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.
KEVIN KOLB IS NO. 29 IN BOB’S PRE-DRAFT NFL QB RANKINGS
MICHIGAN IS THE PICK IN A 74-71 THRILLER
FAVORITES DOMINATE WRESTLEMANIA 29
O’S DAVIS AND JONES ARE HOT…AARON HICKS AND PIRATES ARE NOT
ARCIA, COLABELLO LETHAL 3-4 PUNCH FOR RED WINGS
TIGER 5x2 FAVORITE TO MAKE MASTERS HIS FIRST MAJOR WIN SINCE 2008
SABRES MAKING A RUN FOR THE PLAYOFFS -- HONEST
Let’s take a look at the projected NFL starting quarterbacks for Week 1 of the 2013 season.
Trades or free agency have brought new starting QBs to Arizona (Carson Palmer), Buffalo (Kevin Kolb), Kansas City (Alex Smith) and Oakland (Matt Flynn).
Most of the remaining free-agent QBs will be fortunate to be playing in the NFL this season, let alone starting.
Many NFL observers – including this one – don’t think any QB in this month’s college draft is good enough to start immediately.
Here are my pre-draft rankings for the 32 projected starting QBs entering the 2013 NFL season:
1—Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay)
2--Peyton Manning (Denver)
3--Tom Brady (New England)
4—Drew Brees (New Orleans)
5—Andrew Luck (Indianapolis)
6—Russell Wilson (Seattle)
7—Matt Ryan (Atlanta)
8–Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco)
9—Joe Flacco (Baltimore)
10—Tony Romo (Dallas)
11—Matthew Stafford (Detroit)
12—Robert Griffin III (Washington)…would rank significantly higher with a completely healthy knee
13—Cam Newton (Carolina)
14--Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh)
15—Eli Manning (New York Giants)…back to being underrated again?
16—Matt Schaub (Houston)
17—Jay Cutler (Chicago)
18—Alex Smith (Kansas City)…has much to prove
19—Philip Rivers (San Diego)…could have a big season left in him
20—Andy Dalton (Cincinnati)…might be selling him short
21—Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay)
22—Carson Palmer (Arizona)…big upgrade for the Cardinals…new coach Bruce Arians likes to throw the long ball and that’s the best thing Palmer does. Staying upright is the challenge. The Cardinals allowed an NFL-most 58 sacks last season.
23—Michael Vick/Nick Foles (Philadelphia)
24—Sam Bradford (St. Louis)…time to step up?
25—Matt Flynn (Oakland)
26—Ryan Tannehill (Miami)
27—Jake Locker/Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee)
28—Mark Sanchez/David Garrard (New York Jets)
29—Kevin Kolb/Tarvaris Jackson (Buffalo)…Kolb will enjoy better pass protection that he had in Arizona. He ‘ll also miss Larry Fitzgerald.
31—Christian Ponder (Minnesota)
32—Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville)
Any major disagreements?
For the record, these QBs are free agents or trade bait: Charlie Batch, Kellen Clemens, Caleb Hanie,Matt Leinhart, Jordan Palmer, Brady Quinn, Tim Tebow, Tyler Thigpen, Vince Young…Would you want any of them on your favorite team?
BURKE AND HIS WOLVERINES PICKED TO UPSET LOUISVILLE
The best team in the Final Four was the Wichita State Shockers. They gave Louisville all it could handle before losing 72-68 in the semifinals.
The Cardinals survived and are 3 ½-point favorites over Michigan Monday night in the championship game in Atlanta.
Syracuse had no excuses for losing 61-56 to Michigan. National college basketball Player of the Year Trey Burke had a poor game by his standards (1x8 field goals; 7 points) but the Wolverines still managed to win.
Why did SU fall short? Streaky 3-point specialist James Southerland was ice cold (2x9, including 1x5 from 3-point range). Michael Carter-Williams was a non-factor (1x6; 0x0 from the foul line; 2 assists; fouled out). Brandon Triche didn’t pick up the slack. A few dubious calls by the zebras didn’t help. And freshman Trevor Cooney taking the final shot – an off-balance heave-jumper with 0:06 remaining – was a tough way to lose. I guess it was appropriate that C.J. Fair didn’t get the ball often enough with the game on the line. The worst thing about his game is that he’s too unselfish. Here’s hoping he demands the ball at crunch time next season.
My pick in Monday night’s game is Michigan 74, Louisville 71. Here’s why:
Michigan point guard Trey Burke figures to bounce back from his sub-par game against Syracuse. The Wolverines have better perimeter shooters than SU. Nik Stauskas was scoreless vs. SU (0x5, including 0x4 on 3-point shots) and likely will do better. Mitch McGary is the inside scoring threat that SU lacked all season…Louisville missed defensive whiz Kevin Ware (broken leg) against Wichita State and will miss him Monday night. Louisville’s pressing defense requires frequent substitutions and the Cardinals will miss Ware’s energy.
CENA BEATS THE ROCK…AND IT WAS NO UPSET
Believe it not, Bovada posted odds on Sunday night’s Wrestlemania 29 show at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
I don’t know if Las Vegas actually took bets on Wrestlemania because the guys who write the scripts would clean up. And maybe the outcomes were too predictable for astute rasslin’ fans.
In the main event, WWE champion The Rock (cinema action megastar) was “upset” by John Cena. The Rock might be invincible on the silver screen, but he was the surprising big underdog (bet $100 to win $400)against Cena (bet $700 to win $100)…Speculation was that The Rock was going to lose because he has to concentrate on making more movies…Naturally, Cena won to become WWE champion for an unprecedented 11th time
The Undertaker was a huge favorite (bet $2,000 to win $100) over CM Punk (bet $100 to win $800). The Undertaker’s winning streak is Wrestlemania was extended to 21 in a row…The streak has become such a popular feature of the WWE’s annual extravaganza that it would turn off too many fans to end it – at least for now.
In a no-holds barred matched, Triple H had to beat Brock Lesnar or retire as a WWE wrestler. Triple H was the favorite (bet $400 to win $100), at least partly because he is the son-in-law of WWE czar Vince McMahon. Lesnar (bet $100 to win $250) lost.
In other matches, Miz defeated Wade Barrett to become the new Intercontinental champion…The Shield defeated Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show…Mark Henry defeated Ryback…Fandango defeated Chris Jericho…WWE tag team champions Team From Hell No defeated Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston…Alberto Del Rio defeated Jack Swagger.
WHO’S HOT AND WHO’S NOT IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Chris Davis (Baltimore) looked like Babe Ruth in his first four games this season (9x15; 3 doubles; 4 HRs; 16 RBI) but has looked more like Chris Davis in his last two games (1x7, 1 RBI).
The Colorado Rockies lead MLB in batting average (.316), slugging percentage (.531) and OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage: .894).
Baltimore has an American League-best .315 batting average and leads MLB with 34 runs.
Adams Jones (Baltimore) is hitting a MLB-best .538 (14x26).
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a MLB-best 0.80 ERA. They’ve allowed 4 earned runs in 45 innings, with 5 walks and 40 strikeouts.
Minnesota’s decision to have rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks start the season with the Twins instead of the Red Wings isn’t looking too good at this point. Through six games, he’s batting .077, with 2 singles in 26 at-bats. He has 1 run, 3 RBI and is 0x1 stealing bases.
Luis Cruz (Dodgers: 0x17) and Russell Martin (Pittsburgh: 0x14) are seeking their first hits of the season.
Jeff Keppinger (White Sox) is 1x21 (a single).
The Orioles are 0-3 in one-run games. They were 29-9 in one-run games last season.
Philadelphia has a MLB-worst 6.70 ERA. The Yankees are second-worst with a 6.49 ERA.
Colorado leads MLB in run differential (+21) and San Diego is a MLB-worst -26.
I believe Atlanta has the most exciting outfield in baseball. The Braves are off to a 5-1 start with only one of three outfielders hitting well:
Justin Upton -- .318 (7x22), 5 HRs, 7 RBI, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts, 0 stolen bases
B.J.Upton -- .100 (2x20), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts, 1 stolen base
Jason Heyward -- .150 (3x20), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts, 3 stolen bases.
ARCIA, COLABELLO IMPRESSIVE…PITCHING IS STRUGGLING
The very early returns on the 1-3 Rochester Red Wings have one big plus and one major concern.
Rookies Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Colabello appear to be a potent 3-4, lefty-righty hitting punch. First baseman Colabello is hitting .600 (9x15) with 2 HRs and 3 RBI. Right-fielder Arcia is hitting .400 (6x15) with 2 doubles, 2 HRs and 6 RBI…Both figure to be Red Wings all season. Arcia needs a full year at Triple-A and could earn a roster spot in Minnesota next spring with a big year in Rochester. The Twins need his left-handed power bat, assuming Justin Morneau (in the last year of his contract) is traded….Colabello could earn a September recall to Minnesota he continues to produce here. That would be a tremendous feat for a 29-year-old Triple-A rookie who spent seven seasons in the independent Can-Am League…Colabello on Monday was named IL Player of the week after his first week in Triple-A.
The Red Wings rank last in the 14-team International League with a 7.68 ERA: 34 innings, 51 hits allowed (including 7 HRs), 15 walks, 20 strikeouts, 1.94 WHIP (walks+hits per inning). With 10 pitchers starting the season on the disabled list, the staff’s slow start is not a shock and no cause for major concern.
TIGER 5x2 MASTERS FAVORITE…McILROY NEXT AT 8x1
Tiger Woods hasn’t won a golf major since the 2008 U.S. Open but he’s the 5x2 favorite to win the Masters this week (he was 5x1 when this year started). Those are short odds to take any player in any major.
He’s the best golfer on the planet again – give him credit for that – but he’s no bargain at the odds.
Rory McIlroy is the second choice at 8x1, followed by Phil Mickelson (10x1), Justin Rose (20x1), Carl Schwartzel (22x1), Dustin Johnson (25x1), Lee Westwood (25x1) and Louis Oosthuizen (25x1). Defending champion Bubba Watson is 33x1.
SABRES’ PLAYOFFS HOPES GROWING BRIGHTER
The Buffalo Sabres have won three straight games and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.All things considered, Ron Rolston is doing an very good job.
The Sabres are only four points behind the New York Rangers and New York Islanders in the race for the eighth and final playoff berth in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
Buffalo has nine games left – including six at home. The Sabres are 8-7-3 at home and 8-10-3 on the road.
The Sabres next play in Winnipeg Tuesday night.
Here’s how Buffalo ranks in the 30-team NHL:
Wins – 16 (t21)
Point percentage -- .487 (t23)
Goals per game – 2.56 (20)
Goals allowed per game – 2.92 (21)
Goal differential -- -13 (t21st)
5-on-5 goals for/goals against ratio – 1.03 (t12)
Power play percentage – 12.1 (30)…17x140 is very bad.
Penalty killing percentage – 77.6 (118x152)
The Sabres have allowed twice as many power play goals (34) as they’ve scored (17).
Shots per game – 28.5 (16)
Shots allowed per game – 33.0 (30)
Winning % when score first -- .600 (t23)
Winning % when trail first -- .211 (25)
Winning % when lead after 1st period -- .556 (29)
Winning % when lead after 2nd period -- .636 (29)
Winning 5 when outshoot opponent -- .333 (27)
Winning % when outshot by opponent -- .462 (t14)
Faceoff percentage – 46.2 (29)
Fewest penalty minutes per game – 13.6 (28).
New Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Alan Branch could be a plus free-agent signing. Here’s a note from espn.com’s James Walker: “The signing of Branch should pay off. Branch, who started for Seattle the past two seasons, is a massive run-stopper added to Buffalo’s defensive line rotation, which already includes tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. Branch is versatile enough to play the nose and defensive tackle in Mike Pettine’s defense, which will have 3-4 and 4-3 looks. The Bills were 31st against the run last season but now are a lot tougher up the middle after signing Branch. He’s also durable, missing just one game in the past four seasons.”
Thoroughbred racing at Fort Erie (across the Peace Bridge in Canada) isn’t dead yet. Boosted by funding from the provincial government, it will run an abbreviated schedule this summer (starting Sunday, May 26). One interesting idea being floated reportedly is to convert the former slot machine space into an experimental all-sports Sports Book. The added revenues would help preserve live racing at the 116-year-old track.
Believe it or not, former baseball superstar Vladimir Guerrero has signed to play this summer with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. This probably means Guerrero needs money and/or still loves to play…I wish International League teams still could sign veteran players on their own. The major-league affiliates currently supply and pay the entire roster. They have no room for fading former stars who no longer can help them in a pinch and take a spot otherwise occupied by a cheap “prospect.”