Email Bob here.
Call the show:
Phone Local: (585) 222-1180
Phone Toll-Free: (800) 295-1180
Verizon Wireless: *1180
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.
GIVING THE SURGING YANKEES CREDIT FOR GRIT
BOB’S WORST-TO-FIRST PICKS FOR THE TRAVERS
ESPN THE MAGAZINE NOT HIGH ON THE 2013 BILLS
IS CLAYTON KERSHAW THE NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP FAVORITE?
BOLT MAN TO CATCH FOR TOP MALE ATHLETE
The New York Yankees remain a long shot to win their 28th World Series this season, but I’ll give them credit for hanging in there. There has been no quit in this bunch. Manager Joe Girardi is doing a fabulous job.
Most of the great Yankee skippers won with superior talent – from Huggins to McCarthy to Stengel to Torre.
Age and injuries plagued this team for four-plus months. When the Yankees fell to 58-57 with a 9-3 home loss to Detroit Aug. 10, I was gloating over my Opening Day prediction that they’d finish .500 or worse this season.
But the Yankees enter Friday on a 10-2 roll and suddenly are a mere 3 1/2 games removed from one of the American League’s two wild-card playoff berth:
Tampa Bay 72-53 –
Oakland 71-55 –
Cleveland 69-58 2 ½ games behind
Baltimore 68-58 3 games behind
Yankees 68-59 3 1/2 games behind
The key to the turnaround and the new attitude is the offense. The overall numbers still are weak. Entering Friday, here’s how the Yankees rank in the 15-team American League:
.247 batting average (11th)...511 runs (10th)...114 home runs 14th..... on-base percentage .311 (12th)...slugging percentage .377 (14th)...OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage)... .688 (12th)
The additions of three players have made the Yankees look better on the lineup card, in the batting stats and in the standings:
Alfonso Soriano – 25 games; .276 (27x98); 9 HRs; 28 RBI
Curtis Granderson – 27 games; .278 (25x90); 3 HRs; 8 RBI
Alex Rodriguez – 15 games; .281 (16x57); 2 HRs; 6 RBI
There are hopes that shortstop Derek Jeter might soon return to further boost the offense. Catcher would be the only soft spot in the lineup and an enormous improvement from five weeks ago.
The Yankees have had a few assets all season. They have more team speed, better defense and have a better bullpen than many great Yankees teams of the past.
The huge problem and the reason I don’t see the Yankees pulling off a mini-miracle by earning a playoff spot (even the two-team, one-game wild-card playoff showdown) is depth in the starting pitching.
Hiroki Kuroda is a legitimate ace. Ivan Nova is improving but hardly qualifies as a legit No. 2 starter on a contending team. The big hopes are for CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to suddenly return to form. That seems unlikely. A revival by Phil Hughes is less likely. He appears scared on the mound and with his stuff and penchant for throwing gopher balls, he should be.
The Yankees enter Friday with 35 games remaining – 16 at home (38-27 this season) and 19 on the road (30-32 this season).
They have a few apparent breaks on their schedule: 20 games vs. the three teams they’re chasing in the AL East (7 vs. Boston, 7 vs. Baltimore and 6 vs. Tampa Bay)...They have 6 games left against the crippled Toronto Blue Jays...Their only remaining interleague opponent is San Francisco at Yankee Stadium; the Giants are a huge disappointment this season...They close the season with three road games against Houston, the worst team in the majors.
THIS TRAVERS STAKES SHOULD BE A CLASSIC
Thoroughbred horse racing isn’t what it used to be (harness racing has declined even more), but Saturday’s 144th running of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga is worth a look if you have only a slight interest in the sport.
For a change, the “Midsummer Derby” is a better attraction than the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes and perhaps even even the Kentucky Derby.
Why? Partly because of the beauty and tradition of Saratoga. It is one of the few places left in North America at which thoroughbred racing remains a very big deal. And mainly because the field is stacked, including the winners of two of this year’s Triple Crown races (Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Belmont Stakes winner .Palace Malice; Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow is sidelined with an injury).
The morning-line favorite – Verrazano – could be a super horse. We’ll find out Saturday.
If Verrazano, Orb or Palace Malice wins the Travers, it could determine champion three-year-old male honors.
Here are Bob’s worst-to-first picks for Saturday’s 1 ¼-mile, $1 million race (5:46 post time on NBC):
7—War Dancer (7 career races, all this year; 3 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third; $418,569 earnings) – Appears outclassed...best speed ratings don’t compare with others in this race...Last race was a victory in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby on the turf at odds of 7.40-to-1...This will be only his second start on dirt...Jockey Alan Garcia has had a cold Saratoga meet.
4 – Golden Soul (8 career races; 1 win, 3 seconds, 0 thirds; $527,400) – Closed ground to finish a surprising 2nd at odds of 34-to-1 in the slop in the Kentucky Derby...Then finished 9th in the Belmont Stakes (beaten 10 lengths) and 7th in the Haskell Invitational (beaten by 29 lengths)...Only win was a maiden race in his second career start.
1—Romansh (4 career races; 2 wins, 0 seconds, 1 third; $123,580) – Lightly-raced and stepping up in class...Won the Curlin Stakes July 26 at Saratoga via disqualification after finishing two lengths behind entrymate Transparent.
9--Transparent (9 career races; 2 wins, 1 second, 1 third: $112,784) – Finished first but disqualified to fifth in his most recent start, the $100,000 Curlin Stakes . This field is much tougher...Likes to sit slightly off the pace.
6—Moreno (12 career races; 2 wins, 3 seconds, 2 thirds; $275,440) – Likely to set the pace and try to steal the race off modest fractions...Wired the field at 5.70-to-1 in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Dwyer at Lemont July 6...Then tired to finish 3rd in the 1 1/8th Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga July 27.
2—Orb (10 career races; 5 wins, 0 seconds, 2 thirds; $2,505,850) –Favored in all three Triple Crown racrs...Won the sloppy Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths at 5.40-to-1 at Churchill Downs May 4...Then lost at 0.70-to-1 in the Preakness Stakes and 2.20-to-1 in the Belmont Stakes...Trainer Shug McGaughey decided to give the colt a rest...Hasn’t raced since June 8 but Shug says he bigger, sharper, fit and dangerous...Generous odds if 4x1 or higher but a tough assignment off a layoff against this field.
Show—Will Take Charge (11 career races; 3 wins; 2 seconds; 0 thirds; $665,371) – Beat Orb in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes in the spring but then disappointed in the Triple Crown races (8th, 7th and 10th)...Fired to finish second to Palace Malice in the Jim Dandy July 27 at Saratoga...Tough horse to gauge...Odds will be tempting and has a shot on his best effort.
Place – Palace Malice (9 career races; 3 wins, three seconds, 1 third; $1,321,135) – Tired to finish 12th in the Kentucky Derby...Then surprised by winning the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes at odds of 13.80x1 by 3 ¼ lengths over Preakness winner Oxbow. Orb was third...Then impressively won the Jim Dandy Stakes July 27 at Saratoga...Five of the last 8 Jim Dandy winners came back to win the Travers...Likes this track. Broke his maiden at Saratoga last August.
Win – Verrazano (7 races; 6 wins, 0 seconds, 0 thirds; $1,551,300) – Only loss in his career was a 14th at odds of 8.70x1 in the Kentucky Derby. He obviously didn’t appreciate the sloppy track that afternoon...Trainer Todd Pletcher decided to give the colt a rest...Returned to post awesome victories in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes June 16 (won by 9 ¼ lengths) and the 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 Haskell Invitational July 28 (won by 9 34/4 lengths with the highest Beyer speed figure this year of any horse in Saturday’s field)....Has brilliant speed. Critics wonder if he can win at 1 ¼ miles. Pletcher says no sweat. I believe him. We’ll find out Saturday.
ESPN THE MAGAZINE : LITTLE RESPECT FOR THE BILLS (5-11 RECORD)
The current issue of ESPN The Magazine is the 2013 NFL Preview edition and offers the ambitious feature of predicted scores for all 267 games this season Including the postseason). That’s a sure formula for failure. If ESPN hits on more three exact scores, I’ll be surprised.
ESPN The Magazine’s Super Bowl pick is Denver Broncos 34, Seattle Seahawks 31.
Here are the AFC East picks:
Miami Dolphins 10-6 projected record (by Football Focus)... 57.9% probability of making playoffs (by Football Focus)... 40-x1 odds to win Super Bowl 48 and over/under wins 7.5 By LVH SuperBook)...Unit projections (by Football Outsiders) offense 27th, defense 6th.
New England Patriots 9-7... 45.1%... 7x1 and 11.5...2nd and 20th.
Buffalo Bills – 5-11...22.4 percent...100x1 and 6.5...21st and 13th.
New York Jets 4-12...18%...60x1 and 6.5...25th and 5th.
Projected scores of Buffalo’s games (by Pro football Focus): L27-24 to New England...W 34-31 over Carolina...L 28-18 at Jets...W 20-19 over Baltimore...L 31-28 at Cleveland...L 28-21 to Cincinnati...L 29-14 at Miami...L 20-13 at New Orleans...L 24-18 at Kansas City...L 10-3 at Pittsburgh...W 31-19 over Jets...W 24-23 over Atlanta at Toronto...L 34-7 at Tampa Bay...L 14-3 at Jacksonville...W 23-22 over Miami...L 38-21 at New England.
Let’s be fair here. It is extremely unlikely that Buffalo is going to lose consecutive games in December at Tampa Bay and at Jacksonville and score a total of 10 points in the process.
YADIER MOLINA (NOT KERSHAW) MY PACESETTER FOR NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP
Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw is fashioning a spectacular season: 13-7 record; 1.72 ERA; 0.86 WHIP (walks + hits allowed per inning); a mere 127 hits allowed in 198 1/3 innings; 43 walks; 188 strikeouts; 0.86 WHIT (walks+hits per inning); .182 opposing batting average. Wow!
I believe Kershaw is the MVP of the Dodgers and he obviously merits strong support for NL MVP. His won-loss record would be even more impressive if his teammates had given him only average hitting support earlier this season.
But I believe the Cy Young Award is for pitchers and the MVP ward is for position players – unless a pitcher has much better credentials than the rest of the MVP field.
My pick for NL MVP remains St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina. No catcher plays better defense or calls a better game, and he’s been battling for the NL batting title all season. The Cardinals sagged during his recent stint on the disabled list.
At this point, I rate Molina No. 1), Andrew McCuthen (Pittsburgh) No.2 and Kershaw No. 3, followed by Allen Craig (St. Louis, Freedie Freeman (Atlanta) and Joey Votto (Cincinnati).
SPRAYING MORE BASEBALL THOUGHTS TO ALL FIELDS
The Pittsburgh Pirates are closed to clinching the end of their 20-season losing streak.
When does Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer (18-1 record) join teammate Miguel Cabrera and Baltimore’s Chris Davis in the American League MVP contest?
The NL Central race will be interesting down the stretch between three very good teams: Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati.
USAIN BOLT SPRINTS INTO AP MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR CONTENTION
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s three gold medals in this month’s world track and field championships made him the most decorated athlete for a career in the event’s history: Bolt 8 gold, 2 silver...Carl Lewis 8 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze...Michael Johnson 8 gold.
Bolt is one of the four obvious candidates for AP Make Athlete of the Year, with basketball’s LeBron James, football’s Adrian Peterson and baseball’s Miguel Cabrera. Some tennis fans are touting Rafael Nadal.
Carl Lewis (1983 and 1984) and Michael Johnson (1996) are former ASP Male Athletes of the Year. At this point, I believe Bolt deserves to join them this year.
RECALLS TO TWINS WILL COST COLABELLO THE TRIPLE CROWN
Rochester Red Wings slugger Carlos Colabello isn’t going to complain about this, but his two stints with the Minnesota Twins likely will cost him the International League’s Triple Crown. The last player to lead the IL in batting average, HRs and RBIs was Jim Rice (Pawtucket) in 1974.
Here are the IL’s Triple Crown leaders entering Friday:
Batting average – Colabello .352 in 89 games...Jeff Kobernus (Syracuse) .323 in 85 games...Cesar Hernandez (Lehigh Valley) .316 in 94 games
Home runs – Zach Walters (Syracuse) 29 in 123 games...Mauro Gomez (Buffalo) 28 in 98 games...Ernesto Mejia (Gwinnett) 28 in 123 games)...Danny Dorn (Toledo) 25 in 126 games...Colabello 24 in 89 games
Runs-batted-in – Danny Dorn (Toledo) 81 in 126 games...Ernesto Mejia (Gwinnett) 80 in 123 games...Colabello 76 in 89 games
How can the Baseball Writers Association of America have so many voters who’ve been ignoring the suspected PED cheaters in balloting for the Hall of Fame yet t thus far not demanding that confessed PED cheater Ryan Braun return his 2011 National League MVP award? Lack of consistency.
--This isn’t going to happen, but wouldn’t it be fun if RIT revived football with Tom Coughlin finishing his head coaching career where it started?
--Put on your thinking caps. A total of 798 players have hit at least 100 home runs in the major leagues. 41 were former Rochester Red Wings. How many can you name? Answers below.
--A kind listener asked how Heisman Trophy winners tend to perform in the NFL.
Starting in 1970 (the year of the AFL-NFL merger), here’s what I came up with:
Studs (19) – 1970 Jim Plunkett...1976 Tony Dorsett...1977 Earl Campbell...1978 Billy Sims...1980 George Rogers...1981 Marcus Allen...1982 Herschel Walker...1985 Bo Jackson...1986 Vinny Testaverde...1987 Tim Brown...1988 Barry Sanders...1995 Eddie George...1997 Charles Woodson...1998 Ricky Williams...2002 Carson Palmer...2005 Reggie Bush...2008 Sam Bradford (kind of generous)...2010 Cam Newton...2011 Robert Griffin III.
OK/average (6) – 1973 John Cappelletti...1974-75 Archie Griffin...1979 Charles White...1983 Mike Rozier...1984 Doug Flutie...1991 Desmond Howard.
Duds (15) – 1971 Pat Sullivan...1972 Johnny Rodgers...1989 Andre Ware...1990 Ty Detmer...1992 Gino Torretta...1993 Charlie Ward...1994 Rashaan Salaam...1996 Danny Wuerffel...1999 Ron Dayne...2000 Chris Weinke...2001 Eric Crouch...2003 Jason White...2004 Matt Leinart...2006 Troy Smith...2007 Tim Tebow.
Too early to rate (2) – 2009 Mark Ingram...2012 Johnny Manziel.
--According to Forbes magazine, here are the average values of franchises in North America’s four major sports: NFL $1.17 million...MLB $744 million...NBA $509 million...NHL $282 million.
--The 40 former Red Wings with at least 100 HRs in the majors: Eddie Murray 504...Stan Musial 475...Cal Ripken Jr. 431...Johnny Mize 359...Boog Powell 339...Don Baylor 338...Ruben Sierra 306...Steve Finley 304...Mickey Tettleton 246...Doug DeCinces 237...Bobby Grich 224...Justin Morneau 218...Leon Wagner 211...Brady Anderson 210...Rondell White 198...Glenn Davis 190...Josh Willingham 179...Michael Cuddyer 174...Jacque Jones 165...Jim Hickman 159...Chris Hoiles 151...Wally Moon 142...Jason Kubel 139...David Segui 139...Davey Johnson 136...Ripper Collins 135...Paul Blair 134,,,Mike Epstein 130...Gary Roenicke 121...Kelly Gruber 117...Shannon Stewart 115...Curt Blefary 112...Jackie Brandt 112...Dave Hollins 112...George Selkirk 108...Whitey Kurowski 106...Rip Repululski 106...Mike Devereaux 105...Joe Mauer 105...George Sisler 102...Near misses include Luke Easter 93, Bill Virdon 91 and Red Schoendienst 80...Three Wings managers had at least 100 HRs: Frank Robinson 586, Ken Boyer 282 and Dixie Walker 105.
--Here are the updated 2013 stats for Minnesota’s two highly-touted phenoms (and future Red Wings):
Miguel Sano (20-year-old third baseman with Advanced Single-A Fort Meyers and Double-A New Britain): 113 games; .283 batting average (114x403); 28 doubles; 4 triples; 31 HRs; 94 RBI; 57 walks; 127 strikeouts; 10x13 stolen bases
Byron Buxton (Single-A Cedar Rapids and Advanced Single-A Fort Meyers) : 113 games; .330 batting average (150x454); 99 runs; 19 doubles; 16 triples; 12 HRs; 75 RBI; 67 walks; 100 strikeouts; 52x69 stolen bases.