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

March 27, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring NCAA Final Four, Heat stretch run, tennis, Fish, Cats, horses; plus Kaepernick vs. Moore as Dolphins backup QB. Poll. Vote now!; also Elton John, Venus Williams, my bracket, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

Eltonthen Eltonnow1) It is MONDAY, March 27. A most happy 70th birthday Saturday to a lifelong favorite of mine, Elton John, pictured then and now. I have been a huge fan since the '70s, augmenting my love of his music with an admiration for his many philanthropic works that set the standard for the music industry. The word is grossly overused in entertainment but it fits this man: Superstar. So happy his milestone birthday found him in a great place and the happiest he has ever been. 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): Kiper's surprise Mock pick for Dolphins, Team USA wins WBC crown, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (70 games), Sweet 16 title odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Sunday column: The curious unemployment of Colin Kaepernick: I explore what could be the NFL blackballing of Colin Kaepernick in my latest Sunday column. Click on Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick? to read. Kaepernick threw 16 TDs vs. only four interceptions, topped a 90 rating and was second among NFL QBs in rushing yards last season. He'd make somebody an exciting backup option for the right price -- Dolphins included. Agree. Find a Kaepernick vs. Matt Moore poll here directly below the new Hot Button Top 10.

Bracket update: I stand tied for 14th among 90 teams in a LeBatard & Friends pool after Sunday's results set the Final Four. I have North Carolina (my national champ) and Oregon both still alive in my FF. Two out of four; not bad. ESPN says only 657 of 18,797,085 brackets correctly predicted all four Final Four teams. That is 0.00003495 percent.

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. NCAA ELITE EIGHT: Finally! The Final Four is set: It'll be 1-seed Gonzaga vs. 7-South Carolina and 1-North Carolina vs 3-Oregon in next week's Final Four semifinal games of the NCAA men's tourney as March Madness nears its crescendo. Are you still alive in your office pool? Or was that your bracket I saw smoldering in tatters on the side of the road this morning?

2. HEAT: Miami prepares for Pistons as stretch run continues: Loss in Boston Sunday didn't help, but nine games left starting with a huge one Tuesday in Detroit could find Heat rising as high as the fifth playoff seed or missing postseason altogether. Who says NBA regular seasons don't matter?

3. TENNIS: Miami Open reaches midpoint on Key Biscayne: Not as much interest on women's side in a field missing injured Serena Williams, but we'll gladly take a Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer men's final next Sunday (please) as the annual fortnight ends at Crandon Park Tennis Center. Meanwhile Hard Rock Stadium is trying to poach the event from Key Biscayne, which at least beats it leaving altogether. 

4. MARLINS: WBC stars rejoin team as spring winds down: Team USA's Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich rejoined Marlins from World Baseball Classic for final week of spring training. WBC champions to NL East also-rans. Hope Stanton and Yelich didn't get too used to all that winning.

5. PANTHERS: Cats win big but still need miracle on ice: Florida is down to seven games and still seven points off playoff pace even after Saturday's big 7-0 home win over Chicago. As a disappointing season ebbs do you remember how a big offseason had the Cats talking Stanley Cup? Yeah they'd probably rather that you'd forgotten.

6. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream hosts Florida Derby in five days: Gunnavera will try to solidify his status as a Kentucky Derby favorite in next Saturday's major prep race, the annual Florida Derby at Gulfstream. Always nice to see horses take back center stage at a horse track these days, albeit briefly.  

7. NCAA WOMEN: Monday completes Final Four matchups: Stanford and Mississippi State are in. Today, Oregon-UConn and Florida State-South Carolina winners will join them in women's Final Four.

8. NFL/DOLPHINS: Looks like free agency came and went quietly: Um, is that all there is? Dolphins didn't make a big splash, and biggest questions that remain nationally involve the possible landing spots for QBs Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and Jimmy Garoppolo. But the draft is getting close!

9. TIGER WOODS: Eldrick still hoping to be ready for The Masters: Year's first major is April 6-9 at Augusta, and Tiger Woods -- his long-awaited comeback from back ailmenbst forever delayed or aborted -- says he wants in. Do we believe him? Do we still care?

10. CANES BASEBALL: UM avoid sweep, at least: Once-ranked Miami now 11-13 after avoiding a sweep by winning Sunday at No. 8 North Carolina. The season he dreamed of is a nightmare thus far for Jim Morris.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sorry, UM football. You don't have the courtesy to open your spring practices to the public, you don't get in the HB10 ..... The Lakers unveiled a 1,200-pound dunking statue of Shaquille O'Neal. So it's about life-sized, then ..... OK UCLA finally lost. Can we all stop interviewing LaVar Ball now please? ..... U.S. men's soccer crushed Honduras, 6-0, reminding us that Jurgen Klinsmann really did need to go ..... Ultra Music Festival ends today in Miami, the only event at which drugs not only are allowed, but are required.

POLL: COLIN KAEPERNICK VS. MATT MOORE AS DOLPHINS BACKUP QB?: Relax, people. It's just for fun...

VenuswTHE UNDERAPPRECIATED WONDER OF VENUS WILLIAMS: [Update: Venus won her opening match in the Miami Open, defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-4-,6-3, and plays again today] Original post: As Serena Williams skips this Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne with a knee injury, we take the occasion to give the credit that is due to the overshadowed, underappreciated career of older sister Venus Williams. Serena said recently of Venus: "There’s no way I’d be at 23 [Grand Slam titles] without her. There’s no way I’d be at one without her. There’s no way I’d be anything without her. She’s the only reason the Williams sisters exist." Serena says her drive to be better than her big sister is what drove her to greatness. But imagine all of the additional major title Venus might have won if her greatest rival hadn't been her own sister? Click on An Ode to the 'Other' for my column in tribute to Venus.

THE LIST: TOP 5 GREATEST VENUSES OF ALL-TIME: Our own order:

1. Venus (second planet from the sun)

2. Venus Williams (tennis player)

3. Venus de Milo (ancient Greek statue)

4. Venus Flytrap (carnivorous plant)

5. Venus (surprising humane 2006 Peter O'Toole film about aging)

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-27-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:
 
1. NCAA women, 7 p.m.: Oregon-UConn, then FSU-South Carolina compete to get into Final Four.

2. Miami Open, 11 am.: Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Venus Williams among stars in play today.

3. Panthers at Buffalo, 7 p.m.: Cats still alive, but barely, in playoff chase.

4. Marlins vs.N.Y. Mets, 1:05 p.m.: Fish in Jupiter as spring training winds down.

"WHERE TO NOW, ST. PETER?," ELTON JOHN, 1970: Tumbleweed Connection was the first Elton John album that really struck me, with its influences in country and Americana but also rock and even psychedelia. I had no idea then that the music of this man would become a lifelong friend...

Select other recent columns: 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, previewing World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without PGA Tour event since 1961. 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

January 19, 2017

HERALD LEGEND EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: MY TRIBUTE COLUMN; plus Kiper's first '17 mock draft: Gator to Dolphins, no Kaaya; also, 2 Marlins (sort of) elected to Hall, Goodell is a coward, newest Back In My Day video, your verdict on Super Bowl matchup & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 19. I'm back up at Friday Page World Headquarters today figuring out my NFL Championship Game picks. Gonna nail 'em. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- best-selling of all the Herald books -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Final Four poll, related Tannehill column, Radio Tuesday & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: Longtime former Miami Herald sports editor and columnist Edwin Pope died early this evening at age 88. My column on my mentor and friend: Thank You, Edwin.

NFL's Final Four through a Dolphins prism, other select recent columns: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, our latest column, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

JdavisGATORS LB JARRAD DAVIS TO DOLPHINS, SAYS KIPER: Mel Kiper's first 2017 Mock Draft for ESPN is out and he has Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis (pictured) going to Miami 22nd overall in first round. Sayeth Mel: "As a steady and reliable linebacker with a nose for the football, Davis' versatility stands out. He could play inside or outside linebacker at the next level, though he's not a guy who will get 10 sacks on the outside in a 3-4. He can be an every-down guy." I think Kiper is right on the position; LB a big need. He has two other Gators, cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, going 13th and 14 overall. He has one Seminole, running back Dalvin Cook, going 12th. Conspicuously, Kiper has zero Hurricanes going in first round. I tried to tell you to stay, Brad Kaaya, but did you listen? No! Another early Canes departure, tight end David Njoku, is much more likely than Kaaya to sneak into the first round. Click here for Mel's Mock 1.0.

TWO FORMER MARLINS PLAYERS MAKE HALL OF FAME: Nailed it! Raines, Bagwell and Pudge make the Hall of Fame. Raines and Pudge had (very brief, one-year) Marlins careers. Original post: There is little suspense to tonight's (or future) Baseball Hall of Fame announcements, thanks to Bagwellrainesbbhoftracker.com, which collects and publishes ballots that have been publicly revealed. As of today they had collected 233, or 55.2 percent -- including mine, Pudgewhich I revealed in this blog on Dec. 16. From the composite numbers we can state with certainty that, barring a shocking, aberrant swing in remaining votes, Tim Raines (running at 89.2 percent) and Jeff Bagwell (88.3%) will sail in easily above the needed 75% minimum. Some may recall Raines ended his career a Marlin in 2002. A third inductee very likely will be Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez -- a 2003 Marlin instrumental in the World Series championship -- now at 78.7%. Raines and Bagwell are pictured right and Rodriguez left. Those three likely will be the only inductees, although two others, Trevor Hoffman (72.5%) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.7%), are close enough that a late surge in voting, though unlikely, could yet sweep them into Cooperstown. My ballot included all five of the players mentioned so far. The vote totals so far of the other five on my ballot: Edgar Martinez 65.4, Barry Bonds 63.8, Roger Clemens 62.9%, Manny Ramirez 24.2 and Gary Sheffield 11.7. The faces of the Steroid Era, Bonds and Clemens, are seeing their totals rise gradually and I predict they'll get in someday. Not as sure about Martinez. Very surprised by Ramirez's low total. And I'm almost alone on Sheffield, I guess. Sorry, Sheff. Not gonna happen for you.

THE LIST: EX-MARLINS PLAYERS IN THE HALL OF FAME: Four future Hall of Famers have worn a Marlins uniform. The short list doubled yesterday, although all four men played only a brief portion of their careers in Miami. The sort-of Marlins in Cooperstown, ranked in order of the percentage of career games played with Marlins:

Player                        Games with Marlins        With Miami    Inducted

C Pudge Rodriguez      6.23% (161 of 2,583)      2003             2017

OF Andre Dawson       4.58% (121 of 2,642)      1995-96        2010

OF Tim Raines            3.86% (98 of 2,536)        2002              2017

C Mike Piazza             0.26% (5 of 1,944)          1998              2016 

GoodellROGER GOODELL, WHAT A COWARD!: The NFL commissioner needs to rethink his weekend plans, change his flight, and get his ass over to Foxborough on Sunday. He is hiding from New England Patriots fans, who loathe him over the whole Deflategate thing. He doesn't need to sit among them. He be encased high in a suite as always. But he needs to be there and take the reaction like a man. Instead he'll be in Atlanta for the second week in a row. I have defended Goodell at times, more than most in the media. But he's wrong on this. Weak, weak!

Poll result: Bring on a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, please: With NFL down to its final four, we asked which of four possible Super Bowl matchups you'd most want to watch, and it was Packers vs. Patriots on top with 41.8 percent. After that it was Packers-Steelers 25.7%, Falcons-Steelers 19.9%, and Falcons-Patriots 12.6%. combined team totals were: Packers 67.5%, Patriots 54.4%, Steelers 45.6% and Falcons 32.4%.

THE LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': THE DEATH OF THE CIRCUS: There's a few seconds of unrelated jibberish here before the BIMD kicks in. Warning: Animal-rights folks might want to muster whatever sense of humor they have before watching this:

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); plus NFL Divisional-Round playoff picks and the perfect Super Bowl (with poll; vote now!); also, your UM/Braun verdict, The List, Bitter Mickey (video) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 16. Congratulations to my son Christopher on his wedding to Christie! So happy for them. 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's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Dolphins lose coordinator, UM/Braun poll, Heat-Golden State, Saban loses & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Select recent columns: When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, off Sunday's eliminating loss, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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. NFL: Dolphins out, but hunt for Super Bowl continues: The Dolphins were quickly eliminated from the playoffs in the first round in Pittsburgh last week, but the NFL decided to go on with its postseason anyway and this weekend pared from eight surviving teams down to a final four. It'll be Packers at Falcons and Steelers at Patriots on Championship  Sunday, which is better than Super Bowl Sunday -- but without the parties.

2. HEAT: Homestand awaits for reeling, miserable Heat: Miami is 11-30 with 10 losses in its past 11 games, and now begins a four-game homestand on Tuesday. And now here is your official Heat midseason report in one word: Depressing!

3. PANTHERS: Finally, Cats showing signs of life at midseason: Florida has won three of its past four games and drawn to within one point of eighth place in the Eastern Conference -- playoff pace -- entering a four-game roadie. Stanley Cup dream still far off, but progress being seen.

4. TENNIS: Serena seeks history in Australian Open: The year's first tennis major, the Australian Open, begins on Sunday in Melbourne with Palm Beach's Serena Williams chasing her women's-record 23rd major title. It's becoming less a question than a statement: She's the G.O.A.T.

5. MOTORSPORTS: Marlins Park readies for Race Of Champions: Can you picture a major auto race inside a baseball stadium? Me, neither. But top drivers from NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One and other circuits will compete against each other here next weekend. Vroom!

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Clemson, Saban haters still celebrating: Six days after Clemson's 35-31 defeat of Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game, it's still a tie between who's happier: Tigers fans, or Nick Saban haters.

7. DOLPHINS: Fins lose defensive coordinator to Denver: Vance Joseph left for the Broncos' head-coaching job, replaced in Miami with the promotion of linebackers coach Matt Burke. Given Fins' 29th ranking in most yards allowed and 18th in most points given up, tell me again why Joseph leaving is bad?

8. MLB: Cooperstown announces latest HOF class Wednesday: As many as five may get in. Based on vote-tracking, Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell are locks and Pudge Rodriguez is likely. Maybes are Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman. The short-agains notably include Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. (But they're getting closer).

9. UM BASKETBALL: Big challenges for Canes men, women: Things getting interesting for Hurricanes hoops. UM men, 12-4, play at No. 7 Duke in five days. Canes' No. 14-ranked women are now 14-4 after 63-59 loss at No. 9 Louisville on Sunday. 

10. NBA: Pacers-Nuggets play in London: Nuggets beat the Pacers 140-112 Thursday night in London -- the fifth straight year the NAB has played a regular season game in the United Kingdom. So, the NFL's obsession with London apparently is catching, and the spread of the virus may be unstoppable. 

Missing the HB10 cut: The San Diego Chargers are leaving for Los Angeles. Seldom has the nickname "Bolts" been more fitting ..... Rams made Sean McVay, 30, the youngest head coach in NFL history. He's paid his dues. They were just a very small amount ..... Mavs owner Mark Cuban supports putting an NBA team in Mexico. Donald Trump vows to expedite his wall to prevent it ..... Ex-FIU coach Mario Cristobal, the Alabama O-line coach, has become co-offensive coordinator at Oregon. Who think that's a better job? Yeah, me neither.

Fripix DivisionalPLAYOFFS: DIVISIONAL-ROUND WEEKEND: OUR PICKS FOR NFL'S CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS: Update: It'll be Steelers at Patriots and Packers at Falcons in the AFC and NFC title games next Sunday ..... Original post: Four teams including the Dolphins have been bounced as pretenders. King Sport is down to its final eight playoff teams, and only four will survive this weekend. Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season, and 2-2 as the postseason began last week. Click on Divisional-Round Gems for our playoff picks for the weekend's conference semifinals. I see an outright upset in one of the four games. (I wish I could tell you it was the Patriots, Dolfans, but it ain't). We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today delves into possible Super Bowl matchups. Of all the combinations possible, two rise above the rest -- and one above them all. A Super Bowl to Save the Season to read.

Poll results: Divided views, but most (barely) OK with Braun at UM banquet: We asked what best reflects how you feel about PEDs-convicted Ryan Braun speaking at Hurricanes' First Pitch baseball banquet next month, and it was 42.5 percent "very good" and 36.6% "not good." Another 4.6% were undecided. The remaining 16.3% didn't care.

THE LIST: NFL'S FINAL EIGHT: The eight teams in this weekend's divisional-round playoffs, ranked in order of most all-time NFL championships won, along with all-time postseason records:

Team                                Titles (Last)    All-time postseason

Green Bay Packers                13 (2010)        .604 (32-21)     

Pittsburgh Steelers                 6 (2008)        .596 (34-23)

Dallas Cowboys                      5 (1995)        .567 (34-26)

New England Patriots             4 (2014)        .604 (29-19)

Kansas City Chiefs                  1 (1969)        .360 (9-16)

Seattle Seahawks                   1 (2013)        .517 (15-14)  

Atlanta Falcons                      0                  .368 (7-12)

Houston Texans                      0                  .400 (2-3)

MICKEY AUDITIONS FOR MNF BOOTH: This was a bit we did from this week's LeBatard Show. Hope you enjoy!:

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

Twitter @gregcote