October 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 6.1%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 6.1 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday Dsmnight's 40-0 Dolphins loss at the Baltimore Ravens putting Miami's season record at 4-3. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m Saturday.
 
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
Next poll: Nov. 5 (following game vs. Oakland)

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

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

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

Year    Opponent            Result

1979    vs. Patriots         W 39-24

1980    vs. Chargers       L 27-24 (OT)

1981    vs. Steelers        W 30-10

1990    vs. Patriots         W17-10

2006    @ Steelers          L 28-17

2009    @ Panthers         W 24-17

2010    vs. Bears            L 16-0

2012    @ Bills                L 19-14

2013    vs. Bengals         W22-20 (OT)

2014    vs. Bills               W 22-9

2015    @ Patriots           L 36-7

2017    @ Ravens            L 40-0 

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2017

NFL 100% right to postpone Dolphins opener. But should UM have canceled road game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Chiefs-Pats pick, return of SOPY rankings find 3 Canes in Top 10, latest 'Back In My Day,' Reelin' in the Years, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Stay away, Hurricane Irma. Weaken and veer, you terrible thing. 2) Football time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whup Bethune with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, other Collball Week 1 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Chiefs at Patriots prediction: Kansas City at New England kicks off the NFL season tonight. Will Dolfans girding for Hurricane Irma get the gift of a Pats loss? Click Week 1 Thursday Gem for my predix.

SOUTH FLORIDA'S MIND AIN'T ON FOOTBALL THIS WEEK. STAY SAFE, NEIGHBORS: [Click on NFL Right to Postpone Dolphins Opener for my complete latest column]. They could have rushed it and played the Dolphins-Bucs opener here tonight, but Dolfans have more important things on their minds in readying for Stadium PathHurricane Irma, such as how to survive this thing, and whether to stay or evacuate. This isn’t the week for a football game. They could have played the game Sunday as scheduled but at a neutral site. I’d heard one as far away as Pittsburgh or Philadelphia mentioned. But why rob Miami, team and fans, of a home game, or play at all on the very day when Irma is likely to wreak its worst havoc. There was some talk of still trying to play the game Monday night here, but that may have been the worst option of all. Even if Irma is kind enough to veer away from a direct hit, South Florida still will get the brunt of it. You’re going to ask fans without electricity, picking through rubble, trying to contact their insurance company about the roof, to drive through flooding to attend a football game? And cheer a first down as if their lives hadn’t just been walloped? Absurd. I'm not as certain the Miami Hurricanes needed to or should have canceled their game at Arkansas State -- although I support them doing it -- but moving Dolphins-Bucs to Week 11 when both had a bye was a no-brainer. Be safe, all.

Our most recent other columns: Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast: Off UM season opener  /  A Humbling Welcome Back: Butch Davis' return to coaching U loss  /  MVP: Stanton Has History On His Side: Case for Marlins slugger  /  Litmus Test: Beat FSU: Onus on Canes as season opens  /  2017 NFL Team Ranking: See where Dolphins fall in annual rank.

SOPY RANKINGS / 2017 SEASON DEBUT: THREE CANES IN INITIAL TOP 10: Today we launch the sixth season of the blog's State Offensive Player of the Year Sopy(SOPY) rankings -- what we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race. The weekly rankings measure the most productive Mmiltonquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based on average yards per game: Total divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even though not all teams have played same number of games. (Even now, South Florida already has played twice). Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. UCF's McKenzie Milton (pictured) checks in as our season leader out the gate ahead of defending champion Quinton Flowers of South Florida. Canes Mark Walton and Malik Rosier rank 3-4. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 2:

2017 SOPY WEEK 1 TOP 10

RK Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.

1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb          208

2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb          183

3    Mark Walton-Miami rb               168

4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb               167.5

5    Daniel Parr-FAU qb                    138.5

6    Travis Homer-Miami rb              133

7    Alex McGough-FIU qb               107.5

8    Thomas Owens- FIU rec             105

9    Deondre Francois-FSU qb          102

10t Dredrick Snelson-UCF rec           98

10t Willie Wright-FAU rec                 98

Bubble: DeAndre McNeal-FAU rec, 94. Other team leader: Florida--Josh Hammond-rec, 71. Week 1/season best: Milton-UCF, 208.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Florida State (0-1); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. South Florida (2-0); 4. Florida (0-1); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (0-1); 7. FIU (0-1).

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2016—Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,917. 2015—Flowers, 2,077.5. 2014—Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968. 2013—Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107. 2012—Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 9-7-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:
1. Kansas City at New England, 8:30 p.m.: NFL season opener from Foxborough.
2. U.S. Open tennis, 7 p.m.: All-U.S. women's semifinals begin in New York.
3. Marlins at Braves, 7:35 p.m.: Fish make a road show of their miserable slump.
4. Sam Houston at Prairie View, 7:30 p.m.: If you're desperate for college football.
 
LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': DISHWASHERS:


R.I.P., FAREWELL AND THANK YOU, WALTER BECKER:

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Note: NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

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

Year    Player                        Results

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

2013   Dion Jordan, DE          2-1-0

2010   Jared Odrick, DE         5-41-0

2009   Vontae Davis, DB         3-36-0*

2006   Jason Allen, DB           4-19-0

2001   Jamar Fletcher, DB      3-6-0

1996   Daryl Gardener, DT     6-77-0

1994   Tim Bowens, DT         11-155-2

1992   Troy Vincent, DB         4-55-0* 

1988   Eric Kumerow, DE       3-0-0

1987   John Bosa, DE            3-21-0

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

HassanwhitePlayer, Team                              G    Pts        FG%    Reb    Blk       PER

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

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

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

Hassan Whiteside, Heat            77     17.0    .557     14.1   2.10     22.7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games    Player, College                        Selection       Heat span

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Note: NBA playoffs are off Saturday]

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

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

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 10, 2017

Thank you, Mae Riback. Story of how I (finally) met my oldest fan; plus Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP race, Canes await Selection Sunday, Dolphins bashed for Stills/Branch deals, background on why 'Ballad Of 1440' happened, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, March 10. Who is panicking more right now: the fading Panthers, losers of six of past seven and now six points back in NHL playoff chase? Or Jim Morris, whose baseball Canes are 2-8 since starting 2-0? 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): "The Ballad of 1440" video debut, the dead we forgot (Ghost Tour addendum), Jimmy Buffett's retirement communities, Marlins odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Canes blown out in ACC quarters, await Selection Sunday: UM lost Thursday 78-53 to top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. Nobody except super freshman Bruce Brown (21 points) scored in double figures for UM. Canes had beaten Syracuse 62-57 on Saturday led by two  men who know Brooklyn well in coach Jim Larranaga and senior forward Kamari Murphy. Click on At Home in Brooklyn for my column off Saturday's win. Next: Selection Sunday should find Miami a mid-seed for NCAA Tournament, with an 8 vs. 9 opener most likely.

THANK YOU, MAE RIBACK: There are no "average readers." The story of most every life is a tale worth telling, which brings us to Mae Riback of Hollywood. Next week she will turn 104 -- still alert, still reading the Miami Herald daily, still turning to the sports section first. She had written me a lovely letter in late 2015, kind words in appreciation of my writing. She said how she Tinyhad read me for decades, told me I should write a book. She apologized for tremors in her penmanship, noting she was then 102. Her letter sat in a cardboard box, unseen, for 18 months. I rarely visit my office, and almost never answer envelope mail, because readers reach me by email 95 percent of the time. But on a recent visit to our Doral building I went through old mail that had accumulated, tossing most of it but somehow drawn to open this one envelope. Guilt overrode me. Here this centenarian had taken time to write such a kind letter, and I had ignored it! Eighteen months later, as I finally wrote back, I dreaded I might be too late. I cannot tell you who was happier when she called me on the number I'd given. We met this week, at the Hollywood apartment she shares with a fulltime aide in the Hillcrest area. Her handshake was unexpectedly firm. She uses a walker and struggles to hear but is sharp, and looked 20 years younger than I'd imagined. I gave her a copy of my Herald book, "Fins At 50," which I'd signed. She has been a Dolphins fan for years. ("But they annoy me lately!" she said). Ms. Riback was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. but moved here in 1971 after a 25-year career teaching phys-ed. She loved tennis and golf, so retiring with her husband to South Florida was a dream. Her aide produces a Sept. 30, 1950 page from The Grossinger Times with Mae "Tiny" Riback in a headline for having won a tennis tournament. Only 0.02 percent of Americans live to be 100. I asked how she explains her longevity. "I played. I moved all the time," she said. "Tennis I was best at, but sports, to me, were No. 1." Her racket is retired now but she remains active. Plays bridge every week. Reads the Herald voraciously, devours CNN or CNBC to stay up on current events. We parted with another strong handshake, and this time she asked me to lean down so she might kiss my cheek. She was was delighted by our meeting, and said she'd tell everyone she knew all about it. Tiny, the pleasure and honor were mine. [Click on Thank You, Mae Riback to see the column as it appears online

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (65 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 31-34 after Wednesday night's home win over Charlotte, here's The Luddite's 13th installment, with 60-game rank in parentheses.

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (65 games):

Luddite1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,869

2. Goran Dragic (2)             1,721

3. James Johnson (3)          1,207

4. Tyler Johnson (4)            1,189

5. Dion Waiters (5)               994

6. Rodney McGruder (6)      674

7. Wayne Ellington (7)         651

8. Josh Richardson (9)         561

9. Willie Reed (8)                558

10. Luke Babbitt (10)          421

Others: Justise Winslow 355, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 154, Udonis Haslem 72.

ESPN ANALYST SLAMS DOLPHINS' RE-SIGNING OF STILLS, BRANCH: While some in the local media genuflect over the Dolphins re-signing their own free agents in receiver Kenny Stills (pictured) and defensive end Andre Branch, at least one prominent ESPN analyst slams the deals. Bill Barnwell grades each a "D+" (ouch) in this analysis of early free-agent activity. (Teams may begin signing others' unrestricted free agents beginning at 4 p.m. today). An excerpt/synopsis of Barnwell's criticism of the Stills deal: "Miami shelled out $20 million in guarantees as part of a four-year, $3e2 million deal to bring its third wideout back to South Florida. The Dolphins are bringing back a player coming off a nine-touchdown season, one that isn't Stillssupported by usage rate and is almost guaranteed to regress toward the mean. In terms of total production during his two seasons with the Dolphins, Stills is 77th in the league in receptions and 57th in receiving yards. Nobody's expecting him to catch a high percentage of his passes because he is thrown so many deep balls, but Stills has the fifth-worst catch rate in the league among guys with 100 or more targets the past two seasons, at 47.9 percent. Because it takes so many passes for him to hook up with his quarterback, the Dolphins generate only 8.1 yards per Stills target, which is 35th in the league. Unless the Dolphins target Stills more, he isn't going to offer much of a return on this deal. Where are those targets coming from? Jarvis Landry probably isn't going anywhere. DeVante Parker has at least two years left on his rookie deal and has looked brilliant when healthy. The Dolphins committed to a run-heavy approach once Jay Ajayi got the starting job last season. This is the same organization that traded three picks, including their third- and fourth-round selections in the 2017 draft, to move up and grab Rutgers wideout Leonte Carroo in April. Carroo now has no path to a meaningful role in the offense one year after he was worth what amounted to a mid-second-round pick off draft capital. Carroo might very well be a bust, but it's both too early to judge and a horrible sign for Miami's ability to gauge talent if he's a sure-fire failure after one season. Mike Tannenbaum is paying for the player the Dolphins want Stills to be, which is something approximating DeSean Jackson. At 24, Stills could develop into that sort of player, but he hasn't been that guy yet in his career. This is a receiver who has one 100-yard game (and that was exactly 100 yards) in his time with the Dolphins, a wideout who did most of his damage against average-or-worse pass defenses, such as those of the Bills, Browns, Bengals, 49ers and Jets last season. That's a guy worth taking a shot on, but even in this inflated market, $20 million in guarantees is an exorbitant sum." Now, Barnwell's criticism of the Branch deal: "The Dolphins have one of the league's most expensive defensive lines, anchored by two elite players in Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. They wanted a third pass-rusher last offseason and paid a premium for Mario Williams while quietly adding Branch, a former Jaguars bust, on a one-year, $2.5 million deal to serve as a backup. Williams busted in spectacular (if predictable) fashion, while Branch was a useful reserve, racking up 5.5 sacks and 12 hits on 430 pass rush attempts. You would think that the Dolphins would figure that most players are going to look effective playing next to two Hall of Fame-caliber defenders and allow Branch to leave while signing the next buy-low opportunity to play alongside Suh and Wake. Instead, the Dolphins paid a hefty premium to keep Branch around, giving him $27 million over three years. Much depends on the structure of this deal, but in a draft exceedingly deep in pass-rushers, Miami likely overpaid to hold onto a player whom it could have replaced at a fraction of the cost." My take: Somewhere between the local fawning and Barnwell's harsh view is the truth. The Dolphins kept two very useful players in Stills and Branch ... but paid dearly, likely paid too much.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 3-10-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Minnesota at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Fading Cats have lost 6 of 7, now 6 points off NHL playoff pace.

2. United States vs. Colombia, 6 p.m.: U.S. opener in World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park.

3. ACC Tournament semifinals, 7 p.m.: It's Duke-North Carolina and then Florida State-Notre Dame.

4. Florida vs. Vanderbilt, 7 p.m.: No. 2-seed Gators men debut in SEC Tournament in Nashville.

5. Georgia Tech at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball, off to 4-8 start, hosts ACC opener.

'THE BALLAD OF 1440': HOW, WHY IT HAPPENED: "Greg, why are you standing in your very messy garage, appearing in a very homemade video and singing while wearing a suit and cowboy hat?" It is a reasonable question. Why the suit and hat is hard to answer. I guess I just felt like it, and wanted something that might stand out visually. The rest of it is easier to answer. I have 1440always enjoyed singing, which is not the same as claiming I have a good voice, which I do not. (I have an earnest voice that means well). "The Singing Sportswriter" used to be an alter-ego of mine on Dan LeBatard's radio show as I'd write what were meant to be humorous parodies related to sports. A few years ago I recorded a serious song, called "Letting Go," that my late friend Alan Cherry had written. This new song, "The Ballad Of 1440," was borne of nostalgia, wistfulness and gratitude. The newspaper business, socked hard, is working hard to reinvent itself. I have grown old enough to have retirement now on the back burner. My mentor, Edwin Pope, just died. These things together led me to reflect on growing up and falling into the career I did -- how unexpected that was, and how lucky I am. I happened to hear an old and obscure song called "Muswell Hillbilly" and though the structure would adapt well to autobiographical lyrics I could write. "1440" is the street address where I grew up in Hollywood, Florida, and the song is about how I'll always be that little barefoot, lower-middle-class kid who was the first in his family to go to college. The video, shot by my oldest son Christopher, includes opening and closing credits (with a dedication), and is interspersed with several old family photos of me when I was a boy. The song may be hard for some to take seriously -- it is, after all, me singing in a messy garage wearing a cowboy hat! -- but know that the sentiment behind it is genuine. This is meant as a thank-you to a lot of people who have helped me along the way, including our most loyal and longtime Miami Herald readers and radio listeners. I hope you enjoy it and in case you missed it,the video is below:

Select recent columns: Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. At Home in Brooklyn, on UM's win over Syracuse in ACC tourney. 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: Amar'e Joins the Shame Club.  NFL's Arrested Development.  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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 08, 2017

My new autobiographical song, "The Ballad Of 1440," is out. Watch video here!; plus The Dead We Forgot (a Ghost Tour addendum), revealing Canes basketball, Marlins betting odds, Jimmy Buffett's old-folks home, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, March 8. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your NFL Scouting Combine verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Marlins, NL East odds: This is further indication, new via Bovada, that Miami is seen as mid-pack in its division. Odds of winning the NL East this season: Nationals 5-7, Mets 8-5, Marlins 12-1, Braves 16-1 and Phillies 20-1.

My latest column: Now we see how good Canes basketball really is: The Miami Hurricanes' men's and women's basketball teams are having good seasons. But how good are they? How close to special? March knows, and tells all. Click on Now We Find Out About UM Hoops to read my latest column.

THIS IS 'THE BALLAD OF 1440': Been telling you for awhile we had an autobiographical song coming out. Well, we posted "The Ballad Of 1440" on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube late last night, and now here's the video in my blog. It's personal and it's serious, with opening and closing credits and boyhood photos interspersed. The reaction has been good. I hope you enjoy it:

THE DEAD WE FORGOT: AN ADDENDUM TO OUR 'GHOST TOUR' COLUMN: We got an unusually great reaction to our recent A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past column. Nostalgia is good. ManateesPeople love to reminisce. But dozens of e-mailers pointed out a few defunct Miami sports teams I hadn't mentioned. My meandering was never meant to be an A-to-Z, comprehensive list. Nevertheless, you took the time to write me, so I'm taking he time to pass along what you said. So: A toast, please... To the Miami Manatees, a still-born Canadian Football League team proposed to begin play at the Orange Bowl in 1996, until the CFL suspended its foray into U.S. markets that spring. To the Gold Coast Suns, managed by Earl Weaver and a charter member of the Miami-based Senior Professional Baseball League, which played a 1989-90 season and then folded midway through season two. To the Miami Tropics, which played in 1987-88 and 1991-93 in the USBL (United States Basketball League), and won championship in 1987 and '92-93. To the Miami Sun Sox, which won 1950 and '52 championships in baseball's Florida International League, and to the Miami Beach Flamingos of that league. And last but least (!), to the Miami Caliente, who undied their way through the 2009-10 season in the women's Lingerie Football League.

BuffettJIMMY BUFFETT'S OLD FOLKS' HOME: I saw this headline, laughed out loud, and it made perfect sense. "Jimmy Buffett to Open Margaritaville Retirement Communities." Of course he is. (Here for more). It's for people "55 and better," and the first oldies enclave is set to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. It is geared to his aging demographic of fans -- Parrotheads. In other words, everyone in the place will be wearing Hawaiiian shirts and flying Salt Life stickers. Give Jimmy credit. Under the laid-back facade is a land shark who knows how to make money.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 3-8-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Hurricanes vs. Syracuse, noon: UM men make ACC Tournament debut in Brooklyn.

2. Charlotte at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Hot Miami still is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace.

3. Hurricanes at FIU, 7 p.m.: Bad-starting baseball Canes (now 4-7) are close to desperate.

4. FAU vs. Marshall, 8 p.m.: Owls debut in men's CUSA Tournament (FIU did not qualify).

Select other recent columns: 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: Amar'e Joins the Shame ClubNFL's Arrested DevelopmentThe Wonder of Coach LIt's What's Great About SportsThe Miracle of Liberty CityIs 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