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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.
AWESOME COLLECTION OF TALENT FOR LEGENDS GAME INCLUDES 2,957 CAREER HOME RUNS
ORB SHOULD WIN PREAKNESS BUT BEST BET LOOKS LIKE EXACTAS
MINNESOTA’S TWO SINGLE-A FARM TEAMS CONTINUE TO ROLL
WORTH NOTING IN BASEBALL
Many decades ago – when even many top-notch Major League Baseball players supplemented their incomes with post-season barnstorming tours -- fans in cities such as Rochester got to see star-studded lineups at Red Wing/Silver Stadium. The 2013 Red Wings yearbook highlights such a game played Oct. 12, 1959. The rosters included Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Rocky Colavito, Willie McCovey, Elston Howard, Hoyt Wilhelm, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Junior Gilliam and hometown hero Johnny Antonelli.
Not surprisingly, that exhibition game drew an announced crowd of 7,002 fans. The game grossed $14,144. Each player received $750 and a new belt from the Hickok Company.
American League umpire Ken Kaiser’s annual winter baseball banquets consistently featured some of top stars in the game. Frequent head table guests included Nolan Ryan, Don Mattingly, George Brett, Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs.
But Saturday’s Pepsi Field of Dreams Legends Game at Frontier Field (gates open 4 p.m.; game time 6 p.m.) will feature the greatest collection of baseball legends on one field in Rochester’s history. The 10 former big-league superstars scheduled to appear: Johnny Bench, Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Trevor Hoffman, Reggie Jackson, Pedro Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Schmidt Ozzie Smith and Frank Thomas.
That group combined for:
2,954 home runs: Jackson 563 (13th-all time)... Schmidt 548 (15th)...Frank Thomas 521 (t18th)...McGriff 493 (t26th)...Bench 389 (57th)...Henderson 297 (138th)...Boggs 118...Smith 28...Hoffman 0...Martinez 0.
9 Most Valuable Player Awards...Schmidt 3...Bench 2...Thomas 2...Henderson 1...Jackson 1.
37 Gold Gloves...Smith 13...Bench 10...Schmidt 10...Boggs 2...Henderson 1...Jackson 1
6 Hall of Fame plaques...Bench...Boggs...Henderson...Jackson...Schmidt...Smith.
3 future Hall of Fame plaques...Hoffman...Thomas...Martinez.
6 batting titles...Boggs 5...Thomas 1.
14 home-run titles...Schmidt 8...Jackson 4...Bench 1...McGriff 1.
A fortune in career salaries, led by Martinez $146,259,585 and Thomas $104,734,000.
Best seasons by the 10 participants (in my opinion):
Johnny Bench (1970) .293; led NL with 45 HRs and 148 RBI; Gold Glove.
Wade Boggs (1985) .368; 240 hits; 107 runs; 78 RBI.
Rickey Henderson (1990) .325; 119 runs; 189 HRs; 61 RBI; 65x75 stolen bases; .439 on-base percentage...AL MVP.
Trevor Hoffman (1998) 4-2 record; 1.48 ERA; 53 saves;0.849 WHIP(walks+hits/inning).
Reggie Jackson (1973) .293; 32 HRs; 117 RBI...led AL in HRs and RBI...unanimous AL MVP.
Fred McGriff (1993) .271; 37 HRs; 101 RBI...4th in NL MVP voting.
Pedro Martinez (1999: 23-4 record...2.07 ERA...37 walks...313 strikeouts...Cy Young Award.
Mike Schmidt (1980) .286; led NFL with 48 HRs and 121 RBI...Gold Glove...unanimous NL MVP.
Ozzie Smith (1987) .303; 75 RBI; 43x52 stolen bases...Gold Glove...2nd in NL MVP voting.
Frank Thomas (2000) .328; 115 runs; 43 HRs; 143 RBI; 112 walks.
Times Flies Department (ages of the Legends) Jackson 66...Bench 65...Schmidt 63...Smith 58...Boggs 54...Henderson 54...McGriff 49...Hoffman 45...Thomas 45...Martinez 41.
I’M PASSING ON ORB WIN BET IN FAVOR OF EXACTAS
Kentucky Derby champion Orb deserves to be the big favorite to win Saturday’s 138th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, but he figures to return less than $4 for a $2 win bet.
I’m going to pass on Orb to win in an attempt to cash in on exactas (first two finishers in order).
The Preakness is 1 3/16th miles (1/16th shorter than the Derby).
Here’s how I see the nine-horse race from last-to-first:
9th – Titletown Five (30x1 morning-line odds)...Outclassed...0x3 this year...Son of two-time Breeders’ Classic champion Tiznow, but apparently did not inherit much of his daddy’s talent...Only victory in seven career starts was in a maiden race last October...Has won only $87,398...Pressed pace in the Louisiana Derby before fading to finish ninth...Fourth in Grade 3 Derby Trial...Decent half-mile workout (:47 3/5) inspired trainer D. Wayne Lukas to start him in the Preakness...Owners include former Green Bay Packers stars Paul Hornung and Willis Davis.
8th – Govenor Charlie (12x1)...Only three career starts, all this year...Has improved in every race but this is a very tall order...Son of 2007 sprint champion Midnight Lite...Pressed a hot pace to win the Sunland Derby by five4 lengths March 24 but hasn’t raced since...Declared out of the Derby with on bone bruise...Trying to match Bernardini: won the 2006 Preakness in his fourth career start, all as a 3-year-old.
7th – Itsmyluckyday (10x1)...It probably won’t be if you bet on him to finish in the top our...Favored in the Florida Derby and finished second to Orb...In the middle of the pack in the Kentucky Derby but finished a disappointing 15th...Consistent sort: 11 career starts, 5 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third...Won’t be a shock if he wins but it would be a surprise.
6th – Departing (6x1)...Can’t ignore...Three wins in four starts this year...Won the Illinois Derby...Trainer Al Stall believes skipping the Kentucky Derby makes this bay gelding a legit contender in this spot.
5th – Mylute (5x1)...Rosie Napravnik began her career at Pimlico and has dreamed of becoming the first female jockey to win the Preakness...Steadied early in the Kentucky Derby. Rallied late to finish fifth, less than four lengths behind winner Orb...Will be closing late on Saturday...Only victories in 10 starts were his maiden win at Arlington Park and a 10 ¾-length romp in an optional claiming/allowance race at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
4th – Oxbow (15x1)...Chance at a price...Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens...Post 6 has produced the most Preakness winners (15 since 1908, most recently 1999)...Calumet Farm has had a record seven Preakness winners, but none since 1968...Had an interesting trip in the Kentucky Derby. He was the only horse close to the fast pace set by Palace Malice that had anything left in the stretch. He was second to Normandy Invasion with ¼ mile to run, briefly poked his nose in front at the top of the stretch, ran into traffic at the 3/16th pole and faded to sixth.
SHOW -- Goldencents (8x1)...The Santa Anita Derby winner was a disappointing 17th in the Derby. He got caught is a blistering speed duel with Palace Malice (half mile in 45:33 and three-quarters in 1:09.80) and backed up around the far turn. Was all but eased in deep stretch...Hated the sloppy track. Candidate for huge improvement Saturday...Looms a big threat if jockey Kevin Krigger can set a moderate front-running pace or sit slightly off a suicide pace set by Governor Charlie and/or Titletown Five and then take the lead and hold off the closers for the stretch run.
PLACE -- Will Take Charge (12x1)...My long-shot special...This huge, long-striding colt ran in mid-pack in the Derby until making a strong five-wide move with ¼ mile to run. He ran into traffic at the 3/16th pole, lost all momentum and wound up eighth...Could be dangerous with a clean trip.
WIN – Orb (1x1)...Was very impressive in coming from way behind to win Kentucky Derby by 2 ½ comfortable lengths fort his fifth consecutive victory. But there are questions. How much did he like the rain and slop and how much did the conditions hurt his rivals? Can he overcome the dreaded No. 1 post position? The last Preakness winner from the inside post was Tabasco Cat in 1994. Orb has started from the rail three times and appeared uncomfortable in his first two career starts..8 career races, with 5 wins, 1 third and $2,335,850 in earnings...Can save ground on the rail and should have ample time to pass the rest of the field before the wire.
I believe Orb will win at odds of 1x1 or less. But I’m greedy and can’t settle for a small return. I’ll spend $50...$10 dollar exactas on Orb and Goldencents and Orb and Will Take Charge; $5 exacta box on Orb/Goldencents/Will Take Charge.
Preakness notes: Six of the nine starters ran in the Kentucky Derby:
Orb (won), Mylute (5th), Oxbow (6th), Will Take Charge (8th) and Itsmyluckyday (15th)...D. Wayne Lukas, who has saddled 5 Preakness winners among his 13 Triple Crown victories, will start Oxbow, Will Take Charge and Titletown Five in Saturday’s race...Over the last 25 years, there were only two wire-to-wire Preakness winners (Louis Quatorze in 1996 after flopping in the Derby) and Rachel Alexandra (2009)...Over the last 25 years, 10 post-time favorites won and 9 finished second...Of the last 25 Preakness winners, 22 ran in the Kentucky Derby. Derby horses also had 17 seconds and 17 thirds...Since pari-mutuel betting on the Preakness began in 1911, 67 post-time favorites won. Of those, 27 favorites went off at less than even odds. 17 of those horses won....The Preakness record time is 1:53 by Secretariat in 1973. It won’t be broken Saturday.
MIRACLE AND KERNELS A COMBINED 56-22
The Red Wings (16-25 record) and Double-A (Eastern League) New Britain Rock Cats (20-20) don’t yet appear to be playoff contenders, but Minnesota’s two Single-A full season teams – the Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League) and Cedar Rapids Kernels (Midwest League) continue to roll.
Fort Myers won 2-0 over Dunedin Thursday night and is 29-10. Cedar Rapids won 7-6 over Burlington and is 27-12.
Star watch: Third baseman Miguel Sano (Fort Myers) leads the FSL in batting average (.368), home runs (10), slugging percentage (.677) and OPS (1.142: on-base percentage + slugging percentage)...Center fielder Byron Buxton hit a walk-off grand slam HR to win Thursday night’s game. He’s hitting .341 with 41 runs, 10 doubles, 4 triples, 5 HRs, 28 RBI and 15 stolen bases.
MARIANO RIVERA CONTINUES TO AMAZE...HARVEY HOT, MARLINS NOT
Mariano Rivera (Yankees) figures to blow a save one of these days – maybe. His 2013 pitching line: 18 games...16 saves...17 1/3 innings...14 hits allowed...1.56 ERA...2 walks...13 strikeouts...0.92 WHIP (walks+hits per inning)...Someone has suggested that it would be an appropriate honor for Rivera to start the All-Star Game for the American League. Why? He’s the all-time relief pitcher. Have him pitch the final inning of the game – not the first inning.
As of Friday morning, May 17, the hitters leading the two major leagues in batting were retreads James Loney (AL Tampa Bay) .367 and Carlos Gomez (NL Milwaukee) .355. Gomez could be the most-improved players in MLB.
The Detroit Tigers lead MLB in batting average (.282) and runs (206). The feeble Miami Marlins are last in MLB in batting average (.223), HRs (23) and runs (113).
Baltimore and Arizona each have a MLB-fewest 12 errors. Washington leads the majors with 32 errors.
Vernon Wells: 2012 Angels 77 games; .230 batting average (56x243); 11 HRs; 29 RBI...2013 Yankees 39 games; .295 batting average (43x146); 10 HRs; 23 RBI.
Matt Harvey (Mets) pitching line: 8 starts...4-0...1.44 ERA...56 1/3 innings...27 hits...14 walks...62 strikeouts...0.73 WHIP...batting average against .143.
2014 KNIGHTHAWKS COULD MAKE HISTORY
ALBERT PUJOLS: PLAYER OF THE 2000s SHOULD SIT DOWN
COULD WE HAVE A FATTER SPORTS SECTION...PLEASE
PROPOSED MAYWEATHER VS. ALVAREZ A PAY-PER-VIEW BONANZA
HOT AND COLD IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
It is easy to make the National Lacrosse League playoffs. The league had nine teams the past two seasons and eight of them qualified for the playoffs each year. Truthfully, it is tough to NOT advance to the postseason.
But it is difficult to WIN the NLL Playoffs because the league is so evenly balanced.
The Rochester Knighthawks captured the 2013 NLL championship Saturday night with a hard-earned 11-10 victory over the Washington Stealth in the Langley (British Columbia) Events Centre.
Teams now have won back-to-back NLL championships six times since the leaguer began in 1987: Philadelphia Wings 1989-1990...Buffalo Bandits 1992-1193...Philadelphia Wings 1994-1995...Toronto Rock 1999-2000...Toronto Rock 2002-2003...Rochester Knighthawks 2012-2013.
The Knighthawks could make NLL history and become one of the NLL’s great dynasties by becoming the first team in the league to win three straight championships.
It will be interesting to see how Rochester fares in the power ratings entering the 2014 season.
The Knighthawks were a combined 15-17 in the 2012-2013 regular seasons (tied for fourth-best in the league) but 6-0 in the playoffs.
The top strength for next season’ Knighthawks figures to remain goaltender Matt Vinc and the talented group of defenders in front of him.
Give owner/general manager Curt Styres and his stats and defensive-minded coach Mike Hasen major props for putting this team together.
He has traded several popular offensive-minded stars (including John Grant Jr., Shawn Evans and Shawn Williams) while building the NLL’s stingiest defense. The moves weren’t popular when they were made but no one can dispute the results.
He stuck with Joe Walters during the Rochester product’s difficult transition from outdoor to indoor lacrosse. Walters has become an invaluable part of the team.
It’s not like the Knighthawks are void of firepower. Most of the NLL’s best teams have at least two outstanding offensive players. Rochester has two – Cody Jamieson and Dan Dawson – and a potential third in Johnny Powless, who could make the jump to elite scorer this coming season. They’re complemented by an effective mix of young and veteran forwards.
The only apparent flaw in this team appears to be faceoff percentage.
I’ve been told it isn’t a big deal but I’ve always wondered why not. Two straight titles strongly suggests that there are worse things to do poorly.
WHEN SHOULD DAMAGED PUJOLS SIT DOWN? HE’S HURTING THE ANGELS
Albert Pujols, the undisputed Major League Player of the Decade as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, has become a liability – at least temporarily – to the Los Angeles Angels.
Give Pujols high marks for playing in pain. He has a sore knee coming off surgery and plantar faciitis in his left foot. He can barely run. He has more ground into more double plays (8) than home runs (5).
His batting line for 2013: .234 (33x1241; 5 HRs; 20 RBI; 18 walks; 21 strikeouts; .317 on-base percentage (career 412); .390 slugging percentage (career .604); 0x1 stolen bases (92x128 entering this season; he never was fast but he was a heady base-stealer).
Pujols is – we think – 33 years old. Big wheels look like they’re 43. Will be ever return to top form? Probably not. Some key indicators were down in 2011 and 2012.
The Angels are in a tough spot. They’re off to a lousy start (14-23 record) and he wants to play.
But he’s really not an asset right now. In May, he’s hitting .184 (7x38) with 2 doubles, 1 HR and 3 RBI in 10 days. The Angels at this point must wish they had retained Vernon Wells to play left field and move Mark Trumbo to first base – because right now, Pujols is hurting the team. Even as DH.
(The Angels traded Wells to the Yankees on March 24. In 34 games, the rejuvenated retread is hitting .295 with 9 HRs and 20 RBI. The Angels are paying $13.9 million of the $42 million left on his contract).
He has eight years left on his 10-year, guaranteed $240-million guaranteed, back-loaded contract: $12 million for 2012...$13 million for 2013...$16 million for 2014...$23 million for 2014...then up $1 million for every year through 2021 (when he’ll be at least 41).
He also has award and performance clauses, most of which he now seems unlikely to attain.
Unfortunately, the most outstanding player of the 2000s could finish above even Alex Rodriguez as the worst baseball contract of the 2010s. From superstar to a ridiculously overpaid albatross. That’s not his fault. Blame Angels owner Arte Moreno.
SUNDAY’S 8-PAGE SPORTS SECTION: NOT ENOUGH OF A GOOD THING
The Democrat & Chronicle sports section had only eight pages on Sunday. That’s sad.
I don’t believe many cities of similar size had a newspaper with such a thin sports section.
Sure, I’m prejudiced. I love sports. And I believe sports drives newspaper sales (single copy and subscriptions) as much or more than any other section.
Greater Rochester is an outstanding sports community. It deserves more pages in the sports section – particularly on Sundays. The Sunday D&C is a bargain now. It would be worth even more with at least two more pages for sports.
The problem isn’t quality. The D&C sports department – my former colleagues – is loaded with talent. The problem is space. They should have more room to operate.
I wonder when there will be more pages for obits than for sports in the Sunday paper. The obits seem to be closing the gap.
What do you think?
A GUARANTEED RECORD MAYWEATHER PAY-PER-VIEW MATCHUP – IF IT HAPPENS
I’ll believe it when I see it, but 36-year-old undefeated welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. is talking about putting his 44-0 (26 KOs) 2-0-1 record on the line Sept. 14 in Las Vegas against unbeaten 22-year-old hot prospect Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs).
This proposed showdown has the potential to boxing’s all-time grossing fight. Mayweather has legions of fans everywhere and the charismatic Alvarez is the new favorite of Mexican fans. It would be the weekend of Mexican Independence Day.
The biggest hitch now is agreeing on a weight. Mayweather is the welterweight king (prefers to fight at 147 pounds) and Alvarez is a junior middleweight (doesn’t want to fight lower than 154 pounds).
Mayweather figures to get his way. He usually does.
HOT AND NOT IN MAJOR-LEAGUE BASEBALL
Cleveland is 15-5 and has not lost any of its last seven series...9-3 in one-run games
Miguel Cabrera (Detroit) leads the AL in batting average (.379) and RBI (40) but is a mere t16th in HRs (7)
Joe Saunders (Seattle) is 9-0, 1.72 ERA in 13career appearances
Cincinnati is 10-5 in one-run games
Nick Markakis (Baltimore) is hitting .519 (27x52) vs. Minnesota since the start of last season
Adrian Beltre (Texas) has 12 of his 23 RBI in the last 10 games
James Loney (Tampa Bay) is hitting .456 in his last 24 games
Tampa Bay has 5 straight wins and is above. 500 (19-18) for the first time since April 5
Tampa Bay’s bullpen has 13 2/3 straight scoreless innings
Arizona has a MLB-fewest 8 errors
Mariano Rivera (Yankees): 17 games...15 saves in 15
opportunities...1.65 ERA...0.98 WHIP...16 1/3 innings...14 hits...2 walks...12 strikeouts
Toronto is 7-13 in its last 20 games and last in the AL East (15-24)
David Ortiz (Boston) is 1x17 since his .414, 4 HRs, 17 RBI in his firat 15 games
Houston is 2-10 in its last 12 games and off to its worst start after 38 games(10-28)
Oakland is 1-6 in its last 7 games and below .500 (18-19) for the first time since Week 1
Milwaukee is 2-10 in its last 12 games against Cincinnati
The Mets were 7x40 with runners in scoring position during a 2-4 homestand
Pittsburgh is 6-13 at Citi Field since 2009
The Cubs lead MLB with 30 errors
Bryce Harper (Washington) is in a 4x35 slump.
AMERKS HOME ATTENDANCE INCREASE THIRD IN AHL
The Rochester Americans had a positive season on and off the ice.
Rochester had a 12.9 percent increase in total home attendance and attendance per game, second-best in the 30-team AHL (stat courtesy of Smith & Street’s Sports Business JOURNAL):
1—Toronto Marlies – 21.9 percent (5,480 to 6,681; 253,868 total)
2—Rochester Americans – 12.9 percent (5,595 to 6,314 per game; 239,914 total).
Total league attendance was up 1.3 percent (5,710 per game) over 2011-12 (5,638).
THE YEAR OF THE TIGER...AGAIN
Tiger Woods’ victory Sunday in The Players Championship was his fourth PGA Tour win of 2013. The next-most wins is ONE (by 16 players).
Tiger leads in official earnings ($5,849,600 in 7 events; No. 2 Brandt Snedeker has $3,388,064 in 10 events.
He also leads in scoring average (68.516). No. 2 Sergio Garcia is 69.582.
Woods is tied for 2nd with 5 top-10 finishes (in 7 events). No. 1 Brandt Snedeker has 6 top-10 finishes in 10 events.
Tiger is 1st in strokes-gained-putting and 28th in average driving distance (294.0).
Sergio Garcia’s silly feud with Tiger Woods didn’t work so well for him Sunday in The Players Championship. He made Tiger the good guy for a change. Not sure Woods needed any added incentive, but he kicked Garcia’s butt (70 to 76) and won his fourth PGA stop of the year. Tiger clearly is great again. Maybe approaching his peak form. Garcia is trying to become great for the first time and running out of time.
Sad sign of the horse racing times: Hollywood Park in California, site of the inaugural Breeders’ Cup in 1984, will close after the current 75th anniversary live thoroughbred racing season. It will be torn down to make room for other things.
Entering Monday, 10 horses are scheduled to run in Saturday’s 138th Preakness Stakes: Kentucky Derby winner Orb, fellow Derby runners Oxbow, Will Take Charge, Golden cents, Mylute, Itsdmyluckyday and Vyjack, plus Departing, Governor Charlie and Titletown Five...A full field of 14 is expected.
The Cedar Rapids Kernals, Minnesota’s team in the Single-A Midwest League, scored 16 runs but lost Sunday – 23-16 to Beloit. Kernals centerfielder Byron Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 entry draft, was 4x7 (including a 2B and a 3B) to raise his batting average to .352.
I’ll be rooting for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the host Boston Bruins in Monday night’s Game 7 of their Stanley Cup conference semifinal series. Toronto hockey fans are the most loyal in North American pro sports. They sell out year-after-year. Some people think that helps account for the team’s long stretch of futility. There are no empty seats, so why spend big to put the best and most expensive product on the ice? The Maple Leafs last year became the first NHL franchise valued at $1 billion. They lead the NHL in profit margin.
They’ve won 13 Stanley Cups – that’s good. But the last of those Cups was won in 1967 – that’s very sad.
BASEBALL IN LOS ANGELES: FROM HIGH HOPES TO THE PITS
FAN FAVORITE LISA’S BOOBYTRAP RETURNS TO FINGER LAKES
HOW ABOUT MATT HARVEY AS NL ALL-STAR GAME STARTER?
OSWALDO ARCIA RIPPING THE BALL FOR TWINS
HOME FLOOR COULD BE THE DIFFERENCE IN NLL TITLE SHOWDOWN
CITO CULVER NO LONGER A SWITCH-HITTER
BUD WAS A DUD IN CONTROVERSIAL NON-RULING
When this Major League Baseball season began, two of the highest-rated teams were the American League Angels and the National League Dodgers.
It was entirely reasonable to project an All-Los Angeles World Series.
We’re only two weeks into May and the Angels and Dodgers are in deep trouble. They’re loaded with high-priced, high-profile players, but too many of them have more impressive bank accounts than performance lines. Injuries are a major factor, but both teams appear to have too many fat-cat players. Some of them could be coasting. They lack financial incentive because they’re making so much guaranteed money for so many more years.
Angels: They have the seventh-highest payroll in baseball and were expected to have an awesome batting attack with newcomer Josh Hamilton to complement Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendick. So far, no good...Hamilton appears smaller (hint hint?) and lost at the plate. Pujols is playing with a painful foot injury and has no speed in the field or on the bases. Trout has been OK but not great.
He and Trumbo figure to step up, but would it be too late?...Pitching has been disappointing. (4.66 ERA ranks 13th in the 15-team AL). Ace Jered Weaver has been sidelined since suffering a left elbow injury in his second start. Joe Blanton is 0-6. The bullpen has been spotty...The team expected to overpower opponents has been outscored 176-142 and outhomered 42-38. The Angels lead the AL with 27 errors...Manager Mike Scioscia is feeling the heat despite a long-term contract...The team is playing with no confidence and pressing in the tough AL West (Texas is 21-13; the Angels are 12-22)...I’m not giving up yet on this team but I’m already worried.
Dodgers: The second-highest-paid team in baseball (behind only the Yankees) enter Friday on a seven-game losing streak and have a 13-20 record. They rank 11th in the 15-team NL in runs, slugging percentage and total bases. Lack of clutch hitting has been the biggest disappointment...Star outfielders Matt Kemp (.272) and Andre Ethier (.243) have combined for only 4 HRs and 24 RBI...Shortstop Hanley Ramirez has missed all but four games because of injuries...The hottest hitter has been second baseman Nick Punto. That won’t last...Third baseman Luiz Cruz was hitting .090 (6x67) when he lost his starting job...Pitching ace Clayton Kershaw (3-2 record; 1.62 ERA) has received very little hitting support, Expensive free-agent import Zack Greinke suffered a broken collarbone during his second start of the season. He will return soon...I still believe the Dodgers can make the playoffs. A lineup including Kemp, Ethier, Carl Crawford and healthy Adrian Gonzalez and Henley Ramirez would be imposing. No team has a better RH-LF starting duo than Greinke and Kershaw...But the NL West is a very tough division (San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado and improving San Diego). It will be a tough climb.
LISA’S BOOBYTRAP IS BACK AND SHE LOOKS SHARP
Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack fan favorite Lisa’s Boobytrap returned to the races on Tuesday and won for the first time since Nov. 7, 2011.
The six-year-old mare attracted national attention three summers ago with an improbable rags-to-riches story after she was purchased in Florida by struggling trainer Tim Snyder for $4,500 ($2,000 down plus the balance to be paid if and when won anything on the track). She was unraced, had a club foot and was blind in one eye, but Snyder believed she had potential as a runner.
Tim thought the filly was somehow connected to his late wife, Lisa, who had died of cancer after telling him that she’d like to be reincarnated as a racehorse. He named the filly after Lisa a strip club near a track in Florida.
Snyder solved Lisa’s Boobytrap’s ailments and she suddenly became a racing sensation. She rolled up a string of lopsided victories at Finger Lakes and then won a minor stakes race at Saratoga. Snyder turned down big-money offers and vowed to never sell her.
Lisa’s Boobytrap had some problems in 2012 and raced only three times. She had two seconds and one third.
She was quietly entered in a $20,600 allowance raceTuesday afternoon at Finger Lakes. She went off at even money in a tough field of five, including Nicole’s Miss El (second in last year’s Susan B. Anthony Stakes) and hard-knocking gelding Too Tough Pete. She took the lead at the break and won in wire-to-wire fashion. Her time (59:39 seconds) was the quickest five-furlong time for the young season.
Thumbs up to Tim Snyder for his patient handling to get his bread-winning pet back in gear and to the races. Her career line: 17 races...10 wins...2 seconds...3 thirds...career earning $180,000-plus.
Not a bad return on his $4,500 investment.
BASEBALL FACTS, STATS AND OPINIONS
Is it too early to suggest that Matt Harvey start the All-Star Game for the National League? In his seven starts this season, he has a 4-0 record and 1.28 ERA. His WHIP (hits + walks per inning) is a craszy 0.69. In 49 1/3 innings, he has allowed only 22 hits, with 12 walks and 58 strikeouts. Opponents have a .133 batting average...Some folks already are comparing him to Tom Seaver. That’s premature. Mets fans and media once said that about Dwight Gooden and look what happened to him. Hopefully, Harvey will take his job more seriously than Doc did.
--Adam Dunn (White Sox) is one of the toughest players to judge in baseball history. He has awesome power walks a lot and hits plenty of home runs (412 and counting – slowly). But he doesn’t hit enough singles, whiffs far too much, can’t field and is ridiculously slow afoot (his nickname is Big Donkey).
He was AL Comeback Player of the Year for 2012. He deserved it. Check out his numbers for 2011, 2012 and so far this season:
2011 -- .159 batting average (66x415)...11 HRs...42 RBI...75 walks...177 strikeouts
2012 -- .204 batting average (110x539)...41 HRs...96 RBI...105 walks...222 strikeouts
2013 -- .145 batting average (16x110)...6 HRs...12 RBI...12 walks...41 strikeouts.
--Update on How the projected Rochester Red Wings starting outfield is doing with the parent MinnesotaTwins):
LF Wilken Ramirez – 14 games... .346 batting average (9x26)...2 doubles...5 RBI
CF Aaron Hicks – 29 games... .133 batting average (13x98)...13 runs...2 doubles...1 triple...1 HR...13 RBI...14 walks...34 strikeouts...3 stolen bases
RF Oswaldo Arcia – 18 games... .313 batting average (20x64)...4 doubles...3 HRs...11 RBI.
--I thought the Yankees made a mistake in counting too much on closer Mariano Rivera and failing to retain Rafael Soriano as an expensive set-up man and closer insurance. They’re both doing very well this season:
Rivera – 15 games...13 saves...1.88 ERA...0.98 WHIP...14 1/3 innings...12 hits...2 walks...12 Ks
Soriano (Washington) – 16 games...12 saves...2.25 ERA...0.88 WHIP...16 innings...11 hits...3 walks...13 Ks.
--Mets and Twins reject Carlos Gomez (Milwaukee) leads the National League with a .386 batting average (44x144; 9 doubles; 3 triples; 6 HRs; 14 RBI; NL-best .675 slugging percentage and 1.106 OPS)...He is one of MLB’s biggest surprises so far this season. He always had the raw talent and finally has learned how to use it – at least for now).
KNIGHTHAWKS VS. STEALTH AN EVEN MATCH
The Rochester Knighthawks will attempt to defend their 2012 National Lacrosse League championship Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, against the Washington Stealth in Langley, B.C.
By all measures, these are two evenly-matched teams:
Regular-season records – Stealth 9-7...Knighthawks 8-8
Goal differential – Knighthawks +14 (179-165)...Stealth +1 (193-192)
Power play percentage – Knighthawks 49.2 (29x58)...Stealth 45.9 (34x74)
Shots on goal – Stealth 787...Knighthawks 739
Turnovers – Knighthawks 426...Stealth 462
Faceoff percentage – Stealth 61.9...Knighthawks 35.5
Washington appears to be the better offensive team, but Rochester is the better defensive team by a wider margin.
The Stealth have three big-time scoring threats: Rhys Duch (first-team NLL All-Pro), Lewis Ratcliff and former league MVP Athan Iannucci.
They combined for 98 goals and 112 assists this season.
Washington’s Mike Grimes was NLL second-team All-Pro defenseman this season.
Rochester has a significant advantage in goal with three-time All-Pro first team pick Matt Vinc over Tyler Richards.
The teams opened the season Jan. 5 in Washington. Attendance was 7,023. The Stealth won 13-12 in a game the Knighthawks did not get the better of the calls. That happens sometimes to road teams in the NLL.
Rochester won the rematch 7-6 at home Feb. 2 before 7,914 fans.
My prediction: The Stealth over the Knighthawks 14-12...Washington is due. This is the third trip to the title game in the last four years for Washington. And the home-field advantage is a big plus in the NLL...I won’t be surprised if Rochester wins and Dan Dawson is game MVP in pursuit of his first NLL title.
REMEMBER JOSE MESA?
The list of the all-time 133 pitchers who have at least 100 saves in Major League Baseball includes seven former Rochester Red Wings:
Jose Mesa – 321 MLB (14th on the list)
Joe Nathan – 306 (20th)
Armando Benitez – 289 (29th)
Danny Graves – 182 (56th)
Darold Knowles – 143 (t81st)
Joe Borowski – 131 (92nd)
B.J. Ryan – 117 (t106th).
Nathan appeared in three games on rehab for the Red Wings in 2011...Knowles has the distinction of being the only pitcher to appear in every game of a seven-game World Series.
UPDATING MINNESOTA’S FARM TEAMS
Since the Rochester Red Wings began the season 2-11, they were 12-9 entering Friday night.
Minnesota’s three other full-season affiliates started strong and haven’t cooled off:
New Britain Rock Cats (AA Eastern League) – 18-15 record...outscoring opponents by 31 runs (177-146)...4.04 ERA (7th of 12 teams)
Fort Myers Miracle (Advanced A Florida State League) – 26-7 record...outscoring opponents by 56 runs (189-133)...3.55 ERA (4th of 12 teams)
Cedar Rapids Kernals (Class A Midwest League) – 21-9
record...outscoring opponents by 51 runs (183-132)...3.65 ERA (5th of 16 teams).
New Britain, Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids all are leading their leagues in runs scored.
Rochester’s Cito Culver, the first-round draft pick of the New York Yankees, has yet to blossom as Derek Jeter’s potential successor at shortstop. He recently became a strictly right-handed batter. The former switch-hitter is hitting .221 (27x122) for the Charleston Riverdogs (Single-A South Atlantic League), with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HRs, 11 RBI, 2x4 stolen bases, 16 walks and 38 strikeouts...Last season, he hit .215 with 2 HRs and 40 RBI for the Riverdogs...Cito is only 20 so he has plenty of time to improve.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig blew it Thursday. He should have ordered Wednesday night’s controversial “double” by Oakland’s Adam Rosales a home run to tie the score 4-4 in the top of the ninth inning and resumed play at that point on Thursday before the regularly scheduled game in Cleveland in order to determine the legitimate winner.
NBA playoff trends entering Friday night: Home teams are 30-23...26 of the 53 games were decided by 11-or-more points.
NHL playoff trends entering Friday night: Home teams are 21-12...17 of the 33 games were decided by one goal...11 of the 33 games went into overtime.
Sadly, it probably is only a matter of time before a baseball pitcher is killed by a line drive to the head. That being said, I don’t think it is realistic to come up with effective protective headgear that would not be too cumbersome.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal this week ranked the NFL’s eight divisions entering the 2013 season: NFC West...NFC North...AFC North...NFC South...NFL East...AFC South...ALC East...AFC West...No arguments here with the four voters (NFC West was unanimously best and AFC West was unanimously worst), but I give the AFC East a chance to improve a notch. Miami appears to be much improved, and Buffalo might also surprise (6-10 to maybe 8-8 tops).
The 95th PGA Championship History exhibit opens May 24 at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. The display of rare artifacts and memorabilia will run through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2. The items include Jim Barnes’ driver used to win the inaugural PGA Championship in 1916, a walking stick used legendary Rochester product Walter Hagen; and the wedge used by Phil Mickelson to clinch his 2005 victory...The 95th PGA Championship will be played Aug. 5-11 at Oak Hill Country Club.
In thoroughbred horse racing, owners need permission from famous people in order to names horses after them. I guess New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter passed on the opportunity. Tuesday at Finger Lakes, Jerek Deter, a New York state-bred, was a badly-beaten fourth in his first career start.