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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.
SPURS NEED ONE MORE WIN – NO CINCH IN MIAMI
POPULAR FORMER AMERK DANIEL PAILLE EASY TO ROOT FOR
STREAKING WNY FLASH WILL GET SOME NATIONAL EXPOSURE
RED WINGS FANS MIGHT FINALLY SEE AARON HICKS
ABBY: 156 GOALS AND COUNTING
The San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat 114-104 Sunday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
But the Spurs are no lock to win the championship. The rest of the series – Game 6 and Game 7 (if necessary) -- will be in Miami, where the defending champion Heat seldom lose.
The early line for Tuesday night’s Game 6 favors Miami by 7 points. That seems steep to me, but I understand why. The Heat are 45-7 at home this season (37-4 in the regular season and 8-3 in the playoffs). San Antonio is 30-20 on the road (23-18 in the regular season and 7-2 in the playoffs).
The Spurs won Game 1 at Miami. Can they do it twice in one series?
The Heat also still are favored to win the series: Bet $130 to win $100. San Antonio is bet $100 to win $110.
Other thoughts on the NBA Finals:
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is a master psychologist and giving struggling Manu Ginobili his first start of the season on Sunday night paid off. It pumped up the home crowd (Ginobili was the last starter to be introduced) and the classy veterani, with renewed confidence, responded with a season-high 24 points and 10 assists.
The Heat need Chris Bosh to step up. He was a superstar out of the spotlight with the Toronto Raptors but hasn’t been nearly as productive in Miami. His reputation as a player is at stake. I don’t expect him to meet the challenge but he might surprise.
The MVP of the Finals almost always is an established star player. Tony Parker (San Antonio) and LeBron James (Miami) are the favorites now, but San Antonio sharpshooter Danny Green has an outside chance. He’s already set a Finals record with 25 three-point field goals – including 17x28 (.607) in his team’s three victories.
Here’s an interesting stat from ESPN: Since the 2002-03 season, San Antonio is 14-2 (.875) in games on the road to close a playoff series. The other NBA teams are a combined 61-75 (.449) in that situation. Credit superior coaching by Popovich and a group of players that knows how to finish.
PAILLE AN UNLIKELY HERO FOR THE BRUINS
The No. 1 Star of the Game for the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals Saturday night was former Rochester Americans fan favorite Daniel Paille. The 29-year-old left wing scored the game-winning goal and had an assist in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Paille, the No. 20 overall pick in the 2002 NHL entry draft by the Buffalo Sabres, was a popular Amerk for portions of three seasons (2004-05 through 2006-07). He wasn’t a dynamite scorer (35 goals and 42 assists in 153 games), but the fans appreciated his skating ability, hustle and relentless hard work, particularly killing penalties.
The now 29-year-old Paille played portions of five seasons with Buffalo. In 195 games, he had 35 goals and 42 assists. On Oct. 20, 2009, the Sabres decided Paille was expendable and traded him to the Boston Bruins for a conditional pick in the 2010 draft. It reportedly was the first trade ever between division rivals Buffalo and Boston involving a player under contract.
The Sabres used the third-round pick (No. 75 overall) acquired for Paille to select young center Kevin Sundher, who made his pro debut this season with the Amerks (4 goals and 9 assists in 38 games).
When the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup over Vancouver, Paille and teammate Greg Campbell were lauded as the team’s unsung heroes for their work killing penalties against potent Vancouver. Now he has a shot for a second Stanley Cup ring in two seasons. Buffalo’s loss obviously was a gain for Paille and the Bruins.
NOTE: Paille scored another goal in Boston's 2-0 home win in game 3 Monday night.
WNY FLASH ARE NO FLASH IN THE PANS
After a slow start this National Women’s Soccer League season (0-2-1), the Western New York Flash are the hottest team in the league (5-0-1). They’re coming off a 2-0 win at Washington last Saturday night minus mainstays Abby Wambach (league-leading 6 goals),Carli Lloyd and Samantha Kerr (in action with their national teams).
The Flash and Sahlen’s Stadium will get some national exposure in two of the six-game regular-season Fox Soccer TV package. Teams with the best soccer-specific stadiums were given preference in the scheduling. Portland and the Flash each will host two games. WNY will host Sly Blue FC, July 21, 1:30 p.m., and the Boston Breakers, Aug. 17, 8 p.m.
Fox Soccer also will carry live the two semifinal matches Aug. 24 and the championship match Aug. 31.
The way the Flash have been playing, the nation’s soccer fans could be seeing a steady dose of the WNY Flash players and their stadium.
EJ MANUEL WILL BE BEST PLAYER TO WEAR #3 FOR BILLS...EXCEPT FOR GOGOLAK
Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel will wear No. 3 for the Buffalo Bills. Only four players previously wore the number for the Bills. Three were kickers – Pete Gogolak (very good), and John Leypoldt and Todd Schlopy (not so good). We can only hope that Manuel will be better than Buffalo’s other No. 3: quarterback Benny Russell. He appeared in one game for the 1968 Bills. He was 1x2 for 3 yards.
Kevin Kolb will be the fifth player to wear No. 4 for the Bills: QBs Brian Brohm and Tyler Thigpen, and punters Rusty Jackson and John Kidd.
WINGS MIGHT FINALLY GET A LOOK AT AARON HICKS
Rochester Red Wings fans survived the hideous 2010 and 2011 seasons and have watched decent home teams the last two seasons. The reward for their patience figures to be a look at some of the best prospects in all of baseball playing for the Red Wings in the near future.
Here are five of the outstanding young players who figure to be wearing Rochester soon:
Center fielder Aaron Hicks – The 14th overall pick in the 2008 June entry draft was touted as a “five-tool” player and had his breakthrough season last year for Double-A New Britain. The 24-year switch-hitting outfielder hit .286 with 13 HRs, 61 RBI and 32 stolen bases in 129 games...He was ticketed for Rochester this year but had a hot spring training to earn a job with Minnesota. He was the starting CF for the Twins until a recent hamstring injury put him on the DL. He got off to a brutal start at the plate and currently is hitting only .179 (with 34 runs, 6 doubles, 2 triples, 6 HRs, 19 RBI, 4 stolen bases and 56 strikeouts). But he has impressed the Twins and opposing scouts with his defense and power potential. Assuming he’ll need a rehab stint, Rochester fans figure to get a brief look at him soon.
Third baseman Miguel Sano – Surprisingly, the frugal Twins outbid many other teams by signing the 16-year-old slugging prospect for $3.15 million when he was 16 years old. After dominating the pitcher-friendly Advanced Class-A Florida State League this season (.330, 16 HRs, 489 RBI, .655 slugging percentage in 56 games), the now 20-year-old slugger was promoted to Double-A New Britain. He has struggled so far with the Rock Cats (1x11, with 6 walks and 3 RBI) but no one is worried. He could be Rochester’s starting third baseman Opening Day 2014.
Center fielder Byron Buxton – The No. 2 overall No. 2 pick in the 2012 entry draft is t6he best player in the Single-A Midwest League: .344; 64 runs in 63 games; 15 doubles; 8 trip-les; 8 HRs; 51 RBI; 29x40 stolen bases...He’s only 18 but appears to be on the fast track to stardom. ..Could be a Red Wing by 2015.
Other top prospects on the way to Rochester en route to Minnesota include pitchers Alex Meyer and Trevor May (acquired in trades last winter for Denard Span and Ben Revere, respectively), 2B/OF Eddie Rosario and strong-hitting catcher Josmil Pinto.
ABBY NEEDS THREE GOALS TO TOP MIA HAMM
Abby Wambach’s goal in the U.S. national women’s soccer team’s 4-1 win over South Korea Saturday night in Foxborough, Mass., was the 156th of her international career. She trails former teammate and mentor Mia Hamm by two goals.
The next game for the U.S. women will be against North Korea Thursday night at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
For the record, it was Abby’s 12th goal on a penalty kick in international play.
Abby didn’t start Saturday night’s game. For only the third time with a full roster, Alex Morgan and Sydney Laroux started together up top.
Morgan, who’ll turn 24 on July 2, and Laroux, who turned 23 in May, are the U.S. women’s long-term future. Morgan has 44 goals in 67 international games. Leroux has 17 goals in 37 caps.
But Wambach, who turned 33 on June 2, still has plenty left. She’s tied with Laroux for the team lead with 8 goals this year. Morgan has 6 goals. Her leadership and history of clutch goals assure that she has plenty of starts and playing time left.
The U.S. is 8-0-2 this year and on a 33-game unbeaten streak (outscoring opponents 105-26). The U.S. is 100-2-8 in games Abby scores a goal.
BASEBALL HOT AND COLD TEAMS AND PLAYERS
Chris Davis hit his MLB-most 23rd home run Sunday in a 6-3 home win over Boston...The Orioles have won six straight series over Boston...Manny Machado (Baltimore) has a MLB-most 32 doubles, including 5 in his last 5 games.
Heretofore light-hitting Jose Inglesias (Boston) has a 17-game hitting streak and a .438 batting average (39x89).
Popular former Red Wing Francisco Liriano (Pittsburgh) takes a 5-2 record and 2.36 ERA into Monday night’s start against Cincinnati.
Kansas City is 10-2 in its last 12 games and has allowed three runs or fewer in 14 of its last 15 games.
Adam Lind (Toronto) was 7x17 with 2 HRs and 6 RBI in a four-game sweep over Texas. He has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games.
Bartolo Colon (Oakland) won his sixth straight decision Sunday over visiting Seattle. He is 9-2 this season and has 7 straight home wins.
San Diego is above .500 (35-34) for the first time since the close of the 2010 season (90-72). The Padres are 30-19 since April 24 and 21-7 in their last 238 home games.
Michael Cuddyer (Colorado) has a 14-game hitting streak and a .340 batting average.
Stephen Strasburg (Washington) has a 3-6 record.
St. Louis lost a series (2-1 to Miami) for the first time since April 26-28.
The Dodgers are a season-worst 10 games under .500 (29-39).
The White Sox are 1-12 in their last 13 road games and 10 games under .500 (28-38) for the first time since May 7, 2011.
Texas has 6 straight losses and is 1-6 in the first 7 games of a season-long 11-game homestand.
Cole Hamels (Philadelphia) is 2-10 after a 5-2 loss Sunday at Colorado.
Justin Morneau (Minnesota) is hitting .288 but has only 2 HRs in 240 at-bats.
San Francisco is 6-14 in its last 20 road games.
Defenseman T.J. Brennan was traded again last week: From Buffalo to Florida to Nashville in six months. He appears to be a journeyman at age 24. Most Rochester fans would like to see him play again for the Amerks. In 36 games for Rochester last season, he had 14 goals and 21 assists.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says “Redskins” represents “a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” I’d buy that if he were talking about Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and the team’s fans instead of a significant percentage of Native Americans.
Ramon Dominguez, 36, who won the last three Eclipse Awards as North America’s top jockey, has retired after suffering a “traumatic brain injury” in a spill at Aqueduct Jan. 18. His mount clipped heels with another horse and unseated Dominguez. He was kicked in the head by a trailing horse. He had 4,985 career wins out of 21,276 mounts (an impressive 23 percent)
Another sad horse racing note: The Hollywood Gold Cup will be run for the final time on July 6. The track is closing after this 75th anniversary year. I wonder if another thoroughbred track ever will be built in this country.
Former Red Wings shortstop Jason Bartlett, who hosted a local golf tournament last weekend, is sitting out this baseball season. Assuming he’d like to resume his playing career next season, how about Minnesota signing him? He could be Rochester’s shortstop and infield insurance for the Wings...Bartlett’s wife, Kelly Chevez, is from Rochester...In portions of three seasons with the Red Wings (2004 through 2006), Bartlett hit .324 in 186 games. In portions of nine big-league seasons, he hit. 271. His best season was 2009: .320, 29 doubles, 7 triples, 14 HRs, 66 RBI, 30 stolen bases with Tampa Bay.
Headline on Page 1 of Sunday’s New York Post: “Don’t Choke, Phil...Mickelson chases first open win”...He didn’t exactly choke, but he didn’t win.
If the Los Angeles Clippers could get Dwight Howard from the Los Angeles Angels for a package featuring Blake Griffin, they should do it. Howard and Chris Paul would be a tough duo to beat. I believe Griffin is very much overrated in everything except dunking.
If you’re not a hockey fan, chances are you won’t buy my opinion that Doc Emrick is the best play-by-play man in pro sports today.
Shenise Johnson (Rush-Henrietta) update for her second season with the WNBA San Antonio Silver Stars: 6 games...11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game.
I’d like to see rookies Evan Gattis (Atlanta) and Yasiel Puig (Dodgers) represent the National League in the Home Run Derby.” Unfortunately, that would be too creative for MBL officials.
Torri Hunter hit his 300th career HR Sunday. Good hitter. Excellent fielder. Great team guy. Always hustles. And a classic example of a very good player with no chance to make the Hall of Fame.
There is no guarantee that Tim Tebow will make the roster of the New England Patriots, but you can purchase his No. 5 replica game jersey for $99.95 on the team’s website.
I’m starting to wonder if the key factor in the NBA Finals will be which star will break down first – Tony Parker or Dwyane Wade.
A sure sign of summer’s arrival in Rochester: A crowd of 11,475 at Frontier Field on a beautiful Saturday night to watch an exciting come-from-behind 6-5 Red Wings victory over the Gwinnett Braves. Since their dreadful 2-11 start, the Wings are 32-25 and the roster has been relatively stable. The pitching staff is healthier. The lineup has been producing. Chris Colabello is having one of the best offensive seasons in modern team history. The team is peaking at6 the right time with thoughts of the second trip to the playoffs since 1997 dancing in the heads of loyal fans – 13 of the next 15 games will be on the road.
USA Today Sports NBA Draft Preview is on the newsstands and it ranks Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Wiiliams No. 6 and James Southerland No. 69, respectively on its Top 101 Draft Board. Carter-Williams is projected as a lottery pick and compared to Penny Hardaway and Shaun Livingston. Southerland is projected as “late second round to undrafted” and compared to Steve Novak and Kyle Korver.
WILL HALL-OF-FAME VOTERS GIVE FRANK THOMAS PROPS FOR BEING CLEAN?
HOW ABOUT THE BILLS FOR HBO’S “HARD KNOCKS” SERIES?
SYRACUSE DOESN’T MEASURE UP TO ROCHESTER FOR MINOR-LEAGUE SUCCESS, BUT...
YADIER MOLINA SECOND IN ALL-STAR GAME FAN VOTING IS A JOKE
At the height of Major League Baseball’s unfortunate and shameful Steroids Era, one super-sized slugger stood alone in speaking out against cheating: Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas.
Thomas was a huge man long before he entered the majors. He was super strong and didn’t need performance-enhancing drugs to pile up impressive home-run counts.
Because Thomas spoke out against the use of PEDs at a time when nearly everyone else in baseball steered clear of the subject, he never has been accused of being a user.
I’ve always wondered to what extent Thomas could have padded his power numbers with PEDS. I believe he might have been multi-time member of the 60-Plus HR Club.
Thomas’ career stats: 2,322 games; .301 career batting average (2468x8199); 1494 runs; 495 doubles; 12 triples/521 HRs/1667 walks; 168 intentional walks; 1397 strikeouts; .419 on-base percentage; .555 slugging percentage; .974 OPS.
He was a two-time American League MVP (1993, 1994) and finished second in 2000 (behind Jason Giambi, who has since admitted he was a PED user).
Other distinctions by Thomas include:
Only five players hit more HRs with a higher career batting average: Hank Aaron, Jimmie Fox, Willie Mays, Manny Ramirez and Babe Ruth.
He’s the only MLB player ever to have seven consecutive seasons with a .300 batting average, 20 HRs, 100 RBI and 100 walks (only Ted Williams did it six straight years).
He’s one of only eight players with a .300 batting average, 500 HRs and 1,500RBI.
Thomas and several other former baseball superstars recently participated in a series of exhibition games (including a stop at Frontier Field). When the mini-tour ended, Thomas said the members of the troupe agreed that no player associated with steroids ever should be elected to the Hall o Fame.
Thomas called the current Biogenesis scandal “embarrassing” and “shameful” for baseball.
Thomas will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. I hope the writers will take his anti-steroids stance into consideration and vote him into Cooperstown right away. But he isn’t a cinch: Some writers will deduct points because he split time between DH and 1B (I always argue that DH became a position in 1973). Others might unfairly compare his batting stats to the inlated numbers of suspected contemporary cheaters such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez.
For the record, here are the prominent first-time eligibles for the Hall o Fame in the next few elections (in my order of preference):
2014 – Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Mike Mussina.
2015 –Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield.
2016 – Ken Griffey Jr., Trevor Hoffman.
2017 – Vladimir Guerrero. Manny Ramirez and Ivan Rodriguez are on the list but links to PEDs figure to cost hurt their chances.
2018 – Chipper Jones, Omar Vizquel.
NOMINATING THE BUFFALO BILLS FOR “HARD KNOCKS”
The Seattle Seahawks have reject HBO’s invitation to be the featured team for HBO’s popular training camp series “Hard Knocks.”
I’m nominating the Buffalo Bills for the gig.
Playing in a small market makes the Bills a long shot for the series, but there are some things to like:
The Bills haven’t made the playoffs in the past 13 years. Everybody loves an underdog.
There is an interesting battle for starting quarterback.
New head coach Doug Marrone ‘s enthusiasm and positive attitude would be well-received.
The Bills have the potential to be one of the NFL’s most entertaining offensive teams in the NFL this season.
Attendance for next month’s training camp at St. John Fisher figures to be very good.
Bills CEO Russ Brandon has pledged to make the team “relevant” again. What better way to boost Buffalo’s NFL profile than appearing on “Hard Knocks”?
SYRACUSE NOT EXACTLY A MINOR-LEAGUE HOTBED
The Syracuse Crunch trail the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-0 in the best-of-seven AHL Calder Cup Finals.
Local sports historian Doug Brei supplies this comparison of the success of Syracuse’s professional sports teams with those of Rochester:
In the 37 years since the Syracuse Chiefs last won the International Leaguer’s Governors’ Cup, Syracuse’s professional sports teams have combined to win a grand total of ONE league championship: The 1977 Syracuse Blazers won the championship of the North American Hockey League, a notch or two below the AHL.
In that timeframe, the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), Chiefs (International League), Firebirds (AHL), Salts (United Pro Softball League), Spirit American Lacrosse League), Smash (National Lacrosse League), Salty Dogs (United Soccer League), Raging Bullz (ABA), Soldiers AIFL) and Silver Knights (MISL) have all failed to bring a single league title to the Salt City.
In that same time period (1976-to-present), 10 different Rochester pro teams have captured 25 league or Cup titles:
Rochester Rhinos 4 (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001)
Rochester Knighthawks 4 (1997, 2007, 2012, 2013)
Rochester RazorSharks 4 (2006, 2008, 2009, 2011)
Rochester Red Wings 3 (1988, 1990, 1997)
Rochester Americans (1983, 1987, 1996)
Rochester Zeniths (1978/79, 1980/81)
Western New York Flash (2011, 2012)
Rochester Rattlers (2008)
Rochester Raiders (2007)
Rochester Express (1980).
Any Syracuse sports fan would respond by pointing out that wouldn’t trade one NCAA men’s basketball championship + 10 NCAA men’s lacrosse titles for all of Rochester’s minor-league success.
FANS SHOULD WAKE UP TO YADIER MOLINA
I believe the nation’s baseball fans are doing a pretty good job so far in balloting for the starters in the 84th All-Star Game, Tuesday, July 16, at Citi Field in New York City. It is the home of the Mets and the team’s fans deserve to see at least one star-studded game this season.
My only major gripe with the fans is National League catcher. Buster Posey (San Francisco) is the reigning NL batting champion and MVP, but Yadier Molina (St. Louis) deserves to start in the All-Star Game.
Their batting lines this season are similar: Posey .306 batting average; 8 HRs; 39 RBI...Molina .353 batting average; 4 HRs; 32 RBI.
The big difference is defense. Posey is a decent defensive catcher. Molina is the best in the business.
Molina is the best player on this season’s best team. He deserves to start in the All-Star Game. Posey leads Molina in the latest fan balloting (1,961,861 to 1,684,700) but the voting deadline is 11:59 p.m., July. There is plenty of time for the fans to get it right.
My only other disagreements with the fans worth mentioningare the National League outfield and third base. The current top three vote-getters among outfielders are Carlos Beltran (St. Louis), Justin Upton (Atlanta) and Bruce Harper (Washington). I prefer Domonic Brown (Philadelphia) and Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado) over Upton and Harper. At third base, I prefer David Wright and Pablo Sandoval. Their offensive numbers are nearly identical and Wright is a much better fielder and runner.
SPURS SEEKING THEIR FIFTH NBA TITLE...HEAT GOING FOR THIRD
The San Antonio Spurs are trying to win their fifth NBA championship. They’ve yet to lose in the Finals.
The Miami Heat have won two NBA titles and lost once in the Finals.
Here are the number of NBA titles (and loses in the Finals) for every franchise:
Boston 17 (4)
Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers 16 (15)
Chicago 6 (0)
San Antonio 4 (0)
Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State 3 (3)
Syracuse/Philadelphia 3 (4)
Miami 2 (1)
Houston 2 (2)
New York Knicks 2 (6)
Rochester/Omaha/Kansas City/Sacramento 1 (0)
Baltimore Bullets (original) 1 (0)
Dallas 1 (1)
Milwaukee 1 (1)
Portland 1 (2)
St. Louis/Atlanta 1 (3)
Seattle/Oklahoma City 1 (3)
New Jersey/Brooklyn 0 (2)
Orlando 0 (2)
New Orleans/Utah 0 (2)
Chicago Stags 0 (1)
Washington Capitols 0 (1)
Cleveland 0 (1)
Indiana 0 (1).
Current teams with no Finals appearances: Charlotte...Denver...Los Angeles Clippers...Memphis...Minnesota...New Orleans Pelicans...Toronto.
Chris Colabello continues to build on what could be one of the all-time best batting seasons ever by a Rochester Red Wing. He entered Friday with a .366 batting average – best in ALL of orgsnized baseball. Here’s how he ranked in assorted International League stats: 1st in batting average (.366), slugging percentage (.644) and OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage); 3rd in total bases (130); 3rd in on-base percentage (.427); t4th in RBI (46); t7th in home runs (12). This guy can hit!
The WWE will stage a pay-per-view show (Over The Limit) in Buffalo Oct. 6.
I wonder why there have been many more four-game sweeps in the NHL Finals (20 since best-of-seven began in 1939) than in the NBA Finals (8 since the best-of-seven format began in 1950).
Here are the all-time National Lacrosse League scorers entering the 2014 season: John Tavares 1,666 points (undecided on returning for the 20123 season at age 44)...Colin Doyle 1,262...John Grant Jr., 1,184...Gary Gait 1.165...Josh Sanderson 1.143...Shawn Williams 1,102...Dan Dawson 946...Gavin Prout 922...Lewis Ratcliff 889...Blaine Manning 833...Grant, Gait, Sanderson, Williams and Dawson are former or current Rochester Knighthawks.
According to Baseball Almanac, the five oldest former Major League Baseball players are Connie Marrero (102), Ace Parker (101), Mike Sandlock (97), Art Kenney (97) and Ray Hathaway (96)...The oldest living former Rochester Red Wings are Chuck Kress (91), Neil Watlington (90) and Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst (90).
Updated boxing/ MMA odds: UFC 161 Saturday, Rashad Evans ($130 to win $100) vs. Dan Henderson (EVEN)...UFC 162 July 6, Anderson Silva ($280 to win $100) vs. Chris Weidman ($100to win $220)...IBF light-heavyweight title, July 13, Bernard Hopkins ($650 to win $100) vs. Karo Murat ($100 to win $425)...WBC/WBA super world light middleweight title, Sept. 14, Floyd Mayweather Jr. ($280 to win $100) vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez ($100 to win $220)...Nov. 24, Manny Pacquiao ($500 to win $100) vs. Brandon Rios ($100 to win $350).
Utica has returned to the American Hockey League for the 2013-14 season, with the Vancouver Canucks the NHL affiliate. Utica was in the AHL for six seasons (1986-87 through 1992-93. The Devils were affiliated with the NHL New Jersey Devils.
The Minnesota Twins released Rochester relief pitcher on Thursday. The 29-year-old right-hander never got a fair chance to stock with the Twins, but I’ll remember him for two the best seasons ever by a Red Wings reliever: 2010 – 54 games; 2-2 record; 17 saves; 2.20 ERA; 65.1 innings; 41 hits allowed; 32 walks; 74 strikeouts; .178 opposing batting average...2012 – 31 games; 1-0 record; 1-0 record; 14 saves; 1.14 ERA; 36.1 innings; 26 hits allowed; 18 walks; 56 strikeouts; .195 opposing batting average.
The nation’s golf fans have Tiger Woods. Golf fans here have Gavin Hall, who figures to be driving TV golf ratings in Greater Rochester for a long time.
BRUINS-BLACKHAWKS IN FIRST SHOWDOWN FOR THE STANLEY CUP
2013 NFL PREVIEW MAGAZINES NOT HIGH ON THE BILLS
A GREAT DAY FOR ANDY PETTITTE
BASEBALL HOT AND NOT
TOUGH TRIP TO ERIE, PA., FOR LISA’S BOOBYTRAP
MIGUEL SANO PROMOTED TO DOUBLE-A: RED WINGS NEXT STOP?
The Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins – two of the NHL’s “Original Six” teams – have played in the Stanley Cup Finals a total of 29 times since 1927. But they’ll meet for the first time in the Finals starting Wednesday night in Chicago.
Most NHL fans were looking forward to a showdown between Chicago and Pittsburgh, the consistently two-best teams in the abbreviated 48-game regular season. Maybe the explosive Penguins also were looking ahead too much.
The Bruins humiliated Pittsburgh, outscoring the Penguins 12-2 in a four-game sweep. Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held pointless.
The early odds (courtesy of covers.com) favor Chicago but I’m not sure why: Chicago bet $145 to win $100...Boston bet $100 to win $125.
Both teams have momentum. Boston trailed Toronto 4-1 with 11 ½ minutes left in regulation in the decisive Game 7 of the first round. The Bruins rallied to win 5-4 in overtime in a finish some long-time Boston observers called the most amazing comeback in that sports-crazy city’s history.
Boston then went on an 8-1 roll vs. the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh to reach the Finals.
Chicago trailed Detroit 3-1 after four games in the Western Conference semifinals and then – sparked by Buffalo native Patrick Kane -- went 7-1 against the Red Wings and defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings to reach the Finals.
The Blackhawks were the better team in the regular season: Chicago – 36-7-5 record...+53 goal differential (155-102)...Boston 28-14-6 record...+22 goal differential (131-109). Who cares? That means nothing now.
Chicago has the home-ice advantage and the Blackhawks are 9-1 at home in the playoffs. But Boston is a more than respectable 5-2 on the road. Chicago is 3-4 on the road. Boston is 6-3 at home.
The Blackhawks earned the Presidents’ Trophy this (best record in the regular season) but I’m sure they aren’t the slightest bit concerned about the so-called “Presidents’ Trophy Hex.” The Presidents’ Trophy has been awarded 27 times to15 different teams) since it began for the 1985-86 season. The Presidents’ Trophy winner has gone on to win the Stanley Cup only seven times (eliminated in the first round six times).
Both teams have hot goalies: Corey Crawford (Chicago) 12-5 record; 1.74 goals-against average; .935 save percentage...Tuuka Rask (Boston) 12-4 record; 1.75 goals-against average; .943 save percentage.
Both teams have poor records in the Stanley Cup Finals: Boston is 6-12 in 18 trips to the Finals and Chicago is 4-7 in 11 trips to the Finals.
NFL 2013 PREVIEW MAGAZINES NOT HIGH ON THE BILLS
The flood of NFL Football Preview 2013 magazines has begun and the first three aren’t expecting much from the Buffalo Bills:
Pro Football Weekly Preview 2013 – Buffalo is No. 29 in the preseason power rankings and picked to finish third in the AFC East with a 7-9 record...”Doug Marrone inherits three offensive playmakers in C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson, a blue-chip D-line and two young playmaking DBs. But until the Bills find an answer at quarterback, among many other things, Buffalo will remain home to the league’s current symbol of futility.”
Pro Football Weekly ranked NFL players by position. Here are the No. 1-rated players and how Buffalo fared (in parentheses) : QB Aaron Rodgers (Kevin Kolb 30th)...RB Adrian Peterson (C.J. Spiller 13th)...WR Calvin Johnson (Stevie Johnson 26th)...TE Rob Gronkowski (no Bills in 25 listed players)...C Maurkice Pouncey (Eric Wood 10th)...OG Mike Iupati (no Bills listed in the top 20 listed; ex-Bill Andy Levitre is No. 2)...OT Duane Brown (no Bills in 25 listed players)...DT Vince Wilfork (Kyle Williams 8th and Marcell Dareus 9th)...DE J.J. Watt (Mario Williams 7th)...ILB Patrick Willis (no Bills in 25 listed players)...OLB DeMarcus Ware (no Bills in 28 listed players)...CB Darrelle Revis (no Bills in 28 listed players, not even Stephon Gilmore)...Safeties Earl Thomas (Jairus Byrd 2nd)...kick returner Jacoby Jones (Leodis McKelvin 2nd).
Sporting News Pro Football 2013 – Buffalo is No. 29 in preseason power rankings and picked to finish third in the AFC East...”The Bills are much more likely to be competing for the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2014 than they are a Super Bowl....The Bills lack elite talent at several positions, most notably quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker. Expectations are understandably low considering that the team is installing new offensive and defensive systems under a first-year head coach...It would be a stretch to say the Bills are anywhere close to competing for a playoff spot.”
Athlon Sports Pro Football 2013 Preview – Buffalo is picked to finish fourth in the AFC East and is 14th in the AFC power ratings...”New coach. New quarterback. Same results...After 13 years without playing in the postseason, it’s hard for even the most fervent fan (that’s you, John the Optimist) to be optimistic that another coaching change will mean anything. Doug Marrone does represent a fresh face and the promise of young ideas. The addition of EJ Manuel as a potential franchise quarterback does make the team more interesting to follow. Mike Pettine, a well-respected coordinator, will make the defense better. But in a division dominated by New England and with a schedule much more difficult than in 2012, it will take more than one offseason to undo all the mistakes of the last decade in Buffalo.”
The bottom – There is fresh optimism in western New York regarding the 2013 Bills, but the prominent preview magazines haven’t jumped on the bandwagon.
PETTITTE WINS 250TH SAME DAY SON SIGNED BY YANKEES
Few baseball pitchers gave enjoyed a day better than New York Yankees veteran left-handed pitcher Andy Pettitte on Saturday.
He recorded his 250th career victory in the New York Yankees 3-1 victory over the host Seattle Mariners and his 18-year-old right-handed pitcher son Josh Pettitte was selected by the Yankees in the 37th round of the June entry draft.
This is an appropriate time to reevaluate Pettitte’s hopes of being voted to baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Pettitte is the 47th pitcher to win at least 250 games in MLB history. Of those other 46 to reach that milestone, 34 already are Hall of Famers. Two others are sure to be elected when they become eligible: Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson. One other eligible pitcher still has a chance (Jack Morris). One other has a good chance when he becomes eligible (270). One has been linked to steroids (Roger Clemens) and is at the mercy of the voters. Jamie Moyer (269 wins) isn’t likely to be elected when he becomes eligible. Bobby Mathews (297 wins), Tommy John (288), Jim Kaat (283), Jimj McCormick (265) and Gus Weyhing (264) haven’t been elected yet and probably never will be.
Pettitte has more victories than 30 Hall of Fame pitchers (exluding Hank O’Day, a former pitcher who was elected as an umpire).
The two best and worst things going for Pettitte’s Hall of Fame chances:
Good – His .633 career winning percentage would rank 15th among the 69 Hall of Fame pitchers...He holds the record for the most postseason victories (19). In the postseason, he is 19-11 (.633 – matching his regular-season winning percentage) with a 3.81 ERA.
Bad – Every Hall of Fame pitcher has a lower career ERA than Pettitte’s 3.85...He admittedly briefly used PEDs to help recover from arm problems in 2002 and 2004.
BASEBALL: HOT AND NOT SO HOT
Los Angeles Dodgers rookie right fielder Yasiel Puig enjoyed a fruitful first week in the majors: 7 games; .464 batting average (13x28); 2 doubles; 4 HRs; 10 RBI; 27 total bases; plus a few throws reminding oldtimers of Roberto Clemente.
David Ortiz (Boston) has 5 HRs and 14 RBI in his last 10 games.
Boston is 6-2 in its last eight games and making 2012 manager Bobby Valentine look bad. The Red Sox were 89-93 with him last season and are 39-25 without him this season.
Ex-Red Wing Jesse Crain (White Sox) has 24 straight scoreless innings and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 25 appearances.
Kansas City has five straight wins. The bullpen hasn’t allowed a run in 17 2/3 innings over the last six games.
Mariano Rivera (Yankees) on Sunday posted his 23rd save in 24 opportunities this season and boosted his MLB record to 631 saves.
Felix Hernandez (Seattle) on Sunday threw his 22nd career no-decision when pitching at least seven innings and allowing one or no runs.
The Yankees are 9-0-2 in season series vs. Seattle since 2003.
Jordan Zimmerman (Washington) is 11-0 in his last 18 starts at Nationals Park.
The Phillies have homered in 14 straight games.
Dan Uggla (Atlanta) had 2 HRs in Sunday’s 8-1 win at the Los Angeles Dodgers and leads MLB second basemen with 222 HRs since the start of the 2006 season (No. 2 Robinson Cano has 178 HRs over that span).
Mike Minor (Atlanta) is 13-2 with a 2.33 ERA in his last 20 starts over the last two seasons.
Nick Swisher (Cleveland) ended an 0x26 slump with a single Sunday.
Cleveland has lost 11 straight road games.
Josh Hamilton (Angels) continues to struggle. He was 0-x5 with two strikeouts Sunday. His batting average is .212 (50x236). He has 8 HRs, 18 RBI and 65 strikeouts.
Matt Moore (Tampa Bay), 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA entering June, is 0-2 with an 18.00 ERA this month.
Alcides Escobar (Kansas City) has a .191 batting average and a .221 slugging percentage in his last 32 games.
The Mets are 3-8 vs. Miami. The feeble Marlins are 10-41 vs. all the other teams this season.
The struggling Rochester Rhinos (1-7-4 record and outscored 23-7 this disappointing season) must be looking forward to back-to-back home games June 21 vs. Antigua Barracuda FC (0-10 record and outscored 39-5) and Phoenix FC (2-8-3 record and outscored 23-14).
Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack 2011 Horse of the Year and fan favorite Lisa’s Boobytrap and owner/trainer Timothy Snyder had a rough trip to Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., Sunday, for the $100,000 Satin and Lace Stakes for fillies and mares. Lisa’s Boobytrap, sent off as the 3.30-to-1 co-second favorite in the field of 10 going 5 ½ furlongs, set all of the pace with fellow Finger Lakes invader Interrogate. They began to tire at the eighth pole and Interrogate drifted out and forced Lisa’s Boobytrap to check sharply. She finished last but was moved up to ninth when the stewards dropped Interrogate to last for interference.
Minnesota Twins 20-year-old slugging prospect Miguel Sano was promoted to the Double-A (Eastern League) New Britain after hitting two more home runs Sunday for the Fort Myers Miracle of the Advanced Class-A Florida State League. The Miracle have a 41-19 record and Sano leaves leading the league in home runs (16), runs (51), on-base percentage (.424), slugging percentage (.655), and OPS (1.079) and is 3rd in RBI (48). He’s 9x11 stealing bases. Next stop: Rochester, Opening Day 2014?
The Syracuse Crunch, bidding for their first AHL Calder Cup, are down 2-0 to the Grand Rapids Griffins in the best-of-seven Finals. Grand Rapids won 3-1 Saturday and 6-4 Sunday in Syracuse. The next three games will be in Grand Rapids.
Maybe if Wegmans LPGA Championship winner Inbee Park can win four or five of this year’s LPGA majors, French Open champion Serena Williams won’t be a runaway winner of Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.
The season is over for the Rochester RazorSharks after a loss to the Bloomington Flex, 88-77, Sunday at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. Bloomington won the best-of-three series 2-0. Sunday’s 77 points were just 2 points above the franchise record-low 75 points (Dec. 16, 2007). The RazorSharks now are 3-1 in championship games at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. The team expects to move to the Dome Arena in Henrietta for next season.
The Western New York Flash are playing the best soccer in the NWSL. They’re on a 4-0-1 roll and are the only team to beat the league-leading Sky Blue FC (7-2-1 record). Abby Wambach is tied with Alex Morgan (Portland) for the NWSL goal-scoring lead with 6. The Flash play at Washington Saturday and at Chicago June 19. Their next home game is against the Seattle Reign (with Hope Solo) Sunday, June v23, 4:05 p.m., at Sahlen’s Stadium.