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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.
MANY COACHING CHANGES LIKELY THIS NFL OFF SEASON
HOW GOOD ARE THE FALCONS?
HOW ALABAMA AND OREGON MEASURE UP
MOST INTERESTING BASEBALL FREE AGENTS
--NFL insiders expect an extraordinary number of head coaching changes this offseason. In the modern game, with owners and fans eager for quick fixes, three seasons appears to be a reasonable time frame for new coaches and general managers to make significant progress in improving their teams.
Teams being mentioned for new head coaches in 2013 include Carolina, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Philadelphia, San Diego and Tennessee. Buffalo general manager Buddy Nix erased the Bills from the list last week – at least for now – by saying Chan Gailey definitely will return.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Gailey return – as offensive coordinator. For the most part, he’s done a decent job with his spread offense, considering the team’s average-at-best quarterback and below-average receiving corps.
One big gripe about Gailey persists: He isn’t getting the ball into the hands of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson nearly enough. They combined for 22 touches in Sunday’s 21-9 loss at Houston (12 carries and 10 catches). QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 38 passes. There were only 16 running plays. That ratio is ridiculous. I know many of those passes came late in the game, when the Bills were out of timeouts (again) and needed two TDs. But too many of THOSE throws again were wasted short stuff to the middle of the field.
For the record, the modern (and I assume all-time) record for head coaching changes is 11 (in 2009).
There figure to be a few changes at general manager, too. The vote of confidence to Gailey could and should become a factor in Nix’s future.
One big advantage for Gailey and Nix is Buffalo’s fan base. The oft-disappointed followers of the Bills have developed lower expectations and are less demanding than fans in the other NFL cities. Many of them have grown too accustomed to losing to complain.
In two-plus seasons with Buffalo, the Nix-Gailey Bills are 13-27. With a 13th straight non-playoff seasons looming, Nix gave Gailey a vote of confidence. I guess that means owner Ralph Wilson – assuming he’s paying attention -- has given both of them a vote of confidence.
Why? As always, the loyal fan base deserves better.
--NFL stats and facts:
Peyton Manning (Denver) is 9-0 lifetime vs. Cincinnati after Sunday’s 31-20 win…Manning 48th game-winning drive in fourth quarter or OT broke Dan Marino’s NFL record…Denver has scored 37, 21, 35, 34 and 31 points in the last 5 games (4-1 record)…Baltimore’s 25-15 victory at Cleveland was its 11th straight victory over AFC North teams and 10th straight win over the Browns…In a soccer-style twist, star RBs Ray Rice (Baltimore) and Trent Richardson (Cleveland) exchanged jerseys on the field after the game…Matthew Stafford (Detroit) topped 10,000 passing yards in his 37th NFL game. Only did it faster…Arizona is 0-5 since starting this season 4-0.
Jacksonville is 0-4 at home and was outscored 126-34 in those games (including a 31-14 loss Sunday to Detroit)…Matt Schaub (Houston) is 10-1 in his last 11 starts…The Kansas City Chiefs have an NFL-most 29 giveaways leading to 104 points for opponents…Chandler Jones (New England) entered Week 9 lesding NFL rookies in sacks (6) and forced fumbles (3)…Sunday was the first time this season Detroit didn’t trail in the fourth quarter…Since Week 6, Chris Johnson (Tennessee) leads the NFL with 526 yards rushing…Carolina’s 21-13 win in Washington had to be a morale boost for the Panthers. Five of the team’s six losses this season were by 6 or fewer points (4 by a total of 12 points).
Seattle rookie QB Russell Wilson at home is 4-0 with 9 TD passes and 0 INTs; on the road, he is 1-4 with 4 TD passes and 8 INTs…New Orleans enters Monday night’s home game against Philadelphia allowing 400-plus yards in an NFL-record 7 straight games…Philadelphia star RB LeSean McCoy: 12 of his last 46 carries went or 0 yards or negative yardage…New Orleans is 16-16 on Monday Night Football and Philadelphia is 27-23.
--Week 8 Heroes:
Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin – The rookie out of Boise State ran 25 times for 251 yards and 4 TDs in a 42-32 road victory over Oakland.
Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck – This is getting ridiculous. When does this rookie enter the discussion for league MVP? The “rebuilding” Colts were 2-14 last season without him and are 5-3 this season with him after Sunday’s 23-20 home win over Miami…He was 30x48 for 433 yards (breaking Dan Marino’s single-game NFL record of 422 passing yards) for 2 TD, with 0 INTs and a 105.6 passer rating.
Chicago CB Charles Tillman and LB Brian Urlacher – Tillman forced four fumbles and Urlacher had a 46-yard TD interception return in a 51-20 road romp over Tennessee.
Detroit RB Mikel Leshoure – He became the first player in franchise history to score three rushing TDs in the first half en route to a 31-14 win at Jacksonville.
Green Bay Do-Everything Randall Cobb – He had 3 catches for 37 yards and 2 TDs, 3 rushes for 29 yards, 3 kickoff returns for 90 yards and 3 punt returns for 46 yards in a 31-17 home win over Arizona.
Denver KR Trindon Holliday – He returned the second-half kickoff 105 yards for a TD to give the Broncos a 17-3 lead en route to a 31-23 win at Cincinnati.
Houston RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson – Foster had 111 yards rushing and a TD for the fifth straight game and Johnson had 8 catches for 118 yards in a 21-9 home win over Buffalo.
San Diego QB Philip Rivers – He was 18x20 for 220 yards and 2 TDs in a 31-13 home romp over Kansas City last Thursday night.
Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson – He continued his impressive comeback from reconstructive knee surgery with 182 yards and2 TDs on 17 carries in a 30-20 loss at Seattle.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson – The rookie was 16x24 for 173 yards, with 3 TD passes and 0 INTs, in a 30-20 home win over Minnesota.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan – He has many supporters for league MVP, and he didn’t hurt his cause Sunday night. He was 24x34 for 342 yards as the Falcons soared to 8-0 with a 19-13 home win over Dallas. Julio Jones and Roddy White combined for 12 catches for 247 yards.
Pittsburgh RB Isaac Redman – This hard-nosed reserve had 26 carries for 147 yards and 1 TD in a gritty 24-20 road win over the New York Giants.
--Week 8 Goats:
Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton – He threw a crucial interception in the fourth quarter (he has an interception in every game this season) and was sacked 5 times in a 25-15 home loss to Denver.
Minnesota QB Christian Ponder – He averaged 2.3 yards per passing attempt (11x22 for 63 yards), with o TD passes and 1 INT in a 30-20 loss at Seattle.
Cleveland QB Brandon Weeden – The rookie had 0 TD passes, 2 INTs and a 44.4 passer rating in a 25-15 home loss to Baltimore.
Kansas City QB Matt Cassel – He threw an interception that was returned for a 59-yard TD and lost a fumble in the end zone for another opposing TD in a 31-13 loss at San Diego last Thursday night.
--Week 8 Stat Pack:
Home teams were 7-7 outright (77-55 this season) and 7-7 against the Las Vegas point spread (57-73-2 this season)
Las Vegas favorites were 10-4 outright (81-51 this season) and 10-4 against the spread (54-76-2 this season)
First teams to score were 9-5 (81-51 this season)
Teams leading after the first quarter were 9-3 (72-33 this season)
Teams leading at halftime were 9-4 (95-30 this season)
Teams leading after three quarters were 11-2 (103-21 this season)
Teams with the most rushing yards were 10-4 (90-42 this season)
Teams with the most passing yards were 11-3 (76-56 this season)
Teams winning the turnover battle are 8-2 (82-22 this season)
Teams with the fewest penalty yards were 6-8 (71-58 this season)
Teams leading in time of possession were 10-4 (80-52 this season)
Teams entering the game with the better record were 9-4 (47-37 this season)
The NFC won 3 of 4 games vs. the AFC Week 9 and leads this season’s interconference series 23-13 There were 647 points scored in 14 games (46.2-point average).
--Bob’s NFL Power Rankings:
1 Falcons…2 Texans…3 Bears…4 49ers…5 Patriots…6 Giants…7Packers…8 Steelers…9 Ravens…10 Broncos…11 Seahawks…12 Buccaneers…13 Colts…14 Vikings…15 Dolphins…16 Lions…23 Eagles…17 Cowboys…18 Cardinals…19 Chargers…20 Redskins…21 Saints…22 Bengals…24 Jets…25 Rams…26 Raiders…27 Bills…28 Panthers…29 Titans…30 Browns…31 Jaguars…32 Chiefs.
Week 8 Top Performers:
300-yard passers – Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) 433 yards (won)…Carson Palmer (Oakland) 414 yards (lost)…Matt Ryan (Atlanta) 342 yards (won)…Tony Romo (Dallas) 321 yards (lost)…John Skelton (Arizona) 306 yards (lost)
100-yard rushers – Doug Martin (Tampa Bay) 251 yards (won)…Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) 182 yards (lost)…Chris Johnson (Tennessee) 141 yards (lost)…Marshawn Lynch (Seattle) 124 yards (won)…LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia) 119 yards...Arian Foster (Houston) 111 yards (won)…Trent Richardson (Cleveland) 105 yards (lost)…Matt Forte (Chicago) 103 yards (won)…Michael Turner (Atlanta) 102 yards
100-yard receivers – Calvin Johnson (Detroit) 129 yards (won)…Julio Jones (Atlanta) 129 yards (won)…Brandon Marshall (Chicago) 122 yards (won)…Roddy White (Atlanta) 118 yards (won)…Andre Johnson (Houston) 118 yards (won)…Jermaine Gresham (Cincinnati) 108 yards (lost)…Donnie Avery (Indianapolis) 108 yards (won)…Brian Hartline (Miami) 107 yards (lost)…T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis) 102 yards (won)...DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia) 100 yards.
--NFL Week 9 early line: Indianapolis at Jacksonville -1 (Andrew Luck on display in prime time on Thursday night; Colts figure to go off a slight favorite)…New York Giants (-4 ½) at Cincinnati…Tennessee at Miami (-4 ½)…Detroit at Minnesota (-3 ½)…Buffalo at New England (-11)…Atlanta (-2 ½) at New Orleans,,,San Diego (-1) at Tampa Bay…Denver (-4) at Carolina…Oakland at Baltimore (-6 ½)…Jets at Seattle (-5 ½)…Dallas at Philadelphia (-3)…St. Louis at San Francisco (-10)…Houston at Chicago (-1 ½)…Kansas City at Pittsburgh (-10).
HOW GOOD ARE THE FALCONS?
The Atlanta Falcons deserve to be No. 1 in this week’s NFL Power Rankings because they’re the only undefeated team (8-0) in the league.
But I don’t think they’re a powerhouse and likely to win Super Bowl XLVII.
The greatest strength of the Falcons is that they have no glaring weakness. They also have a strong group of skill players on offense: QB Matt Ryan, RBs Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers, WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White, and TE Tony Gonzalez.
Atlanta’s overall numbers are not knockout-impressive:
8th in total offense (376.6 yards per game)…8th in pass offense (278.1)…25th in rush offense (98.5)…7th in scoring offense (27.5 points per game)
19th in total defense (356.3 yards allowed per game)…14th in pass defense (228.8)…24th in rush defense (127.5)…5th in scoring defense (17.9 points allowed per game).
They have 20 sacks(t13th) and have allowed 18 sacks (t17th).
They’re +10 in turnover differential (17 takeaways/7 giveaways), 4th-best in the NFL (Bears +16, Giants +14, Patriots +13).
In recent past years, the Falcons were regarded as a very tough team to beat at home 26-6 from 2008 through 2011) and not so tough on the road (17-15).
This season, Atlanta has been more impressive on the road (4-0 and outscored opponents 121-61; +60) than at home (4-0 and outscored opponents 99-82; +17).
Atlanta’s remaining schedule: at New Orleans…Arizona…at Tampa Bay…New Orleans…at Carolina…New York Giants…at Detroit…Tampa Bay.
HOW THE CRIMSON TIDE AND OREGON DUCKS MEASURE UP
Many of us would like to see a showdown between Alabama’s defense and Oregon’s offense in the BCS Championship Game.
Here’s how the two 9-0 teams measure up (rank among the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in parentheses).
Total defense 228.89 yards allowed per game (2)…rush defense 66.33 yards (2)…pass defense 162.56 (8)…scoring defense 9.11 points allowed per game (1)
Total offense 424.67 yards per game (48)…rush offense 209.00 (24)…pass offense 215.67 (80)…scoring defense 38.44 points per game (17)
Yardage differential +195.78 yards per game…scoring differential +29.33 points per game
Total offense 561.22 yards per game (4)…rush offense 391.33 (2)…pass offense 220.00 (75)…scoring offense 54.33 points per game (1)
Total defense 380.78 yards allowed per game (50)…rush defense 137.11 (38)…pass defense 243.67 (67)…scoring defense 22.89 yards allowed per game (40)
Yardage differential +180.44 yards per game…scoring differential +31.44 points per game.
FORMER YANKEES BOSS JACOB RUPPERT IS THE BIGGEST NAME ON THIS BALLOT
I believe former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner deserves to be elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame – but not before another former Yankees owner – Jacob Ruppert.
Ruppert, who owned the Yankees from 1915 through his death in 1939, was among the 10 candidates on baseball’s Pre-Integration ballot for admission to the Hall of Fame announced last week. The others were players Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Marty Marion, Tony Mullane, Ducky Walters and Deacon White, umpire Hank O’Day, and executives Ruppert, Samuel Breadon and Alfred Reach .
One or more of them will part of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013. The electorate will meet to discuss and review the candidates as part of baseball’s winter meetings Dec. 2-3 in Nashville.
I’m surprised that Ruppert isn’t already in the Hall of Fame.
Ruppert and a partner purchased the Yankees in 1915 for $480,000. An extremely involved owner, he purchased Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox in 1919 for $125,000; built Yankee Stadium in 1923; employed more than a dozen future Hall of Famers; and the team won nine American League pennants and six World Series under his watch.
Ruppert was a close friend of Babe Ruth but famously refused to name him manager of the Yankees. Legend says he told Ruth, “How can you manage the Yankees when you can’t manage yourself?” Ruppert offered Babe the managing job at Triple-A Newark, but Babe was insulted and turned it down.
I’m surprised that Ruppert isn’t already enshrined at Cooperstown. Assuming he is elected, the door would open wider for Steinbrenner to join him in the future.
Worth noting regarding several other nominees: St. Louis shortstop Marty Marion was a star for the Rochester Red Wings in 1937, 1938 and 1939…As owner of the Cardinals, Sam Breadon hired Branch Rickey, who developed the famous farm system that made Rochester an International League powerhouse… When Bill Dahlen retired in 1911, he was baseball’s all-time leader in home runs (84) and games played (2,444)…Deacon White spent much of his big-league career with Buffalo. He had a .312 batting average despite sore hands. He was a barehanded catcher.
BOB’S BEST OF BASEBALL’S FREE AGENTS
1—Josh Hamilton. His past drug problems will cost him big bucks but some team will give him a relatively short –term lucrative deal. It probably won’t be the Yankees. Too many temptations in the Big Apple and the Yankees claim they want to pare payroll. Maybe the Dodgers or Brewers?
2—B.J. Upton. Touted as a budding superstar, he still has the tools at age 28 and could blossom outside Tampa Bay.
3—Adam LaRoche. He had a big 2012 season with Washington (33 HRs, 100 RBI). He’d be an upgrade at first base for Baltimore and hurt the regional rival Nationals at the same time.
4—Zack Greinke. The most-talented starting pitcher on the market and he’s only 28.
5—Rafael Soriano. The best closer on the market after a big season for the Yankees.
6—Michael Bourn. Can Atlanta afford to let him go? A genuine leadoff hitter and terrific defensive center fielder and base-stealer.
7—A.J. Pierzynski. He had a solid 2012 season for the White Sox (.278, 27 HRs, 77 RBI). He’s 36 but good-hitting catchers are hard to find and he could put a contending team over the top. Might the Yankees take a shot? I’d prefer to keep Russell Martin.
8—Mike Napoli. He was great in 2011 (.320, 30 HRs) and slipped in 2012 (.227, 25 HRs). He’s not a Gold Glove catcher but he’s only 31 and has power.
Worth a shot :
Nick Swisher (poor postseasons will cost him a spot with the Yankees but he’s a consistent 20 HR, 75 RBI player and a decent right fielder)…Angel Pagan (helped Giants win the World Series; 31-year-old leadoff hitter)…Melky Cabrera (how much did PEDs boost his performance; they’ll cost him lots of money)…Shaun Marcum (a durable 31-year-old starting pitcher)…Delmon Young (only as a DH for a contending team)…Russell Martin (if the Yankees are dumb enough to let him go; what’s wrong with a good defensive catcher who’ll hit 15-to-20 HRs and bat .240-plus?)…Francisco Liriano (still has the stuff to be a No. 2 starter for a lot of teams).
Kyle Lohse (had by far his best season at age 34)…Edwin Jackson (his stuff is more impressive than his .500-type records)…Marco Scutaro (postseason hero but he’s a 37-year old middle infielder)….Torri Hunter (nice career but he’s 38 and not the all-around player he was)…Kevin Youkilis (his reputation is better than his fading game).
The NFL obviously belongs in Los Angeles, and a huge step in that direction came last week, when a proposed $1.5 billion downtown football stadium cleared its final major political hurdle. But ground won’t be broken on Farmers Field until Los Angeles is guaranteed at least one NFL team is assured to reside there. That should be coming soon.
The Abbotsford Heat set an AHL record last Thursday night by scoring two goals in three seconds. Both goals were scored short-handed. Steve McCarthy scored at 4:28 of the third period and Ben Street scored off the ensuing faceoff from cenrer ice off Toronto Marlies goalie Ben Scrivens. The Heat won 3-0. The previous record for fastest two goals was five seconds.
The Professional Lacrosse League is down to two teams (Charlotte Copperheads and Reading Rockets) after the Jacksonville Bullies folded Oct. 16. The revised schedule ends Nov. 16.
Former Rochester Red Wings and Minnesota second baseman Alexi Casilla was claimed off waivers last Friday by the Baltimore Orioles. The Twins always were high on Casilla but he fell short of expectations despite being handed a starting job last season. Minnesota claimed relief pitcher Josh Roenicke and shortstop Tommy Field off waivers from the Colorado Rockies.
The number of thoroughbred foals continues to decline, perhaps a reflection on the industry. According to Thoroughbred Times, The Jockey Club reported that 2,620 stallions covered 39,838 mares in North America in 2011. Those matings produced 22,500 reported live foals this year through Sept. 10. The reported live foals is down 4.5 percent from last year, considerably down from the decreases the previous two years.
ODDS TO WIN THE 2013 WORLD SERIES (courtesy of Bovada):
Tigers 6x1…Yankees 7x1 (no thanks)…defending champion Giants 10x1…Angels, Nationals, Rangers 12x1…Braves, Cardinals, Phillies, Reds 14x1…Dodgers 18x1 (tempting)…Rays (20x1)…Red Sox 22x1 (tempting at odds)…A’s, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Orioles 25x1…White Sox 28x1…Pirates 30x1…Blue Jays 35x1…Marlins, Mariners, Mets 40x1…Padres 60x1…Twins 66x1…Cubs, Indians, Rockies, Royals 75x1…Astros 150x1 (bottom-feeder in first American League season).