October 30, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 64.3%. CSM approval shows sizable dip after escape from Chapel Hill; plus our Sunday Canes column, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), UM survives North Carolina to stay unbeaten, other state Collball Week 9 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 30. Thanks to Paul Castronovo for having us on his Big 105.9 radio show this morning. Always enjoy it. 2) See previous blogpost for our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter rating. Warning. It ain't pretty. 3) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite Thursday night? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins embarrassed in Baltimore with DSM poll, NFL Week 8 picks, The List (Fins on Thursdays), ode to Fats Domino & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Canes our great hope at 7-0: Click Along For the Ride On the Road to 'Back' for our latest Sunday column. And by the way, if you aren't satisfied with 7-0, you may be trying a bit to hard not to be. Just sayin'.

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: No. 8 Miami clicks Heels, moves to 7-0: UM on Saturday won 24-19 at North Carolina in what also was a (nervous) victory over the losing focus and looking ahead, with home games next vs. ranked Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Must have been those equine blinders Mark Richt had fitted onto UM helmets Saturday. Oh, and by the way: Read somebody said UM's 7-0 feels like a "fraud." People, if you can't be happy with 7-0, perhaps you are trying a bit too hard not to be. 

2. DOLPHINS: Embarrassed Fins fall hard off national stage: Dolphins' game in Baltimore Thursday was first of three straight in prime time, a franchise first, the 40-0 humiliation an embarrassing pratfall off that national stage. As for Matt Moore's performance? Let's just say Jay Cutler has never, ever looked better.

3. HEAT: Early injuries hampering team out the gate: Miami's 2-3 start after Saturday's home loss to Boston has been marked by early injuries to key players, notably to Hassan Whiteside. Any team's fortunes rely on the crapshoot of good health. But is it too much to ask that your team at least stay injury-free for, like, the first week!? 

4. BASEBALL: Wild World Series about to end somebody's long suffering: As the World Series moves west to L.A. with Houston up 3-2, the Dodgers are seeking their first WS championship since 1988 while the Astros are after their first ever. No matter who wins, celebrating fans may need a quick lesson in how to throw a parade.

5. UM BASKETBALL: Cloud over Larranaga as season nears: The season opener for Canes men's hoops is only 12 days away, and UM is supposed to be really good. But – with coach Jim Larranaga professing innocence but admitting he is the unnamed Miami coach in that FBI recruiting probe – a major distraction welcomes the season.

6. PANTHERS: Typical mediocre start for high-hope Cats: A new coach, Dale Tallon back in charge, new hope, but it's a 4-6 start after' Saturday's home loss to Detroit, already well off playoff pace. They're in midst of five-game homestand, needing a spark. A reason for rekindled hope.

7. NFL: Turmoil continues to rock King Sport: Texans players are planning a pregame protest today over "inmates running the prison" comment by their team owner. No-win debate over national anthem protests continues. Now 17 owners on a conference call reportedly are plotting to oust commissioner Roger Goodell. Oh, and ratings are down!

8. HALL OF FAME: Riley, LeBatard among Miami inductees: Heat boss Pat Riley and Miami-based ESPN Radio lord Dan LeBatard were among latest inductees into Miami Chamber of Commerce Hall of Champions. Imagine LeBatard make the Hall of Fame despite all those years of steroid use!

9. MARLINS: Jeter, "Mr. Marlin" officially part ways: New boss Derek Jeter and Jeff Conine could not agree on Conine's role or salary, so he's out. So the Marlins dumped Mr. Marlin. Tony Perez and Andre Dawson are out for same reasons. How Loria-esque!

10. NASCAR: One race left before Homestead finale: Next Sunday in Phoenix is the final race before NASCAR's Nov. 19 grand finale down at Homestead. No Dale Jr. in the finals, though. Cinderella failed us.

Missing the HB10 cut: Aston Martin is selling a Tom Brady-edition automobile for $360,000. It is preprogrammed to drive straight to the Super Bowl ..... The Yankees parted ways with manager Joe Girardi after 10 seasons. See. I told ya it wouldn't last! ..... Florida Gators reportedly have ousted coach Jim McElwain, with ex-Canes coach Randy Shannon taking over on interim basis. There's a naked-man-lying-on-a-shark-in-a-boat joke there somewhere ..... It was reported Alabama's Nick Saban is America's highest-paid college football coach at $11.132 million. How much the guy gotta make to smile once in awhile!? ..... Astros' Yuri Gurriel disciplined for a racist slant-eye gesture aimed at Dodgers' Yu Darvish. Ah, sportsmanship! ..... Dolphins cheerleaders held annual Swimsuit Fashion Show. Instead of a calendar, troupe produced a 100-page coffee table book. Sounds like good bathroom "reading" material for Dad!

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 64.3%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 64.3 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 24-19 victory at North Carolina putting No. 8 UM's season record at 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the ACC. That's a sharp drop to a season low after a fourth straight narrow win. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.
 
 
2017 CSM results
G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
G4: 97.6% following 24-20 victory at Florida State
G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech
G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse
G7: 64.3% following 24-19 victory at North Carolina
Next poll: Nov. 4 following game vs. Virginia Tech 

NO. 8 HURRICANES 24, @NORTH CAROLINA 19: FOURTH STRAIGHT TIGHT GAME, BUT UM STAY UNBEATEN: Miami has won its past four games by a combined 18 points after today's 24-19 escape at North Carolina, but, when last I checked the math, 7-0 was 7-0 ..... Original post: This high-noon ACC Coastal kickoff in Chapel Hill figures as a rout, maybe even an ugly one. Miami is 6-0, 4-0 in the ACC and beginning to think it has a shot at working up into conversation for the four-team College Football Playoff. North MiauncCarolina is 1-7, 0-5 in the conference and, thanks largely to decimating injuries, every bit as bad, all over the field, as those records suggest. In some ways it's surprising Miami is "only" a 20 1/2-point favorite. And yet the seeming lopsidedness here is about all that should worry UM coach Mark Richt. With consecutive home games vs. ranked opponents Virginia Tech and Notre Dame following this, taking the Tar Heels too casually and mentally looking past them is about the only factor that could imperil the Canes here. Richt has been very good at marshaling his team's focus, though, and he has a little help. UNC has beaten Miami two in a row, and some Canes felt "disrespected" by the Heels' celebrating last year after a 20-13 win in Miami. That suggests the Hurricanes might just be in payback mode. A comfy win would be especially welcome following the past three games won by a combined total of just 13 points. "We're not foolish enough to think that we've arrived yet," Richt said of his team. "I don't think they believe that. They know we have to earn it." My pick: Hurricanes, 45-13

Other state FBS Week 9 games (chronologically, all Saturday unless noted):

Boston College 35, Florida State 3: It's time to say it. FSU is not "off to a slow start." FSU is not "struggling." FSU is a really bad team this season, and seemingly getting worse. This Friday night road loss puts Noles at 2-5, with even a minor bowl game looking more and more doubtful.

FIU 41, Marshall 30: Butch Davis' Panthers were 17-point road underdogs but started fast and held on for a huge win for the program in improving to 5-2. Cats stay in hunt for Conference USA title, and what a coaching rebirth so far for Butch!

No. 3 Georgia 42, Florida 7: Gators had won 21 of previous 26 meetings, but that meant zero in Jacksonville at this year's "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." Bulldogs were angling to get into SEC title game and CFP playoff, were 14-point favorites and had their way to drop Florida to 3-4.

Houston 28, No. 17 South Florida 24: Upset! Oh my. Percolating Bulls were 11-point home favorites but suffered first loss, are now 7-1 and could fall from polls or close to it.

FAU 42, Western Kentucky 28: Lane Kiffin's Owls took care of business with a tidy road win to improve to 5-3 and stay in hunt for C-USA title.

No. 18 UCF 73, Austin Peay 33: Hope you had the 'over.' Knights now 7-0 after rolling over and through their Ohio Valley Conference foe. 

National Collball Week 9 overview: Four big Top 25 Saturday matchups led by the one with direct College Football Playoff ramifications or both teams: No. 6 Ohio State rallying at home to beat No. 2 Penn State, 39-38. Others: 11-Oklahoma State beat 22-West Virginia 50-39; 25-Iowa State upset 4-TCU, 14-7; and 9-Notre Dame handled 14-North Carolina State, 35-14. 

THE LIST: STATE-COLLEGE FOOTBALL SALARIES: Income this season for the state of Florida's seven FBS-level head coaches, based on USA Today's annual database:

Coach, School                                2017 income

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State             $5.700 million

Jim McElwain, Florida                    $4.457

*-Mark Richt, Miami                        $4.000

Scott Frost, UCF                            $2.000

Charlie Strong, South Florida          $1.000

Lane Kiffin, FAU                             $950,000

Butch Davis, FIU                            $900,000

*-Richt salary is based on published reports. He was not included in USA Today database because UM is a private school.

Select other recent columns: Dolphins Debacle (quick hits 40-0 loss in Baltimore). Time Is Right For Dolphins To Prove Doubters Wrong (on three straight prime-time games). The Godfather Speaks (Pat Riley exclusive). Also: Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season. It Isn't Just Cutler. Back On Track & Ready To Roar. Jeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 28, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.1%. Huge 80-point drop following Fins' embarrassing 40-0 loss in Baltimore; plus our postgame observations, NFL Week 8 picks, The List (Fins on Thursdays), ode to Fats Domino & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27. Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite last night? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY standings & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

NEW: QUICK-HIT OBSERVATIONS ON DOLPHINS' 40-0 THURSDAY LOSS: Click Dolphins Debacle. Fins last night in Baltimore embarked upon three consecutive prime-time games -- a franchise first. With the nation watching, this is Miami's chance to get the elusive credit and respect it thinks it is due, with a 4-3 record even after last night's collapse. The national stage is yours, Miami. Last night they fell from it. For the challenge moving forward, click Time Is Right For Dolphins To Prove Doubters Wrong.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 6.1%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 6.1 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday Dsmnight's 40-0 Dolphins loss at the Baltimore Ravens putting Miami's season record at 4-3. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m Saturday.
 
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
Next poll: Nov. 5 (following game vs. Oakland)

UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 8 PICKS: HOPING OUR FINS-RAVENS FORECAST WAS NO HARBINGER...: I predicted Miami would win in Baltimore Fripixlast night, 20-16, in a small upset. The Dolphins lost, 40-0. Oops! Nobody has been this wrong since New Coke, or that time I predicted the Internet would never catch on. This is what I get for having faith (even a little) in the Dolphins. But, we carry on! Click Week 8 Gems for our predix capsules on our Game of the Week (Broncos-Chiefs), Upset of the Week (Steelers-Lions: "Aawwk!") and the rest. It can only go up from here. By the way, if you wondered, 40-0 was the fifth-worst loss numerically in franchise history. Biggest margin of defeat remains the 62-7 playoff loss at Jacksonville to end 1999 season. This was Miami's worst shutout loss since 41-0 at Indianapolis in '97.

G7: DOLPHINS AT BALTIMORE: START OF PRIME-TIME TRIFECTA (WAS) A HUGE CHANCE FOR MIAMI: Original post: The 4-2 Dolphins are 3-point underdogs at the 3-4 Ravens for Thursday Night Football tonight starting at 8:25 on CBS and NFL Network, where you'll be watching if you wish to avoid Tony Romo incessantly predicting what Miabalthe next play will be. King Sport Week 8 kicks off with a matchup that should satisfy those in the mood for a low-scoring game between two lurching offenses and two teams trying to prove they’re playoff-caliber against prevailing doubts about that. The week also kicks off with an upset, it says here. “AAAWWWK!” Baltimore is favored less for the home field than for the recent series trend, with Ravens a nemesis that has beaten Miami in six of past seven meetings dating to 2008. Baltimore is not favored on merit, or shouldn't be. The fact they’re favored at all verifies my latest column’s point that Nobody Believes In The Dolphins. This first of three straight prime-time games for Miami -- a franchise first -- offers a unique chance for the Dolphins to go get (earn) the national credit and respect they believe is due. The sinking Crows are on a 1-4 skid because Joe Flacco has been close to awful and because a once-vaunted defense is dead-last in the NFL in stopping the run. And now the Crabcakers are beat up with injuries on both their offensive line and receivers corps. Contrarily, Miami has won three straight and brings a solid defense that should continue Flacco’s woes. And if Jay Ajayi isn’t the league’s No. 1 fantasy running back this week, he’s close. BAL coach John Harbaugh called Matt Moore a “great quarterback” to reporters on a conference call this week, presumably to muffled laughter. Moore isn’t great, of course. But he’s good enough. And probably better than Flacco right now. Meanwhile Romo will be up in the CBS booth predicting every play. Wish he’d been available this week to tell me who’s going to win, but I’m on my own there. Does this pick mean I’m totally sold on the Dolphins as a good team? No. Not as much as it means I think the Ravens are not right now. My pick: Upset! Dolphins, 20-16.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS' THURSDAY NIGHT HISTORY: Last night marked only Miami's 12th all-time game on a Thursday night. Dolphins are now 6-6 overall, 5-2 at home and 1-4 away. The chronology:

Year    Opponent            Result

1979    vs. Patriots         W 39-24

1980    vs. Chargers       L 27-24 (OT)

1981    vs. Steelers        W 30-10

1990    vs. Patriots         W17-10

2006    @ Steelers          L 28-17

2009    @ Panthers         W 24-17

2010    vs. Bears            L 16-0

2012    @ Bills                L 19-14

2013    vs. Bengals         W22-20 (OT)

2014    vs. Bills               W 22-9

2015    @ Patriots           L 36-7

2017    @ Ravens            L 40-0 

ODE TO FATS DOMINO, 1928-2017: New Orleans legend Antoine (Fats) Domino died yesterday at 89. He put 35 records in the Billboard Top 40 including the classics Blueberry Hill and Ain't That a Shame. Domino also has a place as one of the originators of modern rock 'n roll. In fact the song below, The Fat Man, from 1949, is credited by some as the first rock n roll record. The song was adapted from Champion Jack Dupree's blues song, Junker Blues, recorded in 1940, but Fats made it his own, and it launched a career that would see him a major player in pop and R&B music in the 1950s and into the early '60s. R.I.P., Fats. Your music lives on...

Select other recent columns: The Godfather Speaks (Pat Riley exclusive). Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season (Dolphins' Snortgate). It Isn't Just Cutler (Dolphins' offense woes). Back On Track & Ready To Roar (Florida Panthers). Jeter Betting On Jeter (Marlins)Also: Hope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 17, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 79.7%. Huge spike in DSM approval after upset in Atlanta; plus Fins stun Falcons 20-17 with rally as offense, defense come alive; also, see who's No. 1 and what falls where in latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 16. Know any people who are serious Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes' 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech with CSM poll, other state Collball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column on Canes' huge win over Georgia TechClick Minor Miracle Bails Out Richt's Gamble for my column from Saturday's 25-24 UM triumph keeping The U unbeaten. Also, voting continues in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll, both in the blogpost directly below and here.

Vote in DSM poll online, too: Click here.

DOLPHINS RALLY, STUN FALCONS IN ATLANTA, 20-17: The Dolphins' huge second half Sunday in Atlanta beats the Falcons 20-17 to complete an exhilarating weekend of football for South Florida fans, after the Hurricanes beat Georgia Tech 25-24 the day before. What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit Sunday. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler. I'd predicted that Miami would lose narrowly (I said 27-23) but with an effort that would see a wakeup by the offense and be encouraging to fans. Now let's see how encouraged fans really are with the latest DSM poll. Vote now.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 79.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 79.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-17 upset victory at the Atlanta Falcons putting Miami's season record at 3-2. That's a huge spike from three straight weeks in single digits. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
Next poll: Oct. 22 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets)

G5: DOLPHINS AT ATLANTA: SEE ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR MIAMI, EVEN IN DEFEAT: Final thoughts: What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler ..... 4Q: Jones interception inside final minute denies Atlanta tying FG try, seals 20-17 upset, comeback win for Miami! ... Fins take first lead 20-17 on Parkey 38-yard FG with just over 2 minutes left in regulation ... MIA ties it 17-17 on Parkey 49-yard FG after big 4th-down gamble and conversion ... Momentum is all Miami's right now. Fins with ball near midfield after muffed Falcons punt play ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-14 on Cutler-Landry 7-yard TD pass after roughing penalty negates Cutler scrimmage-line interception ... Pouncey out under concussion protocol. Cannot keep that man on the damned field! ... Gase sticks with Cutler and it pays off. MIA with 17-7 on his 11-yard scoring pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: How much longer will Gase's support for Cutler continue? QB is 8-for-14 for 64 yards and a pick (39.0 rating) in half as offensive woes go on. Ajayi (11 carries, 71 yards) the lone bright spot. Not even the defense (233 yards allowed) is playing great. If Cutler cannot lead this offense to the end zone, why not try Moore? ..... 2Q: ATL misses 59-yard FG to end half ... Miami driving to finally score (seemingly), but Cutler picked off at Atlanta 10. Ugh ... ATL 17-0 on Coleman 6-yard scoring run. My forecast of a close game and an encouraging Dolphins effort not coming true -- so far. Still early ... It failed, but totally agree with MIA going for it on 4th-and-3 from ATL 39 ..... Ajayi  1Q: Ajayi 51 rush yards on five carries the 1Q bright spot for MIA ... Ryan 40-yard scoring strike to hall and 10-0 Falcs lead ... ATL 3-0 on opening-drive 50-yard FG ..... Pregame: Final betting line at Falcons by 14. Wow. The 2-2 Dolphins being treated like 0-4 out of Vegas ... WR Parker notable among inactives today, a hinderance to MIA upset chances ..... Original post: Miami rarely finds itself the week's biggest NFL underdog -- that's why the Browns and Jets were invented! -- but it does this week, by 11 1/2 points, and, alas, with fair reason. The 3-1 Atlanta Falcons are coming off a bye week and Miaatlexpect to have two key players, receiver Julio Jones and sackman Vic Beasley, back from injury. The 2-2 Miami Dolphins are coming off a week in which the two biggest topics of distracting conversation (not necessarily in this
G5order) were Jay Cutler's tepid, barely scoring offense, and the assistant coach forced to resign in shame over a cocaine/stripper scandal. Still, I like Miami with the points in this 1 p.m. CBS tilt and give the Fins a medium shot at an outright upset, believe it or not. Atlanta is not invincible; it lost its last game at home to Buffalo, 23-17. Falcons' defense is good but not great; Miami's may be better. Jay Ajayi should find the running easier than Devonta Freeman will. I cannot bring myself to predict what might be the league's biggest upset of Week 6. But I do foresee a performance that may encourage Dolfans, even in defeat. Have you ever experienced a 2-2 start enveloped in such gloom? Miami will gradually find itself offensively, and there should be signs here. And I believe this team has the coaching, leadership and lockerroom mettle to not only overcome this week's Snortgate scandal, but maybe even to use it as coalescing fuel. Let's see if I'm anywhere close right. My pick: Falcons, 27-23. [Click on Week 6 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

THE LIST: DOLPHINS SLOW STARTS OFFENSIVELY: Fewest points scored in Dolphins' first four games of a season:

Points    Year        Starting QB / Coach

32          2004       Feeley (3), Fiedler (1) / Wannstedt

41          2017       Cutler / Gase

42          1967       Griese (2), Norton (2) / Wilson

50          1988       Marino / Shula

51          2006       Culpepper / Saban

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech for ACC lead: Finally beating Florida State last week was bigger for The U symbolically. But beating Georgia Tech 25-24 Saturday was bigger tangibly, as the No. 11 Canes -- now No. 8 -- earned sole possession of the ACC Coastal lead. The road to all the way “Back” starts there. 

2. HEAT: It's Opening Week for Miami, NBA: The meaningless six-game exhibition schedule is done, now Miami opens its regular season Wednesday in Orlando, then has its home opener in six days, Saturday vs. Indiana. Soon we see if last season's 30-11 second half was a harbinger or a mirage. 

3. DOLPHINS: Fins shed off-field, on-field woes with huge win in Atlanta: The second-worst four-game scoring start in Dolphins history. An assistant coach resigned in a cocaine/stripper scandal. It all went away Sunday in Dolphins' big 20-17 comeback win in Atlanta, the NFL upset of the week -- and maybe of the season.

4. SOCCER: Shocker! Embarrassed U.S. men fail to make World Cup: Team USA failed to qualify for men's World Cup for first time since 1986, thanks to humiliating, eliminating 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago that saw coach Bruce Arena resign in shame. Guys, can't you just be half as good as the U.S. women?

5. BASEBALL: AL, NL championship series underway: MLB's final four includes the team that just won (Cubs), the team that wins the most (Yankees) and the team that spends the most (Dodgers). Your process-of-elimination independent rooting interest if you like a true underdog? Houston Astros, who've never won it all dating to 1962 Colt .45s.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Four more Top 10 teams lose: You know what that means, right Miami Hurricanes fans? UM rising from No. 11 to 8th in the new polls.

7. PANTHERS: Cats underway, name new alt-governor: The Panthers, 2-2 through four games with an encouraging 16 goals scored, named retired Army general Raymond Odierno as chairman and alternate governor. Cannot confirm he has ordered strategic bombing of select Eastern Conference opponents.

8. NFL: Anthem/kneeling hot topic at owners meetings: Fall owners meetings in New York this week will center on polarizing issue of players using NFL platform to protest social injustice during national anthem. Solution expected? None whatsoever!

9. MARLINS: Jeter imprint begins to show: This is Derek Jeter's first significant, major hire as the guy running the Marlins. Period. Gary Denbo, 56, his mentor from the Yankees, will oversee the Fish player development and scouting departments, a crucial job for a club with cupboards bare.

10. TENNIS: Sharapova wins first post-ban title: Maria Sharapova won the Tianjin Open, her first women's title since May 2105 following a doping ban. Yes, evidently a minor title in China counts.

Missing the HB10 cut: Miami Hurricanes' men's basketball preparation underway for the Nov. 10 season opener as national FBI probe of recruiting in the sport continues. Here's hoping the season doesn't arrive with a cloud attached  ..... Newly freed O.J. Simpson is out and about in Las Vegas, boozing, schmoozing, playing golf, posing for photos, shamelessly pushing memorabilia and allegedly staging fake altercations with paparazzi to then sell to TMZ. Welcome back. O.J! Missed ya!!

Select recent columns: Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season (Dolphins' Snortgate). It Isn't Just Cutler (Dolphins' offense woes). Back On Track & Ready To Roar (Florida Panthers). Here's What I Find Funny, Cam (Cam Newton). Jeter Betting On Jeter (Marlins)Also: Hope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Stanton Chasing 1984Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 22, 2017

A proposed 5-player trade that brings Kyrie Irving to Miami Heat. Would you do it? New poll. Vote now; plus Tom Brady wins Florida, O.J.'s parole, your LeBron/Wade-back-to-Heat verdict, The List (Marlins HRs), Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Dolcover1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 22. The Dolphins chose a group celebration for the cover of their newly minted 2017 Media Guide (pictured), rather than singling out any one player. Could be to underline the 'no-I-in-team' concept. Might also be that team has no one obvious face of the franchise at the moment. 2) For this week's "Greg Cote Tuesday" podcast from the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, click here. 3) Almost Dolphins time. Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Likelihood LeBron/Wade play again in Miami with polls, ex-Dolphins and Hurricanes in All-Time NFL Draft, good and bad news in Canes ACC vote & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: O.J. Simpson paroled, but he'll never be totally free: Simpson, now 70, was paroled Thursday and in October will be set free after serving nine years in a Nevada prison on an armed robbery conviction. But he'll forever be guilty of the public's conviction that he got away with double murder in the '90s, and for that he is ineligible for parole. Click on Paroled But Not Free for my latest column.

Good and good by Marlins on trade, Heat on re-signing U.D.: Two of our big teams done good with personnel moves Thursday. The Marlins trading reliever David Phelps to Seattle for four prospects was smart. The Fish farm system is  bare, under-talented, and needs the infusion. And the Heat re-signing veteran Udonis Haslem for a 15th season was right. A captain and leader, U.D.'s role and value on the team is far, far beyond minutes played or points scored.

KirvingPROPOSED KYRIE IRVING-TO-HEAT TRADE: LIKE IT? VOTE NOW!: You know that Cavaliers all-star point guard Kyrie Irving (pictured right) is seeking a trade and has listed Miami among four preferred destinations, along with San Antonio, Minnesota and New York. There are many reasons why Irving landing on the Heat likely would not happen. 1) Cleveland might not oblige to trade him. 2) Cavs are free to trade him to a team not on his wish list. 3) Irving reportedly prefers the Spurs, and Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns are pushing hard on behalf of the Timberwolves. Also, because Irving wants out in order to become the focal point and get out from under LeBron James' shadow, acquiring Irving would seem to lessen any chance LeBron might end up back in Miami as early as next summer. BUT! If Irving-to-Heat did have any shot at happening, here is the deal that would work in terms of the salary cap and contract exchanges, according to ESPN's Trade Machine:

HEAT GET: PG Kyrie Irving, PF Channing Frye.

CAVALIERS GET: PG Goran Dragic, SF Justise Winslow, PG Tyler Johnson.

I would make that trade. Frye at 34 is a role player and a throw-in on this deal, but in Irving you are getting a four-time all-star in his early prime at age 25, a guy coming off career-high 25.2-point scoring and a 40-percent 3-point shooter. He's a shoot-first, pass-second point guard, but maybe that famous Heat "culture" can balance that a bit. As for what you're giving up, Dragic is very good, but Irving is better. Winslow still could have a promising future but in two seasons has shown mixed results. Johnson is about to get pricey for a guy coming off the bench. So, would you make the above trade if you were the Heat? Take a dip in our poll and vote now.

SAY IT AIN'T SO, FLORIDA! TOM BRADY'S IS STATE'S TOP-SELLING NFL JERSEY: As Dolphins rookies reported for training camp this week, we bring you shocking news. OK, maybe not that shocking. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- the man most responsible for keeping a thumb on the Miami Dolphins and Dolfans' dreams -- has the No. 1 selling-NFL jersey in the state of Florida, according to most recent sales at nflshop.com (see map; click on image to enlarge). Brady is tops in Jerseystate17 states, but who'd-a believed F-L-A would be one. Nationwide, the top five-selling jerseys are Marshawn Lynch, Brady, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Deshaun Watson.The latest top five at Dick's Sporting Goods are Brady, James Conner, Elliott, Prescott and Carson Wentz. (Conner is the Steelers rookie running back and cancer survivor; he ranks 11th on the NFL's sales list). How to explain Brady winning the state of Florida? 1) He is such a national star, at a glamour position, for a great team, that he surely moves jerseys in every state. 2) There isn't a ton of competing starpower from state players, Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In Dick's national top 50 in sales, Dolphin Jarvis Landry ranks 25th and QB Ryan Tannehill is 33rd, while the Jags' Leonard Fournette is 45th and the Bucs' Jameis Winston is 50th. That suggests Landry likely is making a run at Brady within the state. I think we'll start to see Fins RB Jay Ajayi turning up on some of these lists. 

POLL RESULTS: FAIR OPTIMISM ON WADE RETURNING TO HEAT, MUCH LESS ON LEBRON: We asked, in separate polls each offering four choices, "Will LeBron James or Dwyane Wade every play for the Miami Heat again?" On LeBron: Yes 6.7 percent, Decent chance 7.2%, Small chance 26.8% and No 59.3%. On Wade: Yes 31.2%, Decent chance 23.3%, Small chance 23.3% and No 22.3%. Combining the Yes and Decent-chance votes, LeBron returning had only a 13.9% optimism factor compared to 54.5% for Wade.

THE LIST: MARLINS BEST HOME RUN TRIOS: Entering Saturday play, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (30), Marcell Ozuna (23) and Justin Bour (21) had combined for 74 home runs -- projecting statistically to a combined season total of 128. We wondered how that would compare with the best power trios for one season in franchise history. Answer: It would be on top. Easily. Most combined homers by three Marlins in one season:

Year    HRs    Players

2017   128    Stanton/Ozuna/Bour projected total

2008    97     Ramirez 33, Jacobs 32, Uggla 32

2007    94     Cabrera 34, Uggla 31, Ramirez 29

1996    85     Sheffield 42, Conine 26, White 17

2004    83     Cabrera 33, Lowell 27, Gonzalez 23

2003    82     Lowell 32, Lee 31, Encarnacion 19

2005    82     Cabrera 33, Delgado 33, Encarnacion 16

Note: Marlins team record for most homers in a season is 208, set in 2008. The 2017 projected total is 189.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 7-22-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. U.S. vs. Costa Rica, 10 p.m.: Gold Cup soccer semifinal in Arlington, Tex.

2. Marlins at Cincinnati, 7:10 p.m.: Fish continue 6-game road trip.

3. Int'l Champions Cup, 6 p.m.: Juventus-Barcelona, then PSG-Tottenham at 8.

4. British Open, underway: Third round of golf's oldest major.

5. WNBA All-Star Game, 3:30 p.m.: Rare national spotlight, on ABC from Seattle.

Select recent columns -- Don't Hold Your Breath: On chances LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat: Venus Williams' Wimbledon run. Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsVerdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up BigHome Run Derby Is KingMiami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing ItThere Should Be A Place For IchiroThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceWhat's Next, Marlins? NFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 25, 2017

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

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

1) SUNDAY/MONDAY, JUNE 25-26. 2) Miss our latest Back In My Day? Click on Privileged Pets for the LeBatard Show podcast and scroll to around 51:30 mark. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat draft Bam Adebayor with poll, your preferred pick going in & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JUNE 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (early this week) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. After a two-week vacation hiatus, we return with this week's HB10:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Player                        Years        Points    G/Avg.

Mike Miller                  2010-13    746      139/5.4

Kendall Gill                 2001-02    372       65/5.7

Shabazz Napier            2014-15    261       51/5.1

Alexander Johnson      2007-08     179       43/4.2

Luther Head                2008-09      43       10/4.3 

Jamal Robinson           2000-01       6        6/1.0

Bam Adebayo              2017-

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

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

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

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

Select other recent columns: A 1-Man Mock Draft: My prediction for Heat's top pick. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: On Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 29, 2017

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

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

Gallman1) It is MONDAY, May 29. R.I.P., Gregg Allman, pictured right, gone at 69. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from this past week's LeBatard Show. 3) Know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins vs. Canes most-wins poll, UM baseball reaches ACC semifinals, Fish vs. Trout, World OutGames Miami scandal & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

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

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. NBA: Finally, it's on! The inevitable Warriors-Cavs Finals begins: It's the Golden State-Cleveland trilogy, LeBron-Steph III, and the rubber-match series begins Thursday night. Now all it has to be is the greatest Finals ever ending in a triple-overtime Game 7 to live up to expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Note: NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

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

Year    Player                        Results

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

2013   Dion Jordan, DE          2-1-0

2010   Jared Odrick, DE         5-41-0

2009   Vontae Davis, DB         3-36-0*

2006   Jason Allen, DB           4-19-0

2001   Jamar Fletcher, DB      3-6-0

1996   Daryl Gardener, DT     6-77-0

1994   Tim Bowens, DT         11-155-2

1992   Troy Vincent, DB         4-55-0* 

1988   Eric Kumerow, DE       3-0-0

1987   John Bosa, DE            3-21-0

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 25, 2017

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

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

1) It is THURSDAY, May 25. Thoughts and condolences with the loved ones of the victims of the Manchester concert terrorism in the U.K. R.I.P., innocents. So terribly sad that a miserable coward in a suicide vest can wreak such sorrow. #GivePeaceAChance. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from Tuesday's LeBatard Show. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday Marlins column & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

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

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

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

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

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

Rank    Player, Pos., School

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

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

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

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

68        Jeter Downs, SS, Pace (Miami Gardens)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

HassanwhitePlayer, Team                              G    Pts        FG%    Reb    Blk       PER

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

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

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

Hassan Whiteside, Heat            77     17.0    .557     14.1   2.10     22.7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games    Player, College                        Selection       Heat span

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 04, 2017

Playoffs? Bust? Set bar on Marlins expectations. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Fish, UNC, Heat, Always Dreaming, Federer, Dion Jordan; also, Radio Tuesday, Florida Derby/Marlins columns, Hot Button Daily (Tue) & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, April 4. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Saturday with Final Four/Florida Derby/Miami Open, The List I-II, your NBA MVP verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and with the national show airing on ESPNU/ESPN2.

Florida Derby, Marlins preview columns: It was a double Sunday dose o' me as I weighed in with a column from Saturday's Florida Derby as well as a Marlins season preview column. Click on Always Dreaming for my Derbyizing on the winning horse and its owner, Vinnie Viola, the Florida Panthers owner. Click on Mourning And Celebration for my preview column on a Marlins season unlike any other.

My final bracket update: I finished 5th among some 90 entries in the LeBatard & Friends pool -- not bad -- topped by correctly having North Carolina as my national champion. 

Marlins odMARLINS OPENING DAY POLL: Yesterday began the Marlins' 25th season, and we're gauging how optimistic (or not) South Florida is about the team. Remove the rose-colored glasses and vote what you honestly expect will happen, please, not what you hope will. We ran this exact same poll in the blog in mid-February as spring training unfurled, so we'll be interested to compare results to detect any shifts. Ready? Play ball! Vote now...

THE LIST: MARLINS OPENING DAY STARTERS: Edinson Volquez became the 15th different Marlins Opening Day starting pitcher in the club's 25-year history. The eight pitchers with multiple Opening Day starts for the Fish:

Josh Beckett                  3    2003-05

Josh Johnson                  3    2010-12

Charlie Hough                2    1993-94 

Kevin Brown                   2    1996-97

Alex Fernandez              2    1999-00

Ryan Dempster               2    2001-02 

Dontrelle Willis              2    2006-07

Ricky Nolasco                 2    2009, '13

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. MARLINS: Play ball! Fish open 25th season on road today: MLB Opening Day was Sunday with three games, but Miami plays six straight away starting with Monday's loss at Washington before finally opening at home April 11. This could be the year unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria finally sells the team. Which pretty much already makes it a successful season!

2. NCAA TOURNAMENT: Finally! It's North Carolina: There were 351 teams, from which 68 made the men's NCAA Tournament. Then it was down to 32, then 16 to eight to four to two and now ... the final one. It was North Carolina for the national title last night in the long-awaited crescendo to March (into April) Madness.

3. HEAT: Playoff fight intensifies as Miami winds down season: Heat is down to five games left as it angles for a first-round playoff series vs. Boston or Cleveland. Miami's long climb back staggered with a Sunday home loss to Denver that left Heat hanging onto 8th and last playoff seed. Oy!

4. HORSE RACING: Always Dreaming wins 66th Florida Derby: Gunnevera was the betting favorite Saturday but the Florida Derby belonged to Always Dreaming, owned by Florida Panthers  owner Vinnie Viola. It was nice to see horse racing the star at Gulfstream again for at least a day, not the casino, poker, restaurants etc. Also nice to see that Viola's four-legged athlete runs better than his two-legged guys skate.

5. TENNIS: Federer beats Nadal in Miami Open men's final: Jo Konta beating Caroline Wozniacki wasn't exactly a dream women's final for the Miami Open on Saturday, but Sunday delivered just that on the men's side with Roger Federer beating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in a heavyweight men's title match.

6. GOLF: The Masters arrives, but Tiger-less once more: Season's first golf major unfurls Thursday at Augusta as an absent Tiger Woods, still beset by back issues, continues one of the most epic slow fades in the history of sports.

7. DOLPHINS: Fins release all-time bust Dion Jordan: The quintessential NFL all-time draft bust might still be Ryan Leaf. But in the Miami division, Dion Jordan's dubious crown was affirmed this week as the Dolphins finally cut the guy they traded up for and never stopped regretting it. 

8. NCAA WOMEN: South Carolina reigns after UConn upset loss stuns women's Final Four: South Carolina beat Mississippi State in the finale Sunday night. But, no matter, dynastic UConn losing in Final Four, after 111 consecutive wins, already made it a refreshing victory for women's college basketball. 

9. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from playoff chase as disappointing season ebbs: Florida is down to three games left after Monday home loss to Montreal, a going-through-the-motions phase to end a huge letdown of a season. Um how'd that coaching change work out, by the way? Boneheaded. 

10. PRO WRESTLING: Orlando hosts WrestleMania 33: Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton had big wins and The Undertaker lost in his final WWE match to highlight WrestleMania 33. Imagine. Sports' biggest cartoon event in a city that worships Mickey Mouse. Perfect. So right.

Missing the HB10 cut: NFL owners voted 31-1 to OK Oakland Raiders' move to Las Vegas, with Dolphins' Stephen Ross the lone dissenter. Ross has since been so heroically lauded in the media you'd think he'd rescued three nuns from a burning car ..... Hurricanes football held its annual Pro Day for NFL teams to analyze 15 UM players as the draft nears. Only one, TE David Njoku, figures as a first-rounder. And I'll say it again: Ya shoulda stayed, Brad Kaaya ..... When was the last time UM baseball entered April with a losing record? Holy Brad Kelly!

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

1. FIU at Mississippi State, 6:30 p.m.: FIU baseball tops the marquee? Huh!?

2. Yes. Yes it is. It is the single slowest day of the entire sports year.

Select other recent columns: The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to close gap on Patriots. Missing Waiters, on Dion Waiters' value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Method to the Madness?, on bizarre LaVar Ball. Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, previewing tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, on World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 01, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote