BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
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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.
WHY THREE SEASONS ARE A FAIR SHAKE FOR CHAN GAILEY
NOMINATING JIM HASLETT FOR BILLS’ HEAD COACH
DENVER FAVORED TO WIN SUPER BOWL 47…OPPS, XLVII
PEYTON MANNING MY MVP OVER ADRIAN PETERSON
AMERKS SOAR TO THIRD IN AHL AVERAGE HOME ATTENDANCE
BLUE JAYS NEW FAVORITE TO WIN 2013 WORLD SERIES
The Buffalo Bills could be in the market for a new coach.
For the record, my nominee is Jim Haslett. The former popular Bills linebacker is doing wonders as Washington’s defensive coordinator and has paid his NFL dues as a head coach and coordinator. He’s 57 years and he loves Buffalo. What’s not to like?
Is three full seasons long enough to fairly judge a football head coach and possibly fire him?
In college football, I think not. In the current NFL, I think so.
Of the 32 current NFL head coaches, 18 have been at their posts for at least three seasons – including three in their third seasons – Pete Carroll (Seattle), Chan Gailey (Buffalo) and Mike Shanahan (Washington).
Carroll inherited a 5-11 team and was 7-9 and 7-9 in his first two seasons with the Seahawks (2010 and 2011).Seattle obviously has turned the corner made the playoffs with a 11-5 record this season.
The Seahawks have an apparent young “franchise quarterback” in rookie third-round draft pick Russell Wilson and a solid young defense.
Carroll’s record in Seattle is 25-23 and the future looks bright.
After turning down Buffalo, Shanahan inherited a 4-12 team in Washington and was 6-10 (after a housecleaning) in 2010) and 5-11 in 2011. He made the bold move the Bills didn’t, trading three first-round draft picks to St. Louis for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft (bingo: QB Robert Griffin III). Griffin is the probable NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the worst-to-first Redskins finisheds 10-6, with 7 straight victories dowh the stretch. Shanahan’s record in Washington is 21-27 and the future looks bright.
Gailey inherited a 6-10 team in Buffalo and went 4-12 in 2010 and 6-10 in 2011. The Bills were 6-10 again this season against a relatively weak schedule. That’s not progress. The overall talent is better. Give GM Buddy Nix credit for that. But it’s the same old story: another losing record and no playoffs for the 13th straight year. Gailey is hailed as an offensive guru, but his pet screen-pass attack hasn’t clicked – partly because he helped decide that journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick was his “franchise quarterback”, partly because he overrated his receivers, and partly because opposing defensive coordinators figured it out.
Gailey also failed to make the most of the skills of gifted running back C.J. Spiller – by far the best offensive player on the roster. Spiller is a rare talent. With the Bills, he nearly was extinct. Admittedly no defensive genius, Gailey selected old friend Dave Wannstedt as defensive coordinator. That didn’t work so well, either. Gailey’s record is 16-32. He has time left on his contract. I hope that isn’t the main reason owner Ralph Wilson, Russ Brandon and Buddy Nix (if he stays) might bring him back. If it is, the Bills deserve to keep losing and the non-playoff streak figures to continue.
For the record, here’s how the 15 other current NFL coaches with more than two seasons of experience fared in their first three seasons and the record of the team they inherited:
Mike Smith (Atlanta first season 2008) – 11-5…9-7…13-3 = 33-15 record in first three seasons (Falcons were 4-12 in 2007)
Norv Turner (San Diego 2007) – 11-5…8-8…13-3 = 32-16 (Chargers were 14-2 in 2006; Marty Schottenheimer was fired after a disappointing home playoff loss to New England)
John Harbaugh (Baltimore 2008) – 11-5…9-7…12-4 = 32-16 (Ravens were 5-11 in 2007)
Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh 2007) – 10-6…12-4…9-7 = 31-17 (Steelers were 8-8 in 2006)
Bill Belichick (New England 2000)-- 5-11…11-5…14-2 =- 30-18 (Patriots were 8-8 in 1999)
Lovie Smith (Chicago 2004) –5-11…11-5…13-3 = 29-19 (Bears were 7-9 in 2003)
Mike McCarthy (Green Bay 2006) – 8-8…13-3…8-8 = 29-19 (Packers were 4-12 in 2005)
Rex Ryan (NY Jets 2009) – 9-7…11-5…8-8 = 28-20 (Jets were 9-7 in 2006)
Andy Reid (Philadelphia 1999) – 5-11…11-5…11-5 = 27-21 (Eagles were 3-13 in 1998)
Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati 2003) – 8-8…8-8…11-5 = 27-21 (Bengals were 2-14 in 2002)
Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona 2007) – 8-8…9-7…10-6 = 27-21 (Cardinals were 5-11 in 2006)
Tom Coughlin (NY Giants 2004) – 6-10…11-5…8-8 = 25-23 (Giants were 4-12 in 2003)
Sean Payton (New Orleans 2006) – 10-6…7-9…8-8 = 25-23 (Saints were 3-13 in 2005)
Gary Kubiak (Houston 2006) – 6-10…8-8…8-8 = 22-26 (Texans were 2-14 in 2005)
Jim Schwartz (Detroit 2009) – 2-14…6-10…10-6 = 18-30 (Lions were 0-16 in 2008).
Bob’s projections on the status of those 18 coaches for the 2013 season:
Definitely will return – Belichick… Carroll…Coughlin…Kubiak…Lewis… McCarthy… Payton…Ryan (retained Monday)…Shanahan… L. Smith… M. Smith… Tomlin
50-50 – Schwartz… Whisenhunt
Likely to be fired – Gailey… Reid…Turner.
Even several of the 14 coaches with fewer than three full seasons on the job are on less than firm ground. In fact Pat Shurmer (Cleveland) was fired Monday morning. He was 4-12 in 2011 and 5-11 this season):
Definitely will return – Jeff Fisher (St. Louis; 7-8-1 in 2012)…John Fox (Denver; 8-8 in 2011; 13-3 in 2012))…Leslie Frazier (Minnesota; 3-3 in 2010; 3-13 in 2011; 9-7 in 2012)…Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco; 13-3 in 2011; 11-4-1 in 2012)…Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis; 11-5 with a huge boost from Bruce Arians)…Ron Rivera (Carolina; 6-10 in 2011; 7-9 in 2012)…Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay; 7-9 in 2012).
Likely to return – Jason Garrett (Dallas; 5-3 in 2010; 8-8 in 2011; 8-8 in 2012)…Joe Philbin (Miami; 7-9 in 2012)
Could be gone – Mike Mularkey (Jacksonville; 2-14 in 2012)…Mike Munchak (Tennessee; 9-7 in 2011
Probably will be gone – Romeo Crennel (Kansas City; 2-1 in 2011; 2-14 in 2012).
BRONCOS SLIGHT FAVORITE TO WIN SUPER BOWL XLVII
The Denver Broncos are favored to win Super Bowl 47 Feb. 3, in New Orleans.
Here are the Super Bowls odds from Vegasindider.com: Denver 2x1…New England 5x2…San Francisco 4x1…Atlanta 6x1…Seattle 9x1…Green Bay 9x1…Houston 20x1…Washington 20x1…Baltimore 25x1…Cincinnati 50x1…Minnesota 75x12…Indianapolis 80x1
Odds to win NFC: San Francisco 9x5…Atlanta 2x1…Seattle 3x1…Green Bay 4x1…Washington 10x1…Minnesota 35x1
Odds to win AFC: Denver 1x1…New England 11x10…Houston 9x1…Baltimore 10x1…Cincinnati 20x1…Indianapolis 40x12.
Wild-Card Weekend Odds:
Saturday; Cincinnati at Houston (-4 ½); over/under 43 ½ points…Minnesota at Green Bay -7 ½ ; over-under 46 points
Sunday: Indianapolis at Baltimore (-6 ½); over/under 46 ½ points; Seattle at Washington (+2 ½); over-under 45 ½ points.
BOB’S GRADES FOR THE 32 NFL TEAMS
These grades are for the 2012 regular season and based on won-loss records relative to expectations and performance relative to talent:
ARIZONA (5-11) – Started 4-0 and then went 1-11. Decent defense. Awful offense, particularly quarterbacks. Managed to make great WR Larry Fitzgerald nearly invisible. Grade: D (Cardinals weren’t as good as they looked early )Grade: D
ATLANTA (13-3) – Criticized for posting a gaudy record while “winning ugly” against a less than awesome schedule. But always a dangerous team with a very good QB (Matt Ryan) and very good receivers (Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez). Grade: A-
BALTIMORE (10-6) – Signs of age on defense. QB Joe Flacco always is the key: Has talent.; lacks consistency. Grade: B-
BUFFALO (6-10) – So much hope. So much disappointment. Time to clean house – again. Please don’t try for the cheap fix, Grade: D
CAROLINA (7-9) – Started 1-6 but finished strong (6-3 in final 9 games) when QB Cam Newton hit his stride. The Panthers have the look of a dangerous team in 2013. Grade: B-
CHICAGO (10-6) – An opportunistic defense was this team’s major asset. Tough for the offense to click behind a lousy line. Grade: B
CINCINNATI (10-6) – A quietly impressive season. Not many glaring strengths but not many obvious weaknesses, either. Give them credit for overachieving. Grade: B+
CLEVELAND (5-11) – Found s solid RB in rookie Trent Richardson but rookie QB Brandon Weeden was less impressive. Grade: C- (who expected more?)
DALLAS (8-8) –The NFL’s top tease. QB Tony Romo symbolizes this team: Underrated or overrated? Some excellent players but not enough of them. Grade: C+
DENVER (13-3) – It took a few games for QB Peyton Manning to find his stride. Result: 11 straight wins and probably his fifth league MVP award. I think John Fox can coach. Grade: A+
DETROIT (4-12) – A huge disappointment coming off what looked to be a breakthrough 10-6 season in 2011. Desperately need a quality running back. A new coach wouldn’t hurt. Grade: D+
GREEN BAY (11-5) – Hampered by injuries to key players but the Packers are getting healthy and a legit championship threat with QB Aaron Rodgers. Grade: B+
HOUSTON (12-4 ) – Loaded with talent but 1-3 finish is cause for concern. Pressure on QB Matt Svhaub. Grade: B
INDIANAPOLIS (11-5) – NFL’ Story of the Year. From 2-14 to 11-5 and a playoff berth. Coach Chuck Pagano. Rookie QB Andrew Luck. Grade: A+
KANSAS CITY (2-14) – I picked them as a “sleeper.” I didn’t mean comatose. SI’s Peter Ling picked them to win the AFC West. Grade: D
JACKSONVILLE (2-14) – Tim Tebow is coming! Tim Tebow is coming. The Jaugars probably won’t win many more games but their fans will be happier. Grade: D
MIAMI (7-9) – Decent defense. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill key to offensive improvement. Grade: C+
MINNESOTA (10-6) – Adrian Peterson was amazing but he wasn’t the whole story. Grade: A
NEW ENGLAND (12-4) – The NFL’s most dangerous offense by far. Skilled players complementing QB Tom Brady don’t always get their full credit. And is there a more valuable defensive player in the NFL than NT Vince Wilfork? Playing in the otherwise meek AFC East is a bonus the Patriots don’t need. Grade: A
NEW YORK GIANTS (9-7) – Lost their customary grit somewhere along the way. QBH Eli Manning slipped back out of the elite, at least for now. Grade: C-
NEW YORK JETS (6-10) – The circus is over. It wasn’t Tim Tebow’s fault, though he was the convenient scapegoat for a disappointing team. Tebow is history. For the sake of the team’s fans, Mark Sanchez should be, too. Grade: D
NEW ORLEANS (7-9) – Commissioner Roger Goodell killed this team before the season started. The Saints are likely to bounce back with a vengeance in 2013. Grade: under the circumstances, B-
OAKLAND (4-12) – Commitment to Sub-Mediocrity. They’re not enough real fast these days. Grade: D
PHILADELPHIA (4-12) – Injuries to key personnel doomed coach Andy Reid after a great run. Eagles could rebound next season with a healthier roster and new coach. Grade: D
PITTSBURGH (8-8) – Stymied all season by injuries. No spark from QB Ben Roethlisberger in December. Grade: C
SAN DIEGO (7-9) – The best thing about this season for the Padres is that it was Norv Turner’s swan song. I’d consider bringing him back for December games only. Grade: D+
SAN FRANCISCO (11-4-1) – As much overall talent as any team in the NFL. Seemlessly added their apparent franchise QB in Colin Kaepernick. A few surprising losses. Grade: B+
ST. LOUIS (7-8-1 ) – Back to respectability with new head coach Jeff Fisher. Grade B-
SEATTLE (11-5) – Appear to be a new powerhouse with the emergence of rookie QB Russell Wilson. Huge homefield advantage and a tough team anywhere. Grade: A+
TAMPA BAY (7-9) – A strange season. Started 1-3, then went 5-1, then lost 5 straight before winning finale at Atlanta. Still don’t know if QB Josh Freeman is the real deal but the team flashed potential. Grade: C+
TENNESESEE (6-10) – It’s tough to be a consistent team when your best player is the NFL’s least-consistent star running back. Grade: C-
WAHINGTON (10-6) – Shanahan’s gamble on RGIII paid off big-time. From last to first in the NFC East. 5-11 to 10-6. Running back Alfred Morris was another rookie steal. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett did a masterful job with a unit void of stars. Grade: A+
STAT PACK FOR WEEK 17 AND THE 2012 NFL REGULAR SEASON
Home teams were 13-3 outright Week 17 (145-110-1 this season)
Home teams were 11-5 against the Las Vegas point spread (114-135-7 this season)
Las Vegas favorites were 12-4 outright (166-89-1 this season)
Las Vegas favorites were 8-8 against the point spread (117-132-7 this season)
The first teams to score were 11-5 (156-99-1 this season)
Teams leading after the first quarter were 9-2 (142-63-1 this season)
Teams leading at halftime were 12-2 (179-59-1)
Teams leading entering the fourth quarter were 16-0 (200-39 this season)
Teams with the most rushing yards were109-6 (179-76-1)
Teams with the most passing yards were 6-10 (140-114-1 this season)
Teams winning the turnover battle were 13-2 (163-41-1 this season)
Teams with the fewest yards penalized were 10-5 (140-107-1 this season)
Teams leading in time of possession were 13-3 (162-93-1 this season)
Teams entering the game with the better record were 10-6 (126-71-1 this season)
There were 727 points in Week 17’s 16 games (45.44 point average) and there were 11,639 points in 256 games this season (45.46-point average)
The NFC beat the AFC 39-25 (+14) in this season’s interconference series.
BOB’S FINAL NFL POWER RANKINGS FOR 2012 REGULAR SEASON
1 Denver…2 Atlanta…3 New England…4 Seattle…5 San Francisco…6 Green Bay…7 Houston…8 Washington...9 Cincinnati…10 Indianapolis…11 Minnesota…12 Chicago…13 Baltimore…14 New York Giants…15 Dallas…16 Pittsburgh…17 Carolina…18 New Orleans…19 St. Louis…20 Tampa Bay…21 San Diego…22 Miami…23 Buffalo…24 Tennessee…25 New York Jets…26 Cleveland…27 Arizona…28 Detroit…29 Philadelphia…30 Oakland…31 Jacksonville…32 Kansas City.
WEEK 17’S TOP PERFORMERS
300-yard passers – Drew Brees (New Orleans) 396 yards (lost)…Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) 365 yards (lost)…Peyton Manning (Denver) 304 yards (yes)…There were 126 300-yard passing performances this season. Their teams were 60-66 in those games.
100-yard rushers – DeAngelo Williams (Carolina) 210 yards (won)…Alfred Morris (Washington) 200 yards (won)…Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) 199 yards (won)…Doug Martin (Tampa Bay) 142 yards (won)…Ahmad Bradshaw (New York Giants) 107 yards (won)…Matt Forte (Chicago) 103 yards (won)…Marshawn Lynch (Seattle) 100 yards (won)…There were 125 100-yard rushing performances this season and their teams were 85-35-7 in those games.
100-yard receivers – Michael Crabtree (San Francisco) 172 yards (won)…Michael Floyd (Arizona) 166 yards (lost)…Andre Johnson (Houston) 141 yards (lost)…Demaryius Thomas (Denver) 122 yards (won)…Lance Moore (New Orleans) 121 yards (lost)…Greg Jennings (Green Bay) 120 yards (lost)…Jimmy Graham (New Orleans) 115 yards (won)…Stevie Johnson (Buffalo) 111 yards (won)…T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis) 111 yards (won)…Earl Bennett (Chicago) 109 yards (won)…Golden Tate (Seattle) 105 yards (won)…Mercedes Lewis (Jacksonville) 103 yards (lost)…There were 187 100-yard receiving performances this season and their teams were 93-73-1 in those games.
PEYTON MANNING WOULD GET MY MVP VOTE
If I had an NFL Most Valuable Player ballot, it would be Peyton Manning (Detroit)edging Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) for No. 1 and Tom Brady (New England) No.3 over Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) and Robert Griffin III (Washington).
It would be a record fifth NFL MVP award for Peyton Manning.
After sitting out all of the 2011 season, he signed with the Broncos and clearly was the main reason the team went from 8-8 to 13-3 this season. Once he got back into stride after his long layoff, he led Denver to 11 straight wins to end the regular season.
Manning’s performance line: 400x583 (.686) for 4,659 yards passing, with 37 TD pases, 11 INTs and a 105.8 passer rating (2nd only to Aaron Rodgers’ 108.0).
Peterson was superb and would’ve been MVP in many other seasons. His performance line: 348 carries for 2,097 yards (missed breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season record by 9 yards); 5.4 yards per carry; 12 TD runs; 40 catches for 217 yards and 1 TD. He had 27 runs of at least 20 yards. No. 2 C.J. Spiller had 12.
In the end, it was the old argument: The QB has the ball on every offensive play. But Peterson obviously made the best of his opportunities and carried his Vikings into the playoffs.
NFL THOUGHTS, FACTS AND STATS
Denver was the most impressive team in terms of stats for the regular season. The Broncos finished 4th in total offense, 2nd in total defense, 2nd in scoring offense and 4th in scoring defense…The only other team finishing in the top 10 in both total offense and total defense was Houston (7th and 7th).
Buffalo finished 19th in total offense (3423.9 yards per game) 21nd in scoring (21.5 points per game), 22ndt in total defense (362.9) and 26th in scoring defense (27.2).
No NFL team ever had a better rookie QB-RB punch than Washington Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL college draft, overshadowed No. 173 pick Morris, who was second in the NFL in rushing (1,613 yards; 4.8 yards per carry).
More ammo to dump the boring extra-point kick: Only 6 PATs were missed all season (including 2 by Seattle; it’s good to know the Seahawks had a weakness).
St. Louis and Denver lead with 52 sacks. Buffalo tied for 18th with 36.
Rookie Luke Kuechly (Carolina) lived up to his billing and led the NFL with 164 tackles. Nick Barnett led Buffalo with 112 (tied for 29th).
C.J. Spiller’s performance line: 207 carries for 1,244 yards; 6.0-yard average; 6 TD runs; 12 carries of 20+ yards 2nd only to Adrian Peterson’s 27; 43 catches for 459 yards and 2 TDs.
CHRIS COLLABELLO COULD BE SLEEPER FOR 2013 RED WINGS
Chris Collabello is among the least-known 29-year-old pro baseball veterans in the land. He has never spent a day in the majors or even in Triple-A.
The one place Collabello’s name means something to baseball fans is Worcester, Mass., where he played on the city’s team in the Canadian-American Association independent league for seven summers.
In 2011, Collabello was Independent League Baseball’s Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-handed hitting first baseman/designated hitter batted .348 (127x365), with 32 doubles, 20 HRs and 79 RBI in 92 games.
The Minnesota Twins, hurting for power at the Double-A level entering last season, decided to take a shot on Collabello. He made the most of the chance. As a pro rookie, he hit .284 (141x496), with 37 doubles, 19 HRs and 98 RBI in 134 games for New Britain.
This winter, in the Mexican Winter League, he entered the week hitting .332 (68x205), with 13 doubles, 17 HRs and 44 RBI in 57 games.
I don’t know if Collabello will make the Red Wings this spring and what kind of an impact he might have, but no one in training camp would have paid more dues in the bushes or be more thankful for the opportunity.
ORANGE FOOTBALL LOOKING UP
Cheers to Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and his squad for Saturday’s 38-14 romp over favored West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl at soggy Yankee Stadium and continuing to upgrade the basketball school’s football presence. With a 7-2 record after a 1-3 start, the Orange might have been on the cusp of the top-25 when their season ended.
I wonder when Marrone will be mentioned as an NFL head coaching candidate. He has NFL coaching experience and he’s doing a nice job at SU.
SU’s 2013 tentative schedule includes Penn State at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Aug. 31; at Northwestern Sept. 7; vs. Tulane and ACC foes Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest.
Friday’s huge crowd in Buffalo – 19,070 – and Saturday’s crowd iat Blue Crass Arena at the War Memorial -- 8,514 -- sent Rochester’s 2012-13 AHL season’s attendance soaring above the 100,000 mark (119,511) and jumped the Amerks to third in the 30-team American Hockey League in average home attendance (7,030. Two of the 17 “home dates” were played at First Niagara Center. … Rochester trails only Hershey (9,351) and Lake Erie (7.714) in average home attendance.
The Buffalo Bills were among the 8 NFL teams that had zero players voted into this season’s Pro Bowl. Here’s the breakdown by team of the 84 selections: San Francisco 9…Houston 8…New England 7…Baltimore 6…Chicago 5…Denver 5…Kansas City 5…Seattle 5…Minnesota 4…New York Giants 3…Washington 3…Green Bay 3…Atlanta 3…New York Jets 2…Cincinnati 2…Cleveland 2…Pittsburgh 2…Indianapolis 2…Dallas 2…New Orleans 2…Miami 1…Detroit 1…Arizona 1…Tampa Bay 1…Buffalo 0…Oakland 0…San Diego 0…Jacksonville 0…Tennessee 0…Philadelphia 0…St. Louis 0…Carolina 0.
Gil Brandt of nfl.com recently listened six non-playoff teams he believes “are stocked with talent and potential and should be able to surprise some folks a year from now.” … His six teams are (in order of probability) Tampa Bay, Miami, Cleveland, St. Louis, Carolina and Philadelphia. … I believe Brandt is underrating the Buffalo Bills a tad but he might just be ignoring them…At least Brandt didn’t include Buffalo among the four teams in the category “Better Luck Next Year…Or The Year After” (Oakland, Kansas City, Jacksonville and Tennessee).
Syracuse University’s (11-1 record) basketball team remains a work in progress. That was evident the 83-79 loss to Temple at Madison Square Garden Dec. 22 and the unimpressive 57-36 home win over Alcorn State last Saturday. Foul-shooting remains a major concern.
Subtract C.J. Fair, Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland (cumulative .757) and the rest of the team is 90x171 (.526). Rebounding vs. quality opponents also needs improvement. SU hosts Central Connecticut Monday night and hosts Rutgers Wednesday night.
Dates to circle: Monday, the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich, Switzerland. Three players very familiar to Rochester soccer fans -- Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Marta – are the three finalists for FIFA Female World Player of the Year…Wednesday, Jan. 7, the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be announced (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa likely to be disappointed; Jeff Bagwell probably won’t be).
NEW-LOOK BLUE JAYS 8-TO-1 FAVORITE TO WIN 2013 WORLD SERIES
The much-improved Toronto Blue Jays won’t be sneaking up on the opposition this Major League Baseball season.
I’m confident that the Blue Jays will finish ahead of the aging, wounded and stand-pat New York Yankees but I’m surprised they are the favorite to win the 2013 World Series in Bovada’s latest odds:
Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers 17x2
Washington 9x1 (very tempting at odds)
Cincinnati, New York Yankees, Texas 12x1
San Francisco 14x1 (nor much respect for the defending champions)
Philadelphia 15x1 (no thank you)
Atlanta 18x1 (tempting at odds)
Boston, St. Louis, Tampa Bay 25x1
Baltimore, Chicago White Sox 40x1 (O’s fans must be shocked)
Arizona, Kansas City 45x1
Pittsburgh 50-1 (21st straight losing season is probable)
Cleveland, Minnesota, New York Mets, Seattle 75x1
Chicago Cubs, Colorado, Miami, San Diego 100x1