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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 ANSWER MAN MAKES HIS FIRST SUMMER STOP
Is Doc Rivers making a wise move leaving the Boston Celtics in favor of the Los Angeles Clippers?
ANSWER: Of course. The Celtics are an aging team and he knows a major rebuilding job is necessary before they're a title contender again.
The Los Angeles Clippers figure to be playing deep in the playoffs for at least several years – maybe even win a title if Blake Griffin steps up...Reports that Doc didn’t see eye-to-eye with star point guard Rajon Rondo was another reason to leave. I assume Rivers received the approval of Chris Paul as coach of the Clippers.
Rivers is leaving Boston mainly because he wants to coach a team with a better chance to win a championship. He had three years left on his Celtics contract...LeBron James played out his contract and left Cleveland in favor of Miami to improve his chances of winning championships... So how come the haters buried LeBron (I know, I know, "the decision” announcement on TV) and are giving Rivers a free pass.
QUESTION: What were the odds of Martin Truex Jr. and Ken Duke winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup and PGA Tour Travelers Championship, respectively on Sunday?
ANSWER: I have no idea, but it had to be one of the most improbable NASCAR-PGA Tour winning duos in history. Truex’s victory at Sonoma ended a 218-race losing streak and was his 2nd victory in 277 Sprint Cup starts...Duke’s victory in a playoff over Chris Stroud came in his 187 career start....Love those underdogs.
QUESTION: Which team do you believe is the best in Major League Baseball when reasonably healthy?
ANSWER: I really like the Cincinnati Reds, though I’m no fan of Dusty Baker.
QUESTION: What do you think about NBA and NHL playoffs in June?
ANSWER: I don’t like it. But the NBA and NHL Finals were so extraordinary this season that I wouldn’t have minded if they’d spread into July.
QUESTION: Which team has a better chance to make the postseason this year – the Bills or the Sabres?
ANSWER: The Sabres, only because the NFL is so much more unpredictable. Best chance to win a championship this season? Be serious. Neither!!! How about the Bisons?
QUESTION: How about Mariano Rivera starting the All-Star Game for the American League?
ANSWER: A ridiculous idea. Rivera wants nothing to do with it and I don’t blame him. He’s a finisher – the best baseball has seen or ever will see – not a starter. That wouldn’t be an honor. It would be stupid.
BASEBALL’S BEST DIVISION IS GETTING BETTER
BREAKING DOWN THE NHL PLAYOFFS
COLABELLO CHASING IL HISTORY
THANK GOODNESS U.S. TENNIS HAS SERENA
After suffering more than two months as the top flop in Major League Baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays are baseball’s hottest team.
The Blue Jays enter Monday night with 11 straight victories by a combined score of 70-27...Their low-water mark was 10-21. They’re 15-3 in their last 18 games by a combined 102-52.
Some the big bats have heated up (particularly Adam Lind), the pitching (even the bullpen) has been surprisingly good of late and shortstop Jose Reyes and third baseman Brett Lawrie are expected back from injuries soon. Left fielder Melky Cabrera is iffy under the cloud of the Biogenesis scandal, but he hasn’t been nearly as productive this season as he was last year with San Francisco.
Some critics of Reyes think he’ll hurt the Blue Jays as much as hurt them. I’m not buying that. In 10 games before being sidelined with a bad ankle in April, Reyes was hit .395 (15x38) and 5x5 in stolen bases. He’s due to return Thursday in Boston and he’ll be a big improvement over fill-in Munenori Kawasaki.
Are the suddenly awesome-looking this good? Of course not. Baseball is game of streaks. Toronto will cool off – maybe starting Monday night. They’ll wrap up this trip with three games at Tampa Bay and four against Boston. But the Blue Jays have done enough to stamp themselves as a playoff contender.
There isn’t a poor team in the American League East – unless you’re prepared for a gradual fade by the overachieving but undermanned New York Yankees. Entering Monday, all five teams in the division had a winning record: Boston 45-33...Baltimore 42-34...Yankees 41-34...Toronto 38-36...Tampa Bay 39-37.
It almost seems unfair to envision Boston, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Toronto and the Yankees knocking each other off for the rest of the season. It puts them at a disadvantage in the battle against teams in the inferior AL Central and (to a lesser extent) the AL West for the AL’s two wild-card berths.
There is no perfect team in Major League Baseball but the four top teams in the AL East have fewer flaws than most.
Here’s how the AL East teams measure entering Monday (with rankings in the 15-team AL in parentheses):
Runs – Boston 394 (1)...Baltimore 373 (2)...Tampa Bay 359 (5)...Toronto 349 (6 and climbing fast)...Yankees 293 (11)
Home runs – Baltimore 104 (1)...Toronto 98 (2)...Tampa Bay 87 (4)...Boston 85 (5)...Yankees 74 (12)
Batting average – Baltimore .273 (2)...Boston .270 (3)...Tampa Bay .259 (6)...Toronto .253 (9)...Yankees .239 (14)
Slugging – Baltimore .455 (1)...Boston .441 (2)...Toronto .426 (4)...Tampa Bay .422 (5)...Yankees .379 (13)
On-base percentage -- .Boston .345 (2)...Tampa Bay .328 (4)...Baltimore .324 (7)...Toronto .315 (10)...Yankees .303 (12)
Earned-run average – Yankees 3.79 (4)...Boston 3.91 (7)...Toronto 4.09 (8)...Tampa Bay 4.30 (13)...Baltimore 4.55 (14; only Houston’s 4.64 is worse)
Lowest batting average against – Tampa Bay .246 (4)...Boston .248 (6)...Toronto .255 (9)...Yankees .257 (11)...Baltimore .261 (12)
Stolen bases – Boston 60 (1)...Baltimore 54 (4)...Yankees 49 (5)...Toronto 50 (6)...Tampa Bay 32 (12)
Fewest errors – Baltimore 25 (1)...Yankees 27 (2)...Tampa Bay7 33 (5)...Boston 37 (7)...Toronto 49 (12)
Record vs. AL East rivals – Yankees 18-12...Boston 20-14...Baltimore 17-18...Toronto 15-20...Tampa Bay 18-23
Record vs. NL teams – Tampa Bay 9-1...Toronto 9-5...Baltimore 5-4...Boston 2-2...Yankees 5-7.
NHL PLAYOFFS: A FEW REASONS WE WANT MORE
The Stanley Cup Finals could end Monday night. I hope not. This series has been fun to watch. Most of us wouldn’t mind seeing two more games.
The Chicago Blackhawks have a 3-2 advantage entering Game 6 at the Boston Bruins. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bruins win to set up Game 7 in Chicago Wednesday night.
Here is a breakdown through the first 85 games of this season’s NHL playoffs (including the Finals):
Home teams are 56-29 (65.9 percent)
Scoring margins: 1 goal – 48 games (56.5 percent)...2 goals 16 games...3 goals 11 games...four goals 5 games...five goals 5 games
There have been 24 overtime games (28.2 percent).
SERENA PICKING UP THE SLACK FOR AMERICA’S MALE TENNIS PLAYERS
I imagine the United States will have a top-shelf male tennis singles champion again but I have no idea when that will be. Do you?
Fortunately, Serena Williams is dominating women’s tennis like no one before. Is she that great or is facing lesser competition than previous dominant players did?
Here are the Bovada odds for Wimbledon starting today:
Men – Novak Djokovic 7-to-4...Andy Murray 7x2...Rafael Nadal 7x22...Roger Federer 5x1...Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 16x1...Juan Martin Del Potro 40x1.
Federer beat Murray in the Wimbledon final match last year. Djokovic won in 2012 and Nadal won in 2011.
Women – Serena Williams 1-to-2 (bet $2 to win $1)...Victoria Azarenka 7x1...Maria Sharapova 15x2...Petra Kvitova 18x1...Angieska Radwanska 40x1...Li Na 40x1.
Williams beat Radwanska in last year’s Wimbledon women’s singles finals. She also won in 2009 and 2010. Kvitova won in 2011.
COLABELLO COULD BE FIRST IL TRIPLE CROWN WINNER SINCE JIM RICE
Rochester Red Wings slugger Chris Colabelo is on pace to make a big run for the International League’s first Triple Crown winner since Jim Rice (Pawtucket) in 1974.
Entering Monday, Colabello was leading the IL in batting average (.369), tied for 1st in RBI (59) and tied for 4th with 17 HRs (leader Mauro Gomez has 21 HRs). He also leads the IL in on-base percentage (.436), slugging percentage (.664) and OPS (on-base percentage+slugging percentage; 1.100)
Colabello also has a legitimate shot at sweeping the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards. He’d be the Rookie of the Year award began in 1950, here are the 12 players that accomplished that:
Don Buford 1963...Joe Foy (1955)...Mike Epstein (1966)...Luis Alvarado (1969)... Roger Freed (1970)...Jim Rice (1974)...Mike Vail (1975)...Rich Dauer (1976)...Scott Bradley (1984)...Dan Pasqua (1985)...Randy Milligan (1987)...J.T. Snow (1992).
JEFF SLUMAN KEEPS RAKING IN THE DOUGH
Rochester product Jeff Sluman earned another bib check Sunday for finishing tied for 3rd in the Chasmpions Tour Encompass Championship -- $81,000. Sluman, 56, is up to 11th on this year’s Champions Tour money list ($576,327).
Here are Jeff’s career totals:
PGA Tour – 700 events; 6 wins 15 seconds, 10 thirds; 105 top-10 finishes; $18,165,266 official earnings
Champions Tour – 140 events; 5 wins, 6 seconds, 6 thirds; 52 top-10 finishes; $7,128,484 official earnings.
2011 Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom ended his racing career on a losing note last Tuesday. He was favored in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot but finished 11th in a 13-horse field. He’ll being study duty in Australia soon and return to the United States for the 2014 breeding season. In 12 career starts, he had 5 wins and 5 seconds, and had $8,387,500 in earnings. He won the Kentucky Derby by 2 ¾ lengths, rallying from 12th to 1st at odds of 20x1.
Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse) is the 10 preliminary invitees to the NBA’s “green room” for the NBA Draft Thursday night on ESPN. Other could join the list. The top 10: Cater-Williams, Nerlens Noel (Kentucky), Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Otto Porter (Georgetown), Alex Len (Maryland), Anthony Bennett (UNLV), Ben McLemore (Kansas), Trey Burke (Michigan), C.J. McCullum (Leigh) and Cody Miller (Indiana).
Is Joe Theismann trying to impress Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder? Theismann last week told FOXSports.com., “I was proud to play for the Washington Redskins...when I put that uniform on, and I put that helmet on with the Redskin logo on it, I felt like I was representing more than the Washington Redskins, I was representing the great Native American nations that exist in this country.”...Sorry. I’m not buying that.
I’m OK with the Deacon Jones Award to the NFL’s sack leader beginning this season, but does Jerry Rice needed to die before the Jerry Rice Award goes to the NFL’s yards receiving leader every season?
Could Brad Smith be an important part of what is expected to be the exciting new-look offense for the Buffalo Bills? Jay Skurski or the Buffalo News reported that Smith worked exclusively at wide receiver in mini-camp. Smith might have been underutilized by Chan Gailey. In the past two years, Smith threw 2 passes (both INTs), caught 37 passes and ran 34 times.
How much do the New York Yankees miss 41-year-old Raul Ibanez (Seattle Mainers)? In 55 games this season, he’s batting .240 with 17 HRs, and 42 RBI in 208-bats...In 130 games and 384 at-bats with the 2012 Yankees, he hit .240 with 19 HRs and 62 RBI.
Thumbs up to fans voting for the National League’s starting lineup in the All-Star Game July 16 at Cito Field. At catcher, Yadier Molina (St. Louis) finally has overtaken 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey (San Francisco): 3,596,858 to 3,506,402. At third base, David Wright (Mets) finally tops Pablo Sandoval (San Francisco): 2,917,819 to 2,788,988...If that holds up, the only problems to fix will be Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado) and Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh) as starting outfielders instead of Justin Upton (Atlanta) and oft-injured Bryce Harper (Washington).
Inbee Park, winner of the first two LPGA Tour majors this year (Kraft Nabisco and the Wegmans LPGA Championship), heads the field for this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack on Long Island. She has five wins overall this season, including last week’s NW Arkansas Championship. Park needs to continue winning to keep in touch with Serena Williams for Female Athlete of the Year honors...Park leads the 2013 LPGA money list ($1,521,827 to No. 2 Stacy Lewis’ $839,668)..For the record, she’d rank 27th on the 2013 PGA money list but 1st on the Champions Tour.