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.
BILLS OVER-UNDER PROJECTED WINS IS 6.5
RED WINGS ARE SORT OF BAD BECAUSE TWINS ARE VERY BAD
COULD MIGUEL SANO SKIP ROCHESTER?
EXPECTING THREE DIFFERENT WINNERS IN TRIPLE CROWN SERIES
SOME INTERESTING STATS AND FACTS
The wizards of odds in Las Vegas have issued their projected over/under win totals for the 2013 NFL season. The Buffalo Bills, after finishing 6-10 last year, are over/under 6.5 wins for this season.
I believe that is a reasonable number. Here are the over/under wins for this season (courtesy of online sports book Bovada.lv), with my comments:
Denver Broncos (13-3 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 11.5 wins – Peyton Manning is on a Super Bowl mission and I like his chances...The Broncos will miss DE Elvis Dumervil but the additions of Wes Welker and rookie RB Montee Ball make the offense even better...My recommendation:OVER
San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 11.5 wins – I’m surprised the 49ers aren’t 12 or 12.5...They’re probably the NFL’s most-talented and deepest team...My very strong recommendation:OVER
New England Patriots (12-4 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 11.5 wins – The Patriots still are the team to beat in the AFC East, but Tom Brady is 35, WR Wes Welker is gone, the running game is suspect and the defense has ranked 25th, 31st and 25th the past three seasons....My recommendation: slightly UNDER
Atlanta Falcons (13-3 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 10.5 wins – Upgrade at RB with Steven Jackson over fading Michael Turner. The Falcons have a dynamite passing attack (Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, Roddy White and un-retired tight end Tony Gonzalez...Coming off coach Mike Smith’s first playoff victory in his five years...The ??? is the secondary...My strong recommendation:OVER
Green Bay Packers (11-5 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 10.5 wins – Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s best QB...Running game should improve with rookies Eddie Lacy and Johnathon Franklin...Offensive line shored up after allowing 51 sacks last season...Kicker Mason Crosby figures to rebound from a horrible 2012 season...My recommendation: OVER
Houston Texans (12-4 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 10.5 wins – Quality additions in rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins (to complement Andre Johnson) and safety Ed Reed...LB Brian Cushing is healthy again...Pass rush suspect after J.J. Watt and I still don’t trust QB Matt Schaub...My recommendation:UNDER
Seattle Seahawks (11-5 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 10.5 wins – The trendy AFC pick to win Super Bowl 48. I’m not aboard yet...Excellent and aggressive young defense (allowed NFL-low 15.3 points per game) adds veteran CB Antoine Winfield...Also added pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, and multi-purpose big-play threat Percy Harvin to complement sensational sophomore QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch...Major ??? is team discipline....My recommendation:OVER
New Orleans Saints (7-9 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 9.5 wins – Forget last season. Coach Sean Payton returns from his 2012 suspension. That means the offense should be even better. The new-look 3-4 defensive has to improve over last season’s disaster...Defensive tackles a concern... my recommendation: OVER
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 9.5 wins -- Banking on a healthy QB Ben Roethlisberger and immediate major contributions from rookies RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Markus Wheaton and LB Jarvis Jones... That’s asking a lot...My recommendation:UNDER
New York Giants (9-7 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 9 wins – Tom Coughlin’s Giants have a habit of starting fast and fading down the stretch. The last seven games on the schedule appear to be a difficult assignment...This looks like a fading team to me...My strong recommendation:UNDER
Baltimore Ravens (10-6 record last season and won Super Bowl 47) over/under for 2013 is 8.5 wins – I wonder if any defending Super Bowl champion had an over/under as low as 8.5 wins for the next season...Lots of changes...Used draft to upgrade defense...Will miss spirit of Ray Lewis...I’m not sold on QB Joe Flacco as an elite QB off one excellent postseason...My recommendation: Too close to have a strong opinion
Chicago Bears (10-6 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 8.5 wins – New coach Marc Trestman figures to get the most out of QB Jay Cutler...My recommendation: slightly OVER
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 8.5 wins – How good is QB Andy Dalton. I don’t think he’ll get any better...I don’t think the defense is as good as it looked the second half of last season...My recommendation:UNDER
Dallas Cowboys (8-8 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 8.5 wins – Coach Jason Garrett is 21-19 and there aren’t many reasons to expect this flawed and aging team to be any better than .500 again...My recommendation:slightly UNDER
Indianapolis Colts (11-5 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 8.5 wins – Emotion took this team a long way in 2012...Opponents won’t take the Colts so lightly this season...Porous offensive line and some big changes on defense...My recommendation:UNDER
Washington Redskins (10-6 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 8 wins – It all depends on second-year QB Robert Griffin III’s damaged knee. He might mean more to his team as any other player in the NFL...No over/under recommendation.
Carolina Panthers (7-9 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 7.5 wins – 5-1 finish last year inspired high hopes for this season...My recommendation:slightly UNDER
Detroit Lions (4-12 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 7.5 wins – Underachieved last season and likely will be better this year – but not four games better...My recommendation:slightly UNDER
Kansas City Chiefs (2-14 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 7.5 wins – Underachieved last season...New coach Andy Reid should be worth at least two more wins himself...Other assets include new QB Alex Smith and No. 1 overall draft pick DT Eric Fisher...My recommendation: slightly OVER
Miami Dolphins (7-9 record last season, including five losses by 7 points or less) over-under for 2013 is 7.5 wins – Busy offseason probably a plus overall...Expect second-year QB Ryan Tannehill to improve...likely to go at least 3-1 vs. AL East rivals Buffalo and Jets...My strong recommendation:OVER
Minnesota Vikings (10-6 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 7.5 wins –RB Adrian Peterson’s goal is 2,500 yards rushing this season. The team would be better off with a more-balanced attack but I’m not sure QB Christian Ponder can hold up his end...My recommendation:slightly UNDER
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12 record last season) over/under is 7.5 wins this season – Should at least finish .500 with innovative new coach Chip Kelly...My recommendation:solidly OVER
St. Louis Rams (7-8-1 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 7.5 wins–Second-year coach Jeff Fisher is making bold moves and most of them look good...Time for QB Sam Bradford to step up...WR Tavon Austin and LB Alec Ogletree should be instant impact rookies...My recommendation:OVER
San Diego Chargers (7-9 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 7.5 wins – New coach Mike McCoy must wish he had the talent lode departed Norv Turner messed up for all those years....My recommendation:UNDER
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 7.5 wins -- Closed 1-5 last season and QB Josh Freeman regressed...My recommendation: UNDER
Buffalo Bills (6-10 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 6.5 wins – If rookie QB EJ Manuel is the real deal and ready to play right away, the Bills would have one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL. The defense could be at least average...My recommendation:slightly OVER
Cleveland Browns (5-11 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 6.5 wins – New coordinator Norv Turner might give the offense a boost but this team still needs more playmakers on both sides of the ball...My recommendation:slightly UNDER
Tennessee Titans (6-10 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 6.5 wins – There is no reason to expect dramatic improvement from this team...Needs RB Chris Johnson to be more consistent and QB Jake Locker to play much better...My recommendation:UNDER
Arizona Cardinals (5-11 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 5.5 wins – A full-scale makeover under new GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians figures to pay dividends but not immediately...QB Carson Palmer has seen better days but he’s smart enough to throw more often to Larry Fitzgerald...My recommendation:slightly UNDER
(Oakland Raiders (4-12 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 5.5 wins – A team in transition...New QB Matt Flynn isn’t likely to take the NFL by storm...Defense could have up to nine new starters...My recommendation:UNDER
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14 record last season) over/under for 2013 is 5 wins – RB Maurice Jones-Drew can’t carry this feeble team even when he’s healthy...My recommendation:UNDER.
TWINS WOES SPILL OVER TO ROCHESTER
The Rochester Red Wings are 21-30 and hardly resemble a playoff contender in the International League. The weather is the main reason Rochester ranks 12th in the 14-team league in average home attendance (4,001 per 24 openings). That’s above only Syracuse (3,664) and Charlotte (3,474).
But maybe some fans are tuning out on the Red Wings because of three-plus seasons of far-below average baseball by the good guys.
I’m sure the parent Minnesota Twins (21-28 record) aren’t happy about another losing team in Rochester. They must know that many fans and (I assume) at least some Red Wings officials are becoming increasingly frustrated by the chances for another losing season.
The biggest problem for the Twins is the lack of talent at the major-league, Triple-A and Double-A levels. Minnesota has one star in his prime (Joe Mauer), a slugger who appears to have lost his power (Justin Morneau) and a couple of other useful players, but too many of the guys on the 25-man roster would be on the bench of most other MLB teams or playing in Triple-A.
The Wings would have an impressive lineup with struggling Aaron Hicks and/or Chris Parmalee, but they’re currently in the majors only because Minnesota has no better options.
I’m sure Twins GM Terry Ryan would prefer to have his top hitting prospects get at least 500 at-bats at the Triple-A level. Case in point, 23-year-old Hicks.
Hicks is hitting a mere .161 (25x155) for the Twins, with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 5 HRs, 17 RBI, 17 walks, 47 strikeouts and 4 stolen bases. He’s playing solid defense. Give him that. But he’s still starting because he’s the only genuine center fielder on the roster. Darin Mastroianni has been bothered by ankle chips, had surgery last week and probably won’t be ready until after the All-Star Game break.
Oswaldo Arcia, after a hot start with Rochester, was promoted and played 30 games for the Twins (.255, 4 HRs, 14 RBI) before being returned to the Red Wings days ago.
Joe Mauer went directly from Double-A to Minnesota – skipping a stint in Rochester in the process.
I’m starting to worry that the same thing might happen to top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Braxton.
Sano continues to tear up the Single-Advanced Florida State League for the Fort Myers Miracle (35-14 record). He leads the league in home runs, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
After hitting a homer in both games of a doubleheader last week, the 20-year-old third baseman said he hoped to be playing with Minnesota by September – or at least by Opening Day next season.
Center fielder Byron Braxton, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 entry draft, is the top player on the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels (30-19 record). In 48 games, he’s hitting .324, with 50 runs, 11 doubles, 5 triples, 7 HRs, 38 RBI and 23x31 stolen bases.
In a strong organization – with an abundance of talent at every level – Sano and Braxton wouldn’t be rushed. They’d spend at least one season at Triple-A to polish their skills and gain more confidence. It worked for Bobby Grich and Don Baylor on the great Red Wings team in 1971.
But can the Twins afford that luxury? For the sake of Red Wings fans, I hope so. But after seeing what’s happening with Aaron Hicks in Minnesota, I’m far from certain.
I’LL TAKE THE FIELD OVER ORB AND OXCBOW IN THE BELMONT STAKES
A few weeks ago, thoroughbred racing was dreaming of the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed on 1978. Orb was coming off a very impressive victory in the Kentucky Derby and went off as the 3-to-5 favorite in the Preakness Stakes two weeks later.
But Orb fell victim to a slower pace, traffic congestion and a dry track at Pimlico. He finished a non-threatening fourth. Oxbow won in a very slow time.
The Belmont Stakes – the third jewel in the Triple Crown – will be run June 8 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Instead of a small field against potential Triple Crown winner Orb, there figure to be at least 12 horses in the starting gate. Orb and Oxbow have not scared away the opposition.
Some prominent handicappers already are touting Revolutionary to win the Belmont Stakes. He finished third in the Kentucky Derby and then skipped the Preakness in favor of resting up for the Belmont.
Itsmyluckyday and Mylute, second and third in the Preakness, won’t be entered in the Belmont.
But Belmont starters could include four colts that ran in the Derby and then skipped the Preakness – Golden Soul (2nd in the Derby), Giant Finish (10th), Overanalyze (11th) and Palace Malice (12th after setting a blistering pace).
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas might start filly Unlimited Budget. Only three fillies have won the Belmont Stakes: Ruthless in 1867, Tanya in 1905 and Rags to Riches in 2007.
Rosie Napravnik would ride long shot Code West Bob. She’d be out to join Julie Krone as the only women jockeys to win a Triple Crown race. Krone won the 1993 Belmont Stakes with 13-to-1 Colonial Affair.
Disappointing Will Take Charge – 8th in the Derby and 7th in the Preakness – is expected to get a chance for redemption.
One thing we probably won’t see is this year’s Belmont winner crack the all-time top three victory margins in the Belmont Stakes: 31 lengths by Secretariat in 1973; 25 lengths by Count Fleet in 1943; and 20 lengths by Man o’ War in 1920. Those were great, great horses. None of the starters in this year’s Belmont Stakes are nearly that good.
For the record, in the years all three Triple Crown races were run, here are the number of different winners in the three races:
One horse won all three – 11 times (the Triple Crown champions)
One horse won two of the three races – 51 times
Three different horses won one race – 71 times (soon to be 72 times, in my opinion).
If San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker wasn’t a likely Pro Basketball Hall of Famer before Monday night, he probably is now. He’s been underrated for far too long.
All-time best NBA power forward: Karl Malone or Tim Duncan?
One of the main reasons the New York Rangers were knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs: 4x44 (9.1 percent) on the power play.
I’m amazed that the Atlanta Braves are 30-20 and leading the NL East despite incredibly poor hitting by two-thirds of the starting outfield: B.J. Upton .148 (23x155), 4 HRs, 8 RBI, 16 walks, 60 whiffs, 3 stolen bases...Jason Heyward .163 (15x92), 2 HRs, 8 RBI, 14 walks, 19 whiffs, 1 stolen base.
Major League Baseball’s .252 cumulative batting average is the lowest since 1972. The American League adopted the designated hitter in 1973. Is it time for the National League to give it a try?
Jose Canseco has more than 500,000 Twitter followers. Why?
According to nfl.com, the six NFL teams with the oldest projected starters this season are Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Washington, Denver and New England. The three youngest: Cleveland, Kansas City and Buffalo.
nbadraft.net ‘s 2013 NBA mock draft has former Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams going No. 10 overall to Portland and former SU teammate James Southerland going No. 43 to Milwaukee.
Worst team in MLB: Miami Marlins (13-38 record; outscored by 84 runs) over the Houston Astros (15-36 record; outscored by 90 runs)...Miami is last in MLB in batting average (.222), runs (138) and HRs (26).
MLB leaders in run differential: St. Louis +69...Detroit +67...Cincinnati +64...The Cardinals also have MLB’s best record (33-17) and road record (19-9).
Miguel Cabrera (Detroit) American League Triple Crown Chase update: .377 batting average is No. 1...57 RBI are No. 1...14 HRs tied for 2nd (leader Chris Davis has 16 HRs).
Chris Davis (Baltimore) has been overshadowed by Cabrera but is enjoying a great season.He leads the AL in HRs (16), is second in the AL in RBI (46) and tied for 2nd in batting average (.341). He also leads MLB in slugging percentage (.716).
Sorry, but I can’t get excited about Brittney Griner tying the WNBA all-time record for career dunks during games (2 by Candace Parker in 119 games) in her league debut Monday night for the Phoenix Mercury. But I know the 10,200 home fans for her WNBA debut loved it.
The Syracuse Crunch continue to impress in pursuit of their first Calder Cup. They’re 8-1 and have outscored opponents 35-21. They’re tied with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.