Matthews: A Heaping Helping Of Opinions

posted by Bob Matthews -

A HEAPING HELPING OF OPINIONS...

I believe the New England Patriots are going to use at least one of their two 2018 first-round draft picks – # 23 and #31 – to select a quarterback or trade for a quarterback.

Aaron Boone – amazingly feeling some heat after his team’s 3-2 start -- will survive his first season as manager of the New York Yankees. But I strongly recommend that he take the team to world championship No. 28 to guarantee his return for 2019.

Considering the number of dead-eye shooters Villanova had this season, plus the current friendly location of the three-point line – the Wildcats are among the all-time best NCAA men’s basketball champions.

I think Houston’s James Harden will be the landslide NBA Most Valuable Player this season – and I’d vote for him (for the second straight year) – but I won’t scoff at anyone who votes for LeBron James.

All things considered – including age and position – my pick to build a Major League Baseball team around is Houston shortstop Carlos Correa.

I could make a strong case for Knighthawks face-off ace Jake Withers for National Lacrosse League Rookie of the Year.

I think Buffalo Bills second-year wide receiver Zay Jones has built a pretty good foundation for a run at NFL Comeback Player of the Year this season.

Ichiro Suzuki needs 34 hits to pass Alex Rodriguez (3,115) for 20th on baseball’s all-time hit list and it can’t happen soon enough to suit me.

The Yankees haven’t made many trades than this three-teamer December 5, 2014: the Yankees sent Shane Greene to Detroit; Detroit sent Domingo Leyba and Robbie Ray to Arizona; Arizona sent Didi Gregorious to the Yankees. An underrated Yankee (at least before his team-record 8-RBI game by a shortstop in Tuesday’s home opener).

I expect defending champion and 28-to-1 long shot Sergio Garcia to shoot a lower total score than 9-to-1 favorite Tiger Woods in this week’s Masters.

THE STARTING ROTATION FOR THE RED WINGS

The 2018 Rochester Red Wings had their first collective look at Frontier Field Tuesday morning. The home opener is scheduled for Friday, 6:05 p.m.

Here’s a glance at the projected starting rotation:

Opening Day starter Aaron Slegers – RHP...25 years old, 6-foot-10, 245 pounds. Fifth-round pick (140th overall) in the 2013 entry draft...Named Minnesota’s 2017 Minor League Pitcher of the Year with Rochester: 15-4 record; 3.40 ERA; 24 starts; 1 shutout; 148.1 innings; 154 hits; 29 walks; 119 strikeouts; .266 batting average against...Got stronger as the season wore on...Got his first taste of the majors in two stints with the Twins: 0-1, 6.46 ERA in 4 games.

Aldalberto Mejia – LHP...24 years old...6-foot-3...195 pounds...Was a highly-regarded prospect with San Francisco. Traded by the Giants to Minnesota for infielder Eduardo Nunez July 28, 2016...2-2 record, 3.76 ERA in four starts for the 2016 Red Wings...In 2017, 4-7, 4.50 ERA in 21 starts for Minnesota, and 1-1, 2.83 ERA in six starts for Rochester.

Fernando Romero – RHP...23 years old...6-foot-0...215 pounds...Seventh pro season after signing with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in November 2011...Southern League Mid-Season all-star with Chattanooga in 2017...Finished the season 11-9, 3.63 ERA, 124 hits allowed, 45 walks, 120 strikeouts in 124 innings with the Lookouts...Slumped late and missed the last few weeks of the season with a sore shoulder...He’s healthy again and looks like a future starter for the Twins...Eight hitless innings with Minnesota this spring.

Dietrich Enns – LHP...26 years old...LHP...6-foot-1...210 pounds...Acquired from the Yankees with pitcher Zack Littell July 30, 2017 for pitcher Jaime Garcia...Was terrific in 2016 with Trenton (AA Eastern League) 7-2 record; 1.93 ERA and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA International League) 7-2, 1.52 ERA...Bothered by a left shoulder strain and limited to 11 games in the minors and 2 games with Minnesota (6.75 ERA in 4 innings) last season.

Myles Jaye – RHP...26 years old...6-foot-3, 170 pounds...Signed by Minnesota as a minor-league free agent November 30, 2017...Best season was 2015 with Birmingham (AA Southern League) 12-9 record, 3.29 ERA...Started 2017 with Erie (AA) 1-7, 4.29 ERA to Toledo (AAA) 3-6, 3.58 ERA to Detroit Tigers (1-2, 12.08 ERA in 5 games.

Waiting in the wings at Chattanooga (AA) are right-hander Zack Littell (an amazing 19-1 record with a 2.12 ERA last season for Tampa, Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) and left-handed prospect Stephen Gonsalves (8-1, 1.82 in 2016 and 8-3, 2.68 ERA in 2017at Chattanooga).

The bullpen appears to be the strongest part of the team. It includes Former Minnesota mainstays Tyler Duffey and Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss, Jake Reed, D J Baxendale, Mason Melotakis, Nick Anderson and Matt Magill.

THE AMAZING SEDIN TWINS

Henrik and Daniel Sedin of Sweden were selected No. 2 and No. 3 overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2000 NHL entry draft.

This is their 17th NHL season as teammates. They announced their retirements this week, effective at the end of this season. Henrik is a center and Daniel is a left winger. Their NHL career stats and accomplishments are remarkably similar – even for twins:

Henrik – 240 goals + 828 assists for 1,068 points in 1,327 games played; plus/minus +167.

Daniel – 391 goals + 647 assists for 1,038 points in 1,303 games played; plus/minus +149.

Among active NHL scorers, Henrik ranks sixth and Daniel ranks seventh.

Henrik won the Hart Trophy (NHL) in 2010 and Daniel finished second for the Hart in 2011.

They each won an NHL scoring title: Henrik 112 points in the 2009-10 season; Daniel 104 points in the 2010-11 season.

Henrik was NHL All-Star First team in 2009-10 and 2010-11; Daniel NHL All-Star First team in 2010-11 and Second Team in 2009-10.

They helped Sweden win the gold medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Henrik was born six minutes before identical twin Daniel. Henrik wears No. 33 and Daniel wears No. 22.

TIGER WOODS HAS BEEN A MASTER AT THE MASTERS

A quick look at the career record of Tiger Woods in The Masters helps to explain why he is the favorite to win this week’s The Masters – despite the fact that he last won a PGA Tour event (the Bridgestone Invitational) on August 4, 2013:

Tigers four wins The Masters:

1997 by 12 stokes; 18-under par; 70-66-65-69—270

2001 by 2 strokes; 16-under par; 70-66-68-68—272

2002 by 3 strokes; 12-under par; 70-69-66-71—278

2005 by 1 stroke (in a playoff); 12-under par; 74-66-65-71—276.

Tiger’s 20 appearances in The Masters: 4 wins...2 seconds...1 third...11 top-5 finishes...13 top-10 finishes...17 top-25 finishes...19 cuts made.

Tiger’s year-by-year finishes in the Masters: 1995 t41st...1996 missed cut for the only time...1997 WON...1998 t8th...1999 t18th...2000 5th...2001 WON...2002 WON...2003 t15th...2004 t22nd...2005 WON...2006 t3...2007 t2...2008 2nd...2009 t6th...2010 t4th...2011 t4th...2012 t40th...2013 t4th...2014 did not play...2015 t17th...2016 did not play...2017 did not play...2018 ???.

SHORT SHOTS

My leader in the clubhouse for Female Athlete of the Year is Notre Dame women’s basketball hero Arike Ogunbowale.

Recommended viewing: Al Pacino stars in Paterno, Sunday, 8 p.m., on HBO...Andre the Giant documentary Tuesday, April 10, 10 p.m., on HBO.

The Rochester Knighthawks are 5-3 at home this season. The eight other National Lacrosse League teams are 26-31 at home.

Red Wings 32-year-old utilityman Jordan Pacheco will begin this season on the disabled list with a broken wrist (hit by a pitch). The highlight of his career was finishing sixth in 2012 National League Rookie of the Year balloting. He batted .309 with 32 doubles, 3 triples, 5 HRs and 54 RBI in 132 games for the Colorado Rockies.

Red Wings outfielder Jermaine Curtis, 30, began his pro career with Batavia (NY-P League) in 2008. He hit .305 in 43 games and was a mid-season all-star.

Thoroughbred horse racing fans can enjoy NBC Sports Network’s 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. telecast Saturday, with coverage of the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes and the Grade 1 Sanata Anita Derby.

The 2018 live thoroughbred racing season at Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack starts Saturday, April 21.

Four former Rochester Rattlers (Major League Lacrosse)-turned Dallas Rattlers made the 24-man Team USA for the 13th World Field Lacrosse Championship in Israel July 12-21: Ned Crotty, John Galloway, Joel White and Jordan Wolf...Four Rattlers or Knighthawks (National Lacrosse) made the 34-player preliminary Team Canada roster: Jordan MacIntosh, Dhane Smith, Matt Vinc and Jake Withers.

HERE ARE A FEW VERY COLD HITTERS

Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs, who hit a home run on the first pitch of this baseball season, is 0-for-15 since, with 10 strikeouts.

San Francisco added two veterans to an aging lineup and it hasn’t worked out too well this far: Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria are a combined 3-for-39.

Slugger/whiffer Chris Davis, for some reason batting leadoff for Baltimore, is hitting .050 (1-for-20), with a single, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts.

All-star first basemen Paul Goldschmidt (1-for-14) and Anthony Rizzo (3-for-22) are off to awful starts.

Cleveland star shortstop Francisco Lindor has 3 singles in 20 official at-bats.

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is 1-for-19 with 1 RBI.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

April 4

44 years ago (1974), Hank Aaron hit his 714th career home run to tie Babe Ruth’s record...35 years ago (1983), North Carolina State upset Houston 54-52 in the 45th NCAA men’s basketball championship game...32 years ago (1986), Wayne Gretzky set an NHL record with his 213th point of the season...24 years ago (1994), Tuffy Rhodes of the Chicago Cubs hit three home runs on Opening Day.

April 5

103 years ago (1915), Jess Willard knocked out Jack Johnson in the 26th round for the world heavyweight boxing title...65 years ago (1953), Babe Didrikson-Zaharias won the LPGA Babe Didrikson-Zaharias Golf Open...37 years ago (1981), Nancy Lopez won the 10th Colgate Dinah Shore Golf Championship...34 years ago (1984), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time NBA scoring record of 31,419 points...25 years ago (1993), the Colorado Rockies lost their first game, 3-0 to the New York Mets.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

April 4

Frank Kaminsky (25)...Landry Jones (29)...Cameron Maybin (31)...Ben Gordon (35)...Roberto Luongo (39)...Keith Bulluck (41)...Allan Houston (47)...Yanic Perrault (47)...Jesse Tuggle (53)...Dale Hawerchuk (55)...Jack Del Rio (55)...Tommy Herr (62)...Tom Jackson (67)...John Hannah (67)...Ray Fosse (71)...JoAnne Carner (79). Robert Downey Jr. (53) is invited to the birthday party. Tris Speaker was born on this date 130 years ago (1888) and died in 1958 at age 70.

April 5

Justin Holiday (29)...Charlotte Flair (32)...Clay Wilson (35)...Stephen Jackson (40)...Marc Bulger (41)...Henrik Stenson (42)...Tony Banks (45)...Brent Hughes (52)...Cris Carpenter (53)...Brad Van Pelt (67)...Pharrell Williams (45) and Colin Powell (81) are invited to the birthday party.

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