BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
Weeknights 6:00PM - 8:00PM
on WHAM 1180
Email Bob here.
For over 25 years, Bob Matthews has held the title of Rochester's most popular sports writer/commentator. For over 20 years, Bob has hosted WHAM's nightly sports talk program...consistently ranked at the top of his time slot!
From 1978 to 2012, Bob Matthews was a sports columnist for the Times-Union and Democrat and Chronicle and a regular "As the Sports World Turns" contributor to the Gannett News Service. He is the only person to be selected Press-Radio Club Sportswriter of the Year (five times) and Sportscaster of the Year, and was a pioneer inductee into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame.
A Rochester native, Bob graduated from Brighton High School where he played varsity baseball, basketball and served as student council V-P. Bob is also a veteran, serving his country in Vietnam.
Always opinionated and outspoken, Bob's proudest accomplishment is advocating for Frontier Field. His all-time favorite athlete...former Red Wing Luke Easter. One of his sports regrets……not being around for the glory year of the Rochester Royals.
MAYBE THE BILLS SHOULD TRADE C.J. SPILLER
DEFENSIVE STARS DESERVE FAIR SHOT AT HEISMAN TROPHY
DODGERS ARE THE NEW NEW YORK BANKEES
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: ROOKIE QBS SHINE AGAIN
If the Buffalo Bills aren’t going to use C.J. Spiller, maybe they should trade him.
Keep coach Chan Gailey for the duration of his purported five-year deal (through 2014) but send Spiller to a team that knows how to use him.
Ho-hum. Another sorry Sunday for the Bills. A 15-12 loss at home to St. Louis. Spiller gets 8 touches – 7 carries for 37 yards and 1 catch for 15 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick throws 33 passes. Why?
Spiller continues to lead NFL running backs with 6.6 yards per carry. The only player with a better average (6.7) is Washington rookie QB Robert Griffin III.
Yet Spiller ranks 25th among NFL running backs in carries – 144. Six players – including three rookies – have at least 247 carries.
I don’t get it. Do you?
SUGGESTION: LET’S HAVE TWO HERSIMAN TROPHIES
My Heisman Trophy ballot was Manti Te’o (Notre Dame middle linebacker), Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M quarterback), Collin Klein (Kansas State QB).
The results: Manziel (2,029 total voting points; 474 first-place ballots); Te’o (1,706 points; 321 first-place votes); Klein (894 points; 60 first-place votes.
I’m disappointed that Te’o didn’t win, but the following two suggestions are not sour grapes:
Award TWO Heisman Trophy winners each year – one for the best offensive player and one for the best defensive player.
There are assorted less-prestigious awards for defensive players. It is time put the top defensive players on equal footing with the top offensive players in terms of recognition.
No purely-defensive player ever has won the Heisman Trophy. That’s not fair and defies logic.
I also believe voting for the Heisman trophies should include the bowl games – the games that matter the most.
The old argument to include only regular-season performance and do the voting before the bowl games is that it wouldn’t be fair to the Heisman candidates that played for teams that failed to qualify for bowl games.
But that’s no longer a valid argument. There are so many bowl games now (35 at last count) that every legitimate Heisman contender plays in one.
DODGERS MAKING YANKEES LOOK LIKE CHEAPSKATES
The Los Angeles Dodgers are expected soon to add pitcher Zack Greinke to their parade of incredibly well-paid players (for a reported $147 million for 6 years). They added Korean left-handed starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin for a relatively paltry $36 million for 6 years on Sunday.
When Greinke starts his first game this season, five players in the team’s probable starting lineup – Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier -- will be making a total of almost $570 million in long-term contracts.
How can the Dodgers afford to pay those contracts? A looming TV deal with Fox that would be worth between $6 billion and $7 billion for 25 years. That’s around $240 million per season.
The bottom $$$ line: The Dodgers will have their entire player payroll covered with TV rights fee. Attendance and concessions revenues would be gravy.
Would there be any hope for the rest of the NL West? Sure. The Dodgers will be loaded with potential fat cats with guaranteed fortunes to last for lifetimes. Without performance incentives, the players might not stay in tip-top shape or settle for giving less than their best collective effort.
For the record, here is a look at the Dodgers’ roster at this time (obviously subject to change): Starting lineup – LF Carl Crawford, SS Hanley Ramirez, CF Matt Kemp, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RF Andre Ethier, 3B Luis Cruz, C A.J. Ellis, 2B Mark Ellis…reserves – Dee Gordon, Nick Punto, Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Hairston Jr., Alex Castellanos, Tim Federowicz)…starting rotation – Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Ryu Hyun-jin, Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano…surplus starting pitchers Aaron Harang, Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsley,…bullpen—Brandon League, Ronald Belisario, Javy Guerrea, Matt Guerrier, Scott Elbert…closer Kenley Jansen.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK
The more the Minnesota Vikings win, the better the chances for running back Adrian Peterson to upset the quarterbacks and win NFL Most Valuable Player honors.
Peterson had 31 carries for 154 yards (plus 2 catches for 16 yards) in Sunday’s 21-14 home win over Chicago. It was his seventh straight game rushing for 100+ yards and boosted Minnesota’s record to 7-6.
Minnesota’s has a weak passing attack and Peterson is averaging 6.03 yards per carry against defenses stacked to stop him. He has 1,600 yards rushing on 265 carries plus 211 yards on 38 catches.
There have been only six 2,000-yard rushing seasons: Eric Dickerson an NFL-record 2,105 yards in 1984; Jamal Lewis 2,066 yards in 2003; Barry Sanders 2,053 in 1997; Terrell Davis 2,008 in 1998; Chris Johnson 2,006 in 2009; O.J. Simpson 2,003 in 1973 (in a 14-game season). That’s impressive company and Peterson needs 400 yards in his remaining 3 games to join them.
Other Week 14 Heroes:
Philadelphia QB Nick Foles –The rookie was 32x51 for 381 yards, with 2 TD passes and 0 INTs, in a 23-21 road victory over Tampa Bay. The better he plays, the more likely Michael Vick has played his last game for the Eagles.
There is speculation that Vick could be traded to Buffalo. Two or three years ago, that would’ve been a coup for the Bills. I’m not so excited about that possibility now.
Carolina QB Cam Newton – His awesome ability was on full display Sunday in a 30-20 home win over Atlanta. He was 23x35 passing for 287 yards, with 2 TDs and 0 INTs, and he had 116 yards and 1 TD rushing.
Dallas QB Tony Romo – He was up to his fourth-quarter tricks again in a 20-19 road win over Cincinnati. He threw a 27-yard TD pass to Dez Bryant and then engineered the drive to set up the game-winning 40-yard field goal by Dan Bailey.
Cleveland kick returner Travis Benjamin –The rookie’s 93-yard punt return for a TD parked a 30-7 home romp over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Washington RB Alfred Morris – Mostly overshadowed by fellow rookie Robert Griffin III, he had 23 carries for 122 yards and 1 TD in a 31-28 overtime victory over Baltimore. He has rushed for 1,228 yards this season. He was the 178rd pick in the 2012 draft out of Florida Atlantic.
Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch – Buffalo’s gift to Seahawks fans keeps on giving. He had 11 carries for 128 yards (11.6 yards per carry) and 3 TDs in a 58-0 home romp over Arizona.
New York Giants RB-KR David Wilson – He had 100 yards and 2 TDs on 13 carries and returned 4 kicks for 227 yards and 1 TD in a 52-27 home victory.
Week 14 Goats:
Arizona QB John Skelton – Why is he in the NFL? He averaged 3.4 yards on 22 pass attempts, was intercepted 4 times, had 2 yards on 2 carries and lost 1 of his 2 fumbles in a 58-0 loss to Seattle.
New Orleans’ kick coverage special teams unit – Every time the Saints got within hailing distance of the Giants, David Wilson had a long return to score himself or set up scores. New Orleans should’ve kicked the football out of bounds to keep it out of his hands.
Week 14 notes, facts and stats:
The five rookie quarterbacks who started Week 1 continued their remarkable play Sunday. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis), Russell Wilson (Seattle), Brandon Weeden (Cleveland) and Robert Griffin III (Washington – with major late-game heroics from fellow rookie Kirk Cousins -- all won and Ryan Tannehill lost. The quintet has a combined 34-31 record this season…Another rookie QB – Nick Foles (Philadelphia) – also won Sunday.
Seattle is 6-0 at home by a 181-69 margin after Sunday’s 58-0 demolition of Arizona. The Seahawks are 2-5 on the road and outscored 133-119. … The only other undefeated home team in the NFL is Atlanta (6-0)…Arizona is 0-9 after starting 4-0 this season…Chicago is fading fast. The Bears are 1-4 in their last 5 games…Minnesota is 6-1 at home and 1-5 on the road…
Philadelphia had lost 8 straight games by a combined 247-151 before Sunday’s 23-21 win in Tampa Bay…Eagles rookie Bryce Brown, after rushing for 347 yards (8.1-yards per carry) was held to 6 yards on 12 carries Sunday… The Buccaneers are 6-7 and every loss was by 8-or-less points (7, 6, 2, 7, 1, 8, 2).
Indianapolis has won eight games by 7-or-less points: 3, 3, 4, 6, 3, 7, 2 and 4…Norv Turner now is 1-6 as San Diego’s coach against Pittsburgh after Sunday’s 34-24 road win…The Steelers now are 9-3 in their last 12 games in December…The New York Jets had 166 yards rushing in Sunday’s 17-10 win at Jacksonville and are 16-1 under Rex Ryan in games they rush for at least 150 yards.
New England needs 70 points in its remaining 4 games to score at least 500 points for the fourth time in the last six seasons…Tom Brady (New England) is the only QB in NFL history to post 100+ wins than losses in the regular season + postseason (133-38 + 16-6 for 149-44 overall)…New England seeks its 10th consecutive season with at least 10 wins in the regular season…J.J. Watt (Houston) is the first NFL player to have at least 15 sacks and 15 pass deflections in a season…Matt Schaub (Houston QB) is 15-1 in his last 16 starts.
Week 15 is another example of why NBC’s Sunday Night Football has become a much bigger deal than ESPN’s Monday Night Football: San Francisco at New England Saturday and New York Jets at Tennessee Monday.
NFL Leaders entering Monday: Pasrer rating Robert Griffin Jr. (Washinton) 104.2…Rushing yards Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) 1,600…Receiving yards Calvin Johnson (Detroit) 1,546…Tackles Luke Kuechly (Carolina) 130…Sacks Aldon Smith (San Francisco) 19.5…Interceptions Tim Jennings (Chicago) 8.
--Week 14 NFL Stat Pack (entering Monday night’s Houston at New England game):
Home teams are 9-6 outright (118-88-1 this season) and 7-8 against the Las Vegas point spread (88-113-6 this season)
Las Vegas favorites are 9-6 outright (132-74-1 this season) and 7-8 against the spread (89-112-6 this season)
Teams scoring first are 8-7 (121-85-1 this season)
Teams leading after the 1st quarter are 7-4 (109-56-1 this season)
Teams leading at halftime are 9-6 (139-54-1 this season)
Teams lading entering the 4th quarter are 11-3 (154-39 this season)
Teams with the most rushing yards are 10-5 (139-67-1 this season)
Teams with the most passing yards are 7-8 (117-88-1 this season)
Teams winning the turnover battle are 11-1 (125-36-1 this seson)
Teams with the fewest penalty yards are 10-5 (114-86-1)
Teams leading in time of possession are 10-5 (127-79-1 this season)
Teams entering the game with the better record are 9-6 (94-56-1 this season)
The NFC was 4-0 vs, the AFC heads-to-head and leads this season’s interconference series 31-23 (+8)
There have been 688 points in 15 games (45.9-point average).
Week 14’s Top Performers:
300-yard passers – Nick Foles (Philadelphia) 381 yards (won)…Drew Brees (New Orleans) 354 yards (lost)…Matt Ryan (Atlanta) 342 yards (lost)…
Peyton Manning (Denver) 310 yards (won)
100-yard rushers – Jamaal Charles (Kansas City) 165 yards (lost)…Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) 154 yards (won)…Doug Martin (Tampa Bay) 128 yards (lost)…Marshawn Lynch (Seattle) 128 yards (won)…Alfred Morris (Washington) 122 yards (won)…Ray Rice (Baltimore) 121 yards (lost)…Knowshon Moreno (Denver) 119 yards (Denver)…Cam Newton (Carolina) 116 yards (won)…David Wilson (New York Giants) 100 yards (won)
100-yard receivers – Brandon Marshall (Chicago) 160 yards (lost)…Kenny Britt (Tennessee) 143 yards (lost)…Jason Avant (Philadelphia) 133 yards (won)…Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay) 131 yards (lost)…Victor Cruz (New York Giants) 121 yards (won)…Calvin Johnson (Detroit) 118 yards (lost)…Roddy White (Atlanta) 117 yards (lost)…Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh) 112 yards (lost)…Steve Smith (Carolina) 109 yards (won)…Joe Morgan (New Orleans) 106 yards (lost)…Anthony McCoy (Seattle) 105 yards (won)…Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia) 104 yards (won)…Randall Cobb (Green Bay) 102 yards (won)…Brandon Gibson (St. Louis) 100 yards (won)…Rod Streater (Oakland) 100 yards (lost).
Bob’s NFL Rankings (entering Monday night’s Houston at New England game);
1-Houston…2-New England…3-San Francisco…4-Denver…5-Atlanta…6-Baltimore…7-Green Bay…8-New York Giants…9-Indianaplis…10-Seattle…11-Washington…12-Cincinnati…13-Dallas…14-Minnesota…15-Pittsburgh…16-Chicago…17-St. Louis…18-Tampa Bay…19-Cleveland…20-New York Jets…21-New Orleans...22-San Diego…23-Miami…24-Detroit…25-Buffalo…26-Carolina…27-Philadelphia…28-Tennessee…29-Oakland…30-Arizona…31-Jacksonville…32-Kansas City.
Week 15’s Key Games:
New York Giants at Atlanta – This could be a playoff preview.
Denver at Baltimore – The Ravens are very tough to beat at home and Peyton Manning is tough to beat anywhere.
Indianapolis at Houston – Another tough test for Andrew Luck and his 9-4 Colts.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh -- Playoff berths on the line.
San Francisco at Seattle – Maybe the 49ers can stop the Seahawks at home.
ORANGE REMAIN RED HOT; BOEHEIM’S 900TH WIN DEC. 17
The Syracuse Orange crushed Monmouth 108-56 last Saturday night for coach Jim Boeheim’s 898th victory. Win No. 899 will come Saturday against Canisius and win No. 900 will come Monday, Dec. 17, against Detroit. It will be fun to see how Boeheim reacts to the post-game ovation from what should be a huge home crowd.
Here’s how SU has dominated so far this season:
Records – SU 8-0…opponents 0-8
Scoring (points per game) – SU 84.6…opponents 56.1
Scoring margin – SU +28.5
Field goal-percentage – SU .467 (246x527)…opponents .328 (155x472)
Field goals made per game – SU 30.8…opponents 19.4
3-point field-goal percentage – SU .318 (54x170)…opponents .250 (42x168)
3-point field goals per game – 16.4…opponents 12.1
Rebounds/per game – 377 (47.1)…opponents 284 (35.5)
Rebound margin per game – SU +11.6
Assists/per game – SU 148 (18.5)…opponents 98 (12.3)
Turnovers/per game – SU 120 (15.0)…opponents 156 (19.5)
Assists/turnover ratio – SU 1.2…opponents 0.6
Blocks/per game -- SU 71 (8.9)…opponents 29 (3.6).
Scoring – Brandon Triche 14.9 points per game…James Southerland 14.5…Michael Carter-Williams 12.4…C.JU. Fair 12.1…Rakeem Christmas 7.4…DaJuan Coleman 7.0…Trevor Cooney 6.5…Baye Moussa Keita 5.0
Rebounding – Fair 7.0 per game…Coleman 6.9…Williams 5.6…Keita 5.0…Christmas 5.0…Southerland 4.5…Triche 3.9
Assists – Williams 10.4 per game…Triche 4.1…Cooney 1.4.
3-point field-goal percentage – Southerland .418 (18x43)…Cooney .316 (12x38)…rest of team .269 (24x89).
KNIGHTHAWKS’ FREEBIE NIGHT PAYS OFF
The National Lacrosse League defending champion Rochester Knighthawks offered a terrific promotion last Saturday night – free tickets to the preseason opener against the Minnesota Swarm at Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial.
It paid off.
Many folks in the large crowd probably were watching their first indoor lacrosse game and they had to be impressed. The teams put on a great show, with the Knighthawks winning 11-10 on a late penalty-shot goal by 19-year-old budding superstar Johnny Powless.
Powless and Joel McCready each scored three goals and returning superstar Casey Powell had two goals.
Rochester appears to have a healthy combination of savvy veterans and talented young players who’ll get nothing but better.
The Knighthawks will next play their final preseason game against the Toronto Rock in Montreal’s Bell Centre Saturday night.
NASCAR star Tony Stewart, a good friend of Knighthawks owner Curt Styres, will be honored at the Feb.2 home game against the Washington Stealth. Stewart often races at Styres’ dirt track in Ontario province.
ENCOURAGING NUMBERS FOR THE AMERKS
The Rochester Americans have a respectable 10-9-2-0 record through 21 games but several numbers suggest the best is yet to come:
The Amerks are 4-4-2 and outscoring opponents 38-34 (+4) on the road…They’re a modest 6-5-0-0 and outscoring opponents 312-30 (+1) at home.
Special teams are looking good: 8th in the 30-team AHL on the power play (19.2 percent; 20x104; 2 short-handed goals against) and 12th in penalty killing (83.7 percent; 87x104; 4 short-handed goals scored).
The Amerks are 6th in average home attendance (6,672; 73,396 total paid in 11 games).
STATS AND FACTS
Here were a few of the items sold at a sports auction last week: The jersey worn by Yankees pitcher Don Larsen in his perfect game in the 1956 World Series $756,000…Bobby Knight’s 1976 perfect-season NCAA championship ring $209,940…Knight’s 1981 Basketball Hall of Fame ring $36,932...a game-worn red sweater worn by Knight in 1988 $4,500.
A defenseman leads the AHL in scoring: Justin Schultz (Oklahoma City) has 32 points (11 goals and 21 assists in 21 games).
In the first (it’s a little early) 2013 NFL mock draft I’ve come across, nationalfootballpost.com. has the Buffalo Bills with the No. 11 selection and picking USC quarterback Matt Barkley: “Even though Barkley is not considered a premier prospect, the Bills have made it clear that they want to upgrade at quarterback and Barkley will not be available when they pick in the second round.”
NBA game to circle: New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers Christmas Day, 3 p.m., on ABC.
The NBA New Orleans Hornets want to change their name to the Pelicans (Louisiana’s state bird). It wouldn’t be the city’s first pro sports teams to use that name. The minor-league baseball team was the Pelicans from 1887 through 1959 and again in 1977.