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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.
OAK HILL MAKES ROCHESTER A MAJOR-LEAGUE GOLF CITY
NEW-LOOK BILLS LOOKING GOOD SO FAR
PRO BOWL FORMAT STILL LOOKS BAD
YASIEL PUIG: ONE OF THE BEST ROOKIES EVER
No one can deny that Rochester is strictly major league in one sport – golf.
We proved it again last week. The 95th PGA Championship was a magnificent success in every respect.
We had a popular champion. So what if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson came up empty. Jason Dufner was impossible to root against. His respect for Ben Hogan was genuine and taking home acorns to plant in his yard in Alabama was a nice touch.
We had a legitimate champion. Dufner broke idol Hogan’s course record with a round of 63 on Friday and then proved it was no fluke by winning the championship two days later.
We didn’t get to see Woods win his 15th major but we saw Dufner win his first. Few fans seemed to be disappointed.
The attendance was impressive. It always is at Oak Hill. And the galleries treated all of the players with the respect they deserve. The exception – the one or two guys who believe shouting “in the cup” is somehow impressive. I’m sure they must know that most of their fellow spectators believe they’re obnoxious and wish they were anywhere other than Oak Hill last week.
The course looked terrific. The shots from the MetLife blimp made Oak Hill’s trees look better than ever. We don’t have the longest classic course in America but it is among the most beautiful.
The tournament was superbly run. Officials from the PGA of America and Oak Hill have become terrific partners. The trust runs deep on both sides. They met Saturday to discuss the next major event in our town.
Nearly every PGA official was interviewed during WHAM 1180’s extensive radio coverage of this tournament. They had nothing but genuine praise for the course, the fan support and the infrastructure.
ESPN.com’s Michael Collins gave out grades for the tournament. Oak Hill received A+: “Shout out to the staff that made this course play so great. The thing I love about a PGA Championship is the ability to give guys the chance to go low. Find the fairway, and you can give yourself a realistic chance at birdie. Find the rough, and, on occasion, you will still have the chance to make a 30-footer. Getting that set up just right, even after Mother Nature throws in her two cents Thursday and Friday, is like walking barefoot on a razor blade and trying not to get cut...Jeff Corcoran, Fred Doheny, Phil Cuffare, Chuck Zaranec, Martin Clarke, Ron Pluta, Dan Farrell, J.R. McCarthy, Scott Wheeler, Craig Harmon and all your staff. Take a bow! Now go get some sleep. You deserve it.”
Rochester ‘s media provided blanket coverage. The Democrat and Chronicle and the other local newspapers...the local TV stations...the local radio stations, including saturation coverage by WHAM 1180, the tournament’s official local radio station.
I can’t imagine any city of any size giving any pro golf tournament such in-depth coverage. The PGA of America recognizes and appreciates that.
The PGA Championship is booked through 2018. It was held at Oak Hill in 2003 and 2013. My guess is that Oak Hill will be hosting the season’s final major in 2023.
Other thoughts on the 95th PGA Championship:
Phil Mickelson had a disappointing week on the course but that didn’t stop him from graciously signing autographs after Sunday’s fourth round. He’s a class act and a credit to his sport.
Tiger Woods showed some class by again praising Oak Hill after another frustrating visit: 2003 PGA Championship 74-72-73-73 – 292 (12-over par), tied for 39th, won $22,000...2013 PGA Championship 71-70-73-70 – 284 (4-over par), tied for 40th, won $28,000. He has yet to break par and is a total of 16-over par for eight rounds.
BILLS OFF TO IMPRESSIVE START
The first preseason game for the Buffalo Bills couldn’t have gone much better on Sunday in Indianapolis: Bills 44, Colts 20.
The Bills are trying to sell their fans on a makeover including a new coaching staff, a new starting quarterback and more team speed. All were in evidence Sunday.
Rookie EJ Manuel, the QB nearly everyone hopes will be good enough to start the opener at home against New England Sunday, Sept.8, started against the Colts and looked very good: 16x21 for 107 yards, with 1 TD, 0 INT and as 102.7 passer rating. He ran the fast-paced offense with surprising precision and deftly led the team down the field for a TD to end the second half. He also showed off his mobility with a 24-yard run.
Jeff Tuel also looked good in relief of Manuel: 19x23 for 212 yards, with 2 TD passes, 0 INT and a 132.1 passer rating.
Sure, Manuel did his best work against Indianapolis’ second-string defense, but he did more than enough to suggest that he could be the Week 1 starter.
Buffalo looked faster and more aggressive on both sides of the football than last season. Marquise Goodwin’s 107-yard TD return suggests that he’ll be a top-flight return man.
I f don’t know if Buffalo will be better than Indianapolis in the regular season, but the Bills looked more ready to play in this game.
I’m not going overboard on the Bills off their first preseason game, but there were lots of things to like on Sunday.
NEW-LOOK PRO BOWL HARDLY AN IMPROVEMENT
I fully expect the new format for the NFL Pro Bowl to be a flop. The only thing really wrong with the traditional AFC vs. NFC format (used since 1971) is that too few players on both sides took it seriously. I don’t know how stocking the teams via a draft is going to inspire the players to give 100 percent effort.
The thing I like most about the new-look Pro Bowl is the ball changing hands at the end of each quarter. That will mean more action late in each quarter. I suppose that move would be too drastic for the regular season, but it will make this exhibition game more interesting.
I also like eliminating kickoffs for safety purposes. Teams will start from their own 25-yard line. I always thought exposing stars to tackling and blocking duties on kickoffs was asking for trouble.
RED WINGS HAD A CHANCE FOR LOTS OF HARDWARE
The Rochester Red Wings have accumulated lots of individual awards in the team’s storied history: 16 Rookie of the Year, 11 Most Valuable players, 7 Most Valuable Pitchers and 6 Manager of the Year.
The Wings haven’t collected much hardware lately. The latest winners were Jeff Manto (1994 MVP), Marv Foley (1997 Manager of the Year), Kevin Slowey (MV Pitcher 2007) and Randy Ruiz (2008 Rookie of the Year).
Rochester had worthy candidates for every major IL individual award this season: Chris Colabello MVP, Andrew Albers Most Valuable Pitcher), Oswaldo Arcia (Rookie of the Year) and Gene Glynn (Manager of the Year).
Glynn merits serious Manager of the Year consideration, but Colabello, Albers and Arcia saw their IL hardware hopes vanish with promotions to Minnesota. I’m sure they didn’t mind. $75,000 per month in the majors was quite a boost to their standard of living.
Here’s how they fared for the Wings and Twins:
Colabello – 85 games; .354 batting average (the next-best current IL batting average is .318); 24 doubles; 24 HRs; 76 RBI; leading the IL in RBI, total bases, one-base percentage and slugging pecentage...Hwe would’ve been IL MVP in a landslide.
Albers -- 11-5 record; 2.86 ERA.
Arcia – 38 games; .313 batting average; 10 HRs; 30 RBI.
Colabello – 27 games; .215 batting average (17x79); 4 HRs; 7 RBI.
Albers – 1-0; 0.00 ERA...He was scheduled to make his second start Monday night.
Arcia – 69 games; .262 batting average (65x248); 13 doubles; 2 triples; 10 HRs; 30 RBI.
PUIG CINCH ROOKIE OF YEAR: HOW ABOUT SOME MVP VOTES?
Not everyone is sold on Yasiel Puig as this season’s National League Rookie of the Year. Something about he wasn’t promoted from Double-A to the Los Angeles Dodgers until June 3.
He’s more than made up for lost time. The 22-year-old Cuban defector not only is a genuine NL Rookie of the Year candidate despite missing the first two months of the season. He should be the unanimous Rookie of the Year and get some MVP votes.
The Dodgers were 23-32 when he joined the team. They’re 44-18 since. They’re on a 14-2 tear and he’s now batting cleanup. The Dodgers are baseball’s hottest team despite having arguably their best player – Matt Kemp – on the disabled list.
Puig’s numbers are awesome: 60 games; .376 batting average (86x229); 45 runs; 14 doubles; 2 triples; 11 HRs; 26 RBI. But it isn’t only the stats. It also is the way he plays. He’s a 6-foot-3, 245-pound muscle-bound bundle of high-powered energy. He plays right field and runs the bases like few players I’ve ever seen. He’s on attack mode all the time. His enthusiasm and sheer joy for playing is obvious.
Could he be a one-year wonder? I doubt it. He seems eager to polish his game and could be baseball’s best combination of power and speed since Bo Jackson.
When Kemp- returns to the lineup, the Dodgers will have four very good outfielders.
Manager Don Mattingly is talking about rotating them. He’s probably being kind to Andre Ethier. Puig, Kemp and a vintage Carl Crawford would be baseball’s most dynamic starting outfield.
The way Puig has played so far, he could be the most impactful rookie in baseball history.
Miguel Sano is looking like he’ll be ready to start next season with the Rochester Red Wings. The 20-year-old slugging third baseman is closing in on 30 HRs and 100 RBI for this season:
Class A Advanced Fort Myers – 56 games; .330 (68x206); 51 runs; 15 doubles; 2 triples; 16 HRs; 48 RBI.
Class AA New Britain – 47 games; .258 (41x159) after a slow start; 26 runs; 11 doubles; 2 triples; 42 RBI.
Totals: 103 games; ,299 (109x365); 77 runs; 26 doubles; 4 triples; 29 HRs; 90 RBI; 9x12 so0len bases; 55 walks; 122 strikeouts.
Sadly, Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) passed Stan Musial for sixth place on the all-time RBI list. We have no idea how many of A-Rod’s 1,952 RBI were aided by performance-enhancing drugs. Hundreds? Thousands? I’m pretty certain that all of Musial’s 1,951RBI were legit.
Manny Ramirez isn’t doing much at Triple-A Round Rock(Pacific Coast League) to suggest that he’ll be any help to the Texas Rangers down the stretch: In 29 games, he’s hitting .2350 (26x104), with 3 doubles, 3 HRs, 13 RBI, 10 walks and 13 strikeouts.