June 24, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Heat, soccer, drafts brawl for top spot. See who gets it, and what else falls where this week; plus our two Heat draft columns (a Herro sandwich) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 24. Always football season, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life: Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat draft guard Tyler Herro and why Riley needs to have hit big, Panthers draft goalie Spencer Knight, The List (Heat high picks), O.J. on Twitter, Taylor Swift's message & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

TherroOur most recent column quartet: The latest: Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It. From draft night: Heat, Riley Need To Have Hit Big With Herro. As free agency nears: Heat Can Only Watch As Seismic Talent Shift Quakes NBA. And, uh oh: O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him. Also: Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic / Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / And Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami gets flashy Kentucky guard Herro in 1st round: The Heat just got a little more swaggery. That's a good thing. Kentucky guard Tyler Herro arrived in a purple suit and all blinged out with the 13th overall pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night. Miami later got Stanford forward KZ Okpala in the second round. Heat may have reached a tad for Herro, but a South Florida sports scene shy on starpower just got an infusion of interesting. Heat are expected to be quiet in upcoming free agency, but at least their draft was splashy.

2. SOCCER: U.S. women face Spain in World Cup knockout stage: The round of 16 is underway in France after no major surprises in group play. The reigning champion U.S. women breezed through with a 3-0 record and 19-0 (!) goal differential and now face Spain today/Monday at noon in the must-win knockout stage. Once again, I am totally neutral here. ("U-S-A! U-S-A!"). 

3. NBA: King Zion and trades highlight NBA Draft: The top three picks went as expected Thursday night, led by Duke's Zion Williamson to New Orleans as the NBA's most anticipated arrival since LeBron James. After that? Choas. In all 38 of the 60 overall picks involved trades, including 15 in the first round. Next: The NBA's main summer act, free agency, starting June 30.

4. PANTHERS: Cats go goalie in draft's 1st round: To Florida comes Boston College goaltender Spencer Knight, 18, with the NHL Draft's 13th overall pick, filling the Panthers' biggest need with the draft's acknowledged premier goalie. Cats also expected to chase veteran all-star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in upcoming free agency -- all of it likely spelling the end of an era for now-40-year-old Roberto Luongo.

5. MARLINS: Yamamoto wins again as as Fish wrap road trip: Miami wrapped up a 5-2 road trip with  sweep of the Philles Sunday as Hawaiian rookie pitching sensation Jordan Yamamoto won a third straight game. Marlins are now home for six straight. Yamamoto was not as sharp Sunday but in his first three career starts is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA with 19 strikeouts and only six hits allowed in 19 innings.

6. SOCCER: U.S. men looking good (!) in Gold Cup so far: The oft-maligned U.S. men's national team -- motto: Yeah, We Know We're Not As Successful As The Women -- is sailing through the group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, first beating Guyana 4-0 and last night crushing Trinidad & Tobago 6-0 -- the team that kept the U.S. men out of the last World Cup. Americans play Panama Wednesday but will be in the quarterfinals no matter the result. Championship game is set for Soldier Field. ("Let's gooooo States!").

7. HURRICANES: UM football hosts annual "Paradise Camp": Manny Diaz's first Paradise Camp as head coach was this past weekend -- an annual celebration of UM football and the program's family culture as current recruits mingled with famous football alums. It's a rather amazing thing, largely because it really is a made-up, non-newsworthy event, yet is covered rapturously by local media. Fun fact: Paradise Camp also is the name of a 1986 documentary film about the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

8. SOCCER: Messi, Barcelona coming to Miami: Soccer god Lionel Messi and his mighty Barcelona club team will play a friendly Aug. 7 vs Italy's Napoli club at Hard Rock Stadium, it was announced. HRS continues to draw sexy international matches. Aside to David Beckham: While he's here, please quietly kidnap Messi and put him in an Inter Miami kit.

9. NHL: Draft. Done. Awards. Given. Next: Free agency: New Jersey selected American center Jack Hughes, 18, No. 1 overall, and this is where I don't even pretend to have ever heard of him. Meanwhile Tampa's 128-point scorer Nikita Kucherov was named league MVP. (He should-a saved a few of those points for the playoffs. Ouch. Too soon?) Panthers' Aleksander Barkov won the Lady Byng Trophy for "gentlemanly conduct." (Don't they make fun of you for that in hockey?) Next stop: Free agency.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Canes extend women's coach Meier: Katie Meier signed a contract extension through the 2024-25 season, a well-deserved security for both the coach and the program. UM women's hoops has been a consistent winner under the aegis of the classy Meier, and good for athletic director Blake James to extend the run.

Missing the HB10 cut: Major League Soccer is at midseason, meaning we are now about nine months from Inter Miami kicking off. How those stadium(s) coming along, fellas? ..... Dewan Hernandez, 6-10 former Hurricanes center, snuck into the NBA Draft as the 59th overall pick, by Toronto. Good to see, after a brutally harsh NCAA suspension cost him all last season ..... Turns out David (Big Papi) Ortiz was shot and nearly killed in the Dominican Republic in a case of mistaken identity. Dude should keep on his old Red Sox uni at all times ..... Cricket World Cup continues. Updates as warranted ..... It's Michigan-Vanderbilt in best-of-three College World Series final starting Monday in Omaha. Scouting report: the Vanderbilt Whistler is a fan who annoys everybody with his constant loud whistling, so I hope Michigan wins ..... Copa America soccer tourney continues. Fast fact: Event's mascot is Zizito, a capybara, which is the world's largest rodent ..... A 103-year-old woman won gold in the 100-meter dash at the Senior Games. I'd tell you her time, but she hasn't finished yet ..... The U.S. Fencing Championships begin later this week in Ohio. How terrible. A competition for folks who deal in stolen goods! ..... O.J. Simpson on Twitter didn't take long to get boring. His fourth Tweet was about fantasy football. Come on Orenthal. A confession or I'm unfollowing! ..... Yeah, I mean, other than giving a platform for LaVar Ball's sexist comment and ignoring Tyson Fury's homophobia and misogyny as it promotes boxing, it was a good week for ESPN ..... Update: Countdown now 2,555 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 17, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See the late flip at No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Happy Father's Day, our latest column links, Taylor Swift's anti-hate anthem & more

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

Fathers1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 17. Hope your Father's Day was as happy as  mine! Thanks, family. 2) Always football season, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, here: Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Can Riley unload Whiteside/Dragic contracts?, Panthers poised to be Next Big Thing,  U.S. women's soccer deserves praise not criticism, Kevin Durant's legacy, O.J. Simpson's happiness, latest Back In My Day, The List (Game 7s) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our week's work: Latest columns on Heat, Panthers, U.S. women's soccer, Durant: Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, DragicWhy Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / and Durant Legacy Wobbles With Finals Reinjury. Other most recent columns: Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / and Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

1. NBA: Lakers get Davis in blockbuster trade: LeBron James has help now. L.A. acquired Anthony Davis from New Orleans on Saturday in exchange for three young players including Lonzo Ball plus three first-round draft pick's including the Lakers' No. 4 overall in this Thursday's draft. World's Most Annoying Dad LaVar Ball swooped in to complain L.A. had just made the worst trade it ever had. So, if it made LaVar upset, then I love the trade!

Hotbutton2. SOCCER: U.S. women win second straight, advance in World Cup: After a 13-0 opening rout of Thailand that saw the United States accused by some of running up the score or celebrating too much -- oh bleepin' boo hoo! -- the reigning-champ Americans were back with Game 2 of group play vs. Chile Sunday and a comfortable 3-0 win that could have been double that. U.S. is now assured of advancing to the knockout stage. On my count: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" (Sorry, all my Chilean readers. Quizas la proxima vez.

3. HEAT: Miami picks No. 13 in this week's NBA Draft: The two-round NBA Draft is this Thursday night, with 13th overall Miami's lone selection, after Zion Williamson surely goes No. 1 overall to New Orleans. No consensus on Heat's thinking; latest ESPN mock had them taking Kentucky 6-8 forward P.J. Washington. The intrigue beyond Heat's pick and Zion: Possible draft-day trades ahead of pending free agency. Anthony Davis already has changed jerseys. Will possible Heat target Mike Conley be next?

4. NBA: Oh Canada! Toronto wins first NBA title: NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors topped reigning champ Golden State in six games for Toronto's first-ever championship. Sorry Canada, but slap an asterisk on the crown, eh? Warriors were missing Kevin Durant first to a calf injury and then to a ruptured Achilles for all but 15 minutes of the Finals, and were missing Klay Thompson to a torn ACL for much of Thursday's deciding game. The Warriors didn't lose. The semi-Warriors did.

5. GOLF: Woodland (not Woods) wins the U.S. Open: American Gary Woodland held a shaky one-shot lead over more pedigreed Englishman Justin Rose entering Sunday's final round but wound up winning by three strokes over star Brooks Koepka in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Woodland's 13-under was good for his first career major, while Tiger Woods tied for 21st at 2-under.

6. PANTHERS: Cats await this week's draft, then free agency: The Panthers, with GM Dale Tallon and new coach Joel Quenneville at the helm, have the 13th overall pick and nine selections in all in the NHL Draft this coming Friday and Saturday. Cats would take gladly take a defenseman like Sweden's Philip Broberg, thank you. Stakes are even higher in free agency commencing July 1, with high-aiming Florida's reported targets including all-star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus.

7. NHL: St. Louis wins Game 7, first-ever Stanley Cup: St. Louis and NHL Final MVP Alex Pietrangelo upset host Boston 4-1 in Game 7 Wednesday to win the Blues' first NHL crown in 51 seasons, overcoming the Bruins' early 2-1 series. Nobody sober saw it coming before the season, or when St. Louis had the league's worst record on January 3 before an epic rally. Miracle On Ice 2.0?

8. HURRICANES: UM football scoring big in recruiting: Canes have risen to a No. 5 national ranking in ESPN's 2020 college football recruiting charts, led by this past week's big get: premier offensive tackle Jalen Rivers from Orange Park, whose other finalists were Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Florida State. Running back Don Chaney Jr. leads a group of nine other ESPN top 300 recruits. Meanwhile, RB Frank Gore Jr. is headed to Boca and joining Lane Kiffin at FAU.

9. MARLINS: Fish wrap up homestand, head on road: After being 10-31 at the season's quarter mark Miami went on a 13-5 run -- two weeks of magic (relatively speaking). But it's been 2-8  since after Sunday loss to Pittsburgh wrapped up a losing homestand, with a seven-game road next. Thud! That's the Marlins coming back to earth. 

10. BOXING: Fury crushes Schwarz in Vegas: Andy Ruiz Jr. beat Anthony Joshua in a stunning upset earlier in June. It wouldn't happen again Saturday night in Vegas as heavily favored 6-9 British giant Tyson Fury (astoundingly his real name) easily handled unheralded German Tom Schwarz. Fury, by the way, seems like pretty decent guy, other than being a raging homophobe and unapologetic mysogynist.

Missing the HB10 cut: Happy Father's Day my fellow padres! ..... Beloved former Red Sox star David Ortiz was shot in the Dominican Republic in an apparent assassination attempt, requiring five hours of emergency surgery, but thankfully Papi is expected to make a full recovery ..... First it was Barcelona's star striker Luis Suarez. Now, reports are that Argentine forward Mauro Icardi, who plays for Italy's Inter Milan, is being shopped and that David Beckham is interested in him for his MLS expansion team Inter Miami. Points for now: Becks is aiming high ..... NHL Awards Show is Wednesday in Vegas, with only one Panther, Aleksander Barkov, a finalist in any of the 11 categories. He's up for the Lady Byng Trophy for most gentlemanly player, which has to be the most un-hockey-like award in hockey ..... The 24 Hours of Le Mans ends today, the college baseball World Series is underway, so is the Cricket World Cup, and I'm planning to watch not a single minute of any of them ..... O.J. Simpson is on Twitter now. Uh oh ..... Update: Countdown now 2,562 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup

TAYLOR SWIFT'S NEW ANTI-HATE ANTHEM: Taking aim at hate, especially that which spews on social media: 

Other select recent columns: Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is ProgressBuckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness /End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 10, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): There's a surprise in the No. 1 sport and see what else falls where this week; plus will Dolphins be too good for Tua? (latest column), happy birthday to world's most famous Duck & more

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

Dduck1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 10. Happy birthday, Donald Duck, born on yesterday's date in 1934. 2) Always football season, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, here: Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins will be better than expected, Inter Miami casts for Luis Suarez, Fins wrap up offseason, Marlins draft bats, Schnellenberger snubbed again, latest Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Todd Tongen and Dr. John & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Will Dolphins be too good for Tua? Latest column: A bright new coach, interesting quarterback battle with upside, really good receivers, strong defensive tackle rotation, productive linebackers, better than average secondary -- too many positives for Miami to be god-awful in 2019. Meaning it may be difficult to be bad enough for the No. 1 overall 2020 draft pick and grand-prize Tua Tagovailoa. To read my newest column, visit Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019.

Other most recent columns: Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez and Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season. Also: For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / Drama Kings: How NBA Became America's Most Interesting Sport / Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SOCCER: Inter Miami aims high, guns for Luis Suarez: Inter Miami, the MLS expansion team set to debut in 2020, wants the Barcelona striker Suarez to be its signature star, a massive get if they can make it happen. Suarez has scored 25-plus goals seven straight seasons for Liverpool and then Barca at the highest levels of futbol. He might instantly be the biggest star in MLS. Might also be the biggest score of David Beckham's career.

2. NBA: Can a Golden State miracle deny Toronto?: Toronto won on road Friday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead over reigning champion Golden State in the NBA Finals, and now the Warriors face a must-win to stay alive in Game 5 Monday night/tonight in Canada. They hope to have Kevin Durant back ... but will it be enough? Meanwhile, a dumbass Warriors minority owner was banned for a year for shoving the Raptors' Kyle Lowry in a courtside incident.

3. SOCCER: U.S. debuts Tuesday in Women's World Cup: Month-long Women's World Cup is now underway in France, with the reigning champion United States team led by Alex Morgan up front and Hope Solo in goal playing its first group match on Tuesday vs. Thailand. Americans will be expected to win; no Thais allowed. (Sorry). U.S. are a narrow betting favorites to again win it all but host France and Germany will be stout challengers. On my count: "Let's gooooo States!"  

4. NHL: Boston forces Game 7 in Stanley Cup: Boston had to win and did, 5-1, in St. Louis Sunday night to force an NHL Final Game 7 Wednesday in Beantown. St. Louis seeking its first-ever Stanley Cup but odds swing now to the Bruins. Somebody will win the Cup. Somebody won't win. But the big loser might be the NHL and its officiating, whose controversial calls and non-calls have shadowed this Final.

5. MARLINS: Recently hot Fish back home, and back to losing: In mid-May the Marlins were 10-31, threatening the 1962 Mets for historic futility. Since then they've been 13-9 -- but have now dropped four straight with Sunday's blown-lead loss as they continue a nine-game homestand. Meantime Miami went offense in the MLB Draft, starting with top pick J.J. Bleday, a Vanderbilt corner outfielder who led NCAA Division 1 with 26 homers this season. Fish went bats with first five picks before finally taking a pitcher.

6. TENNIS: Nadal, Barty take French Open crowns: It was Rafael Nadal winning his record 12th French Open title Sunday in Paris over vs. little-known Dominic Thiem in the men's final, after Thiem upset Novak Djokovic in a five-set semifinal. In Saturday's who's-that women's final, No. 8-seeded Ashleigh Barty won her first Grand Slam title by beating unseeded Marketa Vondrousova. Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old who lives in Aventura north of Miami, reached the semifinals before falling.

7. GOLF: U.S. Open rolls this week at Pebble Beach: The second of four men's golf majors begins this Thursday at Pebble Beach in Cali, with Brooks Koepka (13-2 betting odds) and Dustin Johnson (7-1) the near co-favorites. Masters champ Tiger Woods (10-1) and Jordan Speith (14-1) are next. Jack-chasing El Tigre has won three U.S. Opens, but none since 2008, and no USO top-10 finish since '10.

8. HORSE RACING: Sir Winston wins Belmont Stakes: A memorably wacky Triple Crown season in thoroughbred racing ended fittingly Saturday in New York. After a disqualified winner rocked the Kentucky Derby and a riderless horse in the Preakness, the Belmont went to a 10-1 longshot as Sir Winston beat favorite Tacitus by a length. Only one horse, War Of Will, ran in all three TC races, a continuing problem for the sport.

9. DOLPHINS: Fins minicamp wraps up offseason work: This week's mandatory Dolphins minicamp ended the team's offseason program. Next stop, ready or not: Training camp in late July, then exhibitions, then the season. Meantime the one pressing question -- Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen? -- remains unanswered, and likely won't be until August.

10. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Three ex-Canes on Hall ballot, but no Howard: Former Miami Hurricanes defensive stalwarts Jerome Brown, Ray Lewis and Dan Morgan are on the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame ballot revealed this week, but once again, championship coach Howard Schnellenberger was illogically denied. The problem: the Hall's minimum winning percentage requirement unfairly penalizes coaches like Schnellenberger who take on challenges such as turning around a moribund Louisville program and starting FAU football from scratch.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dwyane Wade spoke at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High's graduation ceremony. D-Wade is everywhere. It's the "Don't forget about me!" withdrawal phase recently retired athletes tend to go through ..... Four-star prep offensive lineman Jalen Rivers commits to Miami. Sorry kid. Only five stars rate the HB10 ..... Golf analyst Hank Haney got in trouble for saying South Korea had taken over the LPGA and predicting "somebody named Lee" would win the Women's U.S. Open last week. The winner? Jeongeun Lee ..... We're down to eight NCAA Super Regional baseball teams playing to reach the College World Series, but since none are from Florida, it isn't happening ..... UCLA beat Oklahoma for the women's softball title, thanks to somebody's walkoff single ..... Hurricanes' Michelle Atherley won a bronze medal in the heptathlon to lead UM performers in the NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Track & Field Championships ..... Panthers girding for June 21 NHL Draft and free agency to follow ..... Tom Brady tried to patent "Tom Terrific" to (he claims) stop people from calling him that, all the while drawing the wrath of Mets fans on behalf of original Tom Terrific Tom Seaver. Dumb story, but anything that gets folks made at Brady has my attention ..... 24 Hours of Le Mans is next weekend. My word for two straight days in a car? Hell ..... Cricket World Cup continues. Top seeds Jiminy and Buddy Holly still in it ..... Update: Countdown now 2,569 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup ..... R.I.P., Todd Tongen and Dr. John

Other select recent columns: End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It (Really) Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Zion Williamson's Power to Reject the Lottery / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 08, 2019

Why Dolphins will be better than you think. Latest column; plus Inter Miami aims high with Barca's Suarez, 5 key battles as Fins end offseason, Marlins go bat-heavy in draft, Schnellenberger denied again, new Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Dr. John & more

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

Drjohn1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 8. One day after noting the 75th anniversary  of the Normandy landings on D-Day, we mourn the passing of New Orleans music legend Dr. John (pictured) at 77, from a heart attack. Second line ready, Big Easy. R.I.P. 2) Sorry to hear earlier this week of the sudden passing this week of WPLG news anchor Todd Tongen at 56 -- and no less so after learning the cause was suicide. We were the most casual of acquaintances, rarely crossing paths, but I always admired the job he did and his humor and good nature. Condolences to his family and loved ones. 3) It's always football season, so it's always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy it on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your NFL Finals will/want poll results, our review of  the Elton John biopic 'Rocketman' & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

BfloresTOO-DA-LOO, TUA? DOLPHINS WILL BE BETTER THAN EXPECTED IN 2019. NEW COLUMN: The Fins wrapped up their offseason program of OTA workdays and minicamps Thursday. Now it's six dark weeks for the club before it reassembles for full preseason training camp in late July. Thought the break was a good time to assess where the team is at, expectations-wise. We know the Vegas betting over/under is way low, around 5 wins. We think, or at least I think, Miami will be better, and I explore why in my newest column. A bright new coach in Brian Flores (pictured), an interesting quarterback battle with much upside, a really good receivers room, strong defensive tackle rotation, productive linebackers, better than average secondary -- too many positives for this team to be god-awful. The negatives: the offensive line other than Laremy Tunsil, and the absence of an edge rush leaving you wondering where the sacks will come from. Still, I think Miami will be good enough to make it difficult being bad enough to get the No. 1 overall 2020 draft pick and grand-prize QB Tua Tagovailoa. To read my latest column, kindly visit Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019.

LsuarezINTER MIAMI SIGNING LUIS SUAREZ WOULD BE NEARLY LEBRON-SIZED GET: David Beckham is gunning for Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, which if it  happens would be Miami sports' biggest get since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and the Heat in 2010. Suarez (pictured) is a proven, prolific goal scorer, with 25 or more net-shakers the past seven consecutive seasons for Liverpool or Barca at the highest levels of the sport. The negative: He will turn 33 just before the 2020 Major League Soccer season starts and Inter Mimi debuts as an expansion team. Still, there is little evidence of decline in his dynamic game, and he'd be a major piece to build an attacking team around. He would join the L.A. Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and D.C. United's Wayne Rooney as the biggest international names in MLS. For that column of mine, please visit Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez.

AS DOLPHINS WRAP UP OFFSEASON, REASONS TO LIKE FLORES AND 5 KEYS TO SEASON: Dolphins' mandatory minicamp ended Thursday to close Miami's offseason program. In my column previewing this week's minicamp I offer reasons I've really liked the hiring of Brian Flores as head coach thus far, and also five key position battles that will shape the coming season. To read that column, kindly visit Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season.

Other most recent columns: Marlins, NBA Finals, Bill Buckner, Miami's top young stars: For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / Drama Kings: How NBA Became America's Most Interesting Sport / Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness / And Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

BledayMARLINS DRAFT QUICK THOUGHT: BATS, BATS, BATS: The trades for prospects mostly have brought pitching, pitching, pitching. It is why Miami is pretty deeply stocked in its starting rotation. So the 2019 MLB Draft brings a different emphasis: Offense. And we saw that in the draft's first two rounds Monday night, led by Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday, the fourth overall pick. Then came Missouri OF Kameron Misner (a competitive balance pick) and in the second round, Lawrenceville, Ga. high-school infielder Nasim Nunez. Bleday, personally scouted by Derek Jeter at the recent SEC Tournament, is pictured. He had five hits that game, by the way. In the power-starved Bleday the Fish get a guy who led all NCAA Division 1 baseball with 26 home runs this season.

HowardTHREE EX-CANES ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL BALLOT, BUT...: Stalwart former Hurricanes defensive stars Jerome Brown, Ray Lewis and Dan Morgan are on the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame ballot revealed Monday. But one ex-Cane who deserves the honor continues to be left out: Coach Howard Schnellenberger. In a flashback column from a hyear ago, June 2018, and truer than ever, I make the case why Schnellenberger deserves the College Hall. Read: End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': CAFETERIAS!: The latest BIMD, which premiered Tuesday on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:

Other select recent columns: Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It (Really) Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Zion Williamson's Power to Reject the Lottery / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 29, 2019

What do you think of the Miami Dolphins 2019 draft results? Grade it in poll. Last day to vote!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

It's MONDAY, APRIL 29. Football is never done, so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins trade for QB Rosen, poll on DT WIlkins pick, The List (Fins draft history in 13 range), your verdict on position Miami should target & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our Dolphins draft columns on Rosen trade, Wilkins pick: To read, visit Dolphins Big Winners With Draft-Day Trade For QB Rosen and Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins. Yes, I really liked both moves. When your first two days deliver an elite defensive tackle, a potential franchise quarterback and a likely starting guard, that's good work.

DdraftGRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT. NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: Any team's draft of course cannot truly and fairly be graded for a year or two, when we see how players are panning out. But I'm not writing an encyclopedia here. This is a blog. You don't need time for a gut reaction -- a sense of how the Dolphins did based on caliber of players they got and needs met. Are you feeling good about the draft or not? I've not met many sports fans incapable or unwilling to have a strong opinion fast. So let's go! I list the Dolphins' 2019 draft bounty below, then invite your overall opinion in a poll. I include quarterback Josh Rosen, who was acquired in a draft-day trade for, essentially, a second-round pick, because he is very much a part of who Miami got in this draft. Ready, set, vote!

Dolphins 2019 Draft bounty: 1R -- DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson (13th overall)  /  2R -- QB Josh Rosen, Arizona (via trade)  /  3R -- OG Michael Deiter, Wisconsin (78th overall)  /  5R -- OLB Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin (151st overall)  /  6R -- OT Isaiah Prince, Ohio State (202nd)  /  7R -- FB Chandler Cox, Auburn (233rd)  /  7R -- RB Myles Gaskin, Washington (234th)

POLL RESULT: LOTS OF LOVE FOR WILKINS AS NO. 1 PICK: We asked, "What is your reaction to the Miami Dolphins drafting Clemson DT Christian Wilkins 13th overall?" Your verdict: Love it 68.69 percent; Like it 20.20%; So-so 8.08%; and Nope 3.03%. That's strong approval -- 88.89% either loving or liking the pick. (The opinion was more mixed in our Twitter poll, where it was Great 38%, Pretty good 29% and Meh 33%).

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton Rosen1. DOLPHINS: Wilkins pick, Rosen trade highlight Miami's NFL Draft: An elite defensive tackle in Clemson's Christian Wilkins and a potential franchise quarterback in Josh Rosen (via trade from Arizona) provided a big 1-2 punch to open Miami's draft work. Most thought Wilkins would be gone before the 13th pick, and getting Rosen, a top-10 pick last year, for a low second-rounder felt like a steal. The bad news? Tougher now in 2019 to "Tank for Tua" -- the grand-prize QB the Fins should still take in next year's draft if they're bad enough to have the chance.

2. NBA: Celtics, Warriors take series Game 1s: Celtics routed top-seeded Bucks in Milwaukee on Sunday, while the Warriors and the referees beat the Rockets out west to both take Game 1s of their conference semifinal series. Raptors had previously had won their Game 1 over 76ers. Nuggets-Trail Blazers Game 1 is tonight. Overarching questions: Can Greek Freak lead the Bucks back? And are champion Warriors as vulnerable as they seem?

3. NFL: Kyler Murray, Giants' reach talk of draft: Arizona selected QB Kyler Murray No. 1 overall as expected (leading to Miami getting Josh Rosen in a trade), but the surprise of the first round had to be the Giants taking Duke QB Daniel Jones sixth overall. Huh? Wha! Jones was thought to be a second-round pick, maybe even a third. Somebody give Giants GM Dave Gettleman a Breathalyzer test.

Willis4. HURRICANES: Five Canes drafted -- but no Willis: UM guys drafted, all on Day 3, were S Sheldrick Redwine (4R/Browns), CB Michael Jackson (5/Cowboys), DE Joe Jackson (5/Cowboys), S Jaquan Johnson (6/Bills) and RB Travis Homer (6/Seahawks). Astonishingly missing: DT Gerald Willis III, who some pegged as a 2nd round talent, and who was quickly signed as a free agent by Ravens.

5. MARLINS: So much for that brief hot warm streak: Fish had won four of past six games before losing last three in a row in Philly to fall to an MLB-worst 8-20. Marlins welcome Cleveland on Tuesday as they return home, large, adoring crowds will surely be waiting (!).

6. NHL: It's down to eight for the Stanley Cup: We're early in the conference semifinals for the NHL's last eight teams skating and on Sunday Carolina took a 2-0 seriess lead over the Islanders while the Avalanche tied the Sharks 1-1 in their series. Notably, no Canadian teams are left, so the sad streak continues: No Stanley Cup since 1993 for the nation that invented hockey.

F17. AUTO RACING: Miami loses Formula One race: Miami has held up an Unwelcome sign to Formula One, and so the Miami Grand Prix ain't happening. A planned race in 2020 is being scrapped due to delays in approval by lawmakers, after a planned race in 2019 was erased by complaints from residents about the proposed 2.6-mile track running down Biscayne Boulevard and through Bayfront Park. On top of the recent news Homestead was losing its NASCAR season-finale championship race -- another blow to local motorsports fans.

8.HORSE RACING: It's Derby Week in America!: Triple Crown season in thoroughbred racing kicks off in six days with next Saturday's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Omaha Beach and Roadster are co-betting favorites at 7-2 odds, but Florida Derby winner Maximum Security is climbing and now is fourth fave at 6-1. Go Max! 

9. CANES BASEBALL: UM ranked and movin' up after sweep: UM baseball is 31-14, ranked No. 24 in the polls and sure to move up in next ranking after Sunday completing a three-game home sweep of Virginia Tech. After a rough patch or two, first-year coach Gino DiMare has his machine humming.

10. RUNNING: Miami Corporate Run draws 27K: The annual Miami Corporate Run drew 26,698 pavement pounders from 882 companies, and the men's and women's winners were Dan Nestor and Ana Villegas. It was believed to be the first time in he history of running that a footrace was not won by somebody from Kenya.

Missing the HB10 cut: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been in the big leagues about a minute and a half and I'm already getting tired of the hype ..... UFC Fort Lauderdale (Fight Night 150) went off Saturday night at Sunrise arena, with ex-NFL player Greg Hardy winning a round 1 knockout ..... How can a Chiefs fan -- how could any fan -- ever cheer for Tyreek Hill again? ..... Heat's Goran Dragic hasn't decided whether to opt-in for $19.2 million. Hassan Whiteside also faces that option at $27.2M. If both opt in, Miami will be over salary cap before it makes any moves ..... Clemson's Dabo Swinney is now the highest paid coach in college football. Anybody wanna start a GoFundMe page for poor Nick Saban? ..... National champion Virginia men's basketball has declined to be honored at the White House. Isn't this where Trump claims they weren't invited to begin with? ..... Anybody else believe Tiger Woods has yet to take off that green jacket and even showers in it? ..... Champions League semifinals commence with first leg of Tottenham-Ajax on Tuesday. The sexier other semi: Liverpool-Barcelona ..... That reminds me. Cannot wait for Watford to stun Manchester City at Wembley in the May 18 FA Cup final. Go Hornets! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,611 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup ..... R.I.P., John Havlicek. Hondo.

Other most recent columns: Dolphins at 13: Twice Lucky, One Horrific Tragedy / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Le Batard Takes Miami To Manhattan / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / And our Dwyane Wade Week trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is Bereft / Wade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star / And Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

Select other columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 22, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what takes over No. 1 this week and what else falls where; plus Luck and tragedy when Dolphins draft 13th (newest column), Happy Earth Day & more

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

Earthday1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 22. Happy Earth Day, fellow planet inhabitants! Global warming is real. Treat your other mother right!  2) Hope y'all had a nice Easter or Passover. I also trust my weedeaters out there had a lovely 420 Day? 3) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): When the Dolphins draft 13th, Tagovailoa to Fins seeming likelier, The Forlorn Four in Miami sports, Dolphins' 2019 schedule, Le Batard Show hits the road, new Mavis song & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our latest column: Luck & tragedy when the Dolphins draft 13th: Miami was lucky to draft tackle Laremey Tunsil and lucky to draft linebacker/end A.J. Duhe. But running back David Overstreet in between ended in tragedy. Across a 40-year span, all those three had in common was being selected 13th overall in the NFL Draft. With Dolphins set to pick 13th again this week, we look back at the three very disparate circumstances of the franchise's experience selecting there. To read, visit Dolphins at 13: Twice Lucky, One Horrific Tragedy.

Other most recent columns: Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Le Batard Takes Miami To Manhattan / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / And our Dwyane Wade Week trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is Bereft / Wade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star / And Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: It's NFL Draft Week in Miami and America!: The NFL Draft's first round is Thursday night in Nashville, with the Miami Dolphins under new coach Brian Flores scheduled to select 13th overall. The Fins' biggest need? Someone who can excellently play about eight positions simultaneously to fill all of the roster's shortcomings. Draft rounds two through seven will be Friday and Saturday, but disproportionate interest in the top pick means we'll hardly care who comes later.

2. NBA: Celtics are first to advance in playoffs: Deep into the NBA playoffs' first round, Boston on Sunday won at Indiana to complete a 4-game sweep and be the first to advance. No. 2 West seed Denver seems the lone higher seed in greatest jeopardy of an early exit, tied 2-2 with San Antonio. These are the first playoffs since 2005 without LeBron James. There's a phrase for that: "Nice little break."

3. HURRICANES: QB still in doubt as UM wraps up spring football: Miami concluded 15 days of spring football practice with an open scrimmage Saturday in Orlando -- new coach Many Diaz foisting The U up in Gator country. The big story line coming out of spring work: Who's the starting quarterback? Decision will go into the fall. Positive spin: Such competition! Alternative spin: Nobody has stood and out and grabbed the job. 

4. HEAT: Riley replacing Magic in L.A? Um ... NO!: Dwyane Wade diggin' into retirement, drinking his own signature wine on a golf course (growing the brand gets tougher when one retires) and getting a giant tattoo on his leg. But let's downplay that speculation that the Lakers may want Heat god-daddy Pat Riley to replace Magic Johnson in running LeBron's team. Pat says he'll retire "a Heat." That's good enough for us. (Unless he changes his mind...?)

5. MARLINS: Fish catch fire after dumping hitting coach: Miami is 6-16 but had won two straight over Nationals to win first series of season before losing Sunday. The day before they chased Nats ace Max Scherzer in 9-3 win. Marlins now set out on 6-game roadie starting Tuesday. Fish fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo, but, I dunno, other than the Marlins being last in the majors in runs scored and having a .215 team average, I thought he was doing a great job!

6. NHL: Four teams advance closer to Stanley Cup: Colorado, New York Islanders, Columbus and St. Louis have advanced in first round of Stanley Cup playoffs, but Toronto and Vegas were thwarted on Sunday and now face Game 7s. Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay, Lightning fans are still shell-shocked and walking around like zombies.

7. SOCCER: Big week for MLS and in Europe: Tottenham ousted Man City to reach the Champions League semifinals vs Ajax. Barcelona and Liverpool go in the other semi. Meanwhile MLS announced plans to expand to 30 teams, with 24 now running and Miami, Austin and Nashville in the incubator. Tap the brakes, MLS!

8. HORSES: Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown season near: The Run For the Roses at Churchill Downs kicks off Triple Crown season on May 4. Omaha Beach and Roadster figure to be early betting favorites, but keep an eye on Maximum Security, who burst out of a $16,000 claiming race to win the recent Florida Derby at Gulfstream.

9. GOLF: Tiger's Masters afterglow: Golf fans continue their swoon over Tiger Woods winning his first major in 11 years and first Masters in 14. So does Tiger himself. The other day Woods walked into his own restaurant, The Woods Jupiter, wearing his iconic green jacket. This is the Internet. I couldn't say it if it weren't true.

10. RUNNING: Miami Corporate Run on deck: The annual Miami Corporate Run clogs hits downtown streets this Thursday evening. Last year's run drew 28,265 entrants from 850 companies. Hey you all: Less running, more working!

Missing the HB10 cut: Gino DiMare and Canes baseball are Top 25-bound at 28-13 after taking two of three at No. 8 Louisville ..... Notable as 2019 NFL schedule rolled out: Only one team has no prime-time games. The Buffalo Bills ..... Defending champ Red Sox have won two straight to escape the AL East cellar. Lookout! ..... The Le Batard Show's May 18 live show in New York sold out in two minutes this week. You're welcome! ..... Conor McGregor fought an exhibition boxing match in Dublin. Anybody else getting a little tired of this guy? ..... Bumper sticker: Honk If You've Seen the Leaked Robert Kraft Sex Tape ..... Update: Countdown now 2,618 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB / Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 15, 2019

Mount GOATmore: Marino vs. Riley vs. Shula vs. Wade. Who has accomplished and meant the most to South Florida sports? Shockingly close. And last day to vote!; plus new Hot Button Top 10, my D.Wade trilogy, Tiger's triumph & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 15. We're back from a long weekend with friends in Chicago. Missed the finale-season premiere of Game Of Thrones. Will watch it tonight. Can't wait! 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane Wade's final Heat home game, your next-Dolphins-QB verdict, our NCAA bracket sticks landing & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

ThanksdwOUR TRILOGY OF DWYANE WADE WEEK COLUMNS: The latest -- The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is Bereft. Exploring what's next, who's next, in the tremendous void left by Dwyane Wade's Miami Heat retirement. From his final home game -- Wade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star. How No. 3, the Heat, fans and this community stuck the landing on an emotional night of gratitude. And the first -- Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. Unabashedly, a tribute column for the retiring generational star who meant so much to a city and to basketball.

Other most recent columns: Panthers' new coach, Dolphins next QB: In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula and Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB.

MIAMI'S MOUNT GOATMORE: WHO'S ON TOP? CLOSE. LAST DAY TO VOTE!: I declare the all-time Mount Rushmore of Miami professional team-sports figures Goatis pretty clear. The four men etched in stone, alphabetically, are Dan Marino, Pat Riley, Don Shula and Dwyane Wade. But who's the greatest of our four G.O.A.T.s? Who has accomplished the most and meant the most to South Florida fans? I know it's a tough ask because you (probably) love/admire all four. But life is full of difficult decisions, right? I know timing is everything n a poll, and the timing of this one unquestionably and probably unfairly favors Wade. Still, the other three are of such an historic stature their names speak for themselves, and stand up to time and timing. So. Four Miami pro team-sport G.O.A.T.s, but only one can be the G.O.A.T.iest of them all. Who is it? Your call. Very close vote when last I checked. We'll close the poll and announce the winner very early tomorrow morning, so today and tonight really are your last chance to vote. So vote now!

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: An era ends. With no playoffs, Wade's epic career is over: The G.O.A.T. has left the building. Heat eliminated from playoff contention last Tuesday night at home means no Wade encore. Wednesday at Brooklyn ended the season, and now No. 3 is officially retired. But not before a fitting sendoff by Miami fans in a love-in of a final home game, with Wade's 30-point night the exclamation point. (See links to our Wade Week trilogy above).

2. GOLF: Tiger masters Masters to end majors drought: The Masters was Thursday though Sunday at Augusta, and most of eyeballs were on Tiger Woods to see if he can win his fifth green jacket but first in 14 years. And he did! The power of this man? At age 43 and 11 years removed from his last major win of any kind, we still care. A lot. Sunday proved it.

3. MARLINS: Flailing Fish looking for home bump: Miami is 4-12, tied for worst record in bigs, in midst of  nine-game homestand that continues tonight at with Cubs visiting. Lots of Cubbie fans in SoFla, so, who  knows? Maybe Marlins Park will actually be almost sort of fillled!?

4. NBA: Playoffs, a.k.a Golden State Coronation, are undereway: First-round NBA playoffs are underway and one game in, with three better-seeded teams -- Raptors, 76ers and Nuggets-- also losing the series opener. The postseason's overarching question: Can anyone in the West -- or in the league -- keep Golden State from a third straight championship and fourth in five years?

5. DOLPHINS: Fins pad roster as draft nears: Ten-day countdown, people. NFL Draft April 25-27 is getting close, with Miami holding 13th overall pick and no real idea what they'll target first to fill one of their many, many needs. Meanwhile Fins just signed seven players from the folded Alliance of American Football. Um, is that a good thing?

6. PANTHERS: New coach Quenneville's first draft is set: Lottery results last week determined Florida would select 13th overall in first round of the June 21-22 NHL Draft in Vancouver, the first under newly introduced Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, a three-time Stanley Cup champ as a head coach. Cats have hit big with recent top-15 picks like Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad.

7. MARCH MADNESS: They're still celebrating in Charlottesville: Virginia is still euphoric over the recent win over Texas Tech for the NCAA men's championship. (Me, too, since I had Cavaliers winning it all in my bracket). One disappointment? Just found out Virginia coach Tony Bennett is some other guy and not the 92-year-old crooner.

8. NHL: Stunner! Tampa Bay on brink on first round: First-round NHL playoffs are well underway, and the big question was: After Tampa Bay's 62-win, 128-point, plus-103 goals differential mega-season led the league, by a lot, could anybody stop the Lightning from raising the Stanley Cup? Answer: Yeah, Columbus in the first round, apparently. Blue Jackets up 3-0 and can sweep at home Tuesday night. 

9. MAGIC JOHNSON: Lakers' president abruptly resigns: Once an all-time great player, Magic has since failed pretty miserably as a broadcaster, a coach and now as a club executive. The good news? There has to be some way to blame LeBron James for this, no?

10. HURRICANES: UM set to wrap up spring football work: Remaining Canes spring football workdays include an open scrimmage April 20 to conclude offseason work at the old Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Mid-April, and Manny Diaz still is unbeaten as UM head coach!

Missing the HB10 cut: The 123rd Boston Marathon hit the streets Monday. No idea who'd be the men's women's champion, but it's always a good bet if your money was on "Somebody From Kenya." (P.s., a Kenyan guy won) ..... A citation was issued against a man accused of flashing a laser at Patriots QB Tom Brady during the past AFC Championship Game. I vehemently deny the charges ..... A woman is suing the Astros for $1 million because her finger was injured by a T-shirt cannon. Must be a Goldfinger ..... Saturday is Record Store Day. Go to your local indie shop and buy some wax, Jack! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,624 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 08, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Wade's farewell is king. See what follows; plus predict Dolphins' starting QB in 2020. Poll. Vote now! With column; also, Heat Playoff Watch (updated), Panthers change coaches, over/under on NFL wins (ouch) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 8. Visit Breakfast! for the new Back In My Day that debuted last week on Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): ESPN's latest Dolphins-draft guesses, playoff-chase drama adds to Wade's farewell, glory of an unexpected Final Four with polls, response to slam on Marlins fans, latest NBA/NHL odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Dolphins' next quarterback: I consider all of the players and all of the options through the next two drafts and handicap who'll be the Fins' starting QB in 2020 and beyond. To read, please visit Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB to read. There's a poll below awaiting your vote.

Heat Playoff Watch (updated entering Monday): Heat (9th place/38-42) after losing Sunday at Toronto; chasing Pistons (8th/39-41) after losing Sunday at Charlotte. Nets and Magic both won Sunday to clinch playoffs spots. Heat, Pistons and Hornets (also 38-42) are alive for final East playoff ticket. Remaining Heat games: Tuesday vs. Philadelphia and Wednesday at Brooklyn. Today: No games scheduled. Outlook: Heat, after an ill-timed fourth straight loss, are in trouble. Miami must win both of its final two games and get help, because both Detroit and Charlotte own the tiebreaker over Miami.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (APRIL 7): 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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: The end is near for Dwyane Wade's farewell: What started in June of 2003 is coming to an end a sweet 16 years later. Dwyane Wade's final regular-season home game of his final year in the NBA will be Tuesday in a downtown arena packed with emotion and gratitude. There could be a curtain call of at least two additional home games -- but only if Miami makes the playoffs, which now seems unlikely after Sunday's loss at Toronto. Miami is home vs. Philly Tuesday, then at Brooklyn Wednesday, needing to win both and get help.

2. MARCH MADNESS (MEN): It's Virginia vs. Texas Tech for NCAA title: After Virginia edged Auburn by one point (on a lucky late call) and Texas Tech handled Michigan State more comfortably in Saturday's Final Four, the two winners will meet Monday night in Minneapolis for the national championship. No.1-seed Cavaliers and No. 3 Red Raiders both are playing for the first national title, with Virginia a narrow 1 1/2-point favorite. 

3. PANTHERS: Cats end disappointing season, change coaches: Panthers will watch Stanley Cup playoffs on TV after finishing 36-46 with Saturday's appropriately fitting 4-3 overtime home loss to New jersey. Cats started season 0-4 and 2-8, and 7- and 6-game losing streaks along the way and just never really made a run. Wasted talent. Again. Sunday, team announced coach Bob Boughner was out after two seasons and Monday announced the hiring of 3-time Stanley Cup champion coach Joel Quenneville. Justified move. Solid hire.

4. MARLINS: Alfaro sparks Fish on first road trip: After Saturday's 4-2 win in Atlanta behind Jorge Alfaro's two homers ended a 4-game losing skid, Miami fell to 3-7 with Sunday's loss. Fish remain last in NL East in midst of young season's first road trip.

5. DOLPHINS: Countdown to NFL Draft: 17 days: Draft on April 25-27 finds Dolphins with so many needs it's anybody's guess what position will be targeted 13th overall. Why so many needs? Hint: New betting odds put Miami's over/under at 5 wins, lowest in league. Before the draft, team will hold a  "voluntary" mini-camp April 16-18. That's "voluntary" in quotes because if a player doesn't show up they look at him funny and call him names.

6. GOLF: It's Masters Week. Let us pray: The Masters is this Thursday through Sunday at Augusta, maybe the holiest-feeling annual event in sports. You can't even talk about it without hearing soft violins and tinkling pianos. Rory McIlroy is the betting fave at 7-1, then it's Dustin Johnson 10-1. At 12-1 are Justin Rose, Justin Thomas and some guy named Tiger Woods.

7. MARCH MADNESS (WOMEN): Baylor wins women's crown: After Baylor beat Oregon and Notre Dame bested UConn in Final Four semis Friday night, the two winners met Sunday in Tampa, with Baylor beating the Irish 82-81 for the national title.

8. HURRICANES: UM holds first spring scrimmage (supposedly): Coach Manny Diaz's Canes have six spring football practice days left, through April 20, after holding the first of three scrimmage games on Saturday. Well, we think so. The alleged super-secret stealth scrimmage was closed to fans and media, so do we reeeaaallly know it happened?

9. WWE: Pow! Boom! WrestleMania 35 takes place!: WrestleMania 35, Sunday in New Jersey and on pay-per view, made history with a first-ever women's main match: Becky Lynch taking the belt over Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair. The card also featured Brock Lesnar, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio and a long parade of other people in tights whom Greg Cote has never heard of. 

10. FOOTBALL: R.I.P. to the (incredibly short-lived) A.A.F.: The latest spring football tombstone shall read: Here lies the Alliance of American Football, 2019 to 2019. The league flopped like a dying fish on a pier after only eight weeks. Back to the golf course, Steve Spurrier!

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes baseball failed to complete a home sweep over Florida State today after shutout wins Friday and Saturday. UM is now 20-12; 'Noles are 19-12 after a 12-0 start ..... Duke's Zion Williamson is AP's college basketball player of the year. He also won in the more obscure category, Best Shoe Explosion ..... Bengals RB Mark Walton, the ex-Cane, was arrested for the third time this year. The year just entered its fourth month ..... Answer: Paul Westphal, Al Attles and Jack Sikman are among the latest inductees. Question: "What makes you say they Basketball Hall of Fame lets in too many people?" ..... Texas won men's NIT. Has anybody ever actually worn an "NIT Champions" T-shirt? Do they even make them? ..... Tennis' Miami Open set attendance records its first year at Hard Rock Stadium. Which is good. But, sorry, a stadium parking lot, even all dressed up, still cannot match the ambiance they had to leave behind on Key Biscayne ..... Stoking a future rivalry MLS with Inter Miami, Orlando FC put out a video making fun of the weeds at ramshackle Lockhart Stadium. Love it. Spot on ..... Update: Countdown now 2,631 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

JherbertCRYSTAL (FOOT)BALL: HANDICAPPING DOLPHINS' LIKELIEST STARTING QB IN 2020: Looking at all of the players, all of the possibilities and what's most realistically likely to happen, we handicap who'll be the Dolphins' starting quarterback in 2020 and beyond, after one season of stopgap bridge Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing the departed Ryan Tannehill. And the answer may surprise you. That is our newest column. Please visit Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB to read. I describe and rank the 10 possibilities, with percentage likelihoods of that player being the guy. Only the top three QBs score in double-digits percents. One of those top three, Oregon star Justin Herbert, is pictured. Here, in this poll, I list the seven most likely candidates alphabetically. Please vote for the QB you realistically think will be next -- the one you'd bet on! -- not who you hope. Vote now!

Our other most recent columns: Playoff Chase Drama Enriches Wade's Swansong and An Intriguing Final Four Despite What's Missing. Also: Maximum Security, Maximum Results (from the Florida Derby) and The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think.

BETTING OVER/UNDER WIN TOTALS FOR NFL (OUCH!): Via BetOnline.ag, your Miami Dolphins are dead-last in the NFL with a betting over/under of 5 wins. Also among early leaders in the Tua Tagovailoa Derby are the Cardinals at 5 1/2 wins and Redskins, Giants and Bengals all at 6. On the high end are the Patriots (of course!) at 11 wins and the Chiefs, Rams and Saints all 10 1/2. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Jets are at 7 wins and Bills at 6 1/2.

POLL RESULTS: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN NCAA TITLE, WHO YOU THINK WILL WIN: We asked, "Which Final Four team do you bet WILL win the NCAA Tournament men's championship?" You answered 42.53 percent Michigan State, 36.78% Virginia, 16.09% Texas Tech and 4.60% Auburn. We also asked, "Which Final Four team do you (or your bracket) WANT to win the NCAA Tournament men's championship?" There it was 38.23% Virginia, 26.47% Texas Tech, 20.59% Michigan State and 14.71% Auburn. 

Final Four preferences by state: Based on geotagged Twitter data, Michigan State enjoys the most support in 27 U.S. states, Texas Tech in 10, Auburn in eight (including Florida) and Virginia in five.

My bracket's title-game needs: My bracket in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com and remains buoyant with Virginia my pick to win it all. Including Final Four results I leaped from 82nd place to 34th place among 215 players in the show pool. Ten of the teams ahead of me also have Virginia, so if the Cavaliers cut the net I'll have a chance for a great finish. Go Wahoos!

Other select recent columns: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins / Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 01, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins the pitched battle for No. 1 and what else lands where; plus our Florida Derby column, my NCAA bracket (ouch), your verdict on Marlins expectations (ouch again) & more

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

April11) It's MONDAY, APRIL 1. Farewell, March. Welcome, April. Hello, spring! 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Week and season-expectations poll, Super Saturday in South Florida, my NCAAA bracket & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our column from Florida Derby: A horse once for sale for $16,000 in a claiming race wins the Florida Derby and a spot in the Kentucky Derby. You needn't be a fan of horse racing to appreciate what happened Saturday at Gulfstream Park. To read my latest column, visit Maximum Security, Maximum Results.

Marlins Opening Week columns: From Opening Day loss: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins. And previewing the season: The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think. (A column that looks a lot better today, at 2-2, than it did at 0-2, by the way).

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARCH MADNESS: Men's NCAA tourney down to its Final Four: It'll be Michigan State-Texas Tech and Virginia-Auburn next Saturday in the coveted Final Four in Minneapolis, playing to reach the college basketball championship game. Meanwhile how's your bracket's health? Are you drowning in the pool or still swimming? Is your title-team still alive? Mine (Virginia) is in an otherwise forlorn bracket. It's April Madness!

2. MARLINS: The Marlins win again! The Marlins at .500!: After consecutive losses to open the season, Fish bats woke up with 16 hits in Saturday's 7-3 win and won again Sunday 3-0 to level the four-game series vs. Colorado. A gem start by Sandy Alcantara and a JT Riddle home run were plenty.  Mets are here for three starting Monday, meaning Marlins Park will be unusually populated and you won't be sure by the sound of it who the home team is.

3. HEAT: Playoff shot teetering as 'Last Dance' nears end: Heat are an even 38-38 after Saturday night's win over the awful, Zion Williamson-winning Knicks in Dwyane Wade's last game at Madison Square Garden. Miami is clinging to the 8th and final East playoff spot with six games left in the regular season starting tonight at Boston. Wade is down to two home games left (Wednesday and April 9) unless a playoff series favors us with a D-Wade curtain a call.

4. HORSE RACING: Florida Derby crowns champ at Gulfstream: Maximum Security, off at 6-1 odds, surprised even his own trainer by comfortably winning Saturday's 68th Florida Derby, a major Triple Crown-season prep race. Win earned Max a spot in May's Kentucky Derby, not bad for a horse available 10 weeks ago for a paltry $16,000 in a claiming race. (Read my column from the race here).

5. TENNIS: Two new champions in 1st Miami Open at HRS: Australian Ashley Barty beat Karolina Pliskova on Saturday for the women's title of the Miami Open -- the first held at Hard Rock Stadium after the move from Key Biscayne. It was a low-watt matchup in terms of starpower. Not so in Sunday's men's final, with all-time great Roger Federer easily beating American John Isner, the defending champion, 6-1, 6-4. HRS earned rave reviews as first-time tennis host. Still miss the ambiance of Key Biscayne, though.

6. MOTORSPORTS: Homestead loses NASCAR finale: Major NASCAR schedule changes will see Homestead-Miami Speedway lose the prestigious season-ending championship race to Phoenix beginning in 2020. Homestead will have an early-season March race instead. Too bad. Big loss for South Florida.

7. HURRICANES: Spring football practice nears midpoint: Coach Manny Diaz's Canes are six workdays into their 15-practice offseason schedule. The definition of being a maniacal UM football fan: You passionately care about a Canes practice ... five months before the seasons starts!!  

8. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from playoff race (as usual): For the 20th time in 25 NHL seasons your Florida Panthers will be watching the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV. Cats never recovered from a bad start and stars like Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov didn't have enough help. Three more games, all at home tonight, Thursday and Saturday, end the sad season.

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women ousted one win shy Sweet 16: Great season including a No. 4 NCAA Tournament seed for Katie Meier's UM women, but a deep run in the NCAAs remains elusive for the program. A 57-55 loss to Arizona State meant Canes again fell short of the Sweet 16, an achievement last earned in 1992.

10. NFL: Owners meet, adopt one notable rules change: NFL owners meeting in Arizona mulled 16 possible rule changes for 2019 and approved a handful. The only one of real significance: Making pass interference a reviewable call subject to instant replay -- a major victory for head coaches, who backed it by a 32-0 vote. Coaches say it was needed. Wonder how they'll feel if it's their team hurt by a reversed call? 

Missing the HB10 cut: The Miami Dolphins traded defensive end Robert Quinn to Dallas for a 2020 6th-round pick. Mostly, they traded his way-too-big salary ..... Fins have 25 days until the NFL Draft, meaning 25 days to please not talk themselves out of selecting a quarterback 13th overall ..... Tiger Woods was eliminated from a match-play event after missing a 4-foot putt. Who's he think he is, Greg Cote? ..... Bryce ($430 Million) Harper hitless on Opening Day. BUM!! ..... Lakers are shutting down LeBron James for last six games due to a groin strain, a fitting finish as LeBron's first season in L.A. ends with a groin and groan ..... Greg Schiano resigned as Patriots defensive chief after two months. Is it me, or does everything seem to be shrinking around Belichick and Brady? ..... Um, is Inter Miami's "new Lockhart Stadium" built yet? Started? Tick-tock! ..... Nova Southeastern men's basketball lost 91-81 to Saint Anselm in NCAA Division II quarterfinals. Title dream done, but still big season for coach Jim Crutchfield and the Davie college ..... And in other news, four teams have reached the men's NIT Final Four, and nobody cares ..... Lawyers for Patriots owner Robert Kraft are seeking to prevent a video from being shown in trial related to his being caught at a Florida "spa" in a prostitution sting. Sure, because the video is pretty pointless other than being, you know, EVIDENCE! ..... Rolling Stones postponed their April 20 Miami concert because of Mick Jagger's health issues. So it's true what they say, fans. You can't always get what you want ..... Update: Countdown now 2,638 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

BracketUPDATED: MY NCAA BRACKET ENTERING FINAL FOUR: Men's NCAA Tournament enters is through the Elite Eight and onto the Final Four, and my bracket in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com is down to one team standing. I went 0-for-2 Sunday, needing Kentucky and Duke and getting neither. That dropped me from 59th place to 82nd among 215 players in the show pool. The only bright side: I have Virginia alive and winning it all. Only 10 of the 81 teams ahead of me also have Virginia, so if the Cavaliers cut the net I'll have a chance for a respectable finish. #BigIf.

POLL RESULT: MARLINS EXPECTATIONS ARE REALLY LOW: We asked, "How many games do you predict the 2019 Miami Marlins will win?" Top answer with 59.52 percent was 60-to-69. Then it was 21.43% for 59-or-fewer, 11.90% for 70-to-79, and 7.14% for 80-or-more.

Our other most recent columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 25, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins the fierce fight for No. 1 and what else lands where; plus Heat playoff poll (vote now!), our Beckham's Miami soccer odyssey column, Haiku Challenge news & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 25. Happy 72nd birthday to Elton John. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual March Madness Haiku Challenge announcement, Diaz's re-branding of Canes football, Tannehill's legacy and your verdict on his Dolphins era & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Haiku Challenge update!: Entries closed at noon Friday in our 14th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. Thanks to all who played along! We'll announce the winner here in our blog ON TUESDAY MORNING. Also tomorrow, we'll share how we're doing thus far in our NCAA Tournament bracket. Spoiler alert: It ain't pretty.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: It's Opening Week for Fish and MLB!: Marlins finished 15-13 as one of the bigger pleasant surprises in baseball as they concluded their spring schedule Sunday vs. St. Louis, with a big team vs. top prospects fun game today. Opening Day is Thursday at Marlins Park vs. Colorado. Might still be a long season for a young, rebuilding team, but March suggests it might also be a team with some fight, and one easy to like.

2. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women gunning for Sweet 16: Miami, a No. 4  seed in the women's NCAA Tournament, won its opener and but lost 57-55 to No. 5 Arizona State on campus Sunday evening -- denying UM its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1992. But for coach Katie Meier, this team and 25-9 season were a big success, especially compared to the men's team's struggles.

3. HEAT: Hot Heat host huge home game Tuesday: Miami and Dwyane "Last Dance" Wade are 36-37 after winning nine of past 12 games and can get to .500 at home Tuesday vs Orlando. Heat hold the 8th and last East playoff spot with nine games left in the regular season, but the Magic is only one game back in 9th. So expect a playoff feel Tuesday. Or desperation, at least.

4. MARCH MADNESS: NCAA tourney reaches Sweet 16 round: The Sweet 16 pairings were completed on Sunday and all four No. 1 seeds advanced -- with Zion Williamson and Duke needing a lucky late bounce to survive UCF. Notable so far in the men's NCAA Tournament: Biggest by-seed upset: 13-UC Irvine beating 4-Kansas State. Biggest controversy: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo berating a freshman player. Biggest disappointment: My bracket.

5. TENNIS: Miami Open suffers two big losses on women's side: The first Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium, after leaving Key Biscayne, suffered a double-hit Saturday when No. 1-ranked Naomi Osaka (loss) and eight-time Miami champ and fan favorite Serena Williams (withdrawal/knee injury) both left the tourney. That's a major disappointment to an event already without injured men's star Rafael Nadal.

6. INTER MIAMI: First two seasons in Broward gets OK: Fort Lauderdale city commission unanimously approved a Jorge Mas/David Beckham plan to build a new Lockhart Stadium at the current site and for Inter Miami to play its first two MLS seasons there while the team's permanent home at the Melreese Miami site. Hmm. Um, that's less than one year to build a $60 million, 18,000-seat "new Lockhart." Chop chop, fellas. Beckham, let me know if you need to borrow my weed wacker!

7. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN: Sharks in Division II quarterfinals: Nova Southeastern basketball has reached the men's NCAA Division II Elite Eight and faces Saint Anselm College of New Hampshire this Wednesday. The Sharks are now three wins from the school's first national championship and first for coach Jim Crutchfield.

8. PANTHERS: Cats on brink of elimination from playoff contention: Florida is 10 points off playoff pace with seven games left in the regular season starting Monday at Toronto -- not officially eliminated yet, but all but. Cats may need to win the last seven games for any shot, and even that may not be enough. Not gonna happen, puckheads.  

9. HURRICANES: Raves for new QB as spring football digs in: Teammates are raving and the media is swooning over new Canes transfer quarterback Tate Martell. Dear Everybody: We are three games into 15 spring practices. It's March. Can he beat Florida -- or at least win the starting job -- before we anoint him?

10. DOLPHINS: Countdown: One month 'til draft!: The NFL Draft is April 25-27 in Nashville, so today begins the one-month countdown. That's one full month of incessant speculation on whom the Dolphins might select 13th overall, on top of the month-plus of honking and blather Your Friend the Media has already put out there.

Missing the HB10 cut: Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he is "truly sorry" for being caught at a Florida "spa" in a prostitution sting. I wonder if this story will have a happy ending. Wait. Too soon? ..... Ouch. UM baseball has lost five in a row and tries to avoid being swept at home today by No. 5-ranked North Carolina State. Honeymoon over, Gino DiMare ..... NFL owners meeting in Arizona this week will include a vote on 16 possible rule changes for 2019. One wild one: An alternative option to the onside kick giving teams a 4th-and-15 play from their own 35-yard line. That's really interesting. So it has no shot of approval ..... ESPN and UFC signed a massive agreement for the Worldwide Leader to champion UFC fights. Sorry, Disney. No interest ..... Angels' Mike Trout signed a record $430 million deal. Should we start a GoFundMe page for poor Bryce Harper? ..... Seattle opened MLB season with two games vs. Oakland in Japan, and Ichiro played and then retired in front of fans who idolize him. That's about as perfect and ending as sports can deliver ..... Florida Derby is next Saturday at Gulfstream, a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown season. So it's almost time to fake interest in horse racing ..... Funniest thing about that college admissions scandal? That we're all shocked that rich people would try to buy advantages for their spoiled-brat kids ..... Update: Countdown now 2,645 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

DwadeWHAT OPPONENT DO HEAT FANS WANT IN THE PLAYOFFS' FIRST ROUND?: Miami holds the No. 8 East seed with 11 games left in the regular season, entering tonight, but the hot Heat -- winners of three straight and eight of past 10 -- still have a plausible shot at the 7th seed or perhaps even the 6th. That's why Miami is in realistic play to face any of the current 1-2-3 seeds. (Indiana or Boston rising to 3rd is possible, but unlikely enough that we don't include them in our poll. The question is which of the 1-2-3 teams you'd most want Miami to end up facing in the first round? Vote based on which team the Heat might have the best chance to win the series against or which series might be the most fun to watch -- your call.

BecksinterNEW COLUMN: INTER MIAMI? INTERIM FORT LAUDERDALE AS BECKHAM'S WILD RIDE TAKES DETOUR: Nothing has been easy (or fast) in David Beckham's six-year odyssey to realize his dream of Major League Soccer in Miami, and the latest example is Inter Miami having to play its first two seasons at a yet-to-be built new Lockhart Stadium at the old site in Fort Lauderdale. That's assuming they can built the new Lockhart stadium in about 10 months, with 2020 preseason games starting in January. And "only" two years in Broward assumes the massive Miami Freedom Park project including the new stadium on the Melreese golf site will be ready by 2022. For my newest column, please visit Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour.

Other most recent columns: Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / The Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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