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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.
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.