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.
BLACKHAWKS GIVING THE NHL A TIMELY BOOST
TIGERS TOP LOCK TO WIN DIVISION
A VERY TOUGH SU TEAM TO GAUGE
KOBE SHOWING HIS CLASS
The Chicago Blackhawks are doing their best to turn on hockey fans after the lockout that threatened to wipe out this NHL season.
The Blackhawks rallied on the road to edge the Detroit Red Wings 2-1` in a shootout on Sunday to boost their record to 19-0-3 and extend their NHL-record season-opening streak to 22 games with at least one point in the standings.
Said Chicago star and Buffalo product Patrick Kane, “Just amazing what’s going on.”
The Blackhawks appear to be a team without a flaw – on the ice and on the stats sheet. Here’s how Chicago compares in assorted categories compared to the NHL team leaders and the Buffalo Sabres (ranking in the 30-team NHL in parentheses):
Wins – Chicago 19 (1st)…Chicago…Sabres 9 (t21th)
Point percentage – Chicago .932 (1; 41 of 44 possible points in the standings))…Chicago…Sabres .435 (27)
Goals per game – Tampa Bay 3.48 (1)…Chicago 3.04 (t4)…Sabres 2.48 (20)
Fewest goals allowed per game – Chicago 1.73 (1)…Chicago…Sabres 3.13 (26)
Power play percentage – Anaheim 29.0 (1)…Chicago 17.9 (13)…Sabres 10.7 (30)
Penalty-killing percentage – Boston 91.1 (1)…Chicago 89.7 (3)…Sabres 80.2 (18)
Shots per game – Carolina 32.8 (1)…Chicago 30.7 (5)…Sabres 29.3 (15)
Fewest shots allowed per game – St. Louis 22.9 (1)…Chicago 27.2 (5)…Sabres 33.5 (29)
Faceoff percentage – Boston 58.0 (1)…Chicago 50.0 (t14)…Sabres 46.2 (29).
Unfortunately for Buffalo fans, who’d probably enjoy watching the Blackhawks play at HSBC Arena, the abbreviated NHL regular season does not include crossover games against the Western Conference.
The only way the Sabres would play Chicago this season would be in the Stanley Cup Finals.
TIGERS BEST BET TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS
The Detroit Tigers may or may not be baseball’s best team entering this season, but they’re certainly by far the best team in baseball’s worst division – the AL Central. That makes Detroit the safest bet to make the postseason.
When you debate the merits of the best lineups in MLB, don’t forget the Tigers: CF Austin Jackson, RF Torii Hunter, 3B Miguel Cabrera, 1B Prince Fielder, DH Victor Martinez, LF Andy Dirks, SS Jhonny Peralta, C Alex Avila, 2B Omar Infante. The return of Martinez (missed all of 2012 after knee surgery) and the addition of Hunter made a solid lineup even more potent.
The Tigers also have an underrated starting rotation tha6 could be the best: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Aribal Sanchez and Rick Porcello.
The bullpen is deep despite the departure of veteran closer and showboat supreme Jose Valverde. The Tigers believe young flamethrower Bruce Rondon can take Valverde’s spot. Joaquin Benoit is the insurance policy.
The team’s biggest question mark is the bench. Detroit had to trim salaries somewhere.
The Tigers could have the weak AL Central wrapped up by Sept. 1.
Here’s a look at the division predictions by four prominent baseball 2013 preview magazines (Sporting News, USA Today, Lindy’s and Athlon):
AL EAST – Yankees 1-4-2-1…Blue Jays 2-t2-1-3,,,Rays 4-1-3-2…Orioles 3-5-4-4…Red Sox 5-t2-5-5
AL CENTRAL – Tigers 1-1-1-1…Royals 2-3-3-3…White Sox 3-2-2-4…Indians 4-5-4-2…Twins 5-5-5-5
AL WEST – Angels 1-1-1-1…Rangers 3-3-2-2…Athletics 2-2-3-3…Mariners 4-4-4-4…Astros 5-5-5-5
NL EAST – Nationals 1-1-1-1…Braves 2-2-2-2…Phillies 3-3-3-3…Mets 4-4-4-4…Marlins 5-5-5-5
NL CENTRAL – Reds 2-1-1-1…Cardinals 1-2-2-2…Pirates 4-3-3-3…Brewers 3-4-4-4…Cubs 5-5-5-5
NL WEST – Giants 2-1-2-1…Dodgers 1-3-1-2…Diamondbacks 3-2-3-3…Padres 4-5-4-4…Rockies 5-5-5-5.
LAKERS AND KOBE ARE SHOWING THEIR CLASS
The Los Angeles Lakers looked hopelessly lousy and of playoff contention after dropping to 17-25 with a 106-93 loss Jan. 23 at Memphis.
The Lakers are 13-5 since, including a 99-98 win over Atlanta on Sunday.
Kobe Bryant appears to be on a mission. After playing the distributor role for a spell, Kobe is shooting first again and no one is complaining. In his last five games, he scored 40, 38, 29, 33 and 34 points. He is earning his 11th All-NBA First Team selection.
When Pau Gasol returns from injury, presumably in time for playoffs, the Lakers will be even more dangerous. I can’t see them beating Oklahoma City or San Antonio in a best-of-seven series, but I think they could beat the Los Angeles Clippers or any other team in the West.
The Lakers cleared one hurdle Sunday when they reached .500 (30-30). The next step is earning a playoff berth. They enter this week trailing Houston (33-28) by 2 ½ games for the eighth and final playoff spot.
This week’s games for the Lakers: at Oklahoma City Tuesday…at New Orleans Wednesday…host Toronto Friday…host Chicago Sunday.
WILL THIS SYRACUSE TEAM EVER REGAIN BEST STRIDE?
Remember when coach Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange were 18-1 coming off back-to-back victories over Louisville and Cincinnati Jan. 19 and Jan. 21? They’re 4-6 since and deservedly so. It hasn’t been a fun past few weeks for Boeheim and his team.
The Orange have gone from overachieving (Boeheim was right) to underachieving.
This is one of the toughest SU basketball teams to gauge.
The biggest deficiency is the lack of a quality big man. Sophomore Rakeem Christmas has been a disappointment so far – on both ends of the court -- but SU has enough overall talent to go deep into the NCAA Tournament on its best effort. Or lose in the second round if current form persists.
The big question: Will this team ever mesh?
The key is the guards. Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams looked like the nation’s best college backcourt when SU was ranked No. 1. But they’ve both struggled since – particularly Triche, who might have played the worst game of his fine SDU career in last Saturday’s home loss to Louisville.
The biggest mystery continues to be why Triche and Williams take so many shots and steady C.J. Fair takes so few. I’m tired of pointing this out but it never seems to change. Triche and Carter-Williams were a combined 5x21 from the field against Louisville and Fair was 9x20.
SU figures to receive a timely confidence Wednesday night at home against awful DePaul. Saturday’s regular-season finale at Georgetown will be a terrific opportunity for the Orange to put things together heading into the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
When the New York Knicks were 18-5 early this season, they looked like the team most likely to upset Miami in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Two wins over the Heat fortified that belief. The Knicks have since been exposed. They’re too soft, too old, play too little defense and rely too much offensively on Carmelo Anthony. They’re 17-16 in their last 33 games, including Sunday’s 99=93 home loss to Miami.
Dennis Rodman and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are fast friends and apparently good buddies. Anyone still think Rodman isn’t loony?
In 2009, R.A. Dickey finished the season with the Rochester Red Wings.
On Friday, he’ll be the starting pitcher when the United States begins World Baseball Classic play vs. Mexico (9 p.m. on MLB Network).
The big question for the Buffalo Bills entering the NFL draft: Does Buddy Nix think Geno Smith is worthy of the No. 8 overall pick? Arizona could beat them to the punch and spare Nix a difficult decision.
Ryan Nassib projection: Late second round.
Abby Wambach certainly deserves all of the attention and respect she has earned in our community, but has Riga resident and Olympic pole vault gold medalist Jenn Suhr received the attention she deserves? She broke the world indoor record with a vaslt of 16 feet, 5 ½ inches on Saturday at the USA Track and Field Championships.