Matthews: Hail To The Browns!

HAIL TO THE BROWNS AND THEIR LOYAL FANS

The Cleveland Browns won’t make the playoffs but they’re one of the NFL’s top stories this season: from 0-16 in 2017 to 7-7-1 entering Sunday’s season-finale at Baltimore -- Baker Mayfield versus Lamar Jackson in a duel of former Heisman Trophy quarterbacks. Should be fun.

Mayfield replaced an injured Tyrod Taylor early in a Week 3 game down 14-0 against the New York Jets. The Browns rallied to win to end a 19-game winless streak.

The Browns are 7-6 since Mayfield took over, with two of the losses in overtime.  Cleveland no longer is a joke and Mayfield’s talent and brash confidence are the main reasons. Former coach Hue Jackson’s decision to start veteran Taylor instead of Mayfield from the start of the season might have cost the Browns a playoff berth.

Mayfield deserves to edge New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley for NL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Mayfield’s heroics could help interim coach Gregg Williams get promoted to head coach for next season. The Browns are 5-2 since he replaced Jackson, who was 3-36-1 in two-plus season as Cleveland’s coach.

Some other thoughts on the NFL:+++The suspension of star running back Kareem Hunt is the understated reason for Kansas City’s 2-2 slump. His departure left a huge void in an awesome offense. The loss of Hunt could cost the Chiefs Super Bowl 33 and quarterback Patrick Mahomes league Most Valuable Player honors.

+++My vote for league MVP would be Mahomes, who leads the NFL with 4,816 yards passing and 48 TD passes, but I fully expect Drew Brees to get his first NFL MVP award. Brees has had better seasons throwing the ball for yardage (his 3,992 yards passing rank 11th in the NFL; he ranks first with a 74.4 completion percentage and with a 115.7 passer rating) and hasn’t put up monster numbers lately, but I believe he’ll get enough lifetime-achievement support to win.

+++There is a good chance that the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t make the playoffs, and if they don’t, the 12 teams in the tournament probably will be thankful. When Ben Roethlisberger is in form and throwing to a super group of receivers, the Steelers can beat any team. By the way, has any receiver ever been better at the toe drag for a legal catch on the sideline than Antonio Brown?

+++I’m not surprised that rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson is 5-1 as starter for the Baltimore Ravens. He’s a great runner and an underrated passer (check out his numbers at Louisville). But I fear he could suffer the same fate as fellow Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, a super-athletic quarterback who had a great rookie season until he broke down and has never been the same since.

+++What do Oklahoma Sooners Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Mahomes have in common? Both quarterbacks are the keys to awesome offenses but are burdened with poor defenses. They need to be super sharp to win games against quality opponents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RED WINGS SHOW A $47,533 PROFIT IN A DIFFICULT YEAR

Rochester Community Baseball will show a $47,533 for fiscal year 2018 despite some difficult circumstances.

Snow wiped out the season-opening homestand, the International League schedule was trimmed from 142 to 140 games and the Red Wings were a weak-hitting team and posted a disappointing 29-41 record at Frontier Field. Turnstile attendance slipped from 288,042 in 2017 to 280,875 last season.

RCB’s pre-tax profit on Red Wings operations was $198,477. “Close-out work” to complete involvement with the Batavia Muckdogs (New York-Penn League) cost $40,085. Thus, RCB’s adjusted profit before taxes was $158,392. Taxes were $110,859 and the profit after tax was $47,533. (The before-tax profit in 2017 was $198,000).

(The NY-P League now is operating the Batavia franchise. The franchise is for sale. When the franchise is sold, RCB would get 50 percent of the price of the sale, which is expected to be at least $5 million).

Negative cash flow items included investments in video production equipment, a new seating section behind the left field fence, a new streamlined point-of-sale system for the concession stands and other assorted improvements to the 22-year-old stadium.

Portfolio investment income (interest, dividends and stock transactions) provided $233,000 profit compared to $166,000 in 2017.

RCB will start the 2019 fiscal year with $5,068,000 in assets: $1,513,000 cash and $3,555,000 investments.

Monroe County last week announced a grant of $550,000 from Empire State Development for “significant improvements” to Frontier Field. A major project will be expanding the concourse to completely circle the playing field, a designated area behind the right field fence for kids (including playground equipment), a beer and wine garden, expanded party space, outfield rest rooms behind the right field scoreboard, and shade and rain protection above the home plate entrance. The 360 degree concourse is expected to be ready by the 2020 season.

WILL THIS BE THE SEASON THE SABRES AND AMERKS BOTH MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?

Hockey-loving and long-time Buffalo Sabres fan Terry Pegula bought his favorite team in February 2011 and purchased the American Hockey League Rochester Americans that summer.

Pegula vowed to spare no expense to win numerous Stanley Cups for Buffalo. The plan was for strong developmental teams in Rochester to help maintain a flow of top talent.

Unfortunately, building a hockey dynasty requires more than money. It takes lots of luck in the NHL amateur draft and on the free-agent and trade markets.

Kim and Terry Pegula have yet to see a winning playoff series for the Sabres or the Amerks – in seven years:

Sabres

2011-12 season – 39-32-11 record; outscored 281-230; did not qualify for playoffs

2012-13 season – 21-21-6; outscored 121-143; DNQ

2013-14 – 21-51-10; outscored 157-248; DNQ

2014-15 – 23-51-8; outscored 161-274; DNQ

2015-16 – 35-36-11; outscored 201-222; DNQ

2016-17 – 33-37-12; outscored 201-237;  DNQ

2017-18 – 25-43-12; outscored 199-280; DNQ.

Amerks

2011-12 – 36-26-10-4; ourscored OPP 224-211; L 0-3 TOR in playoffs

2012-13 – 43-29-3-1; outscored OPP 234-209; L 0-3 TOR in playoffs

2013-14 – 37-28-6-5; outscored 216-217; L 2-3 CHI in playoffs

2014-15 – 29-41-5-1; outscored 209-251; DNQ for playoffs

2015-16 – 34-38-3-1; outscored 199-249; DNQ

2016-17 – 32-41-0-3; outscored 205-240; DNQ

2017-18 – 37-22-11-6; outscored OPP 234-221; lost 0-3 SYR in playoffs.

The Sabres and Amerks both are on pace to – for the first time – make the playoffs in the same season

Entering Wednesday:

Sabres (NHL) – 21-11-5 record; 47 of 74 possible points; 111 goals for, 105 goals against (+6)

Amerks (AHL) –18-10-2-0 record; 38 of 60 points; 96 GF, 92 GA (+4)

Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) – 20-5-2-2 record; 44 of 58 points; 109 GF, 66 GA (+42).

NEW YORK STATE COULD BE GETTING CLOSER TO LEGAL SPORTS BETTING

At the end of 2018, 10 states and less than 10 percent of the U.S. population will have legal sports betting. Many other states – including New York – are likely to join the parade.

Charles Gillespie of gambling.com/., supplies the following comments and predictions for legal sports betting in New York State:

“The big prize in 2019 will be New York, which flirted with legislation and came close in 2018. While Governor Cuomo was reluctant to endorse sports betting during his election cycle, he is now much more likely to be a vocal supporter.

“Chief among reasons New York is so anxious to get sports betting up and running is the fact that they are losing tremendous revenue to their neighbor, New Jersey – the torch-bearer for smart and aggressive sports betting policies.”

Legal sports betting could keep thoroughbred and harness racing alive at Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack and Batavia Downs, assuming those facilities could offer sports betting.

SHORT SHOTS

NBA Most Valuable Player updated odds (SuperBookUSA): Giannis Antetokuenmpo (Milwaukee) 2-to-1...LeBron James (LA Lakers) 7-to-2...Anthony Davis (New Orleans) 4-to-1...Steph Curry (Golden State) 6-1...1-1to-1...Joel Embiid (Philadelphia) 8-to-1...James Harden (Houston) 8-to-1...Kawhi Leonard (Toronto) 10-to-1...Kevin Durant (Golden State) 12-to-1...Paul George (Oklahoma City 20-to-1.

Thumbs down to baseball writer and Hall of Fame voter Bill Ballou, who submitted a blank ballot so he wouldn’t have to vote for Mariano Rivera. He explained that he thinks closers are overrated. He didn’t want to be responsible for depriving Rivera of possibly becoming the first unanimous selection to Cooperstown. I think Ballou, who covers the Boston Red Sox for the Worcester Telegram, should retire as a Hall of Fame voter.

Magda Gonzalez, a long-time listener and contributor to my sports talk show on News Radio WHAM 1190, passed away last week. She was a kind lady who had opinions on many topics, sports and otherwise.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, December 26

Mike Minor 31...Tony Brackens 44...Tim Legler 52...Storm Davis 57...Jim Traber 57...Ozzie Smith 64...Chris Chambliss 70...Carlton Fisk 71. Chris Daughtry 39 and Jared Leto 47 are invited to the birthday party.

Thursday, December 27

Nickj Chubb 23...Rick Porcello 30...Addison Reed 30...Jamaal Charles 32...Paul Stastny 33...Cole Hamels 35...Carson Palmer 39...Kevin Ollie 46...Dewayne Washington 46...James Steart 47...Lorenzo Neal 48...Dean Palmer 50...Bill Goldberg 52...Randy Kirk 54...Jim Leyritz 55...Mark Pike 55...Mark Few 56...Bill Self 56...Doug Dawson 57...Sherri Steinhauer 56...Kent Benson 64...Roy White 75.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

December 26

110 years ago (1908), Jack Johnson KOd Tommy Burns in 14 to become the first black heavyweight champion...99 years ago (1919), the Boston Red Sox reached agreement to transfer Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees..64 years ago (1954), the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship 56-10 over the Detroit Lions...54 years ago (1964), the Buffalo Bills beat the San Diego Chargers 20-7 in the AFC championship game...53 years ago (1965), the Buffalo Bills beat the San Diego Chargers 23-0 in the AFC championship game...32 years ago (1986), Doug Jarvis set an NHL record with his 916th consecutive games...28 years ago (1990), the Senior Professional Baseball League folded.

December 27

59 years ago (1959), the Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants 31-16 in the NFL championship game...54 years ago (1964), the Cleveland Browns beat the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in the NFL championship game...37 years ago (1981), Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers became the fastest NHL player to score 100 points in a season – the 38th game...3 years ago (2015), Harlem Globetrotters legend Meadowlark Leon died at age 83.

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