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.
BOB’S ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM...NO ROOM FOR CARMELO ANTHONY
ANTHONY VS. KEVIN DURANT FOR NBA SCORING CROWN
LEGGIO ALL-STAR SNUB IS A JOKE
JACKIE ROBINSON FACTOIDS
SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Do you think New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is a worthy All-NBA First-Team selection this season?
I give Anthony credit for playing the best all-around basketball of his NBA career, but I can’t give him one of the two All-NBA forward spots over LeBron James (Miami) or Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City).
This is how my All-NBA ballot would look:
FIRST TEAM – F LeBron James (Miami)…F Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City)...C Marc Gasol (Memphis)...G Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)…G Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
SECOND TEAM – F Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)...F Tim Duncan (San Antonio)...C Brook Lopez (Brooklyn)...G Russell Westbrook…G James Harden (Houston).
THIRD TEAM – F Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)...F David Lee (Golden State)...C Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers)…G Tony Parker…G Dwyane Wade.
High honorable mention – Stephen Curry (Golden State)...Paul George (Indiana)...Paul Pierce (Boston)...LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland)...Chris Bosh (Miami).
I’d take Dwight Howard over any other center in terms of talent but he’s had a poor season by his lofty standards and hasn’t been as consistent as Marc Gasol or Brook Lopez)....Parker was worthy of First-Team consideration before injuries took a toll...Harden is a scoring machine. I won’t second-guess anyone who prefers him over Kobe for First Team...Griffin’s dunks are awesome, but his overall game needs work. I’m surprised he hasn’t shown more progress.
--Will Kevin Durant win his fourth consecutive NBA scoring title or will Carmelo Anthony win his first?
They’re locked in the tightest race for the individual scoring crown since David Thompson (Denver) and George Gervin (San Antonio) in the 1977-78 season.
Entering the final day of the season, Gervin was averaging 26.8 points per game and Thompson was averaging 26.6.
Denver played in the afternoon against Detroit and his teammates did all they could to help him win the title. He had 32 points in the first quarter (a new NBA record for one quarter) and 53 points at halftime. He finished with 73 points (28x38 from the field and 17x20 in free throws) in 43 minutes.
San Antonio played a night game at the New Orleans Jazz. The Spurs knew Gervin would win the scoring title if he scored 58 points. No problem. Gervin scored 20 points in the first quarter and 33 points in the second quarter (breaking Thompson’s record set several hours before). He finished the game with 63 points (23x49 from the field and 17x20 from the line) in 33 minutes to edge Thompson for the scoring crown (27.22 to 27.15).
There will no such shenanigans between Anthony and Durant. Their teams play their final games at the same time.
Anthony and Durant both played Thursday night. Anthony scored 36 points in a 118-111 Knicks loss in Chicago. Durant had 31 points in a 116-97 home win over Golden State (not surprisingly, teammate Russell Westbrook took more shots and made fewer: Durant 10x16; Westbrook 7x17).
The remaining schedules:
Anthony (Knicks; 4 games) – at Cleveland Friday...host Indiana Sunday...at Charlotte Monday...host Atlanta Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Durant (Thunder; 3 games) – at Portland Friday...Host Sacramento Monday...host Milwaukee Wednesday, 8 p.m.
--Rochester Americans goalie David Leggio did not make the AHL official first- or second All-Star Game. I have lost all faith in the voters. Did they do their homework?
Considering the turnover on Rochester’s defense – the veteran stalwarts all are gone (Sabres GM Dacry Regier didn’t do much to fill the void and it figures to show in the playoffs) – it is a hockey miracle that the team’s record is 39-27-4. I can’t imagine a more valuable player in the AHL this season. Leggio leads AHL goalies by wide margins in wins (36), games (59), shots faced, saves and minutes. He ranks 7th in save percentage (.923) and is 8-1 in shootouts.
--Selecting quarterback Ryan Nassib in the first round of the NHL Draft April 25 would be one of the most controversial picks in the history of the Buffalo Bills. One draft talent analyst recently compared Nassib to a young Drew Brees. If he’s close to being right, Nassib would be a bargain.
--Probable Kentucky Derby (May 4) favorite Verrazano will try to become the first Derby winner that did not have a two-year-old campaign since Apollo – in 1882. Of course, he doesn’t know that.
--The movie 42 – the mostly accurate portrayal of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, opened across the country on Friday. Here are a few Robinson factoids:
He played briefly for the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. He hit .414 (24x58).
He was International League MVP in 1946 as second baseman for the Montreal Royals: 124 games; 113 runs; .349 batting average (155x444); 25 doubles; 8 triples; 3 HRs; 66 RBI; 40x55 stolen bases...The Royals played three series in Rochester. Robinson missed the first series because of injury. According to newspaper clips, there were no incidents on or off the field in the subsequent two road series he played against the Red Wings.
He was the National League Rookie of the Year (and fifth in MVP balloting) as first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers: .297 batting average (175x590); 125 runs; 31 doubles; 5 triples; 12 HRs; 48 RBI; 27 stolen bases; 74 walks; 36 strikeouts; NL-most 28 sacrifice hits.
His final season was 1956: 117 games; .275 batting average (98x357); 15 doubles; 2 triples; 10 HRs; 43 RBI; 12x17 stolen. The Dodgers traded him to the New York Giants after the season and he retired rather than play for his long-time rivals.
His Major League Baseball career line: 10 seasons; .311 batting average (1,518x4,877); 947 runs; 273 doubles; 54 triples; 137 HRs; 734 RBI; 197 stolen bases.
His numbers are impressive, especially considering the fact that he wasn’t allowed to play in Major League Baseball until he was 28 years old.
His top salary was $39,750 in 1952. He was paid $5,000 in his 1947 rookie season and $21,000 in his 1949 league MVP season.
--A few things I’d do to improve college basketball:
Reduce the shot clock to 30 seconds to speed up the action...The shot clock began at 45 seconds in 1985 and was trimmed to 35 seconds in 1993. It wasn’t enough.
Junk the NBA rule requiring the very best high school players to play one year in college...Let the cream-of-the-crop dozen-or-so top high school players join the NBA work force immediately...That would be better than having kids play one year in college taking courses such as NBA 101.
Require the other high school players to spend two seasons in college or in foreign countries.
Increase the foul limit from five to six – perhaps with an extra foul shot for opponents after the fifth foul. It would take some pressure off the referee and make it more likely to have the best players on the court when the game ends.
Automatic technical fouls on coaches who are on the court during play on the floor (for example, Rick Pitino).
Bring back the game for third place prior to the NCAA championship game.
--RIP Buffalo Sabres. After an encouraging 2-0 start, it was mostly all downhill. The season will be remembered mostly as the one coach Lindy Ruff got fired – and GM Darcy Regier stayed (at least for now)
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.”
MICHIGAN -2 OVER SU; WICHITA STATE +10 1/2 ARE MY FINAL FOUR PICKS
ALMOST GUARANTEED TO HAPPEN THIS BASEBALL SEASON
HOW RYAN NASSIB FARED HEAD-TO-HEAD VS. GENO SMITH
BOB’S DREAM 2013 NFL DRAFT FOR THE BUFFALO BILLS
Syracuse vs. Louisville (and Jim Boeheim vs. Rick Pitino) in Monday night’s NCAA men’s championship game in Atlanta would be a fitting finale for the Big East as we know it.
I hope to see it happen -- but I’m picking Michigan (-2) over the Orange in Saturday night’s Final Four semifinals.
SU’s trademark 2-3 zone defense has been in excellent form during the team’s current 7-1 run in tournament play. But I believe a bit too much is being made of SU’s defense and too little is being made of Michigan’s offense in this matchup.
The Wolverines are an excellent offensive team. They’ve made almost 50 percent of their field-goal attempts (124x251) in this tournament .
They have the Associated press college basketball Player of the Year in point guard Trey Burke, and three perimeter threats in Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas. Burke is a clutch scorer and distributor. He isn’t likely to panic against SU’s zone. The Orange thrive on transition baskets off turnovers but Burke isn’t likely to be generous.
As well as SU point guard Michael Carter-Williams has been playing, I have to give the edge to fellow sophomore Burke,
Freshman muscleman Mitch McGary gives Michigan a strong inside presence. He doesn’t jump high but has a knack for getting open and the strength to give SU’s back line problems. He decisively outplayed Kansas star big man Jeff Withey in this tournament.
Perhaps the key man in SU’s hopes for a mild upset is James Southerland. The three-point specialist is a streak shooter. If he takes around 10 shots from long range and makes more than half of them, the Orange would be in good shape.
My pick: Michigan 75, Syracuse 70.
Wichita State was an underrated No. 9 seed and already has upset Gonzaga (No. 1 seed) and Ohio State (No. 2) to get this far. The Shockers have the size and depth to hang tough against 10 ½-point favored Louisville. The Cardinals responded to guard’s Kevin Ware’s season-ending broken leg by humiliating Duke in the second half of a 85-63 romp in the Elite 8. I don’t know how much of that emotion will carry over for this game but I’m pretty sure Louisville will miss Ware’s presence on the court.
My pick: Louisville 72, Wichita State 64.
ALMOST GUARANTEED TO HAPPEN THIS BASEBALL SEASON
For the first time, I believe Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals) will have at least as productive a baseball career as Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels).
I don’t remember when two young players of this extraordinary ability entered the majors in the same season. I won’t be surprised if Harper and Trout both win Most Valuable Player awards in the same year -- perhaps even THIS season.
I wonder if they’ll have a rivalry to match Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams in the 1940s or Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Here are some predictions for the 2013 season. Clip and save (someone always does):
The Washington Nationals will lead the majors in regular-season victories.
The Yankees will suffer their first losing season since 1992.
The Houston Astros will lead MLB in losses in their first season in the American League.
The Baltimore Orioles – 29-9 in one-run games last year – will be .500 at best in one-run games this season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will end their 20-year losing streak.
Division winners: Toronto, Detroit, Angels, Washington, Cincinnati, San Francisco.
Discarded Yankee Rafael Soriano (Washington) will have more saves than Mariano Rivera (Yankees).
The Yankees will not have an Alex Rodriguez bobblehead promotion.
Minnesota rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks will be a Red Wing by July 1.
Johan Santana (Mets) will never pitch again.
The only reason Giancarlo Stanton (Miami) won’t lead the NL in home runs is that opponents will pitch around him.
Cleveland’s Drew Stubbs, Mark Reynolds and Nick Swisher will combine to strike out more than 500 times.
R.A. Dickey (Toronto will lead MLB in complete games.
Derek Jeter will start at shortstop for the AL in the All-Star Game no matter how few games he plays in the first half of the season.
CC Sabathia will have a higher ERA than he weighs for the Yankees.
Justin Morneau (Minnesota) and Alfonso Soriano (Cubs) will be traded before the deadline – possibly both to the Yankees.
Toronto will have a winning record in road games for the first time in 10 years.
Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward (Atlanta) will combine for at least 100 HRs and 320 RBI.
The most impressive rookie will be outfielder Oscar Taveras (St. Louis).
Kansas City will have fewer than 90 losses for only the second time in the last 10 years.
The Cubs will not win their first World Series since 1908 (I want to get at least one right).
NASSIB HAD THE EDGE HEAD-TO-HEAD OVER GENO SMITH
According to most NFL talent analysts, West Virginia’s Geno Smith’s is the best quarterback available in the first round of the NFL Draft April 25.
But judging by Smith’s four games head-to-head against Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib, maybe Nassib would be the better pick.
Oct. 10, 2009 – West Virginia won 34-13 at Syracuse…Nassib replaced ineffective QB Greg Paulus to start the second half. He was 7x16 for 120 yards, with 2 TD passes and 0 INTs…Smith replaced starter Jarret Brown in the fourth quarter. He was 3x4 for 14 yards with 0 TD passes and 0 INTs.
Oct. 23, 2010 – Syracuse won 19-14 at West Virginia…Both started…Nassib was 5x15 for 63 yards, with 1 TD and 0 INTs…Smith was 20x37 for 178 yards, with 1 TD pass and 3 INTs.
Oct. 21, 2011 – Syracuse won at home 49-23…Nassib was 24x32 for 229 yards, with 4 TD passes and 0 INts. He ran 4 times for 11 yards and 1 TD…Smith was 24x41 for 338 yards, with 2 TD passes and 1 INT.
Dec. 29, 2012 – Syracuse won 38-14 in the Pinstripe in the snow and wind at Yankee Stadium…Nassib was 11x23 for 130 yards, with 2 TD passes. He had 7 carries for 13 yards…Smith was 19x28 for 201 yards, with 2 TD passes and o0 INTs. ..Both were sacked twice.
Totals…Nassib was 3-0 when they were starters in 2010-11-12…In all four games, Nassib was 47x86 (.547) for 542 yards, with 9 TD passes and 1 INT…He had 21 carries for 45 net yards with 1 TD…Smith was 66x110 (.600) for 731 yards, with 5 TD passes and 5 INTs…He had 13 carries for minus-59 yards.
Nassib’s 9x1 TD pass/INT ratio compared to Smith’s 5/5 ratio more than negates Smith’s advantage in passing yardage…Neither did much running the football. That’s not their style.
HERE’S HOPING BILLS PASS ON QUARTERBACKS IN THE FIRST TWO ROUNDS
I hope another team selects quarterback Geno Smith in the first round of the NFL Draft April 25 before the Buffalo Bills are tempted to pick him. I don’t think he’d be a top-20 pick in a year with a normal number of really good QB prospects.
The Bills have only six picks in the 2013 draft: 8th…41st…71st…105th…143rd…177th.
Buffalo has no seventh-round pick and no compensatory picks.
My dream Buffalo draft: The best available linebacker (Jarvis Jones or Dion Jordan) or wide receiver (Corarrelle Patterson or Kennan Allen) with the No. 8 pick…The best available wide receiver (Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins, Terrence Williams or Justin Hunter) or linebacker (Barkevious Mingo, Alec Ogletree, Damontre Moore or Manti Te’o) with the No. 41 pick…One or two of the remaining four picks on QBs. The Bills are due to get lucky on a QB. Long overdue.
I’d be happy with Ryan Nassib with the 71st pick. He figures to be gone by then (ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr, has him going to the Bills No. 41), but I’m not convinced he’s a cut above Mike Glennon, Tyler Bray, Zac Dysert, EJ Manuel or Landry Jones as an NFL QB prospect. Maybe there is a gem hidden in that group.
PETTITTE GIVES YANKEES A TIMELY VICTORY…IS HE A HALL OF FAME CANDIDATE?
Andy Pettitte has pitched bigger games in his long career, but Thursday night’s 4-2 home win against Boston was an important one.
The hurting Yankees were off to a 0-2 start in the season-opening series against the Red Sox and about to embark on a weekend series against the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers.
Pettitte will turn 41 this summer. He now is a terrific example of a “crafty left-hander.” He no longer has awesome stuff but he’s a smart pitcher and makes the most of what he has left.
He is a marginal Hall of Famer and a solid 2013 season would build his case.
Positives on his resume for Cooperstown: 246 regular-season victories. Many Hall of Famed pitchers had fewer wins…Very good .634 career winning percentage (246-142) in the regular season…904/2,323 walk/strikeout ratio…19-11 postseason record (most wins ever)…fifth-or-better in Cy Young Award voting five times (2nd 1996; 5th 1997; 4th 2000; 6th 2003; 5th 2005)…Two 20-win seasons (not bad by modern standards)…Spent most his career with the Yankees (15 seasons with Yankees; 3 seasons with Houston). That never hurts.
Negatives for his bid for election to Cooperstown: Admitted brief use of PEDs… Career 3.85 ERA is high for a Hall of Famer…has allowed more hits (3,258) than innings pitched (3,138 2/3)…Seldom was the No. 1 starter for the Yankees…Selected to only three All-Star Games.
Is Jason Pominville a future Rochester Americans Hall of Famer? I’d say marginal.
Here are his Amerk stats:
2002-03 – 73 games…13 goals…21 assists…34 points…+5 (plus/minus)
2003-04 – 66 games…34 goals…30 assists…64 points…-1
2004-05 – 78 games…30 goals…38 assists…68 points…+1
2005-06 – 18 games…19 goals…7 assists…26 points…+2
Totals: 235 games…96 goals…96 assists…192 points…+7
In 19 playoff games with Rochester, he had 10 goals, 11 assists, 21 points, +7.
Had he played the entire 2005-06 season, he was on pace to have one of the all-time greatest individual seasons for Rochester.
--Americans have won all 14 events on the 2013 PGA Tour (and 16 straight since last year). If that is a problem, the LPGA Tour must wish it had it.
--Undefeated Vyjack (4-0) and Verrazano (3x3) are the horses to beat in Saturday’s Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. It is a key prep for the Kentucky Derby (May 4). Normandy Invasion is an interesting long shot.
--The Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack 2013 live thoroughbred racing season starts Saturday, April 20.