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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.
THINGS CAN ONLY IMPROVE FOR THE BILLS
YASIEL PUIG’S ATTITUDE COULD COST HIM ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
ANOTHER MVP TROPHY FOR CODY JAMIESON
PUT RAY GUY IN CANTON – BUT AFTER STEVE TASKER
HICKS, PARMALEE LETTING DOWN RED WINGS
RED WINGS DOMINATE IL TOP ROOKIE AWARD
The disappointment has come earlier than usual for long-suffering Buffalo Bills fans.
Thursday night’s embarrassing 35-13 home loss to Detroit was only a preseason game, but it is fairly obvious that practice can’t make these Bills perfect or anything close to it.
The most distressing thing about the lopsided defeat was Buffalo’s apparent woeful lack of depth in so many areas.
It shouldn’t be this way. Failing to reach the playoffs for 13 straight seasons is supposed to result in a favorable number of juicy draft picks and gradual improvement into a genuine playoff contender.
Early returns on the 2013 Bills strongly suggest that it hasn’t happened yet.
I felt sorry for emergency quarterback Matt Leinart. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t ready to play. He might never again be ready to play. He has more rust than the Titanic.
Now I feel sorry for undrafted rookie QB Jeff Tuel, who in all probability won’t be ready if he has to start Week 1 against New England.
And I feel sorry for “future franchise QB” EJ Manuel, who has the burden of great expectations. Are Buffalo fans wishing for way too much ,way too soon? Being a surprise first-round pick by the Bills hardly guarantees stardom – or even mediocrity.
How bad was Thursday night’s performance? I’ve long crusaded against blackouts of NFL games played in stadiums funded by taxpayers. But blacking out this sorry game was a blessing for fans who would’ve watched on TV is they had the chance. It would’ve been a waste of three hours. Watching the replay Friday night would be an ever worse waste of time.
One of these years, the Bills will make the playoffs again. Anyone still think it will happen this season?
PUIG HAS BIG-LEAGUE TALENT BUT NEEDS ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT
After his first two months in the majors, 22-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers sensation Yasiel Puig appeared to be a lock for National League Rookie of the Year. The Dodgers were floundering (23-32) when he joined the team June 3 and have been baseball’s best team since (55-23). He wasn’t the only reason but he was the biggest.
His numbers by month:
June -- .436 batting average (44x101), 7 HRs, 16 RBI
July -- .287 (27x94), 3 HRs, 7 RBI
August -- .309 (29x94), 3 HRs, 7 RBI
On numbers alone, Puig still looks like the Rookie of the Year favorite, but his stock has dropped, partly because his numbers have dipped but mostly because of his attitude. His reckless and sometimes careless style of play has hurt the Dodgers on the field. His bad temper and showboating have turned off some teammates, opponents and maybe some Rookie of the Year voters.
Being benched for indifferent play Wednesday was tough to ignore or dismiss. Manager Don Mattingly should be commended for trying to rein in his talented but wild potential superstar. It will be interesting to see how Puig reacts.
Another player is gaining momentum in the NL Rookie of the Year race – Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. He is putting up spectacular numbers under the radar for an awful team (49-83 record): 25 starts...10-5 record...152 2/3 innings...102 hits allowed...51 walks...165 strikeouts...9.73 Ks/9 IP...2.30 ERA.
JAMIESON AND KNIGHTHAWKS BUDDIES HAVEN’T COOLED OFF
Scoring machine Cody Jamieson, MVP of the Rochester Knighthawks second consecutive National Lacrosse League championship victory last season, has continued to roll this summer with several Knighthawks teammates on the Six Nations Chiefs of the Major Series A summer indoor league.
The Chiefs won the MSL Finals Monday night in a four-game sweep of the Brooklin Redmen. Jamieson scored his team’s first two and last two goals in the final game. He was selected MVP of the championship series (9 goals and 8 assists; 34 points in the playoffs).
It was the first MSL title for Six Nations in 17 years. Other Knighthawks on the Chiefs are captain Sid Smith and fellow defender Ian Llord and forwards Johnny Powless, Craig Point and Stephen Keogh.
Six Nations will next play for the Mann Cup, Canada’s prestigious summer indoor lacrosse championship. They’ll play the entire series on the road starting Sept. 6 against Victoria Shamrocks, champions of the Western Lacrosse Association. They won the championship Thursday night over the Langley Thunder.
The Six Nations vs. Victoria showdown for the Mann Cup will feature the Knighthawks stars on the Chiefs vs. Victoria star goalie and teammate Matt Vinc.
PUT RAY GUY IN THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME BUT NOT BEFORE TASKER
I’m all for long-time Oakland Raiders punter Ray Guy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but not before Steve Tasker. Guy could represent all punters in NFL history, but Tasker would be an even more appropriate representative of all the special-team players who actually put their bodies on the line and hit people.
Another plus for Tasker was playing wide receiver late in his career with the Buffalo Bills. He did a very good job and showed enough to indicated that he could’ve seen more duty at wide receiver on a lesser team. He was the best special-team player on the Bills when they were the best team in the AFC and among the NFL’s best.
TWO DISAPPOINTING RED WINGS AND TWO PLAYERS ON THE WAY UP
Chris Parmalee and Aaron Hicks began this season with the Minnesota Twins but are in danger of ending their season with the Rochester Red Wings.
Poor performance with the Twins resulted in their demotions to Triple A. Rather than playing their way back to Minnesota, they’ve struggled mightily and have let down manager Gene Glynn and the team’s fans.
Parmalee, who tore up the International League here last season (.338, 17 HRs in 64 games), is hitting .224 (35x156), with 3 HRs and 20 RBI in 41 games this season.
Hicks, who surprisingly started this season with the Twins, proved he wasn’t ready to make the jump from Double-A to the majors. In 81 games with Minnesota, he hit .192 (54x281) with 8 HRs and 27 RBI. Another surprise is that he has done nothing to prove he’s ready for Triple-A. He’s hitting .175 (10x57) with 0 HRs and 3 RBI in 18 games.
Rather than sparking the Wings down the stretch, Parmalee and Hicks have come up empty. I’m sure they’re better than this. They’ve proved it. I won’t be shocked if they don’t get the call back to Minnesota in September.
The good news is that two players from the New Britain Rock Cats who figure to be in Rochester’s 2014 Opening Day lineup have been chosen to the Double-A Eastern League’s season-ending All-Star Team:
Josmil Pinto – He’s a rarity: a catcher who can hit. In 101 games with the Rock Cats, he batted .308 (119x386), with 23 doubles, 1 triple, 14 HRs and 68 RBI. In a poll of Eastern League managers, he was selected “Best Strike Zone Judgment.” He had 64 walks and 71 strikeouts. He had only 5 errors....He’s finishing his season with the Red Wings.
Danny Santana – The 22-year-old slick-fielding shortstop is hitting .296, with 22 doubles, 10 triples, 2 HRs and 43 RBI. He leads the EL with 155 hits and is among the league leaders in hits, triples and stolen bases (27 in 127 games)...EL managers voted him “best defensive shortstop.”
ROCHESTER HAS DOMINATED IL ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR HONORS
Chris Colabello is the 17th Rochester Red Wings player to be selected International League Rookie of the Year since the award began in 1950. No other team is close:
Rochester 17, Columbus, Richmond and Syracuse 6 each...Tidewater/Norfolk 5.
Here is Rochester’s IL Rookie of the Year parade:
Ray Jablonski 1952...Jackie Brandt 1955... Charlie James 1959...Mike Epstein
1956...Curt Motton 1967...Merv Rettenmund 1968...Roger Freed 1970...Al Bumbry
1972...Rich Dauer 1976...Bobby Bonner 1980...Cal Ripken Jr. 1981...Steve Finley
1988...Luis Mercedes 1991...Jasdon Kubel 2004...Francisco Liriano 2005...Randy Ruiz
2008...Chris Colabello 2013
Colabello is the first player to sweep IL MVP and Rookie of the Year since J.T. Snow (Columbus) in 1992.
Rochester also has supplied the most IL Most valuable Players (12 since the award began in 1932) – Mike Ryba 1940...Red Schoendienst 1943...Tom Poholsky 1950...Mike Epstein 1966...Merv Rettenmund 1969...Roger Freed 1970...Bobby Grich 1971...Jim Fuller 1973...Rich Dauer 1976...Craig Worthington 1988...Jeff Manto 1994...Chris Colabello 2013.
SOME JUICY BASEBALL THOUGHTS AND NOTES
Andy Pettitte hasn’t been great this season but he hasn’t been awful. His 10 wins mark his 14th double-digit victory season for the Yankees, topping Whitey Ford’s former team record.
Remembering how great Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were for so long on the left side of the infield for the Yankees, it is sad to watch how much they’ve lost now. The team simply can’t stand pat for next year.
After getting burned by Alex Rodriguez, how can the Yankees afford to give 30-year-old second baseman Robinson Cano the 8-year, $200 million contract he wants? But with declining attendance and cable TV ratings, how can they afford not to?
There is some talk in the Twin Cities that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire might be retained by the organization in another capacity. I don’t believe that will happen, but if it does, I hope Red Wings manager Gene Glynn gets serious consideration for the job.
If I were Phil Hughes agent, I’d be begging the Yankees to trade him to San Diego. Facing weaker NL lineups in a home stadium favoring pitching over power hitters would give the right-handed gopher-ball machine a great chance to revive his career after this season’s disaster.
Alfonso Soriano’s batting line with the 2013 Yankees: .268 (33x123) batting average with 24 runs, 3 doubles, 11 HRs, 33 RBI, 7 walks, 33 strikeouts, 5 stolen bases in 31 games.
Chris Colabello has to be pressing with the Minnesota Twins in his first shot in the majors: .186 vatting a The wizards of odds in Las Vegas have posted the National League as a slight favorite to beat the American League in the World Series. I get it. The NL has more of the very good teams. But I believe the Detroit Tigers are the best team.
I detest blackouts of NHL games in stadiums built by taxpayers. Thursday night’s Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills game was an exception. It wasn’t worth watching and fans in western New York were spared the temptation of tuning in.
The Buffalo Bills got shortchanged again this week by the national media. SportsIllustrated.com ranked the NFL’s backfields from best-to-worst. The ratings were for running backs only. Quarterbacks weren’t included. Most of us would put the Bills – with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson – in the top 5, right? But Buffalo was ranked only 10th – behind Baltimore, Houston, Minnesota, Seattle, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, New England, Atlanta and Philadelphia. That’s ridiculous.
Yes, the Bills are hurting at quarterback. But the New York Jets aren’t any better and could be worse. Buffalo rookie EJ Manuel at least has a chance to be good. The four QBs for the Jets are longer shots to become good: Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Matt Simms and new addition Graham Harrell (beaten out by Vince Young in Green Bay).
At what point does Tim Tebow decide that coaching a high school football team and devoting more time to his assorted religious and charity activities would make him happier? He might be pretty much a failure in the NFL but my hunch is that he’ll do more significant work than any of his NFL peers.
Popular item for sale at U.S. Open tennis: Basketball-sized tennis balls $34 each (Sharpies for player autographs not included).
Sportsbook.com’s odds of the first NFL coach to be fired this season: Rex Ryan (Jets) 3x2...Dennis Allen (Raiders) 2x1...Leslie Frazier (Vikings) 8x1...Ron Rivera (Panthers) 12x1...Mike Munchak (Titans) 12x1...Jim Schwartz (Lions) 15x1; he’d be my pick at the odds)...Gus Bradley (Jaguars).
Bovada odds on the featured fights on the UFC 164 in Milwaukee Saturday night:
Lightweight championship, Denson Henderson bet $130 to win $100) vs. Anthony Pettis (bet $100 to win $100)...Heavyweight fight, Josh Barnett (bet $190 to win $100) vs. Frank Mir (bet $100 to win $155).