Matthews: This Had To Be Tiger's Greatest Golf Victor

THIS HAD TO BE TIGER’s GREATEST GOLF VICTORY...

CHASING JACK’S 18 MAJORS: GAME ON AGAIN!

When Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open for his 14th golf major at the age of 32, it was considered an amazing feat.

His 15th major victory Sunday in the 83rd Masters was even more amazing. It was a long drought and filled with disappointments, including a very public and humiliating divorce and several major surgeries.

Many observers, including this one, doubted that Tiger could win another major. He’s 43 now and his pursuit of the record 18 majors by Jack Nicklaus is back on.

Good for Tiger and great for golf. The TV ratings for Sunday’s final round surely will be phenomenal.

Is Tiger the new leader in the clubhouse for Male Athlete of the Year? And Sportsman of the Year?

A few other thoughts:

The bettor who wagered $20,000 to win $20 that Woods would not win all four majors this year probably isn’t too worried yet – but anything can happen. Tiger proved that on Sunday.

And before we crown Tiger for the all-time greatest golf comeback, please appreciate what Ben Hogan went through. Early in 1949, a Greyhound bus with a reckless driver tried to negotiate a blind corner and collided head-on with a car driven by Hogan. He suffered a broken pelvis, collarbone and ankle, and a crushed rib. He later had a blood clot that required emergency surgery and resulted in poor circulation in his legs for the rest of his life. Many thought he’d never play competitive golf again. Despite aching legs, he won the 1950 U.S. Open in an 18-hole playoff.One golf historian – Tiger Woods – has said that Hogan’s victory was the greatest comeback in golf. Ben and Tiger both are in good company.

WHO SAID “MOVE IN THE FENCES” AT FRONTIER FIELD?

...AND I LOVED SATURDAY’S EPIC 20-18 GAME (WITH 15 HOME RUNS)

I’ve long argued that the only thing wrong with Frontier Field is the depth of the power alleys – particularly in left-center field. I call it Death Valley. I’ve seen way too many well-struck baseballs land in the gloves of outfielders instead of bouncing off the walls or sailing over them.

I prefer extra-base hits and home runs over deep flyouts and I think most fans would agree.

But the wind was blowing out Saturday afternoon and the Major League Baseball-style atomic baseballs the International League is using this season were flying out of the ballpark at an astonishing rate. The Rochester Red Wings had 6 home runs and 18 runs – and LOST! Lehigh Valley had 9 home runs and scored 20 runs.

The 10-inning line score:

Lehigh Valley... 1 0 4 0 4 2 3 2 1 3 – 20 runs, 21 hits, 2 errors

Rochester......... 0 5 3 2 2 0 2 3 0 1 – 18 runs, 22 hits, 1 error.

Time of game: 3:55...Attendance – 3,983. Many of the fans who were there will remember this game for a long time – maybe forever. I listened to every gopher ball on the radio and it was a classic game and call by play-by-play man Josh Whetzel.

The 38 total runs tied the record at Frontier Field (Buffalo 25, Rochester 13 on April, 29, 2004).

The combined 15 home runs by the Iron Pigs (9) and Red Wings (6) topped the MLB single-game record of 12. Interestingly, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox did it twice playing against each other (May 28, 1995 and July 2, 2002).

The MLB record for the most runs in a game is 49. The line score for that game on August 25, 1922 is even more ridiculous than the one the Iron Pigs and Red Wings produced on Saturday:

Philadelphia Phillies ........ 0 3 2 1 3 0 0 8 6 – 23 runs, 26 hits, 4 errors

Chicago Cubs................... 1 10 0 140 1 0 0 X – 26 runs, 25 hits, 5 errors.

The Cubs led 25-6 after four innings and the Phillies outscored the Cubs 17-1 the rest of the way before running out of gas.

Time of game: 3:01. Attendance – 7,000.

There were only three HRs in the game, all hit by the Cubs: Hack Miller 2 and Bob O’Farrell 1.

The winning pitcher was Tony Kauffman (4.0 innings, 9 hits allowed, 6 runs, 3 earned runs, 3 walks, 0 strikeouts). He later had a 51-60 record as a good-hitting pitcher for Rochester in portions of seven seasons (1928 through 1937) and a 146-130 record in portions of three seasons as manager of the Red Wings (1940-41-42).

PS: The left-center field fence at Frontier Field is 10-to-15 feet too deep. Not fair to hitters.

GOOD RIDDANCE TO THE IRON PIGS...BRING ON THE SYRAMETS

Sunday’s Rochester home game against Lehigh Valley war rained out. That might have been a good thing for the Red Wings. The Iron Pigs are 6-1 against Rochester this early season by a combined score of 61-32.

The Syracuse Mets play a three-game series against the Red Wings tonight through Wednesday afternoon. Syracuse is 6-5 despite a horrible start by the oldest outfield in Triple-A baseball memory:

Rajai Davis (38 years old) -- .172 batting average (5-for-29); 2 doubles; 5 RBI; 1 walk; 10 Ks

Gregor Blanco (35 years old) -- .156 batting average (5-for-32); 1 double; 1 HR; 2 RBI; 2 walks; 9 Ks

Carlos Gomez (33 years old) -- .182 batting average (6-for-33); 2 doubles; 1 HR; 3 RBI; 3 walks; 9 Ks

Tim Tebow (31 years old) -- .161 batting average (5-for-31); 2 doubles; 5 RBI; 3 walks; 13 Ks.

Davis, Blanco and Gomez have combined to play in 1,172 major-league games. They have 3,024 hits and 229 HRs.

LET’S HOPE MEL KIPER IS ON TARGET WITH THESE PICKS

ESPN college football talent guru Mel Kiper offered his picks for each NFL team in the first three rounds of the NFL college draft April 25-26. If he goes 3-for-3 on his projections for the Buffalo Bills, I believe the team would be very fortunate. Of course, he has a much better chance to resemble Chris Davis and go 0-for-3.

First round (No. 9 overall) – Tight end T.J. Hockenson (Iowa). His stock is on the rise. He won the John Mackey Award as college football’s top tight end as a redshirt sophomore. He has the size (5-foot-5; 251 pounds) and hands and he can block. He’d be a nice mid-range target for QB Josh Allen. He could start immediately and become the best all-around TE in team history.

Second round (No. 40 overall) – Wide receiver N’Keal Harry (Arizona State). The Bills need some size at the position and Harry is 6-foot-2, 228 pounds. In three seasons for the Sun Devils, he had 213 catches for 2,889 yards and 22 TDs.

Third round (No. 74 overall) – Defensive end Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech). He has the NCAA Division I record with 47 career sacks, including 17.5 last season. He’s 6-foot-5, 271 pounds.

BILLS COME UP UNDERAPPRECIATED IN THESE POSITION RANKINGS

Conor Orr of SI.com’s The MMQB is a savvy football writer, but I believe he was way off base in his recent rankings of the 32 NFL teams in terms of “situations for 2019 at quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers” as far as the Buffalo Bills are concerned.

Orr’s top 10 QB “situations: Patriots, Chiefs, Saints, Packers, Colts, Steelers, Chargers, Seahawks, Falcons and Rams. The Bills are 26th. Assuming Josh Allen stays healthy, I believe Buffalo is several spots better than that.

Orr’s top 10 RB “situations”: Giants, Saints, Panthers, Cowboys, Rams, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers, Chargers, Eagles. The Bills are 29th, with LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and maybe Keith Ford. I believe Slash and Smash will prove Orr wrong.

Orr’s top 10 WR “situations”: Browns, Falcons, Vikings, Texans, Saints, Rams, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Buccaneers. The Bills are 30th. I believe John Brown, Cole Beasley, Zay Jones and Robert Foster (Orr lasted Andre Roberts instead of Foster) will produce considerably better than Orr thinks.

ALL BAD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END FOR CHRIS DAVIS

Last Friday in Baltimore, Lee’s Pint & Shell tavern offered two hours of open bar that evening if slumping Orioles slugger Chris Davis ended his MLB-record 0-for-53 streak with a hit. Davis pinch-hit in the ninth inning and lined out to second to end the 6-4 loss in Boston and extend his futility streak to 0-for-54.

Davis finally ended the streak with a two-run bloop single on Saturday. He added two doubles and drove in four runs in Baltimore’s 9-5 win over the host Red Sox. The crowd politely applauded Davis and he good-naturedly gestured to his dugout for the baseball to be saved. He raised his batting average from .000 to .079.

Now that Chris Davis is out of the national spotlight, the pressure shifts to former Red Wing Daniel Palka. He’s 0-for-28 with the Chicago White Sox this season.

NEW-LOOK KNIGHTHAWKS ARE LOOKING GOOD

Give the new-look lame-duck Rochester Knighthawks credit for overcoming the in-season dismantling of the roster by playing impressive lacrosse lately. From a dismal 2-11 record to a more respectable 5-11 after consecutive victories over New England, Toronto and Colorado.

The revamped and roster has displayed exceptional spirit and energy. Many of these players are fighting to extend their careers in the National Lacrosse League and they’re making the most of the opportunity.

The remaining two games are at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial: Saturday vs. the Vancouver Warriors and Saturday, April 27 vs. the New England Black Wolves.

A key to the resurgence of these K-hawks has been the stellar play of goalie Warren Hill. There should be no second-guessing of sticking with veteran Angus Goodleaf until the season was all but lost. Goodleaf spent six NLL seasons patiently sitting behind Matt Vinc. He was a team player and deserved a chance when Vinc opted to leave for Buffalo as a free agent last summer.

The performance lines for this season are interesting:

Angus Goodleaf – 2-9 record...13.50 goals against average... .747 save percentage...653:12 minutes. He’s 32 years old.

Warren Hill – 3-2 record...10.69 goals-against average... .799 save percentage...308:34 minutes. The former Syracuse U. goalie is 26 years old.

THE MARLIES AREN’T NEARLY AS FORMIDALE AS LAST SEASON

The Rochester Americans will play the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies in the best-of-five first round of the 2019 Calder Cup playoffs, starting Friday and Sunday at Blue Cross Arena at the Wear Memorial.

Last season’s Marlies were by far the AHL’s best team. They were 54-18-2-2 for 112 points and outscored opponents 254-170 (+84). Then they were 15-5 in the playoffs, with a +27 goal differential (73-46).

This season’s Marlies were 39-24-9-4 for 91 points, with a +5 goal differential (248-243) The Amerks won the regular season’s series 5-1 and outscored the Marlies 25-17.

Of Toronto’s top five scorers in last season’s Calder Cup playoffs, only Chris Mueller will play in this season’s playoffs. Andreas Jonsson, Trevor Moore and goalie Garret Sparks are with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Carl Grundstrom was traded to the Los Angeles Kings and Ben Smith is playing in Germany.

SHORT SHOTS

The New York Yankees were expected to capitalize versus a weak early-season schedule. But they’re 3-6 versus Baltimore, Detroit and the White Sox and 6-9 overall. Of course, they expected to be healthier, too.

Meanwhile, AL East rival Tampa Bay is 12-4 and has won five straight series to begin this season.

xxxWe all know the NHL has the most unpredictable playoffs in North American pro sports, but the way Tampa Bay dominated the regular season, the Lightning trailing Columbus three games to none in the best-of-seven first round is borderline ridiculous.

xxxStanley Cup update (through 20 games): Home teams are 10-10...there has been only one shutout...there have been four overtime games...margins of victory: 1 goal (8), 2 goals (3), 3 goals (7)...goal, 4 goals (2)...total goals in games: three (3 games(, four goals (2 games), five goals (4), six goals (2), seven goals (5), eight goals (2), nine goals (2).

xxxRobin Lehner’s comeback with the New York Islanders continues in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s 3-0 versys Pittsburgh, with a 1.62 goals against average and a .951 save percentage...Mark Stone (Vegas) has been the scoring star with 6 goals and 2 assists in 3 games.

xxxThe Syracuse Mets will offer a fun promotion Saturday, May 18: Armed Forces Day, featuring Tim Tebow in a camo-jersey bobblehead to the first 1,000 fans and an appearance by former WWE champion Sgt. Slaughter.

HAPPY SPORTS BIRTHDAY...

Monday, April 15

Chris Tillman 31...Antonio Cromartie 35...Daniel Paille 35...Ilya Kovelchuk 36...Jason Bonsignore 43...Brock Huard 43...Jason Sehorn 48...Darrin Smith 49...Jeremy Burnitz 50...Dara Torres 52...Kevin Stevens 54...Kevin Lowe 60...Keith Acton 61...Evelyn Ashford 62...Nesby Glasgow 62...Michael Cooper 63...Don Marcotte 72. Emma Watson 29, Seth Rogen 37 and Emma Thompson 60 are invited to the birthday party.

Tuesday, April 16

Wendell Carter 20...Remi Elie 24...Will Fuller 25...Albert Amora 25...Nolan Arenado 28...NBA Reggie Jackson 29...Kyle Okposo 31... Luol Deng 34...Nate Diaz 34...Cat Osterman 36...Jonathan Vilma 37...Boris Diaw 37...Steve Emtman 49...Marcus Wilson 51...Garry Galley 56...Kenneth Davis 57...Bruce Bochy 64...Bill Belichick 67...Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 72...Jim Lonborg 77.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

April 15

123 years ago (1896), Summer Olympics I ended in Athens, Greece; USA led in goald medals (121) and Greece led in total medals (46)...92 years ago (1927), Babe Ruth hit his first of his 60 home runs for the season...79 years ago (1940), Canadian Gerard Cote won his first of four Boston Marathons in 2:28:28.6...72 years ago (1947), Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in a MLB game...65 years ago (1954), the Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox 3-1 in their first game in Baltimore...54 years ago (1965), the NFL changed the penalty flag from white to bright gold...28 years ago (1991), the Sacramento Kings set an NBA record with their 35th consecutive road loss...27 years ago (1992), Al Arbour of the New York Islanders coached in his NHL-record 1,438th game...22 years ago (1997), MLB retired No. 42 for all teams in honor of Jackie Robinson...6 years ago (2013), 3 people were killed and 183 injured in the Boston Marathon bombings.

April 16

91 years ago (1928), Clarence DeMar won the Boston Marathon for the sixth time...90 years ago (1929), the Yankees became the first MLB team to wear uniform numbers...84 years ago (1935), Babe Ruth hit a home run for the Boston Braves in his first game in the National League...32 years ago (1987), Michael Jordan became the second NBA player to score 3,000 points in a season...27 years ago (1992), the New York Rangers won their team-recrd 50th game of the regular season...1 years ago (2018), Desiree Linden became the first American to win the women’s Boston Marathon since 1985.

Bob Matthews' Column

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