JOSH ALLEN IS NO. 1 IN PROJECTED STARTS FOR NFL ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS
Is there a single Buffalo Bills fan not wondering if and when rookie Josh Allen will make his first regular-season appearance and how many games he might start this season?
Here are the over/under starts posted by Bovada for starts this season by the five quarterbacks picked in the first round of the 2018 college draft:
Josh Allen (Buffalo) – 10.5
Baker Mayfield (Cleveland) – 9.5
Josh Rosen (Arizona) -- 8.5
Sam Darnold (New York Jets) -- 5.5
Lamar Jackson (Baltimore) -- 0.5.
I’d take my chances on them all going over. In order of preference:
Darnold (the Jets were fortunate that he fell into their laps as the No. 3 overall pick; fans, media and management probably want to see him start sooner than later).
Mayfield (Tyrod Taylor figures to begin the season as starter but he’ll be on a short leash; Mayfield is not wired to sit on any bench for long).
Rosen (he might start for the Cardinals but he’s the biggest injury risk on this list).
Allen (I figure the Bills will let AJ McCarron take his lumps in the tougher first half of the season and then hand the reins to Allen when the team is 2-6 or 3-5).
Jackson (the Ravens figure to use his offensive skills immediately but not as starting QB unless Joe Flacco gets hurt).
COMING TO AN OTB PARLOR OR A CASINO/RACINO NEAR YOU...
Legal sports betting is on the way.
The Supreme Court today in a landmark decision shot down the federal law that has banned sports setting in most states. Nevada was the only state where wagering on a single game was allowed.
New Jersey led the legal battle to legalize sports betting and is expected to jump right in. New York probably won’t be far behind.
Wagering in this state figures to start in OTB parlors and casinos/racinos, with mobile betting sites and on-line wagering is sure to follow.
The big question and most likely delay is how to distribute the profits between the states and pro leagues. It will be interesting to see how quickly the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL jump aboard.
The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and France are among the many countries that have long had legalized sports betting.
The Associated Press noted that one research firm has estimated that if and when the Supreme Court gave the OK to sports betting, 32 states would likely offer wagering within five years.
VINC WAS THE BIG DIFFERENCE IN VICTORY AT THE GEORGIA SWARM
The Rochester Knighthawks outlasted the defending champion Georgia Swarm 9-8 last Saturday night to advance to the best-of-three National Lacrosse League finals against the powerful Saskatchewan Rush. The Rush beat the visiting Calgary Roughnecks 15-13 Sunday night for the West Division title.
Five-time NLL Goaltender of Year Matt Vinc was spectacular – particularly in the final hectic minutes -- as the Swarm lived up to their nickname by buzzing all around him.
Other heroes included gritty veteran Cody Jamieson, who scored Rochester’s first three goals, the three rookies from Ohio State – Austin Shanks and Eric Fennell combined for three goals and Jake Withers won 14 of 22 faceoffs – and Graeme Hossask and the rest of the defense that helped Vinc limit the explosive Swarm to eight goals.
Saskatchewan was the NLL’s dominant team this season – except against Rochester. The Rush were 0-2 against the Rattlers and 14-2 against the rest of the league.
The best-of-three series starts in Saskatoon Saturday, March 26. Game 2 will be Saturday, June 2, at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. Game 3 – if necessary – would be June 9 in Saskatoon.
DODGERS ARE HOPING KERSHAW IS LUCKIER THAN KOUFAX
I saw a recent photo of Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw – both in uniform – in the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout before a game. The left-handers probably are the two best pitchers in Dodgers history. Koufax is a Hall of Famer and Kershaw surely will be.
Kershaw currently is on the disabled list with left biceps tendinitis. The Dodgers are hopeful that this won’t lead to more serious problems. It is the third straight season he has spent time on the DL.
Kershaw turned 30 on March 19. Koufax was 30 when he retired due to arthritis in his pitching elbow after a brilliant 1966 season (27-9 record with a 1.73 ERA).
Their career records and achievements are remarkably similar:
Koufax (12 seasons) – 165-87 record (.655 winning percentage); 2.76 ERA; 397 games; 137 complete games; 40 shutouts; 2,324 1/3 innings; 1,754 hits; 817 walks; 2,396 strikeouts; 1.10 WHIP; 3.2 walks per 9 innings; 9.3 strikeouts per 9 innings...Post-season record: 4-3, 0.95 ERA; 8 games; 57 innings; 36 hits; 11 walks; 61 strikeouts...Cy Young awards: 3 wins, 1 third...MVP awards: 1 win, 2 seconds.
Kershaw (11 seasons) – 145-62 record (.681); 2.37 ERA; 299 games; 25 complete games; 15 shutouts; 1,979 innings; 1,471 hits; 517 walks; 2,168 strikeouts; 1.005 WHIP; 2.4 walks per 9 innings; 9.9 strikeouts per 9 innings...Post-season record: 7-7, 4.35 ERA; 24 games; 122 innings; 97 hits; 37 walks; 139 strikeouts...Cy Young awards: 3 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third, 1 fifth...MVP awards: 1 win, 1 seventh.
ON WEBB SIMPSON’S WIN AND KOEPKA’S ALBATROSS
Webb Simpson picked a good time to post his fifth career PGA Tour victory and his first since 2013. He earned $1,980,000 Sunday for his wire-to-wire, four-stroke win in The Players Championship. He was listed at 100-to-1 to win the tournament by Sportsbook.ag.
Simpson could be similar odds to win the U.S. Open June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills.
Two players who finished seven strokes behind Simpson in The Players Championship – Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka – figure to be much lower odds to win next month’s Open.
Woods fired 65 Saturday and 69 Sunday and finished with an 11-under 277. He said he played much better than his score. His game and confidence are on the rise.
Koepka, the defending U.S. Open champion, has been hampered by an ailing left wrist since January. His Sunday round of 63 included an albatross on the 16th hole.
An albatross is a large seabird – therefore, in golf, it is a big “birdie”. It is three strokes under par on a single hole. It can be done only on a par five. His 6-iron shot from 208 yards one-hopped into the 16th hole. It was the second albatross on the PGA Tour this year and the sixth in the last two years.
SPRAYING BASEBALL HITS TO ALL FIELDS
Baltimore shortstop Manny Machado will be a free agent after this season and he’s playing for a huge contract. What was he doing last season? 2018 -- .350 batting average (55-for-157), 11 doubles, 13 HRs, 38 RBI, 1.100 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) in 41 games...2017 -- .259 (163-for-630), 33 doubles, 33 HRs, 95 RBI, .781 OPS in 156 games.
Tampa Bay catcher Wilson Ramos’ 18-game hitting streak ended Sunday, one short of the team record set by Jason Bartlett in 2009. Quinton McCracken also had an 18-game hitting streak for the Rays. All three are former Red Wings: Bartlett 2004, 2005 and 2006; McCracken for 31 games in 2006; and Ramos in 2010.
The New York Yankees have four players with at least 10 home runs through 40 games for the first time in team history (Aaron Judge 11; Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorous 10 each). The Yankees have 57 HRs (behind only Cleveland’s 60) and lead the majors with 231 runs.
HOW ARE OUR FORMER PRO TEAMS DOING?
The North Carolina Courage (formerly the Western New York Flash) beat the Washington Spirit 1-0 Saturday before a home crowd of 5,866 at Sahlen’s Stadium at Wake Med Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The undefeated Courage are 6-0-2 and have outscored opponents 13-5.
The Dallas Rattlers (formerly the Rochester Rattlers) are 3-2 in Major League Lacrosse after a 14-12 loss Saturday at the Ohio Machine.
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds, coached by Bob Lilley and with seven of his former Rochester Rhinos on the roster, tied the visiting Indy Eleven Friday night before 3,123 fans at Highmark Stadium. The Hounds are the only undefeated team in the 33-team United Soccer League. Pittsburgh is 4-0-4 and has outscored opponents 10-3, with six “clean sheets” (shutouts).
Rochester’s sort-of-adopted Toronto FC II (four USL “home” games at Marina Auto Stadium this season), lost 1-0 to Penn FC last Wednesday night. Toronto is 0-6-2 and has been outscored 13-3. Toronto’s next game in Rochester will be June 16 against the Indy Eleven.
BILLS COULD HAVE A WIDE RECEIVER SLEEPER IN ROBERT FOSTER
Don’t be surprised if undrafted rookie Robert Foster of Alabama is a pleasant surprise for the Bills this season.
Foster had only 35 catches for 389 yards and 3 TDs for the Crimson Tide, but he’d have had better stats for a weaker teams that throw more. He started 13 of Alabama’s 14 games last season and had three catches in the championship game victory over Georgia. He has decent size (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) and “The Road Runner” might have been the fastest player on the team. Alabama’s defensive coordinator was Brian Daboll. He’s now the offensive coordinator for the Bills and he must believe Foster can help Buffalo.
RIT TIGERS AND GETTYSBURG BULLETS REACH THE ELITE 8
The RIT Tigers and my alma mater Gettysburg Bullets have reached the NCAA Division III lacrosse Elite 8 and are two wins away from a championship showdown May 27 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
Last Saturday, RIT (20-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation) beat visiting Stevens Institute 17-9 and Gettysburg beat visiting Rhodes 22-9.
The matchups for the Elite 8, Wednesday: York, Pa. (19-2) at RIT (20-0)...Wesleyan, CT. (16-3) at Tufts (18-1)...Ohio Wesleyan (18-3) at Gettysburg (18-2)...Dickinson (17-3) at Salisbury (18-3).
Attendance for the “Sweet 16” last Saturday was not impressive: 1,520 (at Washington & Lee for a 10-9 overtime loss to Dickinson), 859 (at Wesleyan, CT.), 819 (at Salisbury), 780 at Ohio Wesleyan, 612 (at RIT), 416 (at Amherst for a 12-11 loss to York), 277 (at Gettysburg) and 250 (at Tufts).
KNOX WAS A RARITY: A HIGH-PROFILE COACH HIRED BY RALPH WILSON
Chuck Knox, who died Saturday at age 86, was the highest-profile head coach ever signed by Buffalo Bills owner Chuck Knox.
Knox was 54-15-1 in five seasons with the Los Angeles (plus 3-5 in the playoffs) from 1973 through 1977. Knox and Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom weren’t getting along when Knox was lured by Wilson to the Bills with a six-year, $1.2 million contract (a lot of money back then, especially for Wilson).
Knox’s Bills were 5-11, 7-9, 11-5 in 1980 (plus 0-1 in the playoffs), 10-6 in 1981 (including 1-1 in the playoffs) and 4-5 in the strike-shortened 1982 season.
The 1980 Bills opened the season with a 17-7 home against Miami, snapping a 20-game losing streak (covering the 1970s) to the Dolphins. Knox was selected Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year, the only Bills coach so honored (Marv Levy was UPI NFL Coach of the Year in 1988).
Knox decided to leave after the 1982 season. He had one year left on his contract but was frustrated by Wilson’s frugality.
The Bills were awful before Knox arrived (2-12 in 1976 under Lou Saban and Jim Ringo and 23-11 in 1977 under Ringo) The Bills became really horrible after he left (4-8 to 2-14 to 2-14 to 4-12). And they were awful after he left (8-8 in 1983 and 2-14 under Stephenson in 1984, 2-14 under Stephenson and Hank Bullough in 1985 and 2-12 under Bullough and Marv Levy in 1986.
After escaping Buffalo, Knox spent the next nine seasons with the Seattle Seahawks (80-63 record plus 3-4 in the playoffs). He wound up his NFL coaching record with a second stint with the Los Angeles Rams: 15-33 from 1992 through 1994.
Knox was nicknamed “Ground Chuck” because he stressed running the football and playing hard-nosed football. He was Fred Smerlas’ favorite coach and one of Buffalo’s fan-favorite coaches.
He was 186-147 (plus 7-11 in the playoffs) in his 22 seasons as an NFL head coach.
Syracuse U. star guard Tyus Battle will be among the approximately 70 invitees to the NBA rookie combine May 16 through 20 in Chicago. He’s been working out in Los Angeles. He has declared for the 2018 draft but has not yet hired an agent. That means he can change his mind and return to SU for his junior season. He’s projected as a late first-round pick this year.
There is a fair chance that 34-year-old Boston Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia will be in the lineup for the Pawtucket Red Sox when they play the Red Wings at Frontier Field Friday through Sunday. The 34-year-old second baseman was expected to begin a rehab assignment Monday at home against Buffalo. He had major knee surgery in October. He was an International League all-star with the PawSox in 2006 and was the American Rookie of the Year in 2007 and Most Valuable Player in 2008. He has 1,802 hits and a career .300 batting average in 12 seasons with Boston.
The Rochester Red Wings wrapped up a 4-2 trip with a 3-1 win in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Sunday. The Wings are 12-6 on the road (4-9 at home) and return to Frontier Field Tuesday night against Syracuse. Rochester’s bullpen has a stingy 2.21 ERA after four scoreless innings Sunday...The Wings figure to pick up on offense with Zack Granite and Ryan LaMarre at the top of the lineup. Granite has returned from the disabled list and LaMarre is back from Minnesota.
Abby Wambach will deliver the keynote address at Barnard College’s 2018 commencement Wednesday at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.
Maynard Troyer’s death last Thursday at age 79 stirred fond memories for auto racing fans in the glory years of Lancaster Speedway and Spencer Speedway in the 1970s. There was a colorful group of drivers and Richie Evans and Troyer were the kings.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...
Monday, May 14
Rob Gronkowski (29)...Clay Matthews III (32)...Zack Ryder (33)...Luke Gregorson (34)...Frank Gore (35)...Tony Siragusa (51)...Pooh Richardson (52)...Joey Cora (53)...Suzy Kolber (54)...Walter Berry (54)...Pat Borders (55)...Rick Vaive (59)...Mike Quick (59)...Dennis Martinez (63)...Danny Gare (64)...Tony Perez (76)...Valeri Brunel (76)...Don Blackburn (80). Mark Zuckerberg (34), Cate Blachett (49) and George Lucas (74) are invited to the birthday party.
Tuesday, May 15Brian Dozier (31)...Andy Murray (31)...Justin Morneau (37)...Josh Beckett (38)...Ryan Leaf (42)...Ray Lewis (43)...A J Hinch (44)...Desmond Howard (48)...Emmitt Smith (49)...Hideki Irabu (49)...Leroy oard (50)...John Smoltz (51)...Ron Simmons (60)...Dan Patrick (62)...George Brett (65)...Don Nelson (78).
ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...
112 years ago (1906), the flagpole at the White Sox ball park broke during the pennant-raising ceremony...100 years ago (1918), Sunday baseball became legal in Washington, DC...99 years ago (1919), Johnny Loftus road Sir Barton to victory in the 44th Preakness Stakes...51 years ago (1967), Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run...46 years ago (1972), Willie Mays hit a home run in his first game with the Mets..22 years ago (1996), Dwight Gooden of the Yankees no-hit Seattle.
100 years ago (1918), Washington’s Walter Johnson pitched all 18 innings in a 1-0 victory...81 years ago (1937), War Admiral won the 62nd Preakness Stakes...77 years ago (1941), Joe DiMaggio began his 56-game hitting streak...70 years ago (1948), Eddie Arcaro rode Citation to victory in the 73rd Preakness Stakes...65 years ago (1953), heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano KOd Jersey Joe Wolcott in Chicago...45 years ago (1973), Nolan Ryan pitched his first no-hitter.