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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.
BENGALS (-1) OVER HOST BROWNS ARE THIS WEEK’S NFL BEST BET
IT’S NOT JUST A-ROD
JETER WON’T CATCH ROSE…A-ROD WON’T CATCH BARRY BONDS
WHAT THE BILLS ARE DOING WELL AND NOT SO WELL
The Cleveland Browns are the NFL’s only winless team but they’ve played decent football and likely will win soon. That isn’t likely to happen Sunday at home against Cincinnati.
Five reasons to like the Bengals in this matchup:
They have more talent.
They’re coming off a disappointing 17-13 home loss to Miami.
They have a huge advantage at quarterback: Andy Dalton vs. rookie Brandon Weeden. Dalton has a better career record on the road (7-4) than at home (5-5).
They’re 13-3 in the last 16 meetings, including a 34-27 home win Week 2.
They’re favored by only 1 point.
This week’s “Best Bet”: Cincinnati 24, CLEVELAND (+1) 13.
Sunday’s other games
(home team in CAPS)
Buffalo 27, ARIZONA (-4 ½) 13 -- Desperate teams are dangerous and the Bills must realize that they’re currently the laughing stock of the NFL. It is difficult to imagine a third consecutive atrocious effort by any NFL team with average talent. If these guys have any pride and respect for their coach and long-frustrated fans, they figure to come up with a top effort against a far less formidable opponent than New England and San Francisco…Arizona is 4-1 but the offensive line is struggling and should be the tonic for Buffalo’s much-maligned defensive unit. The Cardinals, 31st in the NFL in total offense, are hurting at running back and averaging a mere 63.4 yards rushing per game and a league-worst 2.7 yards per carry. Quarterback Kevin Kolb was running for his life in last Thursday night’s 17-3 loss in St. Louis….There aren’t teams the Bills could beat right now, but the Cardinals are one of them. The 4½-point spot is a bonus.
ATLANTA (-8 ½) 35, Oakland 17 – The Falcons are clicking on offense and are extremely tough to beat at home. The Raiders come up with a surprising win every now and then. This probably won’t be one of them.
BALTIMORE (-3 ½) 28, Dallas 20 – The Ravens should dominate the Cowboys up front and their offense figures to improve on last week’s 9-6 win in Kansas City.
Indianapolis 24, NEW YORK JETS (-3) 17 – The difference should be Colts rookie Andrew Luck versus Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow. Luck has three 300-yard passing efforts in his first five NFL games. Sanchez has completed 48.4 percent of his passes. Tebow is Tebow – effective as a spot player but no threat as a full-time QB.
MIAMI (-3) 23, St. Louis 14 – I think the Dolphins are underrated and the Rams aren’t as good as they looked in last week’s 17-3 home win over Arizona.
PHILADELPHIA (-4) 35, Detroit 23 – The Eagles are due to explode offensively and porous Lions appear vulnerable.
Kansas City 27, TAMPA BAY (-4) 13 -- QB Brady Quinn makes his first NFL start since 2009 and could be the spark Kansas City’s offense needs to complement star running back Jamaal Charles.
New England 30, SEATTLE (+3) – The Patriots are on a role offensively and the Seahawks don’t have the weapons to keep up.
SAN FRANCISCO (-6 ½) 33, New York Giants 21 – The 49ers have more talent and will be primed to avenge last season’s 20-17 home loss in the NFC Championship Game.
Minnesota 23, WASHINGTON (-1 ½) 13 – The surprising Vikings look legitimate to me.
HOUSTON (-3) 28, Green Bay 20 – The hard-luck Packers can’t catch a break. The Texans could be the NFL’s best team.
Monday night’s game
SAN DIEGO (-1 ½) 33, Denver 27 –Philip Rivers won’t be intimidated by Peyton Manning and probably has more weapons to work with.
Thursday night’s game (picked before game on WHAM 1180):
Pittsburgh 27, TENNESSEE (+6) 24.
LAST WEEEK’S RESULTS: 10-4 picking winners outright (46-31 this season) and 8-6 picking winners against the Las Vegas point spread (34-40-3 this season); the “Best Bet” is 3-1-1 outright and 2-2-1 against the spread after the Chicago Bears, favored by 4 ½ points at Jacksonville, won by 38 points (41-3).
IT’S NOT JUST A-ROD…BIG GUNS AREE SHOOTING BLANKS
Former slugger Alex Rodriguez is getting most of the attention for his puny hitting in the ALDS between his New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles. Entering Friday’s deciding Game 5 in the best-f-five series, he has lots of company – in his own dugout and across the field:
Yankees – Curtis Granderson 1x16 (.063), 1 single, 0 RBI, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts…A-Rod – 2x16 (.125), 2 singles, 0 RBI, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts…Nick Swisher 2x15 (.133), 2 singles, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts.
Orioles(including the wild-card game) – Adam Jones 2x22 (.091), 2 singles, 1 RBI, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts…Matt Weiters 2x21 (.095), 1 double, 0 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts…Jim Thome 2x15 (.133), 2 singles, 0 RBI, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts.
NO CHANCE FOR JETER TO CATCH ROSE…A-ROD NOT LIKELY TO CATCH BONDS
Two New York Yankees are chasing two of baseball’s most mighty records. I don’t like their chances.
I hate to agree with Pete Rose on anything, but he this week said Derek Jeter won’t catch him as baseball’s all-time hits leader.
Rose had 4,256 career hits. He played until he was 45 years old and had the benefit of being Cincinnati’s player-manager in his last two seasons (1985-86). He padded his total with 52 hits in 1986, when he batted .219 with 0 HRs. With any other manager writing out the lineup card, he wouldn’t have had 237 official at-bats.
Rose had a .303 career batting average. Some people think he was baseball’s all-time best hitter. I have no idea why. Jeter has a .313 career batting average.
Jeter has 3,304 career hits. He needs 953 to pass Rose. Jeter is 39 and isn’t likely to be playing at age 45. If he played for five more seasons (through 2017) he’d need to average 190.6 hits per season. That’s not going to happen – even if he winds up as a designated hitter.
For the record, Jeter has 197 hits in 15 post-season games (3,501 total hits). Rose had 86 post-season hits (4,342 total hits).
I believe Jeter has been a considerably better player than Rose. Jeter had the edge in quality. Rose had the advantage in longevity.
Here are baseball’s top-five all-time home-run leaders and (how many more HRs Alex Rodriguez needs to catch them):
Barry Bonds 762 (116)
Hank Aaron 755 (109)
Babe Ruth 714 (68)
Willie Mays 660 (14)
Alex Rodriguez 647
Until recently, most baseball fans and analysts thought A-Rod was a cinch to top Bonds as the all-time home-run king.
Now I rate his chances around 30 percent. Why:
He’s 37 years old and on the decline. Scouts say he has lost bat speed and guesses at the plate much more than he used to. He swings earlier and fails to make contact considerably more often than in his prime.
I assume he no longer benefits from using performance-enhancing drugs. Unless he tells us after his career ends, we’ll never know how many seasons he was cheating.
He misses many more games than he did in his prime and that tend likely will continue as he ages:
His last four seasons:
2009 -- .286 batting average…30 HRs…124 games
2010 -- .270…30 HRs…137 games
2011 -- .276…16 HRs…99 games
2012 -- .272…18 HRs…122 games
HOW THE BUFFALO BILLS MEASURE UP ENTERING WEEK 6
Wins – Bills 2…opponents 3
Points – Bills 118…opponents 176 (-58)
Total yards offense – Bills 1755…opponents 2247 (-492)
First downs – Bills 83…opponents 125 (-42)
Total rushing yards – Bills 721…opponents 859 (-138)
Rush ATT/yards per rush – Bills 142/5.1…opponents 151/5.7 (awful defense by Bills)
Total passing yards – Bills 1034…opponents 1388 (-354)
Yards per ATT – Bills 6.85 (poor)…opponents 8.02
COMP/ATT/INT – Bills 8/151/8 (poor)…opponents 110/173/4
Passer rating – Bills 84.2 (17th)…opponents 103.6 (4th)
Takeaways – Bills 9…opponents 13
Turnover differential – Bills -4…opponents +4
Sacks by – Bills 10…opponents 5 (+5).
TAKE A BOW BILLS FANS!
Gregg Rosenthal of nfl.com this week ranked the fan bases of the 32 NFL teams based on quality, intelligence, intensity and loyalty.
“Showing up to be seen is not rewarded".
Buffalo fans are ranked No. 2, behind only Green Bay and just ahead of No. 3 Pittsburgh.: “Buffalo fans are passionate, smart and hopeful.”
The rest (in order):
Top Tier – Cleveland, New Orleans, Oakland, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago Denver and Washington
Next level – Kansas City, Baltimore, Houston
Middle of the pack –Dallas, New York Giants, San Francisco, Detroit, New York Jets, Mi9nnesota, Indianapolis
Bottom rung – New England (“The Foxborough crowd is one of the quietest in football. Boston also remains a baseball town”, Miami, Carolina, Atlanta, Tennessee, Arizona, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, San Diego, St. Louis.
Here’s an update on Rochester native Jeff Sluman: This year on the PGA Champions Tour, he ranks 17th in money won ($808,174) and 13th in scoring (70.23). He’s driving well (average driving distance of 280.7 yards ranks 20th) and 3rd on the tour with 247 birdies. … For his excellent pro golf career, Sluman ranks 12th in all-time earnings ($24,656,123), including $6,490,857 on the Champions Tour.
For a guy some people think is having a bad year, Tiger Woods – not including the Ryder Cup – is having a very good year. He ranks 2nd to Rory McIlroy in PGA Tour official in both earnings ($8,047,952 to $6,133,158) and scoring (68.873 to 68,904). He’s also second to McIlroy in the world golf rankings.
Ontario’s Peterborough Lakers defeated the Western Lacrosse Association Langley Thunder 4-2 in the best-of-seven Mann Cup. It was the 14th Mann Cup for Peterborough. The Mann Cup is Canada’s indoor summer championship.
Peterborough was loaded with former and current Rochester Knighthawks, including team Mann Cup scoring leaders Shawn Evans (7 goals + 24 assists) and John Grant Jr. (16 goals + 14 assists). All six games were played in Peterborough before capacity crowds (21,213 total attendance).
It has taken all of five games for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to make team owner James Irsay look good for deciding not to retain four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning in favor of drafting a rookie. I wonder how many league MVP awards Luck will win.
Joe Girardi’s decision to have Raul Ibanez pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning Wednesday night will live in New York Yankees lore as one of best managerial moves in team history. Maybe the best ever. Of course, he owed it all to Ibanez, who tied the game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and homered again in the 12th inning to beat Baltimore 3-2. Girardi stubbornly stuck with A-Rod in the No. 3 spot (0x3 with 2 strikeouts) but more than made up for it by pushing the Ibanez button.
This week’s “beyond any doubt” evidence from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency against Lance Armstrong is tough to dispute – unless you’re Armstrong or among his battery of lawyers. But – again – who cares? He won the Tour de France seven straight times against fields loaded with blood dopers. His victory over cancer and crusade to raise money to fight the disease will be his legacies. I still wish he’d come clean but I don’t expect he ever will.
Tracy McGrady – headed for China at age 33 to finish his pro basketball playing career -- didn’t play long enough in the NBA to be a hot candidate for the Basketball Hall of Fame, but in his prime years, he was one of the all-time best and most entertaining offensive players.