April 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 22, 2017

Dolphins will consider offense for 1st-round pick. Here's why; plus Fins' 2017 season schedule with notes; also, Canes-Noles, defeats for Fernandez statue and Sherman trade, on Aaron Hernandez, Record Store Day, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Recordstore1) It is SATURDAY, April 22. The major holidays just keep comin'. A few days ago it was National High-Five Day. Then it was 420, or "Weed Day" (as if stoners only fire it up annually). Now, today, is National Record Store Day, the 10th annual celebration of the indie record store and the return of vinyl in the music industry. Swing by your local indie shop and check out the wax LPs both vintage and new! 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jose Fernandez statue and Richard Sherman trade polls, death of Aaron Hernandez & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Does Aaron Hernandez deserve an attempt at empathy?: He was his own final victim, for a promising life thrown away. Is there any room for empathy in regarding the former NFL player who died in his prison cell? I explore in this column: Click on An American Tragedy to read.

DdrAFTLATEST COLUMN: WHY YOU SHOULDN'T DISCOUNT OFFENSE FOR DOLPHINS' FIRST-ROUND PICK: They did it one year ago for Laremy Tunsil and they could do it again in next Thursday's NFL Draft first round. Don't be surprised if Miami goes for offense with 22nd overall pick -- Hurricanes tight end David Njoku, perhaps? -- if their top-graded available player is on that side of the scrimmage line. Click on Everyone's Shouting Defense, But... for my latest column, newly online and shipping to Friday's inky pulp editions.
 
COMPLETE DOLPHINS' 2017 REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE, WITH FOUR PRIME-TIME DATES: All the opponents have been known for months. Never quite got why the exact order was such a big deal, but, anyway, here 'tis. Notable: Four prime-time dates! When you're back in the playoffs, the NFL loves you again. At a quick glance, I see the usual postseason scramble for Miami, with an initial gut feeling in the 9-7 range and a shot at 10-6:
Date            Opponent                Time        Of note
Sept. 10       vs TAMPA BAY           1 pm        Season and home opener; my birthday
Sept. 17       @ L.A. Chargers       4 pm       Old opponent, new city
Sept. 24       @ N.Y. Jets              1  pm       First AFC East game
Oct. 1          vs NEW ORLEANS      9:30 am   "Home" game at Wembley, London
Oct. 8          vs. TENNESSEE         1 pm        Wow. Pretty soft sked to this point
Oct. 15        @ Atlanta                1 pm        Maybe toughest foe, on paper, yet
Oct. 22        vs N.Y. JETS             1 pm        2nd-most anticipated division home game
Oct. 26        @ Baltimore             8:25 pm   Finally some prime-time (Thursday) love
Nov. 5          vs OAKLAND             8:30 pm   Sunday night. At Home. Raiders. Delish!
Nov. 13        @ Carolina               8:30 pm   Monday nighter is 3rd straight in prime time
Nov. 19        Bye
Nov. 26        @ New England        1 pm        For the division lead?
Dec. 3         vs DENVER               1 pm        Recent power now beatable foe
Dec. 11       vs NEW ENGLAND      8:30 pm   4th prime-timer (MNF) is the biggest
Dec. 17       @ Buffalo                 1 pm        Bills twice in last three weeks
Dec. 24       @ Kansas City           1 pm        Christmas Eve in Missouri!
Dec. 31       vs. BUFFALO             1 pm        Playoff spot on the line?
 
UmfsuIT'S BEST LAST CHANCE FOR CANES BASEBALL TO SALVAGE SEASON: UM hosts ACC rival Florida State for three ballgames starting last night at The Light, a 6-3 UM loss. Both teams are in midst of strange seasons. FSU was ranked No. 1 in nation as recently as mid-March but for now is unranked with a 25-15 record. Miami opened the season top-10 but has struggled throughout and is now at 18-20, its record streak of NCAA postseason appearances in dire jeopardy. This weekend series is a yuuuge chance -- maybe the last, best one -- for UM to climb back in the playoff hunt. Miami wins today and Sunday could save the season. If Miami gets swept, fuhgeddaboutit.

POLL RESULTS: LITTLE SUPPORT FOR MARLINS' JOSE STATUE, EVEN LESS FOR DOLPHINS' SHERMAN TRADE: We asked how you feel about the Marlins' erecting a 10-foot statue honoring Jose Fernandez, and it was 66.1 percent against it as "inappropriate," versus only 21.7% who supported it as "appropriate." The other 12.2% were undecided. We also asked if you supported the Dolphins trading their No. 1 draft pick for Richard Sherman (suggested on ESPN.com), and it was 78.4 percent "no" versus 19.2% "yes," with 2.4% undecided.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 4-22-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at San Diego, 4:40 p.m.: Finally, a Fish game that won't keep you up 'til 2 a.m.

2. NBA playoffs, 3 p.m.: Two 1st-round Game 3s and two 4s, but nobody can clinch.

3. NHL playoffs, 3 p.m.: Three 1st-round Game 3s, and Blues, Rangers, Oilers all can clinch.

4. Florida State at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: ACC baseball rivals in second of three-game series.

5. National Record Store Day, all day: Visit an indie shop near you, reacquaint with vinyl!

Select other recent columns: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 19, 2017

On Marlins statue for Jose Fernandez, and on proposed Dolphins trade for Richard Sherman. Two polls. Last day to vote!; plus Aaron Hernandez suicide, our tour of UM Sports Hall of Fame, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, April 19. Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NBA playoff preview/predictions, Jose Fernandez documentary, your verdict on if Heat season was success & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On UM Sports Hall of Fame, Erik Spoelstra: My latest columns: Not even most Hurricanes fans have visited the UM Sports Hall of Fame (which held its 49th annual induction banquet last night), but it's a treasure trove worth a visit. Click on History Breathes at UM Sports Hall for my latest column. Also, seldom has a .500 record and no playoffs felt better than this Heat season did. ICYMI,click on Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph for my latest Sunday column.

POLL I: A MARLINS STATUE FOR JOSE: APPROPRIATE? OR INAPPROPRIATE?: There are '16' uniform patches being worn by players this season. But those are small, and temporary, and sort of for-the-team personal. Now, it Josefernhas been confirmed in recent reports, the Marlins plan later this season to erect a permanent 10-foot bronze statue of the late star Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident last September that killed two others. That's big, and public. This issue grew to complicated controversy by subsequent test results that indicated Fernandez was both behind the wheel that night and impaired by alcohol and cocaine -- that, in effect, he was responsible for his own death and those of two others. That, to many, casts a much different light on his legacy, and raises questions whether a statue is appropriate or not. Results were mixed recently when I asked about the uniform patches. Approval ran at 39.0 percent, disapproval at 32.4% and uncertainty at 28.6%. But a statue kicks the Marlins' honoring of Jose to a different, ultimate level. What do you think? Vote now:

POLL II: SHOULD DOLPHINS GIVE UP FIRST-ROUND PICK FOR RICHARD SHERMAN?: So says writer Bill Barnwell on ESPN.com. In an all-trades mock draft, he proposes that Miami gets RshermanSherman, the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, 29, from Seattle and gives up this year's No. 22 overall pick, next year's fourth-rounder, and CB Byron Maxwell. Says Barnwell: "The Dolphins aren't exactly shy about going after players they value, and they would be getting a massive upgrade at arguably the weakest position on their roster by trading for a future Hall of Fame cornerback in Sherman. Miami doesn't have a ton of cap room, but by packaging Maxwell and saving $3.5 million as part of the trade, the Dolphins should be able to squeeze the Stanford product onto their roster. Maxwell improved dramatically as the season went on in 2016, and he would give the Seahawks some semblance of familiarity as they rebuild at cornerback." Me: First let's tap brakes on Sherman unequivocally being Canton-bound. He's clearly better than Maxwell, but the difference of a first-round pick? And Dolphins have so many other needs. It isn't an implausible deal, but I'd hesitate. Now, your turn:

AhernandezAARON HERNANDEZ HANGS HIMSELF IN JAIL: Hernandez, the former Florida Gator and New England Patriots tight end, left no suicide note  but authored the final chapter of his own American tragedy in hanging himself in his jail cell overnight. [Full story here]. He used a bedsheet. He was 27. Apart from loved ones, few will shed tears or mourn his loss, except to shake heads at the waste. Hernandez was serving a life sentence without the chance of parole for a 2013 murder when he was acquitted of an unrelated double-murder just days ago. Hernandez had a bright future in the NFL before throwing it all away. In three seasons with the Pats he caught 175 passes for 1,956 yards and 18 TDs. He was good. Few will lament his loss. For many, it won't be "R.I.P." but more likely Rest In Hell. But I feel badly for everybody here. For the victims of his temper and derangement. For his loved ones. and for Hernandez himself -- for the mental demons that led to what he let himself become. Ultimately, he has only himself to blame. It's still a shame from every angle.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 4-19-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Three more first-round Game 2s, including Golden State in nightcap.

2. Marlins at Seattle, 3:40 p.m.: Fish close first series of nine-game road trip after near no-hitter.

3. UEFA quarterfinals, 2:45 p.m.: Second leg for AS Monaco-Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona-Juventus.

4. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: Four first-round Game 4s as St. Louis, Anaheim seek advance via sweeps.

5. FAU at Hurricanes, 6 p.m.: UM baseball (17-19) still scrambling to get on right side of .500.

Select other recent columns: Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and 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

March 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

ICYMI: Thank you, Mae Riback: This was a recent short human-interest column about my finally meeting my oldest fan, and it has gotten an extraordinary outpouring of positive response. If you missed it, click on Thank you, Mae Riback to read. 

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

Hotbutton1. NCAA TOURNAMENT: Hurricanes to face Michigan State in opener: Selection Sunday set the 68-team men's NCAA Tournament field last evening, including a Miami Hurricanes vs. Michigan State first-round matchup Friday night at 9:20 p.m. in the Midwest regional in Tulsa. Canes, 8-seeds, have opened as 2-point favorites over the 9-seed Spartans. So. Ready? "Gentlemen (and ladies) ... start ... your ... brackets!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 06, 2017

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

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

1) It is MONDAY, March 6. Good day, folks! 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Saturday in SoFla sports, NFL Scouting Combine with poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 19): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Ridiculous All-Star Games breaks scoring records: The West beat the East 192-182 in NBA's 66th All-Star Game on Sunday night (sans any Heat participants, alas) in New Orleans. That was a record for total points, as was MVP Anthony Davis' ASG-record 52 points. But league's biggest news Sunday was Pelicans acquiring DeMarcus Cousins to pair with Davis in frontcourt. Look out, Warriors?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Hot Miami sees 13-game win streak end; back at it tonight: Scorchin' Heat had won 13 consecutive games before Saturday night's 117-109 loss in Philadelphia, and now returns home Monday night vs. Orlando. A Heat team once 11-30 is now only two games off playoff pace. But will Miami now lapse back into losing? Let's find out starting tonight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (55 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 24-31 after Saturday's end to the 13-game winning streak, here's The Luddite's 11th installment, with 50-game rank in parentheses. Dragic, by the way, has narrowed his deficit to Whiteside from 216 points to 129 in past five games. 

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

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,573

2. Goran Dragic (2)              1,439

3. James Johnson (4)          1,027

4. Tyler Johnson (3)            1,001

5. Dion Waiters (5)               740

6. Rodney McGruder (6)      566

7. Wayne Ellington (9)        518

8. Josh Richardson (7)        483

9. Willie Reed (8)                  482

10. Justise Winslow (10)      355

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. No, that'll about do it.

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

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

January 12, 2017

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings at midseason (40 games); plus are we OK with PEDs guy Ryan Braun at UM baseball banquet? Last day to vote!; also, Vance Joseph, Bitter Mickey/BIMD, Saban's tears, UM football ranked No. 16 & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 12. Holed up at Friday Page Headquarters today divining my NFL divisional-round playoff picks. Anybody got any extra luck I can borrow? 2) Happy anniversary this week to my wonderful wife, the greatest person I have ever known. Love you! 3) 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. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins eliminated in Pittsburgh with season-ending DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Bitter Mickey/Back In My Day double-play from LeBatard Show: Click here for Tuesday's show podcast. The Bitter Mickey/BIMD back-to-back kicks in around the 38-minute mark.

Hurricanes 16th in (very) early 2017 college football Top 25: It's out from Mark Schlabach on ESPN.com. Click here to read. UM was ranked No. 20 in the final Associated Press poll for this season, the Canes' first year-end Top 25 ranking since 2009. Also, UM has 33-1 national-title odds via Bovada, tied for 11th best.

DSM final rating best since 2008: The Dolphins season ended with consecutive losses including Sunday's in the playoffs; still, the season-ending Dolfan Satisfaction Meter rating of 76.2 percent is the second-best in the nine-year history of our postgame polls, and best since '08. See the previous blogpost for complete week-by-week results and year-by-year totals. 

Dolphins-Steelers game column, select other 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.

UPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (MIDSEASON/40 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 11-29 after last night's loss at Golden State, here's The Luddite's eighth installment, with 35-game rank in parentheses:

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (Midseason/40 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,177

2. Goran Dragic (2)               937

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            802

4. James Johnson (4)         678

5. Josh Richardson (5)        483

6. Dion Waiters (7)                393

7. Rodney McGruder (8)      385

8. Justise Winslow (6)         355

9. Willie Reed (11)                 329

10. Wayne Ellington (9)      284

Others: Josh McRoberts 232, Derrick Williams 226, Luke Babbitt 200, Udonis Haslem 61.

IS DOLPHINS LOSING DC JOSEPH A BIG DEAL? (NAH): Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph leaves the Dolphins after one season to become Denver Broncos head coach. I guess the Broncos were not watching Sunday as Joseph's Miami defense gave up scoring drives of 85, 90 and 83 yards to Pittsburgh on the playoff game's first three series. During the season his unit ranked 29th in total defense, 15th in pass defense, 30th in run defense and 18th in points allowed, despite being one of only seven teams with two Pro Bowl defensive starters.   

IS RYAN BRAUN THE RIGHT CHOICE TO SPEAK AT CANES BASEBALL BANQUET?: I think I'm sort of against this but don't feel too strongly. I guess that makes me conflicted. I wonder if you Braunare. (Hence, the poll that follows, because I'm curious). Former Miami Hurricanes baseball great Ryan Braun (pictured), now prominently of the Milwaukee Brewers, will be the featured speaker Feb. 10 at the team's annual preseason First Pitch banquet. The negative? Braun, of course, was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal over performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Many will recall he was suspended 65 games in 2013 for violating MLB's drug policy. Not saying that should be a life sentence on his reputation, but is he the best choice just a few years later to be the star attraction at your preseason banquet? UM's baseball stadium of course is partly named in honor of another steroids guy, Alex Rodriguez, but that's contractual, and tied to a major donation. Jim Morris' program was under no such obligation to invite Braun. It  makes me wonder if UM's athletic director signed off on this and if the university president is comfortable with it. Right now, though, it's your turn. Take a dip in our poll.

UglyTHE BAD NEWS, MIAMI? HEAT AT GOLDEN STATE. COVER YOUR EYES!: Update: Heat with a credible 107-95 loss last night at Golden State. The Good Whiteside (28 points, 20 rebounds) appeared. You know it's a bad season when you see the good in a 12-point loss. Original post: I guess it wasn't bad enough that the Dolphins took a crap Sunday after finally making the playoffs, so now the reeling Miami plays at mighty Golden State tonight, and what would have been a terrific matchup in, say, 2013, now is hard to envision being anything but season-low, lopsided-ugly. The good news: Doesn't start 'til 10:30, so much of South Florida won't bother to see it. Heat, 16-point underdogs, are having a train-wreck season at 11-28, evidently with the entire roster on the trading block, while 24-karat Golden State is 32-6 after adding Kevin Durant to Stephon Curry. Let's see Reid and Fiorentino try to put a positive spin on this one!

SadsabanTHE GOOD NEWS? BUT AT LEAST NICK SABAN LOST!: College football showed the NFL how it's done Monday night. We sat through four NFL first-round playoff games decided by a combined 121-45 score, none of them close or particularly interesting to watch. Then, last night, the CFP finale in Tampa gave us Clemson 35, Alabama 31, a compelling comeback victory that dethroned Nick Saban -- which alone made it gratifying for Saban-hating South Florida slow to forgive Nick for lying and baling on the Dolphins. So, as tonight's Heat game gets sad, So Fla, bright up by picturing Saban's abject disappointment as his kingdom quaked a bit.

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

Twitter @gregcote