaliers and Warriors will rescue the playoffs they've helped ruin: This has been a bad NBA postseason, but the inevitable third straight Golden State-Cleveland Finals will save it. Click on LeBron And Steph To the Rescue to read.

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

Hotbutton1. NBA: Wait ends for well-rested Warriors, almost for Cavaliers: While the lousy teams stake hopes on Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery, the best are still playing. Well-rested Cleveland and Golden State players could all have grown James Harden-esque beards in the time they've waited for conference finals to start. Epic Warriors rally won Game 1 over San Antonio Sunday in West finals; Cavs await tonight's Wizards-Celtics Game 7 survivor. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 13, 2017

The true tale of Marlins' Boobs Flasher! (with video); plus huge disagreement on how good Dolphins are, with your expectations; also, Buoniconti and Kiick as new faces of brain injury, David Beckham's acting debut, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, May 13. Condolences to Fort Lauderdale's Ray Hudson, the Strikers icon turned great soccer announcer, on the passing of his father, Wilfred, at age 98. 2) Our latest Back In My Day video from the LeBatard Show is entitled 'Bumper Stickers.' Watch it HERE. 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-expectations poll, Kathy Berman, your LaVar Ball/$495 sneaker verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

David Beckham: Aspiring soccer-team owner, professional actor: Becks has his first speaking role in the new King Arthur movie. Story here. 

THE INCREDIBLE (OR PERHAPS RIDICULOUS) TRUE TALE OF THE MARLINS' BOOBS FLASHER: It was meant to distract the opposing pitcher. That didn’t work. Had it been meant to distract South Florida from the fact the Miami Marlins had lost 11 of the past 14 games entering tonight’s, well, then that worked a little bit better. Fans have been talking less about the team and its Korinawoes than about a certain young blond woman behind home plate since an episode during Wednesday night’s home game vs. St. Louis splashed all over the Internet. Hey, Boobswhen it gets on Inside Edition, it is certifiably news. Or ... something. It was the bottom of the sixth inning when Korina Evaniuk, 22, pulled down and open the V-neck of her Marlins shirt to reveal much of her cleavage. Korina is shown, at left, in action, from a screen grab, and at right in her Twitter avatar. Alas, the attempted distraction did not prevent Cardinals pitcher Brett Cecil from striking out Christian Yelich in a 7-5 Marlins loss. "I was just having fun," Evaniuk told NBC6. "That’s just me. It’s my personality. We were drinking, watching the game and, I don’t know, we wanted to have a distraction. We wanted to try and win! I’m bringing attention to baseball I guess!" Evaniuk reportedly is (or was) a Marlins "Mermaid," one of the team’s in-game cheerleaders. She’d been a second-row guest of "Marlins Man," the local attorney-turned-cult oddity in his ubiquitous orange jersey. The boobs-flash was not shown live in South Florida because the cameras of the local Marlins broadcast were elsewhere at that moment. But the episode was shown on the St. Louis feed, and commented on at length by Cardinals announcers. Marlins officials officially condemned the action, but, if any publicity is good publicity, and if it takes the mind off a losing team, how bad can it be, really?

DayofdolphinTHE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS I: SHARP DICHOTOMY ON HOW GOOD '17 TEAM WILL BE: The Day Of the Dolphin was a 1973 thriller movie starring George C. Scott. The Day of the Dolphins, in our blog, is the two-parter presented here. Part I: Coach Adam Gase and the people running the Fins think their 10-6 playoff team has improved. They are convinced of it. Las Vegas strongly disagrees, setting a wins over/under of only 7 1/2. Who's right? I explore in today's latest column, and identify eight issues/questions -- eight big "ifs" -- that will provide the answer and steer the season to continued credibility or to the regression Vegas foresees. Click on The Dolphins' Eight Ifs to read in full. Meanwhile, I invited you in a recent blog poll to say how good you thought the team would be based on regular-season wins. Your verdict: 10 wins--33.7 percent; 9 wins--31.5%; 8 wins--18.3%; 11 or more wins--10.4%; 6 or fewer wins--3.6%; and 7 wins--2.5%. Your combined average of all votes: 9.20 wins, a maybe-playoff number closer to last year's total than to Vegas' disrespecting projection.

THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS II: THE SAD TALE OF NICK BUONICONTI, JIM KIICK: Part II: Absolutely stellar work by Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price, our old friend and former colleague Scott, on this week's two stories on the brain-injury related plight of two 1970s-era Dolphins icons. These are long reads worth every moment of your time. Click on Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick to read, Nickbuonbut be warned. The tales will make you sad, especially if you are of an age where these two meant something to you pre-Marino, when Shula was King. (Buoniconti is pictured right, today, at 76. Kiick is 70). Within the story you'll find a video that depicts Buoniconti taking more than a minute to try to remember and figure out how to pul a T-shirt over his head. Heart-wrenching. I remember, attending the club's 50th anniversary banquet two seasons ago, seeing all of those gnarled, disfigured claw-hands and those terribly limping knees. Football players tend not to age well. The deteriorating mind, though, the effects of CTE -- those things are not as obvious. Until they are. Situations like Buoniconti's and Kiick's could have been spotlighted in any NFL city. It's unfortunate for the Dolphins the stories chose Miami, but the stories are important to tell. It's also notable and no coincidence that Buoniconti, a middle linebacker, and Kiick, a running back, played the two positions that tackle most and get tackled most. Like the government was with the dangers of cigarettes, the NFL is a few generations late in finally acknowledging the debilitating, long-lasting dangers of brain-injuries in the sport. That Buoniconti and Kiick are the latest faces of the problem is sad, but serves a so-important cause.

ASPIRING MIAMI SOCCER OWNER DAVID BECKHAM MAKES ACTING DEBUT: Beckham, 42, still trying to realize a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami, has a small part in King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword, which hits movie theaters on Friday. His appearance lasts only two minutes but is a speaking role, as Trigger, a smart-mouthed soldier to the king. Fans may not Beckhamtworecognize the British heartthrob, as he is hardened for the role with yellowed fake teeth and prosthetic facial scars. Pictured: Beckham as heartthrob, and made-up as Trigger. "My role is pretty small in that I have one or two lines," he says in a video on his Instagram account. This is Beckham's first speaking role in a full-length feature film, although he did have a brief, wordless cameo in the 2015 film, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Both movies were directed by Guy Ritchie, one of Beckham's best friends). The subject of the new film, King Arthur, was a British leader in the late 5th and early 6th Centuries. Hey, wasn't that about when Beckham first announced his bid to own an MLS expansion team in Miami? Beginning to seem like that. It actually was February 2014 when Beckham announced his plans. Three years and three months later, he and investors appear ready to complete the purchase of the three acres needed to complete his stadium site in Miami's Overtown area. The deal would require county-commission approval.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 5-13-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Atlanta at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Fish, losers of 12 of past 15, continue 9-game homestand.

2. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: Ottawa at Pittsburgh in Game 1 of Eastern finals.

3. Hurricanes at Virginia, 1 p.m.: UM baseball doubleheader after Friday rainout.

4. WNBA opener, 5 p.m.: Seattle at defending champ Los Angeles tips off season.

5. UFC 211, 10 p.m.: Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos headlines in Dallas.

[Note: NBA playoffs are off Saturday]

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 24, 2017

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

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

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

Sunday column: On Jose Fernandez statue controversy: Many are against the Marlins building a statue to honor Fernandez since toxicology reports indicated he was negligent and impaired in the boat crash that killed himself and two others. I too am uneasy over the idea. And, yet, I see the potential for a greater good because the statue will be a constant reminder not only of his life, but how it ended. Click on The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose to read.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS/NFL DRAFT: Finally, it's Draft Week in Miami!: Newly released league schedule finds Miami back on the NFL map with four prime-time games (amazing what ending your playoff drought can do), but bigger news is this week's NFL Draft Thursday through Saturday. The most likely result for the Fins' No. 1 pick? That, no matter who it is, most Dolfans were sort of hoping for the other guy instead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

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

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

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

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

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

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 10, 2017

Heat survive! Playoff hopes still alive with OT win over Cleveland!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Dale Tallon, our Fins draft column, your Marlins next-owner verdict, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, April 10. Passover begins at sundown today for our Jewish friends. And a happy Seder to them! 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): Marlins next-owner poll, updated Heat playoff odds, your verdict on Romo/Canton & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Panthers re-name Tallon GM: No, seriously. The Florida Panthers this morning announced Dale Tallon had been named general manager and president of hockey operations. In other words, he now has the power he once had before the club demoted him in a move boneheaded beyond description. That move in turn led to the premature coaching change that sacked Gerard Gallant and brought in unqualified Tom Rowe, which in turn led to one of the most disappointing seasons in the NHL. A good move handing control back to Tallon, but what a botched season by this franchise.

My latest column: Dolphins draft: I preview the fast-approaching NFL Draft in my latest Sunday column, and offer 10 names the Dolphins should be interested in for the 22nd overall pick of the first round. Eight of those names are on defense. Click on Dolphins Draft Wish List to read the column.

HugegameHEAT BEAT CAVALIERS IN A CRAZY-BIG GAME: [Update: Heat beat LeBron-less Cavaliers 124-121 in overtime last night to keep playoff hopes alive. Click on Miracle Season a Joy to Behold for my column from the arena] Original post: LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers are tied with Boston atop the NBA East standings with two games to play. Miami is currently the 9th seed because Chicago (with the same record) enjoys the tiebreaker edge for 8th, with Indiana 7th. None of the three played Sunday but all go tonight. ESPN's Basketball Power Index playoff odds give Miami only a 34.4 percent shot, compared to the Bulls' 84.7% and Pacers' 80.9%. Miami must finish with a better record than Chicago and at least the same record as Indiana. Bottom line: Miami should consider tonight a must-win. Heat, which could get Dion Waiters back,  would be eliminated with a loss tonight if Pacers and Bulls both win. Miami catches a big break because LeBron and Kyrie Irving, both with supposed injuries, won't play. Closing schedules for each, UPDATED through Monday night results:

7. Indiana Pacers 41-40: vs. Atlanta .525 Wednesday.

8. Chicago Bulls 40-41: vs. Brooklyn .250 Wednesday.

9. Miami Heat 40-41: vs. Washington .600 Wednesday.

Heat must win Wednesday and hope either Chicago or Indiana lose in order to make the playoffs.

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: Down to wire on mad scramble for playoffs: Miami sits at 39-41 in 9th place in East and just off playoff pace in a mad scrum with Pacers and Bulls. (More on the Heat playoff picture below HB10). It will come down to each team's final two games -- with Miami's at home vs. Cavaliers tonight and Wizards Wednesday. Man, mediocrity has never been so exciting!?

2. MARLINS: Fish open at home Tuesday amid Jeter talk: Marlins wrapped up a decent 3-3 season-opening road trip Sunday and now it's Opening Night at home Tuesday vs. Braves. Season unfurls amid reports that a group fronted by Derek Jeter is among those interested in buying the Marlins. Yes, please!

3. GOLF: Sergio Garcia in green as The Masters wraps up: Sergio Garcia finally won his elusive first major on Sunday at Augusta, slipping on that sartorially awful green jacket. Speaking of slipping, Masters began with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson's late withdrawal with sore back after he slipped on stairs. Or was he pushed!?!

4. DOLPHINS: Draft preparation shifts into high gear: NFL Draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia, with Dolphins weighing options for 22nd overall pick in first round. Miami's primary goal? To be closer on the sliding draft scale to a Laremy Tunsil gift than to a Dion Jordan gaffe. 

5. PANTHERS: Humane bullet ends disappointing season: Season that began with of Stanley Cup dreams ended out of playoffs with thud Sunday at Washington. Cats ended with two straight wins but at 35-47 overall. It was reported interim coach Tom Rowe would not return, which ranked with Barry Manilow's 'I'm-gay' revelation as week's least-surprising news.

6. TONY ROMO: Cowboys QB retires, gets sweet TV gig: Tony Romo left the NFL and immediately was hired by CBS Sports to replace Phil Simms as main NFL analyst alongside Jim Nantz. The sports media -- the same guys who railed for years about how awful and boring Simms was -- then trumpeted indignantly how unfair it was Simms was losing his job. 

7. HURRICANES: Former players donate big to indoor practice facility: As football spring practice continues on campus, 60 former Miami Hurricanes football players led by current coach Mark Richt donated $1.65 million to the Greg Cote Football Indoor Practice Facility. What. Oh, my bad. It's the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility.

8. SOCCER: U.S. women, UEFA quarterfinals on stage: U.S. women's team walloped Russia 5-1 Sunday in a friendly in Houston, but the big news in international soccer will be UEFA Champions League quarterfinal matches Tuesday and Wednesday. Those won't be friendly.

9. FIU: Football stadium named for major donor: FIU Stadium officially became Riccardo Silva Stadium this week, named after a major athletic donor. People who will now call it Riccardo Silva Stadium: FIU, and Riccardo Silva. People who'll continue to call it FIU Stadium: Everybody else.

10. LAVAR BALL: Idiot-dad at it again with 'white guys' remark: Clown-dad father LaVar Ball now claims his son's UCLA team lost in the NCAA Tournament because of the slowness of "three white guys." Well, at least he didn't name them!

Missing the HB10 cut: Daniel Cormier defended his title belt in UFC 2010 last night in Buffalo, and we cannot even feign enough interest to go on ..... Denver won the NCAA men's ice hockey championship, surprising analysts who were unaware Denver was a college or that there was college hockey ..... Tony Romo will be "Maverick for a day" and sit in uniform on the Dallas bench. Given the Mavs' season, surprised Tony didn't say, "UM, uh, no thanks." ..... And in other news, the U.S. bombed Syria.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 4-10-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Cleveland at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami better consider this must-win in playoff race with two games left.

2. Heat rivals, 7 and 8 p.m.: Heat fans rooting against Indiana (7 @ PHI) and Chicago (8 vs. ORL).

3. Duke at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball wraps up ACC home series.

4. Los Angeles at Chicago, 8 p.m.: Dodgers-Cubs on national TV. Why not!?

Poll result: Strong support for Jeter to head next Marlins owners: We asked who you most support as potential next owner of the Miami Marlins, and the Derek Jeter-led investment group dominated with 73.7 percent. The Jeb Bush-led group said to be Citigroup-backed had fair support with 12.8%. Also-rans were the faceless group said to have backing of Goldman Sachs (5.8%), the Kushner family that first had handshake agreement (4.5%), and the hope that Jeffrey Loria changes his mind and keeps team (3.2%).

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

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

February 06, 2017

Pats' monstrous Super Bowl rally tops updated Hot Button Top 10, also starring surging Heat, Jason Taylor, Canes; plus, debate "greatest," but not "winningest." Belichick will never surpass Shula for most career victories & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, February 6. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Taylor gets into Canton, predicting football Hall of Fame class, week's final Super Bowl With a Smirk & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

A Super Bowl to save a season: This has been a bad season for the NFL in general, but Falcons vs. Patriots in Super Bowl 51 is matchup capable of being spectacular and saving the season. Click on Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue to read my Sunday column previewing the game.

Patriots 31, Falcons 23: Click on Super Bowl Gem for my full prediction capsule on today's Super Bowl. (I got the score pretty close, If I do say so).

'GREATEST COACH' DEBATE MAY BE LOSING CAUSE, BUT SHULA HAS TWO DISTINCTIONS THAT REMAIN HIS ALONE: "Bill Belichick closing in on Don Shula!" somehow became a Donbillmanufactured subplot to this Super Bowl from a Miami perspective. I get it. It's easy. But it's also a false narrative, for two reasons. 1) "Greatest coach ever," alas, is a train that may have already left the station for Shula. The Dolphins' icon was 2-4 in Super Bowls. Belichick just won his fifth. I don't know that there are a lot of NFL scholars and historians who would not already give the greatest-ever nod to New England's guy. But! 2) The two great distinctions that will always keep Shula's name in the greatest-ever argument -- most career victories and only Perfect Season -- seem safely his. I laugh at the suggestion Belichick is a real threat to Shula's career mark of 347 overall victories. He would have to win at his current pace and still be coaching at age 72 to have a shot, and maintaining that current pace will be tougher indeed when Tom Brady (finally) retires presumably after one or two more years. The likelihood of Belichick winning and coaching long enough to surpass 347 wins seems roughly as likely as the odds another team will equal Miami's 1972 Perfect Season. Could happen, but wouldn't bet on it. History might already see Belichick as "greater," but the distinctions of "winningest" and perfection are safely with Shula.

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. SUPER BOWL: Monstrous rally grows Patriots dynasty: Awful game much of the way, but Patriots made a thriller of Super Bowl 51, rallying from 21-0 and 28-3 holes to win in overtime, 34-28. Massive choke by the Falcons? Maybe. But Tom Brady had a little to do with that, no?

2. HEAT: Surging Miami seeks 11th straight tonight: Heat crushed visiting Philadelphia 125-102 Saturday night behind Hassan Whiteside's 30 points and 20 rebounds to win a 10th straight and now begins a four-game road trip tonight at Minnesota. Might disappoint lottery-minded fans, but eighth seed and playoffs are no longer out of reach for the way-hot Heat.

3. HURRICANES: UM football claims signing-day bounty: Miami loaded up on National Signing Day with a 24-man bounty that ESPN ranked as the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation. "We nailed it!" said Mark Richt … then again, so did every other college coach in America on signing day.

4. HALL OF FAME: Dolphins' Taylor among new inductees: LaDainian Tomlinson was a lock. Nobody else was. But ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor was among the seven who got in, along with Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Jerry Jones, Kenny Easley and Morten Andersen. Congrats, J.T. Now what about Zach Thomas.

5. PANTHERS: Barkov, Huberdeau back on the ice: Florida has reinforcements as it chases a playoff spot as young stars Sasha Barkov (out previous 15 games) and Jonathan Huberdeau (out all out season) returned from injuries Friday to spark Cat's third straight win. That's two fewer excuses for Cats to miss the playoffs.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women outshining men: UM men were only 3-5 since Jan. 1 before winning Friday, but Canes women are 17-5 and ranked 16th entering Monday game at No. 6 Florida State. Coach Katie Meier got her 300th career win. Adding a few more in March would be nice.

7. SOCCER: U.S. men beat Jamaica in friendly: After a scoreless draw vs. Serbia in Bruce Arena's debut as coach, the U.S. men beat Jamaica 1-0 Saturday night in Chattanooga. Now, it's what's next on the team's calendar that matters and will judge Arena: World Cup qualifying.

8. GOLF: Comeback short-lived, Tiger out again: He's out a year and a half with various back ailments, he comes back, and he can't finish the tournament, withdrawing with back spasms. Hate to say, but it may be time for Tiger Woods to call it quits.

9. BARKLEY-LEBRON: Basketball beef gets personal: Broadcaster Charles Barkley called LeBron James "whiny." LeBron shot back with a litany of bad stuff Chuck has done in the past. C'mon, kids. Play nice!

10. BASEBALL: It's just about here, folks: Miami Marlins hold their annual stadium FanFest next Saturday and Sunday, the precursor to when players negin to report for spring training. Ready or not, almost time to play ball!

Missing the HB10 cut: The 2017 FIVB world beach volleyball tours opens with the Fort Lauderdale Major beginning Tuesday, a five-star men's and women's event featuring Kerry Walsh Jennings and a bunch of people I've never heard of ..... Falcons QB Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP Saturday night. Correctly had a feeling Tom Brady would be lifting the more coveted hardware Sunday ..... Five days until Kevin Durant makes his first return to Oklahoma City. Thunder fans already are practicing their booing in preparation ..... The Winter X Games have been going on. The question is, WHY!?

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-6-17: What events on the Monday, Feb. 6 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Heat at Minnesota, 8 p.m.: Good shot at 11th straight win tonight at Timberwolves.

2. Hurricanes at Florida State, 7 p.m.: No. 16 UM women visit No. 6 Seminoles.

3. Um, pretty much nothing. Light post-Super Bowl Monday.

Select recent columns: Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue, the latest, previewing today's Super Bowl. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. 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

November 29, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.9%; plus Fins beat Niners for 6th straight win; also, Panthers stupidly fire coach, Canes bowl outlook, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28. FAU fired football coach Charlie Partridge on Sunday. Owls fans are split. One likes the move, the other doesn't. 2) Hope y'all had a wonderful long Thanksgiving Weekend! 3) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes rout Duke with CSM poll, other Collball, Luddite's Heat MVP Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The 49ers defense disrespected Tannehill, and he made them pay: Dolphins coach Adam Gase said San Francisco showed "disrespect" to the Dolphins passing game in loading up to stop the run Sunday. Ryan Tannehill made them pay with one of the best games of his career. Click on They Dared Him to Throw, And Oh Did He for my column from the game. 

A few select recent columns: Click Week 12 Gems for latest NFL picks and on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins for analysis of Miami's playoff chances. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face.

Dumb dumb dumb! Panthers fire coach Gallant: It seemed premature at the least for the Florida Panthers late last night to fire coach Gerard Gallant one quarter into this NHL season -- after two successful seasons prior to that. This franchise can't seem to outgrow its habit of treating stability as if it were the enemy.

Hurricanes' bowl destination: Am hearing UM is likeliest headed to the Dec. 31 Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville vs. Florida Gators or Mark Richt's ex's, Georgia. But Dec. 28 Russell Athletic/Orlando remains in play, with an outside shot at Dec. 31 Citrus/Orlando. Safest bet: Canes staying in-state a near certainty. See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They're buoyant!

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 95.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 95.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco putting Miami's season Dsmrecord at 7-4 after a sixth consecutive win. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 3 p.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

Next poll: Dec. 4 (following game at Baltimore) 

G11: DOLPHINS 31, SAN FRANCISCO 24: ANTHEM-KNEELIN', CASTRO-ADMIRIN' COLIN KAEPERNICK COMES TO TOWN. AND IN OTHER NEWS, MIAMI WINS SIXTH STRAIGHT GAME!: Postgame thoughts: Hanging on at home to barely beat a 1-9 opponent is not that impressive. But this is: When that victory is your sixth in a row. Miami's 31-24 win over San Fran was too close for comfort, but 7-4 and all in on the playoff chase makes everything better. Defense was not real great today, giving up well over 400 49ers yards. But Tannehill was pretty great: 20-30, 285 yards, three TDs and a 130.6 rating. On as day when Miami was missing three line starters and the defense stacked up to limit Ajayi, Tanny took over and won it ..... 4Q: SF now within 31-24 with 2:15 left on 36-yard FG ... Hmm. Well, ain't over yet. SF within 31-21 with 7:42 left on The Kneeler's 1-yard TD flip to ancient Torrey Smith ... I predicted Miami to win 31-16 (see below). Close enough for ya? ... Fins now 31-14 and headed for 6th straight win on Tannehill's 3rd TD pass of day, 15 yards to Carroo, the latter's career first ..... 3Q: Tanny continues excellent day with 43-yard scoring pass to Stills and 24-14 MIA lead late in third ... Apparent 32-yard catch by Parker overturned on review ... This could come back to haunt. Miami answers 49ers score with 78-yard Drake kickoff return to SF 24, but fails to score, ends up punting. Wow ... SF within 17-14 on The Kneeler's 4-yard scoring pass to Celek to finish 91-yard drive ... MIA up 17-7 on 24-yard FG set up by Alonso INT (his second takeaway) that gave Fins ball on SF 26 ..... Halftime thoughts: MIA up 14-7 at the break, led by a sharp Tannehill, who is 12-for-17 for 154 yards (a 118.3 rating), including his 100th NFL career scoring throw. Ajayi being held in check; 11 for 25, hampered by three starting linemen out injured. Biugb defensive takeaway by Alonso. Only real negative for Fins so far: Kaepernick has 62 yards rushing on four runs. Miami seems to be on its way to sixth straight win ..... 2Q: MIA 14-7 on Sims 16-yard scoring pass from Tanny. Was his 100th career TD throw. He's been excellent today ... Bad teams commit turnovers, and so Niners lose fumble after completition, recovered by Alonso at Fins 16. SF had been driving, led by 30-yard run by The Kneeler ... MIA 7-7 on Ajayi 2-yard scoring run, after earlier apparent Parker 10-yard scoring catch in corner of end zone was overturtned on review ..... 1Q: Boom! Miami finally has a notable play late in first period, a 46-yard Tanny strike deep to Parker on 3rd and 7, to the SF 42 ... ESPN's continually updated "win probability" percentile now has SF slightly more likely to win today. Don't buy it. Too bad an opponent for Dolfans to worry yet ... SF up 7-0 on Kaepernick-Hyde 11-yard scoringh pass. Fins' Michael Thomas had earlier broken up a sure TD pass ... Loud booing as The Kneeler takes the field ... Can't remember the last Dolphins game I felt so sure Miami would win. Which alone gives me pause ..... Pregame: Oy. Miami's starting offensive line will be 3/5ths absent today, with Albert, Pouncey and Tunsil all inactive with injuries ..... Original post: OK, Miami, let's all boo 49ers quarterback Kneelin' Colin Kaepernick today because he chooses to not stand during the national anthem to protest social injustice. Or, let's all boo him because he once dared to wear a T-shirt Sfmiawith Fidel Castro's image and speak positively of the despicable deceased despot we hated so. Or -- third option -- we could ignore the ultimately inconsequential opposing QB and simply cheer the Dolphins as they attempt to win a sixth consecutive game. Doomsaying Dolfans are forever waiting for the fist around the blind corner — the next loss to prove the whole damned thing was a house of cards in a rising wind. Well, take this week off from the angst as 1-9 San Fran makes its first SoFla visit since 2008. Miami has seldom, in a lot of years, been a bigger favorite than today's 7 1/2 points. And with such Sfmiasbabundant reason. The Dolphins percolate into this 1 p.m. kickoff with five straight wins creating a 6-4 record that makes playoff hopes real. While 49ers already are eliminated from NFC playoff contention, Miami enters this week seventh in the jockeying for six AFC spots -- and climbing. The Fins are 4-1 at home. The terrible Niners are 0-4 on the road. Miami is led by a quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, who has been really solid lately. San Fran is led by a quarterback, Kaepernick, who says he is leading a protest for change but then doesn’t even bother to vote. Did I mention that Jay Ajayi might roll another 200 against the NFL’s worst (by far) run defense? That’s not to say South Florida should be overconfident; that right hasn’t been earned. SF is way overdue to surprise somebody, anybody, and, remember, it took a late miracle for MIA to edge the punchless Rams last week. By the way, the 49ers tried to hire Adam Gase in 2015 but he slipped from their grasp, and now he’s climbing up onto the coach-of-the-year radar for Miami. This result should give the Frans more cause to lament the one that got away. My pick: Dolphins, 31-16.

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. FIDEL CASTRO: Miami celebrates death of despised Cuban dictator: Like Cubs fans in baseball, Cuban Miamians who fled Fidel Castro's tyranny prayed they would live to see this day but feared they never would. Finally, late Friday, it happened. Castro died at age 90, the despicable despot gone at last. 

2DOLPHINS: Miami beats 49ers for 6th straight win: Dolphins are hot and in the heart of playoff contention -- now holding the No. 6 playoff seed -- after 31-24 home win over San Francisco runs winning streak to six games. Dolfans, that feeling you had entering this game that is so strange and foreign to you ... it is called "overconfidence."

3HURRICANES: Kaaya sets mark as UM routs Duke in regular-season finale: A year ago the Canes needed a last-second, eight-lateral kickoff return miracle to beat Duke. This year, no drama, just a 40-21 rout that saw Brad Kaaya throw for 396 yards and break Ken Dorsey's career record. Bring on the bowl bids!

4. HEAT: A retooling team in an early-season scramble: Heat is 5-11 entering Monday's visit by Boston. It's weird, right? The playoffs always were assumed down here. Now they seem a slippery uphill climb.

5PANTHERS: Cats shockingly, stupidly fire their coach: The high-hope Cats, idling at .500 at 11-11, prematurely and stupidly fired coach Gerard Gallant late last night. This franchise can;t seem to outgrow its habit of treating stability as if it were the enemy.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women in holiday tourneys: Miami men fell to No. 21 Iowa State 73-56 Friday in semifinals of AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando for UM's first loss of the season, while women beat Texas Tech on Sunday in title game of event UM hosted. Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier keep Canes hoops relevant.

7. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Michigan loss gives CFP committee some decidin' to do: No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Clemson won handily Saturday, but what will the College Football Playoff do with No. 3 Michigan's double-OT loss at No. 2 Ohio State? The guess? Wolverines stay at 3 or drop no lower than 4, much to the chagrin of No. 5 Washington. And in other news, FSU beat Florida.

8. SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Heat retiring Shaq's number meets some objection: Heat announced it would retire O'Neal's No. 32 in a ceremony next month. Hmm. For 3 1/2 seasons' work? I mean, I know Pat Riley's loves him a star-studded rafters, but, c'mon!

9. TIGER WOODS: Long-awaited return set for this week: Tiger's first competitive round on the PGA Tour in more than a year will happen this coming Thursday, meaning he has only a few days left to further delay his comeback.

10. SOCCER: U.S. national team changes coaches: Jurgen Klinsmann, out. Bruce Arena, back in. The change is no shock. But the timing sort of is, coming two games into World Cup qualifying.

Missing the HB10 cut: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has many qualities. Losing gracefully ..... Finished your Christmas shopping yet? Don't we hate people who already have? ..... The more I think about the way Jimmie Johnson made history at Homestead last week, shouldn't Donald Trump have Tweeted that the race was rigged?

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 23, 2016

Heat retiring Shaq's No. 32: Borderline. Arguable. Should they? Last day for poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/Hurricanes resurgence, Jurgen Klinsmann firing, NFL Week Pix ' Fantasy results, latest SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23. Happy Thanksgiving Eve? I'm holed up at Friday Page World Headquarters today making all of my Bird Day plus Sunday/Monday NFL picks so I can, you know, actually, have Thanksgiving Day off. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins extend win streak in L.A. with DSM poll, Jimmie Johnson reigns over NASCAR at Homestead, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Dolphins, Hurricanes' resurgence: Miami's two big football teams haven't been this hot together entering Thanksgiving since 1989. Click on Football Town Strikes Back to read my latest column. A few other select recent columns: Surreal At 200 MPH, from Homestead racetrack on Jimmie Johnson's historic Sunday NASCAR win. Also: Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

ShaqheatHMM. SHOULD THE HEAT REALLY BE RETIRING SHAQ'S NUMBER?: Heat announced Monday they'll retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 in a ceremony Dec. 22 during a home game vs. the Lakers. This isn't worthy of vehement objection, I suppose. Shaq did arrive, late in his fleeting prime, to help Miami win its first NBA title in 2005. He helped the franchise achieve a higher stature. Besides, all of this retired jersey/rafters stuff is just ceremonial, anyway. Then again, shouldn't the honor be reserved for the best of the best in franchise history such as the Dwyane Wades? Did Shaq really play enough here -- 3 1/2 seasons -- to merit a retired number? Clearly, the Lakers are the only club that should be retiring Shaq's number. I mean, he played for Orlando longer than he played in Miami. Consider the slice of his career pie Miami had of Shaq: 16.98% of his games played, 14.02% of his points scored, and 14.17% of his rebounds. So his NBA career was about 1/6th or 1/7th Miami. But I could be wrong. Have your say in this poll:

MIXED EMOTIONS ON U.S. SOCCER FIRING KLINSMANN: International soccer has a long, dubious history of abrupt coach firings. I'm not sure if you can call this one of those. Jurgen Klinsmann
Klinsmannhas since 2011 been steering the U.S. men's national soccer team, though ups and downs. His guys survived a very difficult Group of Death to reach the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. Not bad. But what has happened so far in qualifying for the 2018 WC in Russia cost the German national his job on Monday. The U.S. is 0-2 in qualifiers, losing 2-1 at home (Columbus, Ohio) to Mexico, and then, unforgivably, humiliatingly, 4-0 at Costa Rica. Early reports are that MLS/L.A. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena will replace Klinsmann. Arena, of course, coached the U.S. from 1998 to '06. The new man will have some time, as the next qualifying matches are not until late March. Not so sure about recycling Arena. I thought Klinsmann should have been given this World Cup cycle. If he failed to qualify, then make a move. But two losses early in qualifying is not failing to qualify. Anyway, the search for the right man to make U.S. men's soccer a world power continues. Now we see if Arena II is the answer. The American women have done it, which does nothing but heap that much more pressure on the U.S. men and, now, Arena again.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 11 RESULTS: BIG PREDIX RALLY, LOBOS STAY SCORCHIN'!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Oh yeah! NIce bounceback week. Went a sterling 12-2 overall and a nifty 9-4-1 against the spread, including a bull's-eye on our Upset of the Week ("Aaawwwk!") with Bills winning at Bengals. We're now a very solid 20 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos slipped past Roy's team 95-85 in a duel of league powers in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 8-3 after (like the Dolphins) a fifth straight win. Theo Riddick led us with only 16 points but we had five in double figures and got a dozen from smart late-week pickup Thomas Rawls. Keep it honkin', big rig. Keep it rollin', 'Bos!

SOPY RANKINGS / SEASON-FINALE SATURDAY! CANES' KAAYA TRIES TO NAIL DOWN 4TH PLACE IN 'STATE HEISMAN': Not much drama, frankly, as we wind down the fifth season of our blog's SopyState Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, as all seven state FBS teams conclude their regular seasons this coming Saturday. Quinton Flowers has passed and run away with the season crown. Let's see if Miami's Brad Kaaya can secure fourth place. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week took a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. All teams have played 11 games except the Florida Gators, with 10. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 13, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings. The SOPY rankings do not include bowl games, so we'll have our Final Top 25 next week:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 12:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)               Wk12       Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                257.5      2,680

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                         249         1,975

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 191.5      1,741

4      4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                      129         1,412

5      5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       110.5      1,364.5

6      8      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     157         1,285 

7      7      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                      135         1,267

8      6      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      DNP      1,159.5

9      9      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         137         1,098

10    --     McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb                153.5      1,020.5

Bubble: Devin Singletary, FAU-rb, 938. Other team leader: Jordan Scarlett, Florida-rb, 784. Week 12 best:Flowers, 257.5; Season best: Flowers, 371.5, Week 11.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida State (8-3); 2. Florida (8-2); 3. Miami (7-4); 4. South Florida (9-2); 5. UCF (6-5); 6. FIU (4-7); 7. FAU (3-8).

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

Twitter @gregcote