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.
DOES TIGER NEED TO PASS WALTER HAGEN BEFORE HE TOPS JACK NICKLAUS?
MIAMI HEAT ALREADY ARE THE NBA TEAM TO BEAT FOR NEXT SEASON
SANO AND BUXTON WILL BE TOGETHER IN THE SIRIUS FUTURES GAME
GOOD NEWS FOR TV PRO BOWLING FANS...LIKE THIS ONE
NEED TOTAL MAKEOVER FOR NL ALL-STAR STARTING OUTFIELD
GOOD NEWS FOR RHINOS FANS: ALL-MLS U.S. OPEN CUP SEMIFINALS
NHL ENTRY DRAFT SUNDAY: SABRES HAVE 10 PICKS, INCLUDING 8 AND 16
When Tiger Woods hits Oak Hill for the PGA Championship Aug. 8-11, he’ll be continuing his primary personal golf quest – 19 major golf titles to top Jack Nicklaus.
Entering the British Open, Woods has won 14 majors and Nicklaus has 18. Everybody knows that.
But I wonder if Woods ever thinks about passing Rochester product Walter Hagen first.
Some golf historians believe Hagen had 16 major victories. They have a decent case.
Here are Hagen’s 11 official and 5 “unofficial” major victories:
U.S. Open (2) – 1914...1919
British Open (4) – 1922...1924...1928...1929
PGA Championship (5) – 1921...1924...1925...1926...1927
Western Open (5) – 1916...1921...1926....1929...1932.
The problem is the Western Open.
The Masters didn’t begin until 1934 – too late for Hagen to cash in. In his prime (1914 through around 1930), the Western Open was the “unofficial major.” It was the “other” tournament most of the world’s greatest players flocked to. It lost prestige only when Bobby Jones began his tournament at Augusta.
I believe it would be appropriate in August at Oak Hill to recognize Hagen’s 16 “majors.” Nicklaus and Woods are golf historians. It would be a classy move if Woods and/or Nicklaus gave the Haig his props in his hometown.
THE MIAMI HEAT ARE THE EARLYBIRD FAVORITE TO THREEPEAT NEXT NBA SEASON
It didn’t take long for the very early-bird odds to be posted for the 2014 NBA Championship. According to Bovada, the Miami Heat are favored in their bid to threepeat next season:
Miami 2x1 (no bargain at short odds)
Oklahoma City 11x2 (Russell Westbrook’s return gives Thunder a legit chance)
Chicago 15x2 (return of Derrick Rose gives them a chance)
San Antonio 10x1 (no thanks...too old)
Los Angeles Clippers 12x1 (tempting at odds)
Memphis, New York Knicks each 18x1
Los Angeles Lakers 22x1
Golden State 25x1
Boston, Brooklyn, Dallas each 40x1
Milwaukee, Minnesota each 75x1
Philadelphia, Portland, Utah each 100x1
Cleveland, New Orleans, Sacramento, Toronto, Washington each 150x1
Detroit, Phoenix each 300x1
Charlotte, Orlando each 500x1.
I like the way Bovada assigned huge odds against the 20-or-so teams with no chance to win the championship.
Two interesting proposition bets: Miami against the field (29 other teams) EVEN money – I’d take the field because I believe Oklahoma City has a legit chance to unseat Miami and a few other teams are live long shots....Miami and Oklahoma vs. the rest of the field (28 teams) BET $150 to win $100 – I’d take the Heat + the Thunder because I believe there is at least an 85 percent chance that one of them will win the championship.
SANO AND BUXTON WILL BE SHARING THE CITI FIELD SPOTLIGHT
You’ve read a lot about Minnesota Twins super prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton in this column in the past. We’re finally going to get a chance to see them play – on the same field.
Sano, 20, and Buxton, 19, will be Minnesota’s two representatives in the 15th Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game, Sunday, July 14, at Citi Field, home of the Mets and site of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Wednesday night, July 16.
Wrote Jonathan Mayo for mlb.com., “It’s hard to imagine an organization with a more dynamic duo at the All-Star Sunday festivities his year than Sano and Buxton.”
Third baseman Sano and center fielder Buxton recently took another big step toward Rochester and Minnesota. Sano was promoted from Single-A Advanced Fort Myers (Florida State League) to Double-A New Britain (Eastern League). Buxton was promoted from Single-A Cedar Rapids (Midwest League) to Fort Myers.
Their performance lines this season:
Sano – Fort Myers 56 games; .330 batting average (68x206); 51 runs; 15 doubles; 2 triples; 16 HRs; 48 RBI; 28 walks; 61 strikeouts; 9x11 stolen bases; .424 on-base percentage; .655 slugging percentage; 1.079 on-base %+slugging %. ... New Britain 16 games; .196 (10x51); 10 runs; 1 double; 2 triples; 4 HRs; 11 RBI; 9 walks; 17 strikeouts.
Buxton – Cedar Rapids 68 games; .341 (92x270); 68 runs; 15 doubles; 10 triples; 8 HRs; 57 RBI; 44 walks; 58 strikeouts; 32x44 stolen bases; .425+.548/.973...Fort Myers 3 games; .154 (2x13); 2 RBI.
Had Sano and Buxton not been promoted, they’d likely have wound up earning MVP honors in the Florida State League and Midwest League, respectively.
Minnesota outbid several other teams to sign Sano as a 16-year-old free agent out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Sept. 29, 2009. This is his fourth pro season and he figures to play for the Red Wings no later than the second half of the 2014 season.
Buxton was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 June entry draft and many organizations rated him No. 1 overall. He figures to be a Red Wing by 2015.
PRO BOWLERS WILL GET MORE EXPOSURE ON ESPN THIS SEASON
I know I have plenty of company on this one – I enjoy watching pro bowlers on TV and I have for a long time.
It’s not the sort of thing one crows about. It’s never been the hot sport. You don’t circle the date and airtime on your TV calendar. But the bowlers almost always provide a non-stressful and entertaining hour-or-two of viewing.
I know. You either know what I mean or you couldn’t care less.
To those of us who DO care, ESPN will devote expand coverage of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) under a new3 five-year contract. Coverage of the PBA Tour and the PBA League will grow from 25.2 hours per season to 36 hours.
The deal becomes effective with the 2013 World Series of Bowling, which will debut on Sunday, Dec. 1. The second season of the PBA League, featuring eight teams, with owners including Chris Paul, Terrell Owens, Billie Jean King, Kevin Hart, Jerome Bettis and LaMarr Woodley, will debut on ESPN on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2004.
RUNNING OUT OF TIME TO GET NATIONAL LEAGUE’S STARTING OUTFIELD RIGHT
Carlos Beltran (St. Louis), Justin Upton (Atlanta) and Bryce Harper (Washington) are very good ballplayers but they don’t deserve to be the top three vote-getters among National League outfielders to start in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game July 16.
Beltran has solid power numbers (.308 batting average with 18 HRs and 48 RBI), but he no longer runs well (1x2 stealing bases) and is only an ordinary defensive right fielder. His on-base percentage is a modest .347.
Upton (.241, 15 HRs, 36 RBI) started fast but has cooled off considerably. He has struck out 84 times.
Harper also had impressive nearly numbers but injuries have limited him to 44 games and ihs batting line is nothing special (.287, 12 HRs, 23 RBI).
Here are my preferred NL starting outfielders:
Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado) -- .2971 (91x306); 62 runs; 19 doubles, 6 triples; 21 HRs; 58 RBI; 14x15 stealing bases).
Carlos Gomez (Milwaukee) -- .313 (85x272); 18 doubles; 8 triples; 12 HRs; 37 RBI; 15x18 stolen bases. His only problem is impatience at the plate (only 12 walks).
Michael Cuddyer (Colorado) -- .351 (818x231); the second-highest batting average by an NL outfielder is .313); 16 doubles; 1 triple; 13 HRs; 45 RBI; 6x7 stolen bases; .402 on-base percentage; .597 slugging percentage; .999 OPS); decent defense.
Others to consider: Ryan Braun (Milwaukee)...Domonic Brown (Philadelphia)...Jay Bruce (Cincinnati)...Shin-Soo Choo (Cincinnati)...Dexter Fowler (Colorado)...Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh)...Geraldo Parra (Arizona)...Hunter Pence (San Francisco).
Fan voting ends July 4, 11:59 p.m.
RHINOS U.S. OPEN CUP DISTINCTION HOLDS UP AGAIN
The Rochester Rhinos in 1999 became the only non-Major League Soccer team to win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup since MLS teams joined the competition in 1996.
(The U.S. Open Cup to open to every soccer club affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation – from amateur adult clubs to the MLS).
That distinction was preserved Wednesday night as four MLS teams won quarterfinal matches to advance to the semifinals:
Chicago Fire (MLS) 5, Orlando City FC (USL Pro/Division III) 1...Orlando City had upset defending champion Sporting Kansas City (MLS) 1-0
Real Salt Lake (MLS) 3, Carolina RailHawks (North American Soccer League/Division II) 0...Carolina had upset Chivas USA (MLS) 3-1
D.C. United (MLS) 3, New England Revolution (MLS) 1
Portland Timbers (MLSD) 3, FC Dallas 2.
The semifinals will be Wednesday, Aug. 7: D.C. United (2-11-3 league record; so this tournament means a lot to them) at Chicago Fire (5-7-3)...Portland Timbers (7-1-9) at Real Salt Lake (9-5-3).
The winning team now gets $250,000...runner-up $60,000...$15,000 to the furthest advancing team in Division II (Carolina RailHawks) and Division III (Orlando City FC).
SABRES HOPE TO STRIKE GOLD IN SUNDAY’S NHL ENTRY DRAFT
The NHL’s 51st annual entry draft is Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. There will be 211 total picks in the seven-round draft.
On paper, things are looking good for Buffalo, with 2 of the top 16 picks (8 and 16) and 10 of the top 189 picks. Now all GM Darcy Regier has to do is cash in.
Thehockeywriters.com mock draft offered these two players as possibilities for Buffalo’s top two picks. This probably won’t happen – but is sounds good:
No. 8 – Forward Valeri Nichushkin of Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL) – There is no question the Sabres bluline needs work, but Nichushkin is an offensive dynamo who is simply too talented to pass up...At 6-foot-4, 202 pounds, Nichushkin is a prototypical power forward who has already spent two seasons playing against men in the KHL. He’s already stated his intent to immediately come across the pond so the Russian Factor is of little concern. The size, skill and speed that Nichushkin and Mikhail Grigorenko both possess as teens will make the Sabres very fun to watch in the coming years (by Nathan Kanter).
No. 16 – Defenseman Ryan Pulock from the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) – After taking a skilled forward with the No. 8 pick, the Sabres opt to buff up their blueline with the best defenseman available. Ryan Pulock has a cannon of a shot, which can hopefully help turn around what was an abysmal power play for Buffalo last season. He is a natural leader who also plays a physical game and with a late birthday and three years of junior already under his belt, he’ll have a chance of making the team right out of camp (by Nathan Kanter).
STATS AND FACTS
Of the 426 total men’s pro golf majors (British Open, U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Masters), Americans have won 257 (60.3 percent), Europeans 118 (27.7 percent) and others 51 (12 percent).
Buffalo Bills game tickets go on sale to the public July 10.
Interesting trend from Scott Kacsmar of coldhardfootballofacts.com: All seven Super Bowl winners since 2006 have played the NFC East and the New England Patriots in the regular season. The only team that will play all five of those teams in 2013 is the Denver Broncos...The Broncos also have the NFL’s softest schedule based on records by opponents last season (110-146 (.430).
New York leads all states in providing U.S. Open Cup champions (26 of 101) – most recently the Rochester Rhinos in 1999.
Cornell football fans will be treated to a big-time arm from senior quarterback Jeff Mathews. He already is touted as an NFL prospect in terms of arm strength and football intelligence. He’ll be working on his footwork while rolling up the passing yards.
The ESPY Awards nominees were announced Thursday. Abby Wambach’s all-time women’s soccer goal-scoring record was among the nominees for Best Record-Breaking Performance. The other nominees: Drew Brees’ NFL touchdown pass record vs. Calvin Johnson’s single-season NFL receiving yardage record vs. Michael Phelps’ record 22 Olympic medals.
Other ESPY nominees include: Best Male Athlete – Miguel Cabrera, LeBron James, Adrian Peterson, Michael Phelps...Best Female Athlete – Gabby Douglas...Missy Franklin...Brittney Griner...Serena Williams.
Entering Friday, only 7 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams have winning road records: St. Louis 26-14...Pittsburgh 23-17...Texas 24-18...Boston 22-18...Baltimore 22-19...Yankees 19-18...Arizona 21-20...The American League leads the National league 89-80 (+9) in interleague play (which of course should determine home-field advantage for the World Series).