MATTHEWS: ANTONIO BROWN TO THE BILLS – FAKE NEWS NFL STYLE

ANTONIO BROWN TO THE BILLS – FAKE NEWS NFL STYLE

The fake news broke late Thursday night.

So-called reputable NFL “insiders” – Ian Rapoport of NFL Media had the “scoop” -- were reporting the shocking news that unhappy superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown was headed to the Buffalo Bills via trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

My first reaction was that the Steelers had said they preferred to trade Brown out of the AFC. Buffalo is in the AFC. So, I thought, Pittsburgh doesn’t consider Buffalo to be an AFC rival worth worrying about.

Was Antonio Brown-to-Buffalo too good to be true? Of course it was -- at least for now and I expect forever.

Bills fans aren’t accustomed to great players joining the Bills. Western New York is not a prime landing spot for high-profile stars with other options.

Brown could be running out of options. He’s on the other side of 30 and not going to get better. He’s a diva supreme. He’s not known for being a great teammate. For example, he doesn’t fit the culture mold coach Sean McDermott has preached.

Brown clashed with future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. Imagine his reaction to misfires by promising but erratic Buffalo QB Josh Allen.

By Friday morning the Brown-to-Buffalo “news” had been shot down. Brown wasted no time in declaring that he has no desire to join the Bills. Now THAT was no surprise.

WHY THESE AMERKS CAN WIN THE CALDER CUP

The Rochester Americans won their sixth Calder Cup in 1996. They haven’t won it since. But there are plenty of reasons for optimism assuming the Amerks qualify for this season’s American Hockey League playoffs:

1—Since opening this season with two home losses to the Charlotte Checkers, Rochester has been consistently good.

The Amerks have been decent at home (17-12-0-1 record; 35 of 60 possible points in the standings; +9 goal differential) and excellent on the road (18-6-3-1 record; 40 of 56 possible points in the standings; +14 goal differential).

2--Balanced scoring. Rochester had a total of four 20-goal scorers in the past four seasons: 0 in 2014-15, 1 in 2015-16, 3 in 2016-17 and 0 in 2017-18. The current Amerks have three players with at least 20 goals: Victor Olofsson 21, Zach Redmond 21 and C.J. Smith 20. Wayne Simpson (19 goals) and Danny O’Regan (18) are knocking on the door of the 20-Goal Club. Taylor Leier, Alexander Nylander, Kevin Porter and Remi Elie are capable scorers, too. Dalton Smith supplies the muscle (his 104 PIM rank 10th in the league).

3—Possible Eddie Shore Award winner Zach Redmond, classy rookie Lawrence Pilut and steady Jack Dougherty (plus/minus +19) anchor a solid group of defensemen.

4—Scott Wedgwood is a solid AHL goaltender (23-10-2 record; 2.67 goals-against average; .911 save percentage) and Adam Wilcox is a capable back-up goalie.

5—The Amerks are fourth in the 31-team AHL with 75 points in the standings (Charlotte 83, Bridgeport 77 and Syracuse 77) and rank fifth in goal differential at +23 (behind only Syracuse +59, Bakersfield +50, Chicago +33 and Charlotte +32).

6—Of the AHL’s 31 teams, the Amerks are of the four to rank in the top 10 on the power play and in penalty killing: Syracuse 5th and 3rd, Iowa 3rd and 7th, Rochester 7th and 10th and Bakersfield 6th and 8th. The Amerks have scored 10 short-handed goals and allowed only 3 short-handed goals.

7—Assuming the parent Buffalo Sabres miss the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Amerks won’t suffer recalls to Buffalo and might even get a player or two from the Sabres for a Calder Cup playoffs run.

8—Officials from the Sabres figure to be prominent spectators of playoff games in Rochester. That should give the Amerks added incentive to impress the brass.

REVISED WORLD SERIES ODDS AFTER THE MACHADO AND HARPER SIGNINGS

Here are the updated odds to win the 2019 World Series after the impactful signings of free agents Manny Machado (by San Diego) and Bryce Harper (by Philadelphia) (odds courtesy of sportsbook.ag):

Yankees 6-to-1...Astros, Red Sox each 7-to-1...Dodgers 15-to-2...Phillies 9-to-1...Cubs 10-to-1...Cardinals and Indians each 12-to-1...Braves and Nationals each 16-to-1...Brewers 18-to-1...Mets 20-to-1...Athletics and Rays each 30-to-1...Rockies 40-to-1...Twins 50-to-1...Padres 55-to-1...Angels and White Sox each 60-to-1...Giants and Reds each 70-to-1...Pirates 100-to-1...Diamondbacks 200-to-1...Mariners 250-to-1...Blue Jays 350-to-1...Royals 500-to-1...Marlins, Orioles and Tigers each 1,000-to-1.

Bob’s Most Tempting at the odds: Yankees 6-to-1...Phillies 9-to-1...Cardinals 12-to-1...Brewers 18-to-1...Twins 50-to-1.

Bob’s Least Tempting at the odds: Cubs 10-to-1...Rockies 40-to-1...Padres 55-to-1...White Sox 60-to-1...Rangers 30-to-1...Blue Jays 350-t o-1...Orioles 1,000-to-1 (would not recommend the O’s at 1 million-to-1).

Revised odds to win divisions: AL East, Yankees 5-to-6, Red Sox 7-to-5, Rays 10-to-1, Blue Jays 30-to-1, Orioles 250-to-1...AL Central, Indians 1-to-5, Twins 7-to-2, White Sox 25-to-1, Tigers 45-to-1, Royals 50-to-1...AL West, Astros 1-to-7, Athletics 8-to-1, Angels 10-to-1, Rangers 60-to-1, Mariners 80-to-1...NL East, Phillies 21-to-10, Nationals 5-to-2, Braves and Mets each 3-to-1...Marlins 2,000-to-1...NL Central, Cubs 17-to-10, Cardinals 2-to-1, Brewers 5-to-2, Reds 12-to-1, Pirates 15-to-1...NL West, Dodgers 1-to-4, Rockies 5-to-1, Padres 10-to-1, Diamondbacks and Giants each 30-to-1.

WILL CHAMPION ANTHONY JOSHUA SPANK “BIG BABY”?

Heavyweight (very heavy) boxer Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller made Rochester his training camp home temporarily in the summer of 2006. He won the not-so-coveted WBO/NABO heavyweight title over fading veteran Fred Kassi at Rhinos Stadium August 8, 2006 to boost his record to 17-0-1. He subsequently left town after a split with his local management team.

Miller’s record now is 23-0-1 and his world title shot is scheduled for June 1 at Madison Square Garden against WBA/WBO/IBF/IBO champion Anthony Joshua of Britain, who’ll be making his American boxing debut.

“Big Baby” is 30 years old, 6-foot-4 and has a 78-inch reach. His record is 23-0-1 with 20 knockouts.

As is his habit, Miller figures to have a weight advantage over Joshua, but the champion is 6-foot-6, has a 22-0 record (with 21 knockouts) against be better opponents than “Big Baby” has faced.

The always confident Miller has predicted victory in seven rounds. Joshua has vowed to “reconstruct” “Big Baby’s” face.

Miller is a big underdog. The latest odds: Bovada sportsbook, Joshua bet $850 to win $100 ; Miller bet $100 to win $525...My Bookie Sportbook, Joshua bet $740 to win $100; Miller bet $100 to win $520...Betfair, Joshua 1-to-8 favorite; Miller 11-to-2; draw 40-to-1.

SHORT SHOTS

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi projects Syracuse (Jim Boeheim) versus Washington (Mike Hopkins)in the first round of the NCAA men’s tournament with the winner playing Gonzaga in the second round.

The Chicago Bears are fielding trade offers for 24-year-old running back Jordan Howard, who lost playing time to Tarik Glenn last season after several excellent years with the Bears.If the Bills could get Howard for a third-round draft pick, I’d be all in favor.

Westgate Las Vegas Superbook’s 2019 MVP favors are Bryce Harper 5-to-1 in the National League and Mike Trout 3-to-1 in the American League.

LeBron James isn’t likely to earn All-NBA First Team honors for the 13th time this season but he’ll probably get his third nod for All-NBA Second Team.

Pitcher Adam Ottavino will be the first New York Yankee ever to wear No.0. He wore the number with the Colorado Rockies. 0 is the only single-digit number that has not been retired by the Yankees.

Rochester Lancers coach Doug Miller, closing in on 50, will suit up Friday night for the 7 p.m., Dome Arena home game against the Detroit Waza Flo.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Friday, March 8

Tommy Pham 31...Mark Worrell 36...Marcus Spears 36...Hines Ward 43...Bob Boughner 48...Jason Elam 49...Kenny Smith 54...Shaun Gayle 57...Larry Murphy 58...Eugene Lockhart 58...Buck Williams 59...Jim Rice 65...Richie Allen 72...Jim Bouton 80.

Saturday, March 9

Morgan Reilly 25...Brent Burns 34...Clint Dempsey 36...Antonio Bryant 38...Adonal Foyle 44...Aaron Boone 46...Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf 50...Brian Bosworth 54...Benito Santiago 54...Phil Housley 55...Darrell Walker 58.

Sunday, March 10

Zach LaVine 24...Ryan Nassib 29...Quincy Pondexter 31...Martellus Bennett 32...Tuukka Rask 32...Kwame Brown 37...Logan Mankins 37...Rod Woodson 54...Andre Waters 57...Jess Sapolu 58...Austin Carr 71...Leroy Ellis 79. Carrie Underwood 36, Prince Edward 55, Sharon Stone 61, Shannon Tweed 62 and Chuck Norris 79 are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

March 8

113 years ago (1906), the Ottawa Silver 7 swept Smith Falls, Ont., in two games to win the Stanley Cup...89 years ago (1930), Babe Ruth signed a two-year contract worth $180,000 and Yankees general manager Ed Barrow said, “No baseball player will ever be paid more than Ruth.”...83 years ago (1936), the first stock car race was held in Daytona Beach, Florida...51 years ago (1968), Tommy Moore, age 6, scored a hole-in-one at Hagerstown, Maryland...48 years ago (1971), Joe Frazier ended Muhammad Ali’s 31-fight winning streak with a unanimous decision in their heavyweight title fight at Madison Square Garden...33 years ago (1986), St. John’s beat Syracuse 70-69 in the seventh Big East men’s basketball tournament.

March 9

73 years ago (1946), Ted Williams rejected a $500,000 offer to jump to the Mexican League...40 years ago (1979), Bowie Kuhn ordered baseball to give equal access to female reporters...26 years ago (1993), the Pittsburgh Penguins began their NHL-record 17-game winning streak...24 years ago (1995), baseball awarded a franchise to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

March 10

116 years ago (1903), the Ottawa Silver 7 swept Montreal AAA in two games to win the Stanley Cup...57 years ago (1962), due to a “no blacks” policy at their hotel, the Philadelphia Phillies moved to the Rocky Point Hotel, 20 miles outside Clearwater, Florida...56 years ago (1963), Wilt Chamberlain of the San Francisco Warriors scored 70 points against the Syracuse Nationals.

Bob Matthews' Column

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