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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.
IS TIM DUNCAN THE ALL-TIME UNDERRATED NBA PLAYER?
REVOLUTIONARY BOB’S PICK IN BELMONT STAKES
SYRACUSE CRUNCH SEEK FIRST CALDER CUP
TWINS; TWO SINGLE-A TEAMS A COMBINED 77-38 (.670)
Just another typical game Thursday night for San Antonio’s Tim Duncan: 20 points and 14 rebounds in a 92-88 road victory over the favored Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Nothing spectacular. Just consistently solid.
I don’t know exactly where the 37-year-old Duncan rates among the all-time great NBA players. If he ever has been included on anyone’s mythical All-Time Top 5 NBA Players list, I haven’t seen it.
But doesn’t he deserve serious consideration for the NBA’s all-time best power forward?
In terms of all-around individual performance, durability, his unselfish attitude and team performance, Duncan is near the top of the mountain.
Here are a few reasons to respect Duncan:
The Spurs were 20-62 the season before the team made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft.
San Antonio hasn’t had a losing season or missed the playoffs since.
Since Duncan arrived and entering Sunday night’s Game 1 of the Finals, the Spurs are 832309 (.729) in the regular season...They’re 30-10 in playoff series and 134-73 in playoff games.
The Spurs have won four NBA titles (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007) and Duncan was Finals MVP three times.
He’s a two-time regular-season MVP (2002, 2003).
He’s a 10-time All-NBA First Team selection (including this comeback season at age 37)...he’s a 3-time All-NBA Second Team selection and a 1-time All-NBA Third Team pick.
He’s an eight-time All-Defensive First Team selection and a six-time All-Defensive Second Team selection.
In 15 NBA seasons, he has averaged 20.2 points (with a .507 field-goal percentage), 11.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Two reasons Duncan hasn’t received the full respect he deserves are playing in a small market (how much more-revered would he be as a Laker or Knick?) and his laid-back personality. He never complains about his role on the Spurs and has never been critical of a teammate or opponent. He shuns the spotlight and happily shares accolades with the other Spurs.
Time marches on. One reason I’m glad San Antonio has reached the NBA Finals is the opportunity to once again appreciate the understated and underrated talents of Tim Duncan.
SUGGESTION TO THE MIAMI HEAT
Instruct 6-foot-11 softie Chris Bosh that he refrain from hoisting up three-pointers at important points of the games. That’s precisely what San Antonio wants him to do.
REVOLUTIONARY BOB’S PICK TO WIN BELMONT STAKES
For the sixth time in the last eight years, I expect to see three different horses win the three Triple Crown races.
Orb won the Kentucky Derby, Oxbow won the Preakness Stakes and I’m picking Revolutionary to win Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
Here is my worst-to-first forecast:
14th – Midnight Taboo...Has only three career starts and $76,400 in earnings...Has never in a stakes race...Way over his head in this spot...Should be running at Finger Lakes on Saturday.
13th – Frac Daddy...Drew the No. 1 post position and figures to be in front with speedy Palace Malice. No reason to expect him to hold up for 1 ½ miles...Best race was 2nd as a long shot in the Arkansas Derby...16th in the Kentucky Derby.
12th – Palace Malice – He set a ridiculously fast pace under jockey Mike Smith in the Kentucky Derby before fading to finish 12th. Smith figures to slow down the pace Saturday but this colt still figures to be empty when the serious running starts.
11th – Great Finish...Not likely to have a great finish on Saturday...3rd in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes...10th in the Kentucky Derby...Will try to join Ruthless (1867), Fenian (1869) and Forester (1882) as the only New York-breds to win the Belmont Stakes.
10th – Incognito...Who knows?...Sire was 1992 Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy...3rd in Grade 2 Peter Pan...This spot is much tougher.
9th—Freedom Child...Won the Grade 2 Peter Pan in gate-to-wire fashion by 13 ¼ lengths after being declared a non-starter in the Wood Memorial (compromised at the break)...Has some ability...Mystery colt at a big price.
8th – Vyjack...Won his first four career starts, including the Grade 2 Jerome and the Grade 3 Gotham...Trying to join Crème Fraiche in 1985 and Ruler On Ice in 2011 as the only geldings to win the Belmont Stakes...First race since 18th in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 18x1.
7th – Unlimited Budget...A large filly but in tough against the boys in this “Test of the Champion”...Of the 22 previous fillies to run in the Belmont Stakes, only three won Ruthless in the first Belmont Stakes in 1867, Tanya in 1905 and Rags to Riches in 2007...Rosie Napravnik will ride (she’ll be the first female jockey to ride in all three Triple Crown races in the same year). A lot of women figure to lose a lot of money backing the two gals in this race.
6th – Golden Soul...Rallied from 15th to finish second at odds of 34x1 in the Kentucky Derby...Skipped the Preakness Stakes to rest for the Belmont Stakes...Finished worse than 4th only once since November...Outside post position No. 14 no bargain.
5th – Overanalyze...Chance at a price...Won the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby (beat Oxbow by 5 ¼ lengths) and 11th in the Kentucky Derby. Owner Mike Repole (he has three horses in this race) says this colt didn’t like the wet track at Churchill Downs that day.
4th – Will Take Charge...Will fire one of these days to win a big race....Best victory so far was over Oxbow in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes...8th in the Kentucky Derby and 7th in the Preakness Stakes, with some minor traffic problems in both races...Has some late kick...Would be no shock.
SHOW – Oxbow...Won the Preakness Stakes at odds of 15x1 in a slow time (slowest since 1961) with a perfect trip and took advantage of Orb’s bad luck (trapped inside; slow pace; no moisture on track surface)...Most experienced starter with 11 career starts...Jockey Gary Stevens, 50, has won three Belmont Stakes, three Kentucky Derbys and three Preakness Stakes...Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has saddled a record 14 Triple Crown winners.
PLACE – Orb...The one to beat. He’s the likely post-time favorite at around 5-to-2 on his home track...Only 3 of the last 20 post-time favorites won the Belmont Stakes...Looked great winning the Kentucky Derby in the slop. It was his fifth straight victory. A tough-luck 4th in the Preakness as the big favorite. Broke from the No. 1 post position and was stuck inside chasing a slow pace and found room and his best stride too late...Would move up on a wet track.
WIN – Revolutionary...Consistent sort (7 starts: 3 wins, 1 second, 3 thirds)...Won the Grade 3 Withers and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby...Closed from 17th to finish 3rd in the Kentucky Derby as the No. 2 betting choice...The best of trainer Todd Pletcher’s five entries in Saturday’s race...He decided to skip the Preakness and point to the Belmont Stakes...Bred to get the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes distance...Should be right there at the finish at slighter longer odds than Orb and Oxbow...Javier Castellano replaces Calvin Borel as jockey. I prefer Castellano...Another favorable trend: Of the last 20 Belmont Stakes winners, only four won the Kentucky Derby or Preakness.
CRUNCH NEED FOUR WINS FOR FIRST CALDER CUP
The Syracuse Crunch host the Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday night in Game 1 of the best-of-seven AHL Calder Cup Finals.
The Crunch have been superb in the playoffs. They’re 11-1 and have outscored opponents 48-23 (+25).
Syracuse is 6-1 at home and 5-0 on the road.
Syracuse never has won the Calder Cup. Grand Rapids hasn’t either.
Twenty-five cities have won the Calder Cup at least once. Here they are:
Hershey (11 times)...Cleveland (9)...Springfield (7)...Rochester (6)...Buffalo (5)...Providence (5)...Glens Falls (4)...Portland, Me. (4)...Halifax (3)...Pittsburgh (3)...Chicago (2)...Indianapolis (2), Philadelphia (2)...Albany (1)...Binghamton (1)...Cape Breton (1)...Cincinnati (1)...Hamilton (1)...Hartford (1)...Houston (1)...Milwaukee (1)...Moncton (1)...Norfolk (1)...Saint John (1)...Sherbrooke (1).
Some Rochester AHL fans might be surprised if the Crunch win their first Calder Cup this month. The Amerks were 7-3 versus Syracuse in the 2012-13 regular season.
BUXTON, SANO LEAD TEAMS TO CUMULATIVE 77-37 START
Future (I hope) Rochester Red Wings star center fielder Byron Buxton had a tremendous game Wednesday. He was 5x6 with two triples as his Cedar Rapids Kernels crushed visiting Quad Cities (singe-A Midwest League). The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 June entry draft is batting .341, with 12 doubles, 7 triples, 4 HRs, 58 runs in 54 games, 41 RBI and 26x35 stolen bases.
If all goes well – cross your fingers, Rochester baseball fans, Buxton will be leading off and playing center field and Miguel Sano will be playing third basses and batting cleanup for the Red Wings Opening Day 2015.
Buxton and Sano, respectively, have led Grand Rapids and the Fort Myers Miracle to terrific starts (40-17 and 37-20). Minnesota’s two full-season Single-A teams are a combined 77-37 (.675) and have outscored opponents by 182 runs (652-470).
Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack fan favorite Lisa’s Boobytrap is scheduled to continue her comeback Sunday at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., in the $100,000 Satan and Lace Stakes. The 5 ½-furlong sprint is for fillies and mares. The six-year-old mare won her only previous race this year at Finger Lakes last month. She has won $181,940 for owner/trainer Tim Snyder.
Cheers to Miami Heat superstar LeBron James for this week lauding Tim Duncan as “the most dominant player of the last 15 years.” I’m not sure Kobe Bryant fans would agree, but they shouldn’t laugh.
Connecticut has approved mixed-martial arts (including the wildly popular UFC). That means 49 states and all of Canada have given the green light to the sport. The only holdout is New York state. Why? Ask Sheldon Silver. I bet he won’t tell you the truth. It would be too embarrassing. This another reason why Albany often seems like a political cesspool. There is plenty of support for MMA among the masses and politicians in Albany. How does Silver get away with this without a legitimate explanation?
A suddenly punchless power play is a big reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins trail the Boston Bruins 3-0 entering Friday night’s Game 4 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals. The Penguins were 13x46 on the power play entering this series and are 0x12 vs. the Bruins.
The Rochester RazorsSharks plan to move to the Dome Arena in Henrietta next basketball season. Bill Flynn has recorded the dominance of the Razorsharks at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial in the team’s eight-year history (entering Sunday afternoon’s possible final game of the playoffs: 100-12 record (.893)...48 wins in a row (11/25/2005 to 1/10/2009)...Longest losing streak was 2 games...115.8-point average...13-0 record vs. the Maryland Nighthawks...Most points in a game: 176-96 over Chicago 3/28/2009)...Fewest points in a game: 89 in an 89-88 victory over Buffalo in the franchise’s very first game 11/25/2005).
I just learned of the demise of Pro Football Weekly. I’ve been buying the weekly newspaper off-and-on (mainly on) for around 20 years. The publication began in 1967 and is another victim of the internet. There will be a Pro Football Weekly NFL Preview 2013 on newsstands June 11. Sadly, it will be a souvenir edition.
Former Finger Lakes jockey, trainer and owner Michele Harris died Tuesday of cancer at age 62. She was easily the best female jockey to campaign regularly at The Thumb. She was a better rider than most of the men at the time. She was entrusted to ride such quality horses as Jack Betta Be Rite and Mercedes Won.
The NFL competition committee has recommended making visors mandatory for all players entering the league. Why not?
Odds on interesting upcoming boxing matches: IBF light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (bet $600 to win $100) vs. Karo Murat (bet $100 to win $450) July 13...WBC light-middleweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (bet $250 to win $100). Vs. Saul Alvarez (bet $100 to win $200) Sept. 14.
Minnesota’s first-round pick (No. 4 overall) in Wednesday night’s Major League Baseball entry draft was right-handed pitcher Kohl Stewart of St. Puis High School in Houston. He is expected to pass up college tin favor of signing with the Twins. He’ll immediately become Minnesota’s top pitching prospect. The farm system is getting stronger and stronger at the Class-A level.