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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.
RED WINGS LOOK LIKE A GENUINE GOVERNORS’ CUP CONTENDER
NETS BIG SURPRISE IN EARLY-BIRD 2013-14 NBA PROJECTED RECORDS
TWINS’ TWO SUPER PROSPECTS FEATURED IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
MVP RACES ARE SHAPING UP
ZIPPY CHIPPY RESURFACES
Rochester has won an International League-most 10 Governors’ Cup playoff championships, but most of them came a long time ago – 1939, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990 and – most recently 1997 (the first season at Frontier Field).
The Red Wings haven’t won a division title since 1997.
Happy days could be here again.
The Wings play in Buffalo Friday night and then will play 14 of the remaining 16 regular-season games at Frontier Field.
Rochester leads the IL East by 2 games over Pawtucket, 3 ½ games over Buffalo and 4 ½ games over Lehigh Valley.
The Wings appear to have a genuine team chemistry and the desire to win the division and win the playoffs.
The talent is there. The Wings have used 63 players this season, including 23 that played for both Rochester and Minnesota. Gene Glynn has done a masterful job juggling the roster and keeping everyone content and motivated. He has overcome his share of promotions to Minnesota (including would-have-been league MVP Chris Colabello, might-have-been IL Rookie of the Year Oswaldo Arcia and ace pitcher Andrew Albers) and injuries to key players. He merits IL Manager of the Year consideration.
The Wings started the season 2-11, stirring fears of a repeat of the dreadful 2010 (49-95 record) and 2011 (53-91) seasons under the unfortunate Tom Nieto, who didn’t have much to work with.
When Nieto needed reinforcements, there was no talent lode to tap at Double-A. The farm system was barren. But when Rochester needed help this season, a steady stream of players arrived from New Britain and did the job.
Rochester was 20-30 in late May but is an IL-best 49-28 since.
Glynn and pitching coach Marty Mason have done a masterful job with the pitching staff – using an astonishing 33 pitchers in the process. The staff’s 4.33 ERA ranks 13th in the 14-team IL (ahead of only Buffalo’s 4.35) but has been good enough to help post the third-best record in the league.
A few things these Wings have done well:
The hitters have the most walks in the IL (509) and the pitchers have allowed the second-fewest walks (392).
Rank third in runs (592) and sixth in home runs (105).
Third in on-base percentage (.339).
Tied for first in triples (33) and tied for fifth in stolen bases (110).
On pace for only 87 errors. That would be Rochester’s fewest errors since 1980.
Have pitched 12 complete games (next-most is 6 by Buffalo).
55-0 when leading after eight innings.
25-17 in one-run games and 6-4 in extra innings. 47-23 when score first.
One cause for concern: Three very good starting pitchers are on the disabled list – Vance Worley, Pedro Hernandez and Nick Blackburn. Can Scott Diamond, P.J. Walters, Liam Hendriks, Logan Darnell, Pat Dean and ??? get the job done? Why not?
Does winning really matter, or does Rochester Community Baseball rely solely on good food, fireworks and a nice home stadium. I believe a good product on the field means a lot.
How about 90,000-plus home fans for the remaining 14 home dates?
CAN THE NETS BE THIS GOOD?
I believe the Brooklyn Nets will be better than the New York Knicks this season, but I was surprised to see a projected second-best record in the NBA Eastern Conference this season.
Here are the projections from Alex Kay of Bleacher Report:
Eastern Conference – Miami 63-19...Brooklyn Nets 57-25...Chicago Bulls 55-27...New York Knicks 55-27...Indiana Pacers 53-29...Cleveland Cavaliers 47-35...Atlanta Hawks 41-41...Detroit Pistons 38-44...Toronto Raptors 37-45...Boston Celtics 36-46...Washington Wizards 34-48...Milwaukee Bucks 29-53...Charlotte Bobcats 28-54...Orlando Magic 27-55...Philadelphia 76ers 20-62
Western Conference – Los Angeles Clippers 61-21...Oklahoma City Thunder 59-23...Houston Rockets 58-24...Golden State Warriors 55-27...San Antonio Spurs 52-30...Memphis Grizzlies 49-33...Denver Nuggets 45-37...Los Angeles Lakers 41-41...Minnesota Timberwolves 40-42...Dallas Mavericks 40-42...Portland Trail Blazers 37-45...New Orleans Pelicans 36-46...Utah Jazz 30=52...Sacramento Kings 29-53...Phoenix Suns 28-54.
SANO AND BUXTON IN THE SI SPOTLIGHT
Minnesota Twins minor-leaguers Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, Baseball America’s No. 1 and No. 3 prospects in all of baseball, are the subjects of a six-page spread in the current issue of Sports Illustrated. The title is GLIMMER TWINS.
SI notes that only five other teams have had two position players ranked among the top-five prospects since Baseball America’s rankings began in 1990:
1994 Toronto – Alex Gonzalez SS (No. 4) and Carlos Delgado C (No. 5)
1995 Yankees – Ruben Rivera OF (No. 2) and Derek Jeter SS (No. 4)
1998 Dodgers – Paul Konerko 1B (No. 2) and Adrian Beltre 3B (No. 3)
2004 Tampa Bay – B.J. Upton SS (No. 2) and Delmon Young OF (No. 3)
2006 Arizona – Justin Upton OF (No. 2) and Stephen Drew SS (No. 5).
Other highlights of the article include:
“Imagine having the next Bryce Harper or Mike Trout in your system – then imagine having them both. That’s how Minnesota feels with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sota, neither of whom is older than 20. Time is their side.”
Buxton also played football in high school. When someone asked him how far he could throw a football, he promptly winged it 82 yards on the fly.
Jake Powell, a major-league scout for 30 years in the South, said the only player he ever graded tops (80) in hitting for average, hitting for power, running, throwing and fielding was Josh Hamilton. He gave Buxton 80-80-80-80-70. The 70 was for power, and Powell said Buxton will grown into an 80.
Fort Myers (Advanced Single-A) manager Doug Mientiewicz: “(Buxton) looks like a god wearing a baseball uniform. Forget the bat. If he were playing center field in the majors he’d be a Gold Glover right now.” Buxton is 19. He’s the second-youngest player in the Florida State League – two steps from Rochester.
Sano “is already being compared to the great righthanded power hitters in the game, from Miguel Cabrera to Albert Pujols to Giancarlo Stanton.”
Baseball Prospectus writer Jason Parks after watching Sano at Double-A New Britain (one step from Rochester): “The power is extreme and makes me question my religious beliefs.”
Said an American League GM: “Most of us wait a decade to have one guy in our system that’s a franchise-changing talent. To have two? It’s like having Harper and Trout both, in one organization.”
Mientkiewicz: “We forget how hard this game is, and I blame Trout, Harper and Machado for that. What people don’t realize is that they’re not the norm – they’re the exception. Befoe them, who was the last guy to make a splash at 19, 20? Ken Griffey Jr.? A-Rod? But then you see (Buxton and Sano) in person, you realize everything you’ve heard about them is true, and you can’t help but believe, and dream.”
In Minnesota, fans already are dreaming about a lineup including Buxton No. 1, Joe Mauer No. 3 and Sano No. 4...and soon!
As a young baseball writer who saw Bobby Grich and Don Baylor on the 1970 and 1971 Red Wings. I thought I’d never see two players so talented on another Red Wings team. Now I’m hoping to see Buxton and Sano on the same Red Wings team sometime next season. Being selfish, I hope they don’t zip by Rochester en route to the Twin Cities.
SU BASKETBALL TEAM WILL TUNE UP IN CANADA
Remember when Syracuse University’s basketball team took hits for playing a soft schedule in November and December? That’s no longer the case. So about a soft schedule in August?
SU’s team reported for its first workout Thursday in preparation for a four-game trip to Canada against McGill University (Aug. 21), Bishops University (Aug. 22), Carleton University (Aug.22) and Ottawa University (Aug. 24).
SU’s squad will include seniors C.J. Fair and Baye Moussa Keita, junior Rakeen Christmas, redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney, sophomores DaJuan Coleman, Michael Gbinije and Jerami Grant, and freshmen Tyler Ennis, B.J. Johnson and Ron Patterson.
The victories won’t count for SU or Jim Boeheim, but the comaraderie and playing time will be beneficial.
95th PGA CHAMPIONSHIP LEFTOVERS:
2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner became the sixth golfer to shoot a round of 63 in a major and go on to win that tournament. The others: Johnny Miller (1973 U.S. Open), Jack Nicklaus (1980 U.S. Open), Raymond Floyd (1982 PGA Championship), Greg Norman (1986 British Open), Tiger Woods (2007 PGA Championship).
Plenty of folks who were in the galleries watching Dufner win at Oak Hill last Sunday figure to be rooting for him against the winners of this year’s three other majors (Masters Champion Adam Scott, U.S. Open Champion Justin Rose and British Open Champion Phil Mickelson) in the 31st PGA Grand Slam of Golf, Oct. `15-16, at Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda.
Dufner’s victory means that 15 of the last 19 major championships have been won by a first-time major winner. That’s another clue that Tiger Woods needs to wake up soon in majors to win the five more he needs to top Jack Nicklaus’ 18.
Dufner soared from 61st to 13th on the 2013 PGA Tour money list with his victory. He has played in 18 events...The top 3: Tiger Woods $7,687,119 (in 12 events)...Matt Kuchar $5,006,408 (19 events)...Phil Mickelson $4,956,727 (17 events).
TIME FOR SELIG TO TACKLE ANOTHER BIG PROBLEM
Expanding instant replays in Major League Baseball can’t hurt. The umpiring appears to be growing worse and worse. But I hope Commissioner Bud Selig will further boost his campaign for the Baseball Hall of Fame by tackling another huge problem – the length of games.
Shortening games to seven innings would be way too drastic, but how about a new rule forcing batters to stay in the batter’s box for an entire at-bat. Would that be asking too much? Let the batter step out with one foot to take signals from the third-base coach, but that would be it.
I’d experiment for an entire season in a selected minor league. I believe it would shave an average of 15 minutes off the game.
MVP RACES SHOULD BE INTERESTING
Baseball’s battles for Most Valuable Players are shaping up to be very interesting this season.
In the American League, I see a two-man race between Miguel Cabrera (Detroit) and Chris Davis (Baltimore). Check out the Triple Crown categories:
Batting average – 1st Miguel Cabrera .359...2nd Mike Trout (LA Angels) .330...10th Chris Davis .300
Home runs – 1st Chris Davis 44...2nd Miguel Cabrera 38
Runs-batted-in – 1st Miguel Caberea 115...2nd Chris Davis 112.
Max Scherzer (Detroit; 17-1 record) figures to get plenty of also-ran votes.
In the National League, the MVP race is wide open – thanks to St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina’s DL stint. Other top contenders include Joey Votto (Cincinnati), Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh) and Freddie Freeman (Atlanta). Los Angeles rookie sparkplug Yasiel Puig deserves lots of also-ran support.
Is Justin Morneau a future member of the Rochester Red Wings Hall of Fame? Close call. In portions of three seasons with Rochester, including a 7-game rehab stint in 2011, had the following performance line: 150 games...batting average .292 (170x583)...98 runs...39 doubles...1 triple...39 HRs...113 RBI..327 total bases...61 walks...105 strikeouts...on-base percentage .363...slugging percentage .561...OPS .924...I’ll vote for him.
Don’t be surprised if Johnny Powless emerges as a big scorer in the Rochester Knighthawks’ quest for an unprecedented third straight National Lacrosse League championship this winter. His NLL experience as a teen-age mainstay on two championship teams (57 goals and 52 assists in 38 total games) helped him outclass Junior A competition this summer and mop up major individual league awards as captain of the Six Nations Arrows.
Old Finger Lakes Race Track hero (or zero: he became a national celebrity during his successful quest for a 0-for-100 career record) – Zippy Chippy – is still making news. Former Red Wing outfielder Darnell McDonald started his first game for the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, and WGN’s choice for Play of the Day was McDonald’s loss to Zippy Chippy in a gimmick race at Frontier Field in 2001...Zippy Chippy, now 22, is living a life of leisure as the main attraction at a thoroughbred retirement facility near Saratoga Springs. A book about Zippy Chippy is near publication (a great story never grows old) and a new producer is considering a movie about the Zippster. Long-time owner –trainer Felix Monserrate has to play himself.
If the season ended today, the Baltimore Orioles (65-55 record) wouldn’t make the playoffs. One reason for the team’s struggles of late is a 14-21 record in one-run games. The O’s were an amazing 29-9 in one-run games last season but that stat tends to even out the next year.