Matthews: Happy Days Are Here Again...Again!


The Buffalo Bills on Sunday played without arguably two of their five most important players (Marcell Dareus and Cordy Glenn), with arguably the NFL’s weakest group of wide receivers, with arguably the league’s most maligned quarterback (Tyrod Taylor) and inarguably beat arguably one of the arguably NFL’s top-10 teams (the Denver Broncos) 26-16.

I’m most happy for the loyal fans in western New York who continue to support their team despite 17 straight non-playoff seasons. I’m happy for the wide receivers, who combined for a relatively productive 6 catches for 95 yards against Denver. And I’m happy for Tyrod Taylor, who won’t have to worry about losing his job this week. He was really good (20-for-25 for 213 yards and 2 TD passes) on Sunday. He hasn’t been bad for two-plus seasons.

This was a game many of the “4-12 Club” members (including me) figured the Bills would lose.  They might have a few more surprises left in the remaining 12 games of the regular season.

The Bills are early 8 1/2-point underdogs for Sunday’s game in Atlanta.  The Falcons, who should win, had better be ready to play. The Bills will be.


Las Vegas underdogs barked loudly in NFL Week 3.

Entering Monday night, underdogs are 12-3 against the Las Vegas point spread and 8-7 outright.

Home teams are 11-4 outright (28-18 this season) and 9-6 against the spread (25-20-1 this season).

Teams winning the turnover battle are 10-1 (27-3 this season).


The baseball Red Wings had a fine 2017 season and appeared headed for the International League playoffs. But they fell short. Could the United Soccer League soccer Rhinos suffer a similar fate?

The Rhinos lost 1-0 Saturday at the Richmond Kickers. Rochester dropped to 11 wins, 7 losses and 10 draws. Richmond is 7-14-8.

The disappointing defeat dropped the Rhinos to fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Fourth place would be good for a home playoff date.

The Rhinos have four games left in the regular season: home against first-place Louisville City Pittsburgh Oct. 7...home vs. Bethlehem Steel...home vs. New York Red Bulls II Oct. 14.

Rochester is much better at Capelli Sport Stadium (7-2-4) than on the road (4-5-6).

This is a typical Bob Lilley-coached team. He also preaches and teaches and preaches to the strengths of his personnel. The current edition of the Rhinos is short on firepower but strong on defense.

Rochester ranks tied for 22nd in the 30-team USL in goals (28). Goals by game: 3-0-0-2-4-1-1-1-1-1-1-0-1-0-1-1-0-2-3-1-1-0-2-1-1-1-1-0.

But the Rhinos have allowed even fewer goals (27 – tied for second-fewest in the USL) than they’ve scored. They have 11 shutouts, oops, clean sheets, and have the second-most fouls (432). They’re a hard-nosed bunch that no opponent looks forward to playing.


A caller to my radio show last week sent a text wondering if I agreed with him – that Willie Mays was the greatest all-around baseball player ever.

My 8mmediate response why, “No way. Babe Ruth was the easy No. 1.” I thought Willie Mays was a reasonable choice for No. 2.

I’ve checked out some other opinions:

“ESPN Hall of 100” (2015) – 1—Babe Ruth (“there is no doubt that the Babe was the greatest player who ever lived. That doesn’t mean he was the greatest person.”...2—Willie Mays...3—Barry Bonds...4—Ted Williams...5—Hank Aaron.

“The Sporting News 100 Greatest Players” (1998) – 1—Babe Ruth...2—Willie Mays...3—T y Cobb...4—Walter Johnson...5—Hank Aaron.

“The 100 Greatest MLB Players of All Time” (2014) – 1—Babe Ruth (“The greatest the game ever has and likely ever will see”)...2—Willie Mays...3—Barry Bonds...4—Hank Aaron...5—Ted Williams.

The Scociety for American Baseball Research (SABR) (1999) – 1—Babe ruth...2—Lou Gehrig...3—Ted Williams...4—Hank Aaron...5—Stan Musial. Surprisingly, Willie Mays was only 8th.

Encyclopedia Britannica, by Adam Augustyn – 1—Babe Ruth (“Well, here’s a no-brainer if there ever was one.”...2—Willie Mays...3 –Barry Bonds...4—Ted Williams...5—Hank Aaron.

The Bills James Historical Baseball Abstract – 1—Babe Ruth...2—Ted Williams...3 (tie) —Ty Cobb/Willie Mays...5—Hank Aaron.

A few reasons why Ruth probably is No. 1: He was on pace to be a Hall of Fame pitcher (94-46 record; 2.28 ERA; in three World Series starts, 3-0, 0.87 ERA) before he became a full-time slugger; he was a fast runners (136 career triples) and good defensive outfielder before he got heavy in the later stage of his career.


When Dino Babers left Bowling Green after the 2015 college football season in favor of Syracuse, he promised to bring back an exciting brand of football.

Offense is his specialty, so it figured that the Orange would be putting up big numbers before they could consistently stop opponents.

Case in point: Saturday’s 35-26 loss at LSU. SU was a 22-point underdog against a bigger, faster, more-talented team. But Babers coached a great game, hanging tough with trick plays and keeping the Tigers off balance in general.

SU is 2-2 and reaching a bowl game against a tough schedule seems unlikely. But if the Orange can entertain their fans the way they did against LSU, it would be a productive season.

The next three games: at North Carolina State Saturday...home against Pittsburgh Oct. 7...home against Clemson Oct. 13.

Among the 130 Division 1 college football teams,   SU ranks 24th in total offense (300.0 yards per game) and 68th in total defense (allowing 164.3 yards per game). SU wide receiver Steve Ismael leads the nation in receptions (45) and is third in yards receiving (512).

I wonder how much fun it would be to see Babers as head coach of a big-time team with super-skilled athletes suited for a wide-open game. Best-case scenario: It could happen at Syracuse. He’s only 56 years old so he might have time. His offensive-minded style and playing home games indoors are two big recruiting tools.


Former Syracuse University (1995 through 1998), Rochester Knighthawks (NLL; 1999-200) and Rochester Rattlers (MLL; 2003 through 2008) superstar Casey Powell was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame Saturday night.

Rookie Kareem Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs) undoubtedly is the very early frontrunner For NFL Most Valuable Player. Through three games, he has 47 carries for 401 yards (8.5 yards per carry) and 4 TDs, plus 9 catches for 137 yards and 2 TDs. He is averaging 179.3 yards from scrimmage per game. He was the sixth running back selected in the 2017 NFL draft out of Toledo (beg=hind Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Joe MJixon and Alvin Kamara.


Monday, September 25

Brandin Cooks (24)...Matt Carle (33)...Chauncey Billups (41)...Matt Hasselbeck (42)...John Lynch (46)...Scottie Pippen (52)...Bob McAdoo (66)...Carol Vadnais (72)...Hubie Brown (84). Catherine Zeta-Jones (48), Will Smith (49), Heather Locklear (56) and Cheryl Tiegs (70) are invited to the birthday party. Phil Rizzuto was born on this date 100 years ago (1917) and died he 2007.l

Tuesday, September 26

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (24)...Chris Archer (29)...Sean Doolittle (31)...John Scott (35)...Serena Williams (36)...Daniel/Henrik Sedin (37)...Brooks Orpik (37)...Larry Izzo (43)...Brian Shouse (49)...Craig Janney (50)...Rich Gedman (58)...Dave Casper (66)...Lucius Allen (70). Olivia Newton-John (69) is invited to the birthday party.

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