BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
Weeknights 6:00PM - 8:00PM
on WHAM 1180
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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 THE FANS SHOULD VOTE YASIEL PUIG INTO THE ALL-STAR GAME
HISTORY IS AGAINST A HUGE BOOST IN THE STANDINGS FOR 2012’S 6-10 BILLS
RED WINGS BUCK THE PLAYOFF ODDS IN SIX-TEAM NORTH DIVISION
SNUBS CONTINUE TO SHOW WHY BASEBALL’S ALL-STAR GAME IS A JOKE
FORGET A “SUPERFIGHT” FOR JON JONES – FOR NOW AT LEAST
WHO WAS FRED PERRY?
I get it. I know why some baseball people – including goofball Phillies relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon – believe it would be ridiculous to select Los Angeles Dodgers rookie senation Yasiel Puig to play in next Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.
Heck, he didn’t even make his Major League Baseball debut until June 3.
Puig’s numbers are spectacular: In 31 games, he is hitting .410 (52x120), with 25 runs, 8 doubles, 1 triple, 8 HRs, 19 RBI, .450 on-base percentage, .750 slugging percentage, 1.200 OPS.
How he has done it has been just as spectacular. He’s a delight to see -- at the plate, on the bases and in the outfield – particularly throwing. He’s the complete package.
He has the sort of athleticism we rarely see in baseball today. He’s big, strong and fast, with baseball instincts that can’t be taught. Could he be a flash in the pan? Maybe, but I doubt it. No matter, he’s worth watching now.
Most young American athletes with Puig-like physical gifts and size gravitate toward football and basketball. Those are the pro sports where the quick big money is.
Puig is a 22-year-old defector from Cuba. Baseball is THE sport in his native country. He’s far from the first extraordinary baseball talent to develop in Cuba and leave home for fortune and even more fame.
Fans have until Thursday to vote for the “extra” player on each All-Star Game squad. I think the fans are going to get this one right.
Puig is the sort of raw talent baseball needs more of and American sports fans need to see. He figures to turn former fans back on and attract new ones. The sooner the better.
DON’T COUNT ON A HUGE JUMP IN THE 2013 STANDINGS FOR THE BILLS
The Buffalo Bills are coming off a 6-10 season and appear to be on the upgrade. Most of us agree on that.
The difference in opinion is by how much.
Put me in the 7-9 camp. I forecast a lot more points for the Bills, a few less points for their opponents, and one more victory – with better to come in 2014 and beyond (assuming EJ Manuel is 75 percent what Buddy Nix thinks he’ll be).
Judging by the history of the NFL standings since the schedule went to 16 games in 1978 (excluding a 15-game schedule in 1987 and a 9-game schedule in 1982 due to work stoppages), Buffalo fans should not expect a huge jump in the standings this season.
Here are the number of teams that finished with 6-10 records in 16-game schedules since 1978, the records of those teams in the following season and the numbers of those teams making the playoffs:
2011 – Three (including the Bills) ...7-9, 7-9, 6-10 (the Bills)...None
2010 – Seven ...13-3, 10-6, 10-6, 9-7, 8-8, 5-11, 3-13...Three
2009 – One (the Bills), 4-12...None
2008 – One...11-5...One
2007 – No teams finished 6-10
2006 – Three...8-8, 8-8, 1-15...None
2005 – Four...13-3, 10-6, 8-8, 4-12...Two
2004 – Four...10-6, 9-7, 5-11, 5-11...One
2003 – Three (including the Bills)...15-1, 10-6, 9-7 (the Bills)...One
2002 – One...5-11...None
2001 – Four...10-6, 6-8, 6-10, 2-14...None
2000 – Two...12-4, 9-7...One
1999 – Four...11-5, 9-7, 5-11, 3-13...Four (the Bills were 11-5 in 1999, lost 22-16 to Tennessee in the wild-card playoffs and hasn’t made the playoffs since).
1998 – Three...10-8, 8-8, 3-13...One
1997 – Three (including the Bills)...10-6 (the Bills), 8-8, 3-13...One
1996 – Three...10-5-1, 10-6, 5-11...Two
1995 – Two...11-5, 9-7...One
1994 – Three...8-8, 7-9, 3-13...None
1993 – Two...7-9, 6-10...None
1992 – Three...11-5, 6-10, 5-11...One
1991 – Two...7-9, 2-14...None
1990 – Five...12-4, 8-8. 8-8, 4-12, 4-12...Two
1988 – Two...8-8, 6-10...One
1986 – One...8-7...None
1985 – One...10-6...One
1984 – One...2-14...None
1983 – Two...8-8, 7-9...None
1981 – Two...4-5, 3-67...None
1980 – Three...13-3, 12-4, 8-8...Two (49ers won Super Bowl XVI)
1979 – Two...12-4, 4-12...One
1978 – Two...6-10, 5-11...None.
Of the 81 teams with 6-10 records since 1978, 23 made the playoffs the following season (28.4 percent) and 58 did not (71.6 percent).
Here are the records of the 6-10 teams the following season:
15-1 – 1
14-2 – 0
13-3 – 3
12-4 – 5
11-5 – 5
10-6 – 11
9-7 – 6
8-7-1 -- 1
8-8 – 13
4-5-1 -- 1
7-9 – 6
6-10 – 8
3-6-1 -- 1
5-11 – 7
4-12 – 4
3-13 – 5
2-14 – 3
6-10 teams better than 16-10 the following season – 50
6-10 teams with repeat 6-10 records the following season – 8
6-10 teams worse than 6-10 the following season – 23.
INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFF FORMULA ISN’T FAIR
Rochester Red Wings fans have suffered through some leans years lately, but it finally is time to think the “P word” – playoffs.
The Wings won their season-high sixth straight game Sunday and are two games above .500 (47-45) for the first time this year. They’re only two games behind Norfolk (48-42) in the battle for the International League’s fourth and final playoff berth.
The IL has 14 teams: 6 in the North Division and 4 each in the South and West divisions.
The four-team playoff field consists of the three division winners plus the team with the next-best record.
You don’t need to be a math teacher to recognize that it is much easier to win a four-team division than aa six-team division.
This hasn’t been a significant injustice to Rochester’s baseball fans since the 14-team IL’s current playoff format was adopted in 1998 – but it could be this season, because the Red Wings are playing very well and looking dangerous.
What would be more fair i9n the future? The division champs with the two-best records qualify for the playoffs. The other two playoff teams would be the teams with the next-best records.
For example, it wouldn’t be fair for the third-place team in the six-team IL North to miss the playoffs despite having a better record than a division winner in a four-team division with an inferior record.
I believe my formula would result in MORE teams being in contention for playoff berths in the final weeks of the regular season.
Percentage of teams in the IL: North 32.9 percent (6 of 14)...South and West each 28.6 percent.
Odds on winning the division: North 1-of-6 (16.7 percent... South and West each 25 percent.
Since 1998, there have been 60 IL playoff teams: 24 from the North (38.3 percent), 19 from the South (31.7 percent) and 17 from the West (28.3 percent).
IL Governors’ Cup champions since 1988: 6 from the West (Indianapolis 2000...Louisville 2001...Toledo 2005...Toledo 2006...Columbus 2010...Columbus 2011)...5 from the South (1999 Charlotte...2002 Durham...2003 Durham...Richmond 2007....Durham 2009)...4 from the North (Buffalo 1900...Buffalo 2004...Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2008...Pawtucket 2012).
SNUBS AREN’T THE ONLY ONE REASON WHY IT IS TOUGH TO TAKE ALL-STAR GAME SERIOUSLY
One of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s worst moves was deciding to make the All-Star Game “meaningful” by having the winning league “earn” the home-field advantage in the World Series.
And it really IS meaningful. Opening with two home games and playing a potential decisive Game 7 at home certainly is a significant reward.
The big problem is that All-Star Game managers have their hands (and brains) tied by circumstances beyond their control.
Fans pick the starting lineups for the All-Star Game. The fans sometimes pick the wrong players. In some cities, they stuff the ballot box. Managers are forced to sit players they’d prefer to start.
The players in each league select the top reserve at each position, five starting pitchers and three relief pitchers.
The managers pick the rest of the 35-man rosters. They are handcuffed by the requirement that every team be represented – thus assuring that unworthy players will take the spots of more-deserving players.
Expanding the rosters has made the All-Star Game a bigger joke the ever. If the game is REALLY supposed to be meaningful, shouldn’t the best players play all the way? Why should managers be more focused on squeezing players into the box score than in winning the game?
I wish the fans, players and fans gave more voting props to players from the best TEAMS. For example, the Oakland A’s have a better record than Detroit, but the Tigers have six players on the AL All-Star Game roster and Oakland has only one – 40-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon. Where is A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson? He isn’t even a reserve...Hard to believe Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay) isn’t picked for a game the AL had to win... And the three division leaders in the National League are not represented in the starting lineup. Where is Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen? He’s a reserve. I hope he gets in early and plays the rest of the game.
I enjoy the All-Star Game. But I don’t believe Selig should’ve tried to make it something it was not designed to be and shouldn’t be.
My suggestions: Make the Game more entertaining by limiting the rosters to 28 players. Let the best players get most of the at-bats.
Determine the home-field advantage in the World Series by season-long interleague competition.
SILVA-JON JONES UFC SHOWDOWN IS IMPROBABLE NOW
After Saturday night’s Anderson Silva upset loss in Las Vegas to George Weidman, UFC President Dana White said there will be no lucrative “superfights” involving Silva, Georges St. Pierre and Rochester native Jon “Bones” Jones.
Last week, 38-year-old UFC middleweight champion Silva – rated by many as the UFC ‘s all-time best fighter “pound-for-pound” -- dmitted he probably couldn’t beat current light heavyweight champion Jones in a superfight at this stage of their careers. He said the only advantage he’d have over Jones would be “experience.” He praised Jones’ speed, strength and ring savvy.
Silva entered last Saturday night’s UFC 162 middleweight title fight against challenger Weidman with a UFC-record 16-fight winning streak, including 10 title defenses. He was favored (bet $245 to win $100) over the undefeated (now 10-0) 29-year-old Weidman (bet $100 to win $215) but lost in the second round. After the defeat, he said he’d fulfill the rest of his contract (10 more fights) but probably have no more title fights.
Jones remains a big favorite (bet $800 to win $100) in his light heavyweight title defense vs. Alexander Gustafsson (bet $100 to win $500), Sept. 21, in Toronto. Jones turns 26 on July 19.
The final hour of Sunday’s Wimbledon men’s single final was just about as riveting as TV sports can be. The only missing for U.S. fans was an American participant. Bravo to champion Andy Murray and valiant losing top-seed Novak Djokovic, who didn’t have many people rooting for him at Centre Court.
Inbee Park didn’t win an LPGA Tour event Sunday. That’s because there wasn’t one. The LPGA took the week off. Tournament play resumes this week with the $1,300,000 second-year Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Presented by Blackberry in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Brittany Lang won last year’s inaugural event , winning a three-hole, sudden-death playoff against Cheila Choi, Hee Kyung Seo and – Inbee Park.
--Dwight Howard’s decision to sign with the Houston Rockets doesn’t add to my relatively small number of NBA teams with legitimate 2014 NBA championship potential. Just add the Rockets and subtract the Los Angeles Lakers.
--The Golden State Warriors might still be one player short of being a title threat, but I rate hem with Oklahoma City as the two teams I’d most want a season ticket to watch. Newcomer Andre Iguodala will fit in nicely with holdovers Stephen Curry, David Lee, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes.
--Patriots Pro Shop has received nearly 1,200 Aaron Hernandez jersey exchanges. Why so few? Why would anyone want to be seen wearing a Hernandez 81 Patriots jersey?
--Six former Minnesota Twins made the rosters for the All-Star Game: Jesse Crain (White Sox), Michael Cuddyer (Colorado), Carlos Gomez (Milwaukee), J.J. Hardy (Baltimore), Torii Hunter (Detroit), Joe Nathan (Texas), David Ortiz (Boston).
--Byron Buxton, by all accounts a future terrific center fielder for the Minnesota Twins, appers determined to accelerate his trip through the farm system. The 19-year-old, No. 2 overall pick in the June 2012 entry draft tore up the Class A Midwest League (.341, 68 runs, 15 doubles, 10 triples, 8 HRs, 55 RBI, 32 stolen bases in 68 games) this season before being promoted to Advanced Class A Fort Myers (Florida State League) three weeks ago. He started slow (2x`13 in his first three games) but now is back in the groove (.452; 14x31, 7 runs, 5 RBI) in the last 7 games. Could he be a Red Wing by next season?
--No one in town was more saddened by the recent death of former New York Giants and Jets punter Dave Jennings, who died last month at age 61, than Gary Webb, the president and chief impresario of Nik Entertainment Co.... Jennings didn’t play football in high school but went to St. Lawrence University to play basketball. He had a strong leg and was a walk-on punter for the football for the college. He was an all-league pick three times and went to be a four-time Pro Bowler. He sang with Webb’s Nik and the Nice Guys at St. Lawrence in the 1970s (other members were future NHL coaches Mike Keenan and Jacques Martin). Jennings also emceed two of the popular group’s Super Bowl appearances.
--Updated America’s Line odds on the WBA/WBC super welterweight title fight Sept. 14 in Las Vegas: Floyd Mayweather Jr. bet $260 to win $100; Saul; Alvarez bet $100 to win $220.
WHO WAS FRED PERRY?
Until Sunday, Fred Perry was the last British man to win the singles championship at Wimbledon. It was good to see Fred get some recognition after all these years. He must have been a really neat guy:
He was born in Cheshire, England, May 18, 1909..a champion tennis and table tennis player (world champion in 1929)...He was the first man to win all four Grand Slam titles (not in the same year)...He won eight total Grand Slams as an amateur and 2 more as a pro...He helped Great6 Britain win the Davis Cup in four straight years (1933 over France, 1934 and 1935 over the United States and 1936 over Australia)...He was pro-working class and had a falling out with this country’s class-conscious tennis establishment after winning three consecutive Wimbledon singles titles in 1934-35-36...His 1936 title was won over Germany’s Baron Gottfried von Cramm in less than 45 minutes (the quickest men’s Wimbledon championship of the 20th century).
He moved to the United States, became a U.S. citizen in 1938 and was drafted into the U.S. Air Force in 1942..In his first few years in the U.S., he participated in lengthy tours against fellow pro star Ellsworth Vines. ..For many years he was not given his just due by England’s tennis establishment, mainly for turning pro after his three straight Wimbledon titles. In 1984, a statue of Perry finally was unveiled at Wimbledon...He supposedly created the first sweatband for tennis players...In 1952, the Fred Perry tennis shirt was launched and successful for almost three decades. The brand’s logo is a laurel wreath, based on the original symbol for Wimbledon. For many years, the brand was the clothing sponsor of Andy Murray.
Perry was a leading bachelor and his romances were big news. He dated Marlene Dietrich, was engaged to a famous British actress, married a model, married again and divorced, and finally married Barbara Riese in 1952. They stayed together until he died after breaking his ribs in a fall in a hotel bathroom in Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 2, 1995. He was 85. (courtesy of Wikipedia).