Matthews: Cubs, Sergio, Now Bills?


The 2016 Chicago Cubs finally won the team’s first World Series since 1908.

Sergio Garcia on Sunday ended his frustrating string of 73 winless golf majors and no longer will carry the burden of being called “the best golfer to never win a major.”

So – naturally – the Buffalo Bills will end the franchise’s 17-year playoff drought this season.

Doesn’t it almost have to happen?

The Bills could get very lonely as the charter member of the Loveable Losers’ Club.


Jack “Preacher” Faszholz died March 25 at age 89. He won 80 games as a right-handed pitcher for the Rochester Red Wings from 1950 through 1956. It is a team record that might never be broken.

Faszholz was nicknamed “Preacher” because he attended Concordia Seminary in his hometown St. Louis, Mo., during the fall semester after every pro baseball season from 1947 through 1956. He finally graduated in 1958 and became an ordained pastor. He taught and coached at Lutheran high schools in the St. Louis area and then Concordia University in Austin, TX, where he was baseball coach for 12 years.

Faszholz was atall and lean pitcher without exceptional “stuff” but with exceptional control. In 1,145 1/3 innings with the Red Wings, he surrendered 1,218 hits but issued only 362 walks. He had even fewer strikeouts (350). He didn’t have much of a fastball and tried to keep batters off balance with breaking pitches. It worked very well for a long time in the International League.

He once told writer Glen Sparks, “I’d do that a lot. I’d give up the hits, but I didn’t walk many guys.”

Rochester manager Harry “The Hat” Walker had a superstition of pitching Faszholz on Sundays. Sascholz understood, saying Walker reasoned, “You can’t beat the Preacher on Sundays.”

Faszholz’s won-loss records with the Red Wings:

1950 – 5-3, 4.03 ERA

1951 – 12-9, 3.41 ERA

1952 – 15-8, 3.67 ERA.

He started the spring training opening for the Cardinals in 1953, working three shutout innings and striking out Mickey Mantle. He made the cut to start the season with St. Louis but didn’t get much of a chance to break in on a veteran staff.

He made four pitching appearances, including one start. He left that game against the New York Giants with the lead but got no decision in what became an 8-6 loss.  He worked two more games in relief before he was assigned to Rochester.  In 11 2/3 innings, he had no decisions, a 6.94 ERA and allowed 16 hits, walked 1 and struck out 7.

He hoped to pitch again in the majors but it didn’t happen.

1953 – 10-6, 3.69 ERA.

1954 – 18-9, 3.20 ERA 14 complete games and 4 shutouts. He also won two games in the playoffs, making him unofficially the last Red Wing 20-game winner for a season.

He thought he had made the Cardinals out of 1955 spring training but manager Eddie Stanky gave him the bad news hours before Opening Day in Chicago. It was back to Rochester to pitch the home opener.

1955 – 13-11, 3.96 ERA.

1956 – 7-13, 4.86 ERA.

Totals – 80-60 record (.571), 3.80 ERA, 158 games started, 66 complete games, 14 shutouts.

After the disappointing 1956 season, Faszholz realized that his dream for a long career in the major leagues was over. He informed the Cardinals that he was retiring from the game he loved. He was only 29 years old.

Faszholz was elected to the Red Wings Hall of Fame in 1990. Glen Sparks noted that Preacher Jack’s Red Wings Hall of Fame plaque “hangs in his family’s tidy living room, along with other baseball memorabilia, including a photograph of Sportsman’s Park (renamed Busch Stadium), torn down in 1966.”

Don’t expect anyone to break Faszholz’s team-record 80 victories anytime soon. Players seldom remain with the same Triple-A team more than two seasons – let alone seven.


Sharpshooter Corey Allmond and Mr. Reliable Jerice Crouch combined for 76 points Sunday in a clutch 112-110 overtime victory over the visiting Kentucky Mavericks to tie their best-of-three championship series at 1-1. The deciding Game 3 will be Tuesday night, 7 p.m., at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.

Allmond had seven 3-point field goal Sunday and Crouch’s buzzer-beater jump shot won the game.

General admission will be free Tuesday night, thanks to Sharks management and sponsor John Betlem Heating and Cooling. It should be an exciting evening of basketball and you can’t beat the price.


The 143rd Kentucky Derby Saturday, May 6 at Churchill Downs figures to lure the maximum 20 starter, partly because no obvious super horse has emerged to scare off the competition.

Last Saturday’s three major Derby prep races saw some of  ”hot” horses cool off:

Blue Grass Stakes – Irap became the first “maiden winner” in this race’s 93-yrar history. He was winless in seven career starts before digging in late at odds of 31-to-1. McCraken, touted as the Derby favorite coming off wins in his first three starts, finished third. Tampa Bay Derby winner Tapwit finished fifth. The

Trainers of the first five finishers all said they’re headed for the Derby.

Wood Memorial – Irish War Cry won by 3 ½ lengths from slightly off the pace and returned $9 to win as the third choice in the netting.

Santa Anita Derby – Gormley paid $14.20 to win as favorite Iliad finished fifth.

Two other top Derby threats:

Always Dreaming – He won the Florida Derby in a romp at Gulfstream April 1 and his fitness could be an issue on Derby Day.

Classic Empire – The two-year-old champion is scheduled to start in the last major Derby prep race – Saturday’s $1-miliion Arkansas Derby. Adding blinkers might have cured his habit of awkward starts.


Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow hit the second home run of his three-game minor-league baseball career Sunday for the Colombia Fireflies (Single-A South Atlantic League). It was not a cheapo HR – he pulled the pitch way over the fence in right field with two teammates on base..

Tebow now has one fewer HR  than Michael Jordan had in 127 games with Birmingham (Double-A Southern League) in his experimental pro baseball season.

Tebow in 2017 – 3 games (sat out Saturday’s game); .231 batting average (3-for-13); 2 HRs; 5 RBI; 1 walk; 5 strikeouts.

Jordan in 1994 – 127 games; .202 batting average (88-for-436); 17 doubles; 1 triple; 3 HRs; 51 RBI; 30 stolen bases; 18 caught stealing; 51 walks; 114 strikeouts.


The Rochester Knighthawks were idle last weekend and need to win at least three of their four remaining gamers to have any hope of making the playoffs. Rochester is 5-9 (so are the Buffalo Bandits) and trails New England (7-8 record) by 1 ½ games for the third and final playoff spot in the East Division.

The K-hawks play Saturday at the Colorado Mammoth, host New England Saturday April 22, host Georgia Friday April 28 and play at Georgia Saturday April 29.

The K-hawks got two breaks last Saturday – New England lost 21-12 at home to Georgia and Buffalo lost 13-8 at Calgary.

Rochester is second in the nine-team National Lacrosse League in penalty killing (51.61 percent; 32-for-62) and seventh on the power play (49.12 percent; 28-for-57). The K-hawks are last in goals per game and last in faceoff percentage (.428; 149-for-348).

Rochester’s Matt Vinc is second in goals-against average (10.87).

Rochester’s Kyle Jackson (23 goals and 30 assists for 53 points) figures to finish second to Toronto’s Tom Schreiber (28 goals and 42 assists for 80 points) for NLL Rookie of the Year. He was a free-agent steal for the Rock after earning Major League Lacrosse MVP honors as a midfielder for the Ohio Machine (23 goals and a league-most 36 assists).

NLL home teams are 38-28 (the K-hawks are 3-4 at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.


The National Lacrosse League has nine teams. Three are drawing very well, three are doing OK and the bottom three are hurting at the gate:

Saskatechewan average home-attendance 14,958...Buffalo 14,441 (why the Bandits draw twice as many fans as the Knighthawks remains a mystery to me)...Colorado 13,845...Calgary 10,719...Toronto 9,132 (a relatively poor year at the gate for the Rock)...Rochester 6,965 (decent considering the team’s rare off year)...New England 5,287...Georgia 3,843 (not impressive for the league’s most exciting young team)...Vancouver 3,053. The average crowd for the NLL’s 66 games so far this season is 9,125.


Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City) probably clincherd the NBA Most Valuable Player award with his league-record 42nd triple-double. I’d still vote James Harden (Houston) for MVP and Westbrook No. 2, but I know I’d be in the minority.

Buffalo edged Toronto for the NHL’s season-ending top power-play percentage: Sabres .2446 (57-for-233) and Maple Leafs .2377 (58-for-244).

I don’t mean to sound prudish, but when Jon “Bones” Jones does interviews, he does not do the UFC or himself any favors by the frequent use of vulgarities. He’s “hometown hero” but sometimes it is tough to root for him.


Monday, April 10 – Nerlens Noel (23)...Eric Ebron (24)...Robert Woods (25)...Corey Kluber (31)...Dion Phaneuf (32)...Andre Ethier (35)...Kasey Kahne (37)...Cathy Turner (55)...Steve Tasker (55)...Ken Griffey Sr. (67)...Mel Blount (69)....John Madden (81). Steven Seagal (65) can be bouncer at the birthday party.

Tuesday, April 11 – Kenta Maeda (29)...Donald Brown (30)...Ramon Sessions (31)...Mark Teixeira (37)...Trot Nixon (43)...Trevor Linden (47)...Goldust (48)...Bret Saberhagen (53)...Michael Ray Richardson (62)...John Gould (68).

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