May 27, 2017

Who'll win more games, Dolphins or UM? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Canes in ACC semis, World OutGames scandal, Charles Harris, Fish vs. Trout, your NFL/celebration verdict, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Timpope1) It is SATURDAY, May 27. Pictured right: ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian as the Pope, via the great @angelresto28. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from this week'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): NFL legalizes celebrating with poll, R.I.P. Cortez Kennedy, Canes baseball wins ACC Tournament opener, The List (MLB Draft) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: Why Charles Harris could be Dolphins' best defensive No. 1 pick in more than 20 years: Part of the reason: Harris is really good. Part of it, too. Miami hasn't had a first-round pick on defense make the Pro Bowl in a Dolphins uniform since Tim Bowens, who was drafted in 1994. Click on Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought for my latest column.

DolcaneWHO'LL WIN MORE GAMES IN 2017: DOLPHINS OR HURRICANES?: This is an easy answer as some football seasons approach. It isn't this year. It is debatable; there are good arguments on either side as both the Dolphins and Canes seem on the upswing under second-year head coaches Adam Gase and Mark Richt. Because it's debatable I'm curious what you think; hence, this poll. The Dolphins were 10-6 last season and made the playoffs for the first time in eight years. UM finished 9-4 after winning its first bowl game in 10 years. But can either improve on 2016? There are some doubts, based on Las Vegas betting odds. The Canes, post-Brad Kaaya, have uncertainty at quarterback, one reason for an over/under of 8 1/2 wins. And the Dolphins' betting over/under opened at a surprisingly low 7 1/2 wins. Say you have 100 bucks to go all in one which team wins more games in '17, Dolphins or Hurricanes. Who you got? Take a dip in our poll.

BIG DAY FOR MIAMI BASEBALL: UM WITH HUGE WIN IN ACC'S, FISH BEAT TROUT: Miami Marlins returned to Marlins Park Friday night to start a big 10-game homestand and started it right with an 8-5 win over Mike Trout's Los Angeles Angels. Think of Trout as what the Marlins wish Giancarlo Stanton was. Fish took a giant crap in the previous homestand, going 1-8, and had better find a spark fast to salvage a sinking season. On the college side, the Miami Hurricanes yesterday rallied from 2-0 down to beat Wake Forest 5-2 in their second game of the ACC Tournament in Louisville after UM won its opener. Miami now is in the Saturday semifinals vs. North Carolina. More important, being 2-0 in the ACCs and reaching the semis should be enough, win or lose today, for an NCAA Tournament bid -- and a continuation of UM's record streak of 44 years in a row of making the NCAAs.

FYRE FESTIVAL GOT NUTHIN' ON WORLD OUTGAMES MIAMI: The Fyre Festival fronted by Ja Rule was, of course, the recent disaster of a "luxury music festival" in the Bahamas that didn't happen, Wogigniting a barrage of lawsuits. Well, it isn't going much better for World OutGames Miami, the so-called "LGBTQ Olympics" that was supposed to have its Opening Ceremony tonight at Fillmore Miami Beach but instead is under investigation for fraud. The opening and closing ceremonies of the eight-day event have been abruptly canceled, and so have at least 17 of the 20 athletic events -- all at the last moment, after hundreds of athletes already had arrived. Miami Beach police and the Miami-Dade state attorney's office are investigating for misappropriation of funds. Said World Outgames in a press release: "It is with deep regret that due to financial burdens, World OutGames must cancel opening and closing ceremonies and sports programming with the exception of aquatics, country western dance and soccer. The Human Rights Conference and cultural programs will continue as planned. We thank everyone who has supported the effort and apologize to those who will be impacted by this difficult decision." Surely, litigation will ensue. Embarrassing for the World OutGames organization, and for the city of Miami Beach, which poured in at least $200,000 in advertising and support. Whether this turns out to have been willful fraud by World OutGames Miami or just massive incompetence, Miami Beach essentially got duped. The further shame: This was an ambitious event, at a time when LGBTQ rights are under attack and that community could have used the positivity of a successful Games, only to see them collapse in scandal. A shame.

NBA FINALS TWITTER VOTE: Follow me on Twitter @gregcote and vote in our NBA Finals polls. Update: Polls closed with 5,690 votes, and it was 56 percent predicting the Golden State Warriors would win, but 56% hoping the Cleveland Cavaliers would win. 

POLL RESULT: NFL SAYS PARTY ON, YOU SAY WOO-HOO!: We asked in a blogpoll what you thought of the NFL relaxing its rules to allow end-zone celebrations again, and it was 80.8 percent for it and only 14.6% against. The other 4.6% answered, "

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 5-27-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Hurricanes vs. North Carolina, 4 p.m.: UM baseball in ACC semifinal in Louisville.

2. L.A. Angels at Marlins, 4:10 p.m.: After Marlins win last night, Fish and (Mike) Trout do it again.

3. FA Cup final, 12:30 p.m.: It's Chelsea vs. Arsenal on the pitch at Wembley Stadium.

4. America's Cup, 8:30 p.m.: Sailing's jewel event begins with Opening Ceremonies in Bermuda.

[Note: NHL Finals begin Monday May 29. NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

Select other recent columns: 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 08, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what falls where; plus Chris Bosh sued by porn website; also, LaVar Ball/$495 sneakers poll, R.I.P. Art Hertz, Colonel Sander's romantic side, your eSports verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Arthertz1) It is MONDAY, May 8. Belated condolences and an R.I.P. to Art Hertz, 83 (pictured), the Miami civic giant and former Orange Bowl Committee president. Got to know Art pretty well from my years covering Hurricanes football in the '80s. Good man. 2) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): First 2018 mock draft has bad news for Dolphins and Canes, Heat's foray into eSports/gaming with poll, updated Fins/Marlins title odds, your who-runs-this-town verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Porn, rat poop a part of lawsuit against Chris Bosh: I ain't lyin'. Click here for the story.

Latest column: Wade must check ego for any shot at Heat reunion: In my latest Sunday column I explore what could happen this summer if Wade opts out of his Bulls contract -- but might only happen if he came at a bargain price with no demands on his role. Click On The Team's Term's, Not His 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. HORSE RACING: Always Dreaming takes a muddy Kentucky Derby: Always Dreaming -- Todd Pletcher-trained, with John Velazquez aboard and co-owned by Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola -- beat the mud and a big field Saturday to usher in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown at Churchill Downs. They call it the "Run For the Roses." Which also is what I do when I suddenly realize I’ve forgotten my wife’s birthday.

2. NBA: Prelims to get to Cavaliers-Warriors continue: Cleveland swept Toronto on Sunday and tonight Golden State looks to do the same in Utah. It is looking more and more like an inevitable third consecutive Cavs-Warriors Finals, which is exactly what American wants. Or doesn't. I can't decide.

3. MARLINS: Fish back to open long homestand Monday: Flailing Fish had lost nine of 11 before winning at Mets Sunday, and now face St. Louis tonight to open a nine-game homestand. Meanwhile three groups are now bidding to buy the club from Jeffrey Loria. How perfectly fitting would it be for Loria to end his unpopular reign by not selling to the fan-preferred Derek Jeter group?

4. DOLPHINS: Harris, other draftees in Fins’ rookie minicamp: Top pick Charles Harris and other draftees wrap up Miami’s weekend rookie minicamp Sunday — as much a meet-’n-greet as actual football work. Circle June 13-15, the first mandatory full minicamp, when things start to get serious.

5. LAVAR BALL: Would you buy a $495 pair of sneakers?: Super-dad LaVar Ball and his Big Baller Brand introduced a $495 signature sneaker for his NBA rookie-to-be son Lonzo Ball, thereby exponentially increasing the pressure on Lonzo to be an instant superstar. If I'm spending $495 on sneakers they'd better be stuffed with about $400 in cash.

6. NHL: Nashville first through to conference finals: Nashville became the first team to win its conference semifinal series, and now Pittsburgh can advance with a win tonight. We could see Game 7s in three of the four second-round series. That's the way you do a postseason, NBA!

7. N-WORD: Racist fan in Boston ignites outcry: A dumbass Red Sox fan shouted the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones and was banned for life from Fenway Park. Official apologies and national conversation ensued. I wonder if the fan who yelled received an I-know-what-you're-going-through note from Steve Bartman? 

8. BOXING: Alvarez pounds Chavez in Vegas fight: Canelo Alvarez won an easy decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a battle of Mexican favorites last night in Las Vegas. The weight class was super middleweight. Alas, nothing super about the fight.  

9. HURRICANES: UM breaks ground on new football facility: It was news when UM announced plans for a new $34 million indoor football practice facility. It will be news when it opens its doors in 2018. Not sure it was news this week when people in dress shoes and hardhats stood around with gold shovels for a groudbreaking, but we sure covered it like it was. Slow news week?

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes playoff hopes on deathbed: Jim Morris' guys are an uncommonly common 24-23 and in grave jeopardy of seeing their record NCAA playoff streak come to an end. Doctors are standing by ready to call a time of death. Might take the miracle of an ACC title to save the season.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes men's basketball is ranked No. 7 in the nation in an NBC Sports (very early) preseason Top 25 ranking newly out. And the bar is set. High ..... NASCAR did Talladega Sunday, with Ricky Stenhouse under the checkered flag ..... Ping pong balls ready? The NBA Draft Lottery is May 16 ..... Answer: UM tennis player Piotr Lomacki rose two spots, to No. 62, in the latest ITA singles rankings. Question: Whaddya mean they might wanna think about ranking fewer players? ..... Champion Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb found dead at 37. I'd never heard of him. R.I.P., anyway ..... At auction yet again: That rare 1909 T-206, the original Honus Wagner baseball card. I don't wanna say it might be a fake, but if you look closely you can see an ESPN banner on the outfield wall.

BallLAVAR BALL AND HIS $495 SNEAKERS: I have a new mini-column out on LaVar Ball's new line of $495 sneakers started for his son, Lonzo, 19, the UCLA guard about to enter the NBA. Click on The Gall Of Ball to read. It used to be you became an NBA star and from that grew the merchandise. But Dad (pictured) and his Big Baller Brand have flipped the switch. It is audacious. It might even be smart. But it also is off-putting to a lot of people as its heaps a ton of pressure on Lonzo Ball to be an instant star in order to sell sneakers and save the family brand. What are you rooting for to happen? Take a dip in our poll:

ColonelCOLONEL HARLAND SANDERS: SUPER-STUD: How KFC has brought its iconic Colonel Sanders back to life in advertising is smart, and fun. Companies that have brand ambassadors that famous are dumb to move away from them. (Who remembers his first name is Harland, by the way?) The latest dab of genius is a "romance novella" (pictured) that casts the Colonel as a stud. (Background story here). They're giving it away with the purchase of a $20 bucket of chicken, and it sounds wonderfully awful. The book. Not the chicken. Spoiler alert: In the book, Tender Wings Of Desire, the Colonel carries the gorgeous redhead to his castle (shown in the background), where together they enjoy a lavish banquet of fried chicken, after which the unhinged Colonel carries the woman into a fully appointed sex dungeon below and dons a rubber mask for hours of bondage games. OK, I made up that last part. The Colonel would never do that!

POLL RESULT: SORRY, GAMERS, BUT THAT AIN'T A SPORT: We asked if you consider eSports/competitive video gaming to be an actual sport, and it was 77.9 percent "no" to only 22.1% "yes."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-8-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. St. Louis at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish 13-17, needing spark, as they open 9-game homestand.

2. NBA playoffs, 9 p.m.: Warriors up 3-0, can close out 2nd-round playoff series with sweep at Jazz.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Penguins 3-2 and home, looking to close out series with Capitals.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 05, 2017

First 2018 ESPN mock draft brings bad news for Dolphins, UM; plus Heat expand ties with esports/gaming, but is that even a sport? New poll. Vote now!; also, updated Fins/Marlins title odds, your who-runs-this-town verdict, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more

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

Cinco1) It is FRIDAY, May 5. Happy Cinco de Mayo, all! 2) Marc Anthony is the right flavor to play halftime of July's Real Madrid-Barcelona match in Miami, but I'm not sure his selection qualifies as the "historic musical performance" they teased us with. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest-team-in-town poll, Manny Machado's epic rant, Mike Dee's return to influence in Miami, your Dolphins draft verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My latest column: On Boston racial incident, sports fans' responsibility: You know by now the story of a Red Sox fan directing the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. I explore in my latest column, and challenge fans themselves to be the problem's solution at the grass-roots level. Click on Not In Our Stadium to read. (Thanks to RealClearSports for including it in the day's national list of top columns).

CRAZY-EARLY 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT BRINGS BAD NEWS FOR DOLPHINS, HURRICANES: ESPN's Todd McShay has an absurdly early 2018 NFL mock draft out, and here are three observations from a Miami perspective:

Draftdream1. McShay's projected draft order, via Football Outsiders, has the Dolphins selecting 10th overall. Ouch. Teams with the 10th pick are not playoff teams, so the initial overarching gloom of this mock is that it sees a sizable downturn by Miami. As an example, in the recent draft, a 7-9 record "earned" the 10th pick. If it matters, the Fins are projected to select Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. (Is Minkah even a name?).

2. Florida State, of course, is the Hurricanes' nemesis and roadblock in the ACC. Well, the Seminoles are projected to have four players go in this mock's first 17 picks, suggesting an especially talented FSU team will be presenting itself to UM. The four, all on defense, are safety Derwin James (8th), cornerback Tarvarus McFadden (12th), defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (15th) and DE-OLB Josh Sweat (17th). (Only one other state player, Florida Gator receiver Antonio Callaway, is projected as an '18 first rounder, going 21st).  

3. Maybe there was a method to UM QB Brad Kaaya's madness, after all, in entering this past draft even though nobody thought he'd go early (and he didn't, finally taken in the 6th round). Why? McShay has QBs going 1-2-3 next year with USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen and UCLA's Josh Rosen. That rarity has happened only twice in NFL Draft history: In 1999 with Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith going 1-2-3; and in 1971 with Jim Plunkett, Archie Manning and Dan Pastorini. 

MIAMI HEAT EXPAND INTEREST IN ESPORTS/GAMING: The Heat will be one of 17 NBA teams involved in an NBA 2K esports/video Misfitsgaming league set to debut in 2018, it was announced. The NBA thus becomes the first major traditional sports league to partner directly with the growing phenomenon of esports. The Heat already had been involved. Miami earlier this year became a partner with the esports team Misfits, a group of five teams of players based in Europe. The Misfits team will serve as the Heat in the NBA 2K league. Misfits CEO Ben Spoont told ESPN: "2K is uniquely positioned as a professional sport video game title to be able to reach fans that are esport fans as well as NBA fans and 2K fans alike. The opportunity here is to be able to reach fans that are in vastly different markets but all with a common thread, which is their love of the NBA and/or video games." Said Heat president of business operations Eric Woolworth: "We are thrilled to be working alongside 16 other NBA teams on this innovative esports league. Given our unique integration into the esports community through our relationship with Misfits, we feel confident in our ability to reach Miami Heat and Misfits fans alike as we help create a new and exciting league from scratch."

50-1UPDATED BETTINGS ODDS FOR DOLPHINS, MARLINS: All of these latest betting lines are via Bovada, and unless you are comforted by 50-1 odds, this is not good news for either the Dolphins' next season or the Marlins' current one. Post-NFL Draft odds see the Dolphins unchanged at 50-1 to win the Super Bowl, tied for 20th of 32 teams, while Patriots are a stronger-than-ever runaway favorite at 7-2, with nobody else closer than 12-1. Offensive rookie of the year pick out the gate: Leonard Fournette at 7-2. In baseball, the Cubs remain the pick to repeat World Series title at 4-1. The Marlins are now 50-1, surprising (they're 12-14) up from a pre-Opening Day 75-1, but still only tied for 17th overall of 30 clubs.

DolphinsPOLL RESULT: WHO RUNS THIS TOWN? THE MIAMI DOLPHINS: The results are hardly scientific, of course. They might just reflect how this blog's readership tends to skew. But we asked what local team is the biggest thing in South Florida sports, and it was Dolphins with 

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

1. Marlins at N.Y. Mets, 7:10 p.m.: Slumping Fish need spark as NL East rivals open 3-game series.

2. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Cavs at Raptors, Spurs at Rockets in pair of 2nd-round Game 3s.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Two 2nd-round Game 5s, with Nashville (at St. Louis) able to clinch.

4. Bethune-Cookman at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: Sweep-seeking UM baseball opens 3-game set.

5. Boxing weigh-in, 6 p.m.: Stare-down preceding Alvarez-Chavez super-middleweight bout.

Select other recent columns: The Kid From Pampa, on why the Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 03, 2017

Who runs this town: Name biggest team in Miami sports. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus from Dolphins to radio lord: Mike Dee's return to Miami power; also, Manny Machado's epic rant, new BIMD, your Fins draft verdict, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, May 3. New BIMD! To watch my latest video (Music Consumption), click on Back In My Day. 2) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft with grade-draft poll, Hot Button Top 10, list state players drafted, new Willie Nelson song & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Manny Machado's epic rant: Hialeah-born Orioles star Manny Machado lit into the Red Sox organization. Click here for the tirade. Warning: It's filled with expletives, all of which sound here like bleeep. 

ICYMI, my Dolphins draft columns: Two decades later, Zach Thomas reminds us why the late rounds of a draft are so important. Click on The Kid From Pampa to read. Also, click on Right Pick For Right Reasons for my earlier column on Dolphins first-round choice of Charles Harris.

RunthistownONLY MAY AND ALREADY DREAMING OF FOOTBALL: Click on A Football Town Again for my latest column. Synopsis: The Dolphins' draft just ended, right after Hurricanes spring practice did -- two offseason events that whetted the appetite and reminded us who's boss of South Florida. It's football, again. Maybe it always has been, although the Heat made a huge claim during the Big 3 championship era. Now, the Heat's starpower is lower-watt, they and the Panthers are out of the playoffs, the Marlins are mediocre (again) and -- whether by default or natural course -- football rises with the Fins and Canes both on the ascent. We explore that theme and more in that new column. But that's my premise; it may not be yours. Which was the germ of an idea that grew into this poll. I wonder what you think, so tell us in this alphabetical poll. I list what clearly are South Florida's Big 3 teams, but include a "something else" category because I want to respect fans of the Marlins, Panthers, UM hoops, high schools and whatever. [Quick aside: The image at right will make you dizzy; do not stare at it. The lines are perpendicular but because the letters are angled your eyes try to convince you the box is tilting to the right]. Where was I? Oh yeah. Remember, this poll about about biggest team, not sport. I know most of us like and follow more than one sport, but I also think most of us have a favorite, or an opinion of which team is biggest down here by however you judge that. Besides, it's just for fun! So take a dip in our poll, vote for who you think is the biggest team in town right now, and check back often to monitor evolving results:

MIKE DEE A MAJOR PLAYER IN MIAMI AGAIN: You may remember Mike Dee as the Dolphins' business-side CEO in 2009-13. He'd been the San Diego Padres' president since, until last fall. But Mikedeethis week he was hired to head Entercom Sports, an affiliate of CBS Radio-affiliated Entercom Communications Corporation. Why is that significant? Because Dee will primarily oversee the company's sports-radio business, and two of its properties happen to be Miami stations 790 The Ticket and 560 WQAM. In other words, the man once running the Dolphins will now have much to do with Miami sports radio -- including speculation that 790 and 560 could merge at some point. The $4 billion marriage of Entercom and CBS Radio stations, pending FCC approval, would make it the nation's second-largest radio group after iHeartMedia. The deal would require Entercom/CBS to divest of at least a dozen stations across the country to comply with regulations, a factor that gives rise to the idea of a possible 790/560 merger. nications Commission. The deal will require Entercom and CBS to unload 15 radio stations around the nation to comply with station-ownership regulations.

POLL RESULT: SOLID THUMBS-UP (BUT LESS THAN OVERWHELMING) FOR DOLPHINS DRAFT: We asked you how the Dolphins did in the 2017 NFL Draft -- what grade you'd give Miami overall. Your results, top to bottom: A/Excellent 14.5 percent; B/Above Average 55.0%; C/Average 25.1%; and D/Below Average 5.4%. Combined, that's 69.5% thumbs-up (As or Bs), and 30.5% less than thrilled (Cs or Ds).

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 5-3-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Cavalier and Spurs host 2nd-round Game 2s.

2. Marlins at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.: Four-game "Citrus Series" swings north.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Penguins, Oilers host 2nd-round Game 4s both up 2-1.

4. UEFA Champions League, 2:45 p.m.: AS Monaco host Juventus in 1st leg of semifinal.

Select other recent columns: Home Run For Miami, the latest, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 01, 2017

Grade the Dolphins' 2017 draft: Last chance to vote in poll!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), list of state players drafted, your verdict on Harris pick, HB Daily (Mon), Happy birthday Willie (with new song) & more

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

May1) It is MONDAY, May 1. Happy new month, all! 2) Miami's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring from Congress. Ihave not always agreed with her politics, but it's my impression she had has a trail-blazing career that was big and important. Congratulations. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. 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 draft Harris No. 1 with poll, Day 2 picks, my Mock Draft with results, The List (Fins draft), Neil Diamond concert review & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

ZachtMy Sunday column on Dolphins draft: Two decades later, Zach Thomas reminds us why the late rounds of a draft are so important. ICYMI, click on The Kid From Pampa to read. Also, click on Right Pick For Right Reasons for my earlier column on Dolphins first-round choice Charles Harris.

DolphinsGRADE THE DOLPHINS' 2017 DRAFT: LAST CHANCE TO VOTE!: I know, I know. Instant grading is a strange thing. It probably takes three years to fully, fairly and accurately say how a team's draft fared. But who's got the patience for that!? I invite your grade simply from an initial-impression perspective, based on where the Dolphins were picking, what you think their needs were and who they drafted. A complete list of the newest Dolphins is below. Now tell Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier and Adam Gase how you think they did the past three days. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results:


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: Mizzou's Harris leads Fins' defense-first draft: Missouri sack-man Charles Harris, whose spin move makes offensive tackles dizzy, went No. 1 in Miami's defense-heavy draft as the annual meat market wrapped up Saturday. As for the pass rusher's Fins future? Is closer to Cam Wake than to Dion Jordan too much to ask? 

2. MARLINS: Fish end slump as sale talk accelerates: Fish had lost four straight before Sunday's Justin Bour-fueled win over Pittsburgh and now host Tampa Bay for a pair starting tonight as pending sale of team continues to override season. The Jeb Bush/Derek Jeter group is reported frontrunner, but that's if Jeb proves much better at raising capital than at running for president.

3. NBA: Playoffs' conference semifinals underway: First round ended Sunday with Jazz advancing on road in a Game 7, now conference-semifinal round unfurls in full with Cleveland and San Antonio hosting Game 1s tonight. Can Raptors make it tough on LeBron James? Well, you know mosr of Miami hopes so, anyway.

4. HURRICANES: Nine Canes including Kaaya go in draft: UM's nine NFL Draft picks were the most of any state school, with tight end David Njoku the only first-rounder. Quarterback Brad Kaaya eventually was taken in the sixth (of seven) rounds. YSSB: Ya Shoulda Stayed, Brad!  

5. NASCAR: Junior announces this is final season: Joey Logano won Sunday. But the bigger news: Dale Earnhardt Jr. said 2017 will be his final year of racing after battling a concussion most of last season. That means Homestead will be his last race. Dear NASCAR: Finagle the rules to make sure he's in the four-man finals contending for his only season title. Thank you.

6. HORSE RACING: We're five days from Kentucky Derby: Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown season starts next Saturday at Churchill Downs, with Florida Derby winner Always Dreaming among the favorites. Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola owns the horse. Hope it runs better than his hockey team did this season.

7. HEAT: No playoffs, but Miami still in the headlines: ESPN The Magazine had a big profile of Heat prez Pat Riley, a reminder that Riley out of the playoffs is still more interesting than any front-office executive in them. Meanwhile Heat's Dion Waiters said every playoff team should be thankful it isn't facing Miami. And believe it or not, he was serious!

8. NHL: Conference semifinals underway: It's down to the final eight in the skate for Lord Stanley's Cup and, with the Panthers not in it, I cannot bring myself to feign the interest to say much more.

9. PANTHERS: Cats not thrilled with lottery outcome: Florida Panthers finished 10th in the NHL Draft lottery for June's draft, two spots lower than their percentage had indicated as a likelihood. GM Dale Tallon said they're looking for a big-time scorer. Get in line, pal.  

10. TENNIS: Sharapova returns from doping ban: WTA star Maria Sharapova reached the semifinals before losing in a tournament in Germany that marked her return to tennis after a 15-month ba. Timing is good. With her career nemesis Serena Williams on maternity leave, Maria might actually have a shot.

Missing the HB10 cut: Barcelona and Real Madrid official have assured their full rosters will be in Miami for their July 29 El Clasico. Which, said three months in advance, means precious little ..... Chelsea at Everton in a huge EPL match Sunday. Alas, Toffees fell hard at Goodison, 3-nil ..... That Cubs-Red Sox series was a likely World Series preview, according to Cubs and Red Sox fans ..... Canes baseball took two of three at Boston College. The phrase "too little, too late" comes to mind ..... Aaron Hernandez is still dead. Whoa! Too soon?

AsiataDOLPHINS DAY 3 DRAFT IS BEEFY WITH TWO DT'S, OG BEFORE CLOSING WITH WR: Miami began its Day 3 draft by taking Utah guard Isaac Asiata 164th overall after a minor trade-up. Asiata is pictured looking mean, which is good. He's 6-3 and 323 pounds and has had weight issues but is draft's sixth-rated guard and at a need position for Miami. Fins followed that by selecting 310-pound LSU defensive tackle David Godchaux, targeting another position in need of depth. Then they added yet another DT in Oklahoma State's Vincent Taylor, who grades as a better prospect that Godchaux. Miami's fourth and final Day 3 pick was wide receiver Isaiah Ford of Virginia Tech, not a position need, but in the last round, what the heck. Below is an ongoing chart of Fins' final 2017 draft haul: 

Dolphins' final 2017 draft:

Player, School, Pos.                          Round (Overall)  PosRank     OverallRank     Grade 

Charles Harris, Missouri, DE/OLB          1 (22nd)         1 (as OLB)  18                       90
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State, ILB      2 (54th)          7                 78                       76
Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson, CB          3 (97th)         21               138                       63
Isaac Asiata, Utah, OG                               5 (164th)       6                 129                       67  
Davon Godchaux, DT, LSU                        5 (178th)       25               ---                        30
Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State       6 (194th)       15              151                       60
Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech               7 (237th)       35               218                      47

Poll result: Solid approval for Harris pick at No.1: We asked your initial reaction to the Dolphins drafting Missouri pass-rusher Charles Harris 22nd overall, and it was 47.9 percent "like it" and 21.9% "love it" -- a combined thumbs-up of 69.8%. That isn't overwhelming approval, but it's solid. The remaining votes were 13.3% "don't like it" and 5.0% "hate it," with the other 11.9% undecided.

COMPLETE FINAL LIST: MIAMI HAS MOST STATE-COLLEGE PLAYERS DRAFTED, WITH KAAYA TO LIONS IN 6TH: It's 27 and counting now, with UM's Brad Kaaya the sixth Hurricane to go, WR Stacy Coley the seventh, and safety Adrian Colbert the eighth:

Miami Hurricanes (9): TE David Njoku 1st round (29th overall) to Browns  /  S Rayshawn Jenkins 4-113 to Chargers  /  CB Corn Elder 5-152 to Panthers  /  OG Danny Isidora 5-180 to Vikings  /  DE Al-Quadin Muhammad 6-196 to Saints  /  QB Brad Kaaya 6-215 to Lions  /  WR Stacy Coley 7-219 to Vikings  /  S Adrian Colbert 7-229 to 49ers  /  FB Marquez Williams 7-240 to Jaguars.

FIU Panthers (1): TE Jonnu Smith 3-100 to Titans.

FAU Owls (1): DE  Trey Hendrickson 3-103 to Saints.

Florida Gators (8): LB Jarrad Davis 1-21 to Lions  /  S Marcus Maye 2-39 to Jets  /  CB Quincy Wilson 2-46 to Colts  /  CB Teez Tabor 2-53 to Lions  /  LB Alex Anzalone 3-76 to Saints  /  OG David Sharpe 4-129 to Raiders  /  DT Caleb Brantley 6-185 to Browns  /  DT Joey Ivey 7-228 to Cowboys.

Florida State Seminoles (4): RB Dalvin Cook 2-41 to Vikings  /  DE DeMarcus Walker 2-51 to Broncos  /  OT Roderick Johnson 5-160 to Browns  /  CB Marquez White 6-216 to Cowboys.

UCF Knights (1): CB Shaquill Griffin 3-90 to Seahawks.

South Florida Bulls (3): RB Marlon Mack 4-143 to Colts  /  WR Rodney Adams 5-170 to Vikings  /  OT Kofi Amichia 6-212 to Packers. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-1-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Tampa Bay at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: State rivals open 4-game "Citrus Series," 2 here then 2 in Tampa.

2. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Raptors-Cavaliers, Rockets-Spurs in two 2nd-round Game 1s.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Capitals at Penguins in 2nd-round with Pittsburgh up 2-0.

Select other recent columns: Home Run For Miami, the latest, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. 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.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILLIE NELSON!: The country music icon turned 84 Saturday and still going strong, touring, making new music. Here's a new song from him. Enjoy!

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 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

April 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

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

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

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

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

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

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 10, 2017

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

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

1) It is MONDAY, April 10. Passover begins at sundown today for our Jewish friends. And a happy Seder to them! 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins next-owner poll, updated Heat playoff odds, your verdict on Romo/Canton & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Down to wire on mad scramble for playoffs: Miami sits at 39-41 in 9th place in East and just off playoff pace in a mad scrum with Pacers and Bulls. (More on the Heat playoff picture below HB10). It will come down to each team's final two games -- with Miami's at home vs. Cavaliers tonight and Wizards Wednesday. Man, mediocrity has never been so exciting!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Select other recent columns: Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote