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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.
THE MOST POLARIZING BALLOT IN THE HISTORY OF SPORT?
COWBOYS (-10) “BEST BET” OVER BEAGLES
WHAT THE BILLS ARE DOING WELL AND NOT SO WELL
PATRIOTS AND BRADY ARE UNDERRATED – NO KIDDING
ABBY HAS GOOD SHOT FOR WOMEN’S TOP SOCCER AWARD
We knew it was coming, but when baseball’s 37-player 2013 Hall of Fame ballot was released Wednesday, it was a stunning list of names – particularly first-timers Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza.
In the pre-Steroid Era, all four would be elected in their first try. But there now appears to be a fairly good chance that one or more will NEVER be selected.
600-plus veteran baseball writers current are involved in the all-time most polarizing balloting in sports history.
Obviously, my suggestion for a one-time amnesty election isn’t going to happen. I thought the voters – for this one time only – should completely disregard the use of performance-enhancing drugs on the grounds that we’ll know precisely which players were users and which were completely clean.
Now each of the 600-plus voters will have to deal with the character clause in the instructions. Did the use of performance-enhancing drugs involve a lack of integrity and sportsmanship?
I don’t respect the players who used PEDs. I believe they had an unfair advantage over their peers who played clean.. But they still were exceptional players. Most of suspect nominees would’ve been Hall of Famers on the strength of their natural talent. Major League Baseball and the players’ union didn’t do enough to discourage the cheaters.
I know it isn’t fair, but because we’ll never know FOR SURE which players used PEDs and which ones were clean, I finally have accepted all of the numbers produced in the Steroid Era. Testing began too late to sort out the cheats and the clean guys.
I also believe the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown would be a farce without plaques for Bonds and/or Clemens. But they don’t deserve special consideration from the voters over the suspected cheaters with lesser stats.
There are 37 names on the ballot. Voters can list up to 10 of them. A player needs to appear on 75 percent of the ballots to be elected.
If I had a vote, it would be:
1-Barry Bonds (reluctantly)
2-Roger Clemens (reluctantly)
3-Sammy Sosa (reluctantly)
7-Rafael Palmeiro (reluctantly)
8-Mark McGwire (reluctantly)
The rest of the nominees (in order of preference; * indicates first time on ballot): *Curt Schilling…Jack Morris…Dale Murphy…*Steve Finley…Edgar Martinez…Bernie Williams…Tim Raines…Don Mattingly…Larry Walker…Fred McGriff…*Julio Franco…*Kenny Lofton…*Shawn Green…*Reggie Sanders…*David Wells…Lee Smith…Alan Trammell…*Jose Mesa…*Sandy Alomar Jr.…*Royce Clayton…*Jeff Conine…*Ryan Klesko…*Mike Stanton…*Rondell White…*Roberto Hernandez…*Woody Williams…*Todd Walker…*Aaron Sele…*Jeff Cirillo.
COWBOYS (-10) “BEST BET” OVER EAGLES…BILLS (-5 ½)OVER JAGUARS
The inconsistent Dallas Cowboys are due for a top effort at home and catch the hurting Philadelphia Eagles at the right time On Sunday.
Philadelphia is 2-9 against the Las Vegas point spread (ATS) and are losing front-line players at an alarming rate. The Cowboys are 0-5 ATS in their last five home games but will never have a better opportunity to beat up on a battered NFC East rival.
The Cowboys are 10-point favorites and should win by many more as this week’s “Best Bet”: DALLAS 35, Philadelphia 10.
Sunday’s other games
(home teams in CAPS)
BUFFALO 35 (-5 ½) 30, Jacksonville 13 – The disappointing Bills can’t possibly miss beating the hapless Jaguars – can they? No excuses in this spot.
CHICAGO (-3 ½) 27, Seattle 17 – The Bears are a different team with a healthy QB Jay Cutler and the Seahawks are a different team on the road (1-5) than at home (5-0)…Warning: Chicago is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 home games.
DETROIT (-5) 35, Indianapolis 17 – The rebuilding Colts, even with super rookie Andrew Luck, aren’t likely to match points with the pass-happy Lions.
New England 38, MIAMI (+9) 20 – The Patriots have a long injury list but Tom Brady should enjoy throwing the ball in warm weather. New England is 8-2 straight up in its last 10 road games. Miami is 8-15 ATS in its last 23 home games.
Carolina 28, KANSAS CITY (+3) – The Panthers must be liking life – facing the hapless Chiefs and coming off a Monday Night Football win at Philadelphia.
GREEN BAY (-9) 33, Minnesota 14 –The Packers figure to be ready to play coming off an embarrassing 38-10 road loss to the New York Giants…Warning: Minnesota is 8-4 ATS in the last 12 trips to Green Bay.
HOUSTON (-6) 28, Tennessee 17 – The Titans are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games and appear outclassed against the 10-1 Texans.
San Francisco 24, ST. LOUIS (+7 ½) 13 – The Rams managed a road tie against the 49ers Nov. 11 but aren’t likely to surprise in the rematch. The 49ers are 6-1 in their last 7 road games and 7-1-1 in their last 9 games against St. Louis.
DENVER (-7) 27, Tampa Bay 24 – The Buccaneers are 8-2-1 ATS and should hang tough against the Broncos.
Cleveland 20, OAKLAND (-2) 17-- The Browns usually give an honest effort and are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 road games.
BALTIMORE (-7) 23, Pittsburgh 10 – I’m assuming Ben Roethlisberger won’t play and the Steelers aren’t likely to beat a good team without him. Pittsburgh is 4-8-1 ATS in its last 13 games and 2-8 ATS in its last 10 road games.
NEW YORK JETS (-4 ½) 24, Arizona 14 – The Jets aren’t much but the Cardinals are 0-7 since starting the season 4-0, 1-6-1 in their 8 games and 3-17 in their last 20 road games.
Cincinnati 30, SAN DIEGO (+ 1 ½) 17 – The Bengals are a respectable 3-4-2 ATS in their last 9 road games and have more to play for.
Monday night’s game
New York Giants (-3) 28, WASHINGTON 20 – The Giants survived November and enter their favorite parts of the season – December and the playoffs.
Thursday night’[s pick (on WHAM 1180 Thursday night before the game):
ATLANTA 35 (-3), New Orleans 27 – The 10-1 Falcons get to show off in prime time and the Saints have to be deflated coming off a costly home loss to San Francisco….(Atlanta won 23-13).
Last week’s results: 9-7 picking winners straight up (108-67-1 this season)…7-7-2 picking winners against ATS (76-94-6)…The “Best Bet” is 8-3-1 straight up and 4-6-2 ATS after 3-point favored Houston beat Detroit 35-31.
WHAT THE BUFFALO BILLS ARE DOING WELL AND NOT SO WELL
Records – Bills 4-7…opponents 7-4
Points scored – Bills 243…opponents 319 (-76)
Total first downs – Bills 210…opponents 252 (-42)
THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS – Bills 51x132 (38.6)…opponents 65x140 (46.4)
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS – Bills 3813…opponents 4186 (-373)
Offense (plays/average yards) – Bills 673/5.7…opponents 721/5.8
Total rushing yards – Bills 1543…opponents 1620 (-77)
Rushing (plays/average yards) – Bills 296/5.2…opponents 322/5.0
Total passing yards – Bills 2270…opponents 2566 (-296)
Passing (COMP/ATT/INT/AVG) – Bills 219x37/12/6.6…opponents 224x372/9/7.3
Sacks by – Bills 27…opponents 20 (+7)
Field goals – Bills 15x16…opponents 13x18
Touchdowns – Bills 28…opponents 40 (-12)
Time of possession – Bills 29:53…opponents 30:27
Turnover ratio – Bills -6…opponents +6 (-12)
Passer rating – Bills 83.5…opponents 90.5 (-6.5)
Passes intercepted by – Bills 9…opponents 12 (-3)
Penalties/yards – Bills 74/619…opponents 59/500 (-15; -81)
Where Buffalo ranks in the 32-team NFL:
Total offense – 346.6 yards per game (17th in the 32-team NFL)
Passing yards per game – 206.4 (25th)
Rushing yards per game – 140.3 (26th)
Scoring offense – 22.1 points per game (17th)
Total defense – 380.5 yards allowed per game (26th)
Pass defense – 233.3 (18th)
Rush defense – 147.3 (31st)
Scoring defense – 29.0 (30th).
COULD PATRIOTS AND TOM BRADY BE UNDERRATED?
There are lots of weekly NFL power rankings – and the New England Patriots aren’t No. 1 in any of them.
You won’t find Patriots quarterback Tom Brady No. 1 in the assorted polls for NFL Most Valuable Player.
Let me make my case for the Patriots entering NFL Week 13 as the league’s best team and for Brady as the frontrunner for MVP.
The Patriots are 8-3 but are only FOUR points removed from being 11-0!
Lost 20-18 at home to Arizona Week 2…obviously a fluke; Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yard FG that would’ve given the Patriots a 21-20 victory0; Arizona has lost 7 straight games since a 4-0 start.
Lost 31-30 at Baltimore Week 3 to drop to 1-2…The Patriots blew a 10-point lead and lost on a disputed field goal.
Lost 24-23 at Seattle Week 6 to drop to 3-3…The Seahawks are 5-0 at home and 1-5 on the road.
New England has won five straight games by a combined 219-107 (+112).
The Patriots are far from a perfect team. They rank 27th in total defense (allow 390.2 yards per game) and 13th in scoring defense (allow 22.2 points per game).
I think New England could be the NFL’s best team because it more than makes up for its defensive shortcomings with by far the NFL’s best offense:
Total yards offense – Patriots 1st (435.8 yards per game)…No. 2 Detroit 412.9
Scoring offense -- Patriots (37.0 points per game)…No. 2 Houston 29.7.
Tom Brady is New England’s field general. He’s fiery, precise and meticulous. He’s cool under fire and inspires confidence in his teammates.
Of course, Brady’s stats are typically outstanding: 105.0 passer rating (2nd to Aaron Rodgers’ 105.6)…274x421 (.651)…3,299 yards passing…24 TDs…3 INTs…300 yards passing per game.
Brady is a two-time NFL MVP (2007 and 2010) and I make him the frontrunner for this season’s MVP.
The Patriots and Brady have much more to accomplish in order to finish the season rated No. 1 in the power rankings and for MVP. The rest of their schedule: at Miami, Houston, San Francisco, at Jacksonville and Miami.
Playing at home against the Texans and 49ers should help.
RED WINGS LOSE MVP CARSON…GAIN SLUGGER CLEMENT
The Rochester Red Wings have lost last season’s team MVP but gained a potential slugger. Matt Carson, who hit .282 with 28 doubles, 2 triples, 14 HRs and 53 RBI in 115 games for the 2012 Wings, signed as a six-year free agent with Cleveland. He’ll likely play for the IL Columbus Clippers this season.
Minnesota signed six-year free agent Jeff Clement for Rochester. The left-handed hitting first baseman/DH hit .276 with 16 HRs and 57 RBI in 112 games with the 2012 International League rival Indianapolis Indians. In 2009, with Tacoma and Indianapolis, he hit .274 with 35 doubles, 21 HRs, and 90 RBI in 119 games.
Clement was the No. 3 overall pick in the bountiful 2005 baseball entry draft. Other picks in that draft included Justin Upton (No. 1), Alex Gordon (No. 2), Ryan Zimmerman (No. 4), Ryan Braun (No. 5), Troy Tulowitzki (No. 7), Andrew McCutchen (No. 11), Jacoby Ellsbury (No. 23, Matt Garza (No. 25) and Ciolby Rasmus (No. 28).
The Twins also have signed 30-year-old Tim Wood as a six-year free agent and invited him to big-league training camp. Wood was the International League’s Relief Pitcher of the Year. He was 6-6 with 21 saves and a 2.19 ERA for Indianapolis.
Other 2013 Red Wings not expected to return include Sean Burroughs, Kyle Waldrop, J.R. Towles, Rene Rivera and Clete Thomas. Pitcher Jeff Manship has signed with the Colorado Rockies.
Abbby Wambach has a good chance to be selected women’s World Soccer 2012 Player of the Year. FIFA’s three finalists were announced this week: Wambach, U.S. teammate Alex Morgan and five-time winner Marta of Brazil. Marta did not have a great year. The voting panel consists of international team coaches, team captains and selected soccer media. Morgan has outscored Wambach this year but Abby figures to get support for career achievement. She was one of the three finalists last year. The winner will be announced Jan. 7 in Switzerland.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o would be THE ideal pick for the Buffalo Bills in the 2013 NFL college draft. Imagine Te’o backing up Buffalo’s current defensive front four. I make him a surer bet to star in the NFL longer than anyone in a suspect incoming quarterback class. I also believe he’ll be a top-five pick. That means the Bills figure to win just enough games to miss out on an opportunity to select the man who could fill one of the team’s weakest spots.
Marvin Miller’s death Tuesday probably opened the door for his election to baseball’s Hall of Fame at the next opportunity. That’s sad. He once said he became more famous by not being selected so many times. He deserved to go in while he was alive to appreciate it.
NFL rookie quarterbacks were 4-2 last week and are 26-30 this season. That’s impressive and a blow against the old school theory that QBs need a few seasons on the bench before they can become effective NFL players.
I like Minnesota’s trade sending former Red Wings favorite Denard Span to the Washington Nationals for 6-foot-9 right-handed pitching prospect Alex Meyer. The Twins need power pitchers and Meyer fills the bill. If all goes well, he’ll be the ace of Minnesota’s starting rotation as soon as 2015. Ben Revere moves to center for the Twins. He’ll hit for a higher average and steal more bases than Span and he’s cheaper. Unfortunately, he has a very weak arm…The Nationals have had Span on their radar for a long time as a prototype leadoff hitter and center fielder. Bryce Harper will move from center to right field.
The Pro Bowlers Tour returns to TV with the WTBA Advanced Aspirin World Bowling Tour Finals Sunday, Dec. 9, 1 p.m., on ESPN.
Updated odds on the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVII (courtesy of Las Vegas sports book LVH): San Francisco 3.5 to 1…New England 5-to-1…Denver 5-to-1…Atlanta 5-to-1…New York Giants 8x1…Green Bay 9x1…Baltimore 9x1…Chicago 12x1…Pittsburgh 40x1…Seattle 40x1.
Odds on winning the Heisman Trophy (courtesy of Bovada): Johnny Manziel (Texas A$M) bet $600 to win $100…Manti Te’O (Notre Dame) bet $100 to win $350…Collin Klein (Kansas State) bet $100 to win $750…Braxton Miller (Ohio State) bet $100 to win $4000.
ERSPN.com college football talent guru Mel Kiper Jr. lists five players worthy of being the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL draft: Geogia pass rusher Jarvis Jones, Notre Dame linebacker Masnti T’eo, Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and Texas A&M pass rusher Damontre Moore…All will be gone before Buffalo picks.
The actual live attendance for Wednesday night’s Amerks 4-2 home loss to San Antonio was around 1,500 (tops). I don’t think the team ever again will draw big mid-week crowds. Thank goodness for Friday nights. That’s when the Amerks will remain a hot sports ticket.