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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 ODDS ON RYAN NASSIB TO THE BILLS
IS RYAN MILLER HISTORY WITH THE SABRES?
KNICKS PROVE THEY’RE THE REAL DEAL
KOBE BRYANT A CREDIT TO THE NBA
GRINER, TAURASI A SUPER 1-2 PUNCH
WHY ATLANTA’S 11-1 START IS SO IMPRESSIVE
The Answer Man makes a visit as he celebrates the arrival of spring – we hope:
QUESTION: Do you think former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib will be drafted by the Buffalo Bills?
ANSWER: I make the odds slightly about 60-40. His draft stock has been rising in recent weeks. Many of the talent gurus rank him as a first-round pick. One rates him the No. 1 QB prospect. A few have him in the top 5. A few others believe he’s a second rounder. A very few think he is overrated.
I don’t believe Nassib is Buffalo’s “quarterback of the future,” but coach Doug Marrone and GM-for-now Buddy Nix might think so – and they’re the ones who count.
My dream scenario for the Bills, assuming they’re sold on Nassib: Trade down in the first round to add an early pick in the second round and give Buffalo 3 of the top 41 picks...Nassib would still be on the board for the Bills to select him in the No. 20 to No. 32 range...Buffalo’s two picks in the second round (from No. 33 through No. 41) would be used on immediate starters at linebacker and a wide receiver or a second linebacker.
Unfortunately, Buffalo enters the draft with only six picks (8, 41, 71, 105, 143 and 177). That means the Bills really couldn’t afford to take a flyer on a second QB after Nassib. If Buffalo’s interest in Nassib is a ruse. or if the Bills trade down and hope to get him later in the first round but another team beats them to the punch, I’d use the first three picks on – in order of preference – a pass-rushing linebacker, a wide receiver and another linebacker or quarterback or tight end or offensive guard.
How does that sound?
QUESTION: Will goalie Ryan Miller be traded by the Buffalo Sabres this offseason?
ANSWER: Probably. Here are several reasons why...Miller would be an unrestricted free agent after next season. The rebuilding Sabres could get something decent in return this offseason from a Stanley Cup contender as they continue to stockpile draft picks...Miller could use a change of scenery. He’s been a warrior but his frustration appears obvious...He’s 32 years old. I still rate him among the top- dozen-or-so goalies in the NHL but he probably won’t be by the time Buffalo is a genuine Stanley Cup threat. ..It is significant that Sabres coach Ron Rolston used backup goalie Jhonas Enroth in the last two games as the team continues to battle for an improbable playoff berth. .The recent trade for 23-year-old prospect Matt Hackett is another strong clue that Miller will be leaving. Enroth, Hackett and David Leggio would be left to battle for the two goaltending spots in Buffalo.
QUESTION: Can the New York Knicks win the NBA championship this season?
No way, mainly because they rely too much on three-point shooting to upset the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals – if the Knicks get that far.
But the Knicks are much better than I thought they could be. I figured they were too old and Carmelo Anthony wasn’t a team player.
After storming out of the starting gate with a 19-6 record on Dec. 19, the Knicks went into a 19-20 funk. Anthony’s critics were making themselves heard. Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony had no court chemistry. Some of the oldtimers were running out of steam.
Then Stoudemire was lost to injury. J.R. Smith supplied instant offense and became the NBA’s best sixth man. The team worked harder on defense. Anthony began playing like a league MVP.
The Knicks were 38-26 on March 17. They’re 15-1 since.
The Knicks are a hot ticket at Madison Square Garden again. They’re more fun than the circus.
The Knicks vs. Boston would be a super first-round series. I think the Knicks would win a maximum of six games over the savvy Celtics. I know most observers disagree.
QUESTION: Do you think Kobe Bryant can return after tearing his Achilles tendon last Friday night?
ANSWER: I hope so – but I doubt it. No star in NBA history has played through more painful injuries than he has. No pro team athlete has a more burning desire to win.
He has carried the flawed Los Angeles Lakers all season. The goal: to make the playoffs -- and probably lose in the first round to Oklahoma City or San Antonio.
I believe Kobe is too proud to return at much less than 100 percent. Considering his age (34) and the severity of the injury, that seems unlikely. Even for him.
If he has played his final game, where does he rank among the all-time NBA players? Not quite in my top five but in my top 8 for sure.
If every superstar in every sport gave as much of himself as Bryant has for his teammates, his fans and the franchise and city he represents, pro sports would be better off.
What do you think?
QUESTION: Will Brittney Griner be the No. 1 pick in Monday night’s WNBA college draft?
ANSWER: Of course, unless the league changes the height of the basket to 11 feet before 8 p.m. Monday. ..Griner (Baylor) is 6-foot-8, That’s sort of like 7-foot-2 in the NBA. She’ll be a WNBA star immediately. Who’s needs experience when you’re by far the tallest player on the court and highly skilled besides. She’s not exceptionally strong but she doesn’t need to be.
The Phoenix Mercury have the first pick. They say they’ll pick Griner or Delaware 6-foot-5 forward Elena Delle Donne or Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins (could be the biggest draw among the rookies). After posting a 7-27 record in 2012, there is no way Phoenix will pass on Griner. The Mercury will be rising with a 1-2 punch of Griner and Diana Taurasi.
QUESTION: Should Tiger Woods have been disqualified from the Masters? Should he have withdrawn?
ANSWER: I believe Woods should have been disqualified for his improper ball drop and subsequent inaccurate scorecard. I believe most of the other players in the field – maybe all of them – would’ve been disqualified. But Tiger was by far the golfer the spectators at Augusta and coast-to-coast TV viewers coast-to-coast and all the ships at sea most wanted to watch play over the weekend.
Woods would’ve gained much respect had he withdrawn after his errant drop was detected and the penalty issued. But once Woods was cleared to play, I was rooting for him to overcome the two-stroke penalty and win his 15th major. I think most of you were, too.
Finally, I have no respect for TV snitchers in golf or any other sport.
QUESTION: Jackie Robinson obviously deserves to be a baseball Hall of Fame as a contributor. But does he merit his plaque based strictly on performance as a Major League Baseball player?
ANSWER: Most definitely. He was a .311 career batter (1,578x4,877), with 947 runs, 273 doubles, 54 triples, 137 HRs, 734 RBI and 197 stolen bases. He energized the Brooklyn Dodgers with his speed, daring and work ethic. He was National League Rookie of the Year in 1947 and league MVP in 1949.
Robinson played 10 seasons in Major League Baseball, the bare minimum to qualify for the Hall of Fame. Of course that wasn’t his fault.
Segregation kept him out of Major League Baseball until he was 28 years old. Had he not been robbed of several prime years, he would’ve ranked in the upper echelon of MLB second basemen.
QUESTION: Are the Atlanta Braves – off to an 11-1 start – the team to beat in the National League East?
ANSWER: The Braves swept a three-game series in Washington and outscored the Nationals 10-5 in the process, but I still believe Washington (7-5 record) is the National League’s best team, but Atlanta is very good and should be in the race for the NL West title all the way.
The Braves lead the NL in pitching (1.82 ERA) and the offense is getting by on the long ball (outhomering opponents 20-6) until three slumping sluggers wake up: Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton and Jason Hayward are batting a combined .146 (18x123) with 4 HRs and 9 RBI.
QUESTION: Are you worried about the International League-worst 2-8 record of the Rochester Red Wings.
ANSWER: In terms of making the playoffs, not yet. I like the team’s offensive potential. It will be even better when Minnesota sees the light and assigns overmatched rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks to Rochester. He’s batting .047 (2x43 with no extras-base hits, no stolen bases and 20 strikeouts) with the Twins.
But the pitching Is a major concern. Rochester’s 6.39 ERA ranks 13th in the 14-team IL. With 10 pitchers on the disabled list and currently on rehab in Florida,, that’s no surprise. The return of Liam Hendricks will be an immediate boost.
BOB’S ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM...NO ROOM FOR CARMELO ANTHONY
ANTHONY VS. KEVIN DURANT FOR NBA SCORING CROWN
LEGGIO ALL-STAR SNUB IS A JOKE
JACKIE ROBINSON FACTOIDS
SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Do you think New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is a worthy All-NBA First-Team selection this season?
I give Anthony credit for playing the best all-around basketball of his NBA career, but I can’t give him one of the two All-NBA forward spots over LeBron James (Miami) or Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City).
This is how my All-NBA ballot would look:
FIRST TEAM – F LeBron James (Miami)…F Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City)...C Marc Gasol (Memphis)...G Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)…G Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
SECOND TEAM – F Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)...F Tim Duncan (San Antonio)...C Brook Lopez (Brooklyn)...G Russell Westbrook…G James Harden (Houston).
THIRD TEAM – F Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)...F David Lee (Golden State)...C Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers)…G Tony Parker…G Dwyane Wade.
High honorable mention – Stephen Curry (Golden State)...Paul George (Indiana)...Paul Pierce (Boston)...LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland)...Chris Bosh (Miami).
I’d take Dwight Howard over any other center in terms of talent but he’s had a poor season by his lofty standards and hasn’t been as consistent as Marc Gasol or Brook Lopez)....Parker was worthy of First-Team consideration before injuries took a toll...Harden is a scoring machine. I won’t second-guess anyone who prefers him over Kobe for First Team...Griffin’s dunks are awesome, but his overall game needs work. I’m surprised he hasn’t shown more progress.
--Will Kevin Durant win his fourth consecutive NBA scoring title or will Carmelo Anthony win his first?
They’re locked in the tightest race for the individual scoring crown since David Thompson (Denver) and George Gervin (San Antonio) in the 1977-78 season.
Entering the final day of the season, Gervin was averaging 26.8 points per game and Thompson was averaging 26.6.
Denver played in the afternoon against Detroit and his teammates did all they could to help him win the title. He had 32 points in the first quarter (a new NBA record for one quarter) and 53 points at halftime. He finished with 73 points (28x38 from the field and 17x20 in free throws) in 43 minutes.
San Antonio played a night game at the New Orleans Jazz. The Spurs knew Gervin would win the scoring title if he scored 58 points. No problem. Gervin scored 20 points in the first quarter and 33 points in the second quarter (breaking Thompson’s record set several hours before). He finished the game with 63 points (23x49 from the field and 17x20 from the line) in 33 minutes to edge Thompson for the scoring crown (27.22 to 27.15).
There will no such shenanigans between Anthony and Durant. Their teams play their final games at the same time.
Anthony and Durant both played Thursday night. Anthony scored 36 points in a 118-111 Knicks loss in Chicago. Durant had 31 points in a 116-97 home win over Golden State (not surprisingly, teammate Russell Westbrook took more shots and made fewer: Durant 10x16; Westbrook 7x17).
The remaining schedules:
Anthony (Knicks; 4 games) – at Cleveland Friday...host Indiana Sunday...at Charlotte Monday...host Atlanta Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Durant (Thunder; 3 games) – at Portland Friday...Host Sacramento Monday...host Milwaukee Wednesday, 8 p.m.
--Rochester Americans goalie David Leggio did not make the AHL official first- or second All-Star Game. I have lost all faith in the voters. Did they do their homework?
Considering the turnover on Rochester’s defense – the veteran stalwarts all are gone (Sabres GM Dacry Regier didn’t do much to fill the void and it figures to show in the playoffs) – it is a hockey miracle that the team’s record is 39-27-4. I can’t imagine a more valuable player in the AHL this season. Leggio leads AHL goalies by wide margins in wins (36), games (59), shots faced, saves and minutes. He ranks 7th in save percentage (.923) and is 8-1 in shootouts.
--Selecting quarterback Ryan Nassib in the first round of the NHL Draft April 25 would be one of the most controversial picks in the history of the Buffalo Bills. One draft talent analyst recently compared Nassib to a young Drew Brees. If he’s close to being right, Nassib would be a bargain.
--Probable Kentucky Derby (May 4) favorite Verrazano will try to become the first Derby winner that did not have a two-year-old campaign since Apollo – in 1882. Of course, he doesn’t know that.
--The movie 42 – the mostly accurate portrayal of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, opened across the country on Friday. Here are a few Robinson factoids:
He played briefly for the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. He hit .414 (24x58).
He was International League MVP in 1946 as second baseman for the Montreal Royals: 124 games; 113 runs; .349 batting average (155x444); 25 doubles; 8 triples; 3 HRs; 66 RBI; 40x55 stolen bases...The Royals played three series in Rochester. Robinson missed the first series because of injury. According to newspaper clips, there were no incidents on or off the field in the subsequent two road series he played against the Red Wings.
He was the National League Rookie of the Year (and fifth in MVP balloting) as first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers: .297 batting average (175x590); 125 runs; 31 doubles; 5 triples; 12 HRs; 48 RBI; 27 stolen bases; 74 walks; 36 strikeouts; NL-most 28 sacrifice hits.
His final season was 1956: 117 games; .275 batting average (98x357); 15 doubles; 2 triples; 10 HRs; 43 RBI; 12x17 stolen. The Dodgers traded him to the New York Giants after the season and he retired rather than play for his long-time rivals.
His Major League Baseball career line: 10 seasons; .311 batting average (1,518x4,877); 947 runs; 273 doubles; 54 triples; 137 HRs; 734 RBI; 197 stolen bases.
His numbers are impressive, especially considering the fact that he wasn’t allowed to play in Major League Baseball until he was 28 years old.
His top salary was $39,750 in 1952. He was paid $5,000 in his 1947 rookie season and $21,000 in his 1949 league MVP season.
--A few things I’d do to improve college basketball:
Reduce the shot clock to 30 seconds to speed up the action...The shot clock began at 45 seconds in 1985 and was trimmed to 35 seconds in 1993. It wasn’t enough.
Junk the NBA rule requiring the very best high school players to play one year in college...Let the cream-of-the-crop dozen-or-so top high school players join the NBA work force immediately...That would be better than having kids play one year in college taking courses such as NBA 101.
Require the other high school players to spend two seasons in college or in foreign countries.
Increase the foul limit from five to six – perhaps with an extra foul shot for opponents after the fifth foul. It would take some pressure off the referee and make it more likely to have the best players on the court when the game ends.
Automatic technical fouls on coaches who are on the court during play on the floor (for example, Rick Pitino).
Bring back the game for third place prior to the NCAA championship game.
--RIP Buffalo Sabres. After an encouraging 2-0 start, it was mostly all downhill. The season will be remembered mostly as the one coach Lindy Ruff got fired – and GM Darcy Regier stayed (at least for now)
KEVIN KOLB IS NO. 29 IN BOB’S PRE-DRAFT NFL QB RANKINGS
MICHIGAN IS THE PICK IN A 74-71 THRILLER
FAVORITES DOMINATE WRESTLEMANIA 29
O’S DAVIS AND JONES ARE HOT…AARON HICKS AND PIRATES ARE NOT
ARCIA, COLABELLO LETHAL 3-4 PUNCH FOR RED WINGS
TIGER 5x2 FAVORITE TO MAKE MASTERS HIS FIRST MAJOR WIN SINCE 2008
SABRES MAKING A RUN FOR THE PLAYOFFS -- HONEST
Let’s take a look at the projected NFL starting quarterbacks for Week 1 of the 2013 season.
Trades or free agency have brought new starting QBs to Arizona (Carson Palmer), Buffalo (Kevin Kolb), Kansas City (Alex Smith) and Oakland (Matt Flynn).
Most of the remaining free-agent QBs will be fortunate to be playing in the NFL this season, let alone starting.
Many NFL observers – including this one – don’t think any QB in this month’s college draft is good enough to start immediately.
Here are my pre-draft rankings for the 32 projected starting QBs entering the 2013 NFL season:
1—Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay)
2--Peyton Manning (Denver)
3--Tom Brady (New England)
4—Drew Brees (New Orleans)
5—Andrew Luck (Indianapolis)
6—Russell Wilson (Seattle)
7—Matt Ryan (Atlanta)
8–Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco)
9—Joe Flacco (Baltimore)
10—Tony Romo (Dallas)
11—Matthew Stafford (Detroit)
12—Robert Griffin III (Washington)…would rank significantly higher with a completely healthy knee
13—Cam Newton (Carolina)
14--Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh)
15—Eli Manning (New York Giants)…back to being underrated again?
16—Matt Schaub (Houston)
17—Jay Cutler (Chicago)
18—Alex Smith (Kansas City)…has much to prove
19—Philip Rivers (San Diego)…could have a big season left in him
20—Andy Dalton (Cincinnati)…might be selling him short
21—Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay)
22—Carson Palmer (Arizona)…big upgrade for the Cardinals…new coach Bruce Arians likes to throw the long ball and that’s the best thing Palmer does. Staying upright is the challenge. The Cardinals allowed an NFL-most 58 sacks last season.
23—Michael Vick/Nick Foles (Philadelphia)
24—Sam Bradford (St. Louis)…time to step up?
25—Matt Flynn (Oakland)
26—Ryan Tannehill (Miami)
27—Jake Locker/Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee)
28—Mark Sanchez/David Garrard (New York Jets)
29—Kevin Kolb/Tarvaris Jackson (Buffalo)…Kolb will enjoy better pass protection that he had in Arizona. He ‘ll also miss Larry Fitzgerald.
31—Christian Ponder (Minnesota)
32—Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville)
Any major disagreements?
For the record, these QBs are free agents or trade bait: Charlie Batch, Kellen Clemens, Caleb Hanie,Matt Leinhart, Jordan Palmer, Brady Quinn, Tim Tebow, Tyler Thigpen, Vince Young…Would you want any of them on your favorite team?
BURKE AND HIS WOLVERINES PICKED TO UPSET LOUISVILLE
The best team in the Final Four was the Wichita State Shockers. They gave Louisville all it could handle before losing 72-68 in the semifinals.
The Cardinals survived and are 3 ½-point favorites over Michigan Monday night in the championship game in Atlanta.
Syracuse had no excuses for losing 61-56 to Michigan. National college basketball Player of the Year Trey Burke had a poor game by his standards (1x8 field goals; 7 points) but the Wolverines still managed to win.
Why did SU fall short? Streaky 3-point specialist James Southerland was ice cold (2x9, including 1x5 from 3-point range). Michael Carter-Williams was a non-factor (1x6; 0x0 from the foul line; 2 assists; fouled out). Brandon Triche didn’t pick up the slack. A few dubious calls by the zebras didn’t help. And freshman Trevor Cooney taking the final shot – an off-balance heave-jumper with 0:06 remaining – was a tough way to lose. I guess it was appropriate that C.J. Fair didn’t get the ball often enough with the game on the line. The worst thing about his game is that he’s too unselfish. Here’s hoping he demands the ball at crunch time next season.
My pick in Monday night’s game is Michigan 74, Louisville 71. Here’s why:
Michigan point guard Trey Burke figures to bounce back from his sub-par game against Syracuse. The Wolverines have better perimeter shooters than SU. Nik Stauskas was scoreless vs. SU (0x5, including 0x4 on 3-point shots) and likely will do better. Mitch McGary is the inside scoring threat that SU lacked all season…Louisville missed defensive whiz Kevin Ware (broken leg) against Wichita State and will miss him Monday night. Louisville’s pressing defense requires frequent substitutions and the Cardinals will miss Ware’s energy.
CENA BEATS THE ROCK…AND IT WAS NO UPSET
Believe it not, Bovada posted odds on Sunday night’s Wrestlemania 29 show at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
I don’t know if Las Vegas actually took bets on Wrestlemania because the guys who write the scripts would clean up. And maybe the outcomes were too predictable for astute rasslin’ fans.
In the main event, WWE champion The Rock (cinema action megastar) was “upset” by John Cena. The Rock might be invincible on the silver screen, but he was the surprising big underdog (bet $100 to win $400)against Cena (bet $700 to win $100)…Speculation was that The Rock was going to lose because he has to concentrate on making more movies…Naturally, Cena won to become WWE champion for an unprecedented 11th time
The Undertaker was a huge favorite (bet $2,000 to win $100) over CM Punk (bet $100 to win $800). The Undertaker’s winning streak is Wrestlemania was extended to 21 in a row…The streak has become such a popular feature of the WWE’s annual extravaganza that it would turn off too many fans to end it – at least for now.
In a no-holds barred matched, Triple H had to beat Brock Lesnar or retire as a WWE wrestler. Triple H was the favorite (bet $400 to win $100), at least partly because he is the son-in-law of WWE czar Vince McMahon. Lesnar (bet $100 to win $250) lost.
In other matches, Miz defeated Wade Barrett to become the new Intercontinental champion…The Shield defeated Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show…Mark Henry defeated Ryback…Fandango defeated Chris Jericho…WWE tag team champions Team From Hell No defeated Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston…Alberto Del Rio defeated Jack Swagger.
WHO’S HOT AND WHO’S NOT IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Chris Davis (Baltimore) looked like Babe Ruth in his first four games this season (9x15; 3 doubles; 4 HRs; 16 RBI) but has looked more like Chris Davis in his last two games (1x7, 1 RBI).
The Colorado Rockies lead MLB in batting average (.316), slugging percentage (.531) and OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage: .894).
Baltimore has an American League-best .315 batting average and leads MLB with 34 runs.
Adams Jones (Baltimore) is hitting a MLB-best .538 (14x26).
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a MLB-best 0.80 ERA. They’ve allowed 4 earned runs in 45 innings, with 5 walks and 40 strikeouts.
Minnesota’s decision to have rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks start the season with the Twins instead of the Red Wings isn’t looking too good at this point. Through six games, he’s batting .077, with 2 singles in 26 at-bats. He has 1 run, 3 RBI and is 0x1 stealing bases.
Luis Cruz (Dodgers: 0x17) and Russell Martin (Pittsburgh: 0x14) are seeking their first hits of the season.
Jeff Keppinger (White Sox) is 1x21 (a single).
The Orioles are 0-3 in one-run games. They were 29-9 in one-run games last season.
Philadelphia has a MLB-worst 6.70 ERA. The Yankees are second-worst with a 6.49 ERA.
Colorado leads MLB in run differential (+21) and San Diego is a MLB-worst -26.
I believe Atlanta has the most exciting outfield in baseball. The Braves are off to a 5-1 start with only one of three outfielders hitting well:
Justin Upton -- .318 (7x22), 5 HRs, 7 RBI, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts, 0 stolen bases
B.J.Upton -- .100 (2x20), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts, 1 stolen base
Jason Heyward -- .150 (3x20), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts, 3 stolen bases.
ARCIA, COLABELLO IMPRESSIVE…PITCHING IS STRUGGLING
The very early returns on the 1-3 Rochester Red Wings have one big plus and one major concern.
Rookies Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Colabello appear to be a potent 3-4, lefty-righty hitting punch. First baseman Colabello is hitting .600 (9x15) with 2 HRs and 3 RBI. Right-fielder Arcia is hitting .400 (6x15) with 2 doubles, 2 HRs and 6 RBI…Both figure to be Red Wings all season. Arcia needs a full year at Triple-A and could earn a roster spot in Minnesota next spring with a big year in Rochester. The Twins need his left-handed power bat, assuming Justin Morneau (in the last year of his contract) is traded….Colabello could earn a September recall to Minnesota he continues to produce here. That would be a tremendous feat for a 29-year-old Triple-A rookie who spent seven seasons in the independent Can-Am League…Colabello on Monday was named IL Player of the week after his first week in Triple-A.
The Red Wings rank last in the 14-team International League with a 7.68 ERA: 34 innings, 51 hits allowed (including 7 HRs), 15 walks, 20 strikeouts, 1.94 WHIP (walks+hits per inning). With 10 pitchers starting the season on the disabled list, the staff’s slow start is not a shock and no cause for major concern.
TIGER 5x2 MASTERS FAVORITE…McILROY NEXT AT 8x1
Tiger Woods hasn’t won a golf major since the 2008 U.S. Open but he’s the 5x2 favorite to win the Masters this week (he was 5x1 when this year started). Those are short odds to take any player in any major.
He’s the best golfer on the planet again – give him credit for that – but he’s no bargain at the odds.
Rory McIlroy is the second choice at 8x1, followed by Phil Mickelson (10x1), Justin Rose (20x1), Carl Schwartzel (22x1), Dustin Johnson (25x1), Lee Westwood (25x1) and Louis Oosthuizen (25x1). Defending champion Bubba Watson is 33x1.
SABRES’ PLAYOFFS HOPES GROWING BRIGHTER
The Buffalo Sabres have won three straight games and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.All things considered, Ron Rolston is doing an very good job.
The Sabres are only four points behind the New York Rangers and New York Islanders in the race for the eighth and final playoff berth in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
Buffalo has nine games left – including six at home. The Sabres are 8-7-3 at home and 8-10-3 on the road.
The Sabres next play in Winnipeg Tuesday night.
Here’s how Buffalo ranks in the 30-team NHL:
Wins – 16 (t21)
Point percentage -- .487 (t23)
Goals per game – 2.56 (20)
Goals allowed per game – 2.92 (21)
Goal differential -- -13 (t21st)
5-on-5 goals for/goals against ratio – 1.03 (t12)
Power play percentage – 12.1 (30)…17x140 is very bad.
Penalty killing percentage – 77.6 (118x152)
The Sabres have allowed twice as many power play goals (34) as they’ve scored (17).
Shots per game – 28.5 (16)
Shots allowed per game – 33.0 (30)
Winning % when score first -- .600 (t23)
Winning % when trail first -- .211 (25)
Winning % when lead after 1st period -- .556 (29)
Winning % when lead after 2nd period -- .636 (29)
Winning 5 when outshoot opponent -- .333 (27)
Winning % when outshot by opponent -- .462 (t14)
Faceoff percentage – 46.2 (29)
Fewest penalty minutes per game – 13.6 (28).
New Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Alan Branch could be a plus free-agent signing. Here’s a note from espn.com’s James Walker: “The signing of Branch should pay off. Branch, who started for Seattle the past two seasons, is a massive run-stopper added to Buffalo’s defensive line rotation, which already includes tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. Branch is versatile enough to play the nose and defensive tackle in Mike Pettine’s defense, which will have 3-4 and 4-3 looks. The Bills were 31st against the run last season but now are a lot tougher up the middle after signing Branch. He’s also durable, missing just one game in the past four seasons.”
Thoroughbred racing at Fort Erie (across the Peace Bridge in Canada) isn’t dead yet. Boosted by funding from the provincial government, it will run an abbreviated schedule this summer (starting Sunday, May 26). One interesting idea being floated reportedly is to convert the former slot machine space into an experimental all-sports Sports Book. The added revenues would help preserve live racing at the 116-year-old track.
Believe it or not, former baseball superstar Vladimir Guerrero has signed to play this summer with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. This probably means Guerrero needs money and/or still loves to play…I wish International League teams still could sign veteran players on their own. The major-league affiliates currently supply and pay the entire roster. They have no room for fading former stars who no longer can help them in a pinch and take a spot otherwise occupied by a cheap “prospect.”