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Running Notebook: Boston, you're my home...

If it's mid-April, it must be time for the Boston Marathon.

Boston might be the biggest, most popular goal for local runners. There's obviously a ton of history involved, so it's quite an achievement to simply qualify to run.

It's not easy to come up with a list of all the area runners and their times, but I'll do my best on Monday night and post them in our sports department's web site (look under running) and in the newspaper the next day.

For those with shorter goals, here is the weekend schedule, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Young Life Dyngus Day Dash, 5K, S4999 McKinley Parkway in Hamburg, 9 a.m. Saturday, 830-7852. The course is a little hilly, but the race usually is nicely done and I've never gone away hungry.

* Nick Orrange Run, 5K, Baird Point at UB's North Campus, 9:30 a.m. Sunday. This is a nice little race, with lots of family and friends on hand to honor Nick.

* Canisius College Shoes for the Shelter 5K, Koessler Athletic Center at Main St. in Buffalo, 12 noon Sunday, 888-2977. It's a Buffalo News runner of the year race, and it may be the last race of any kind in Forest Lawn Cemetery. Forest Lawn is said to be planning to get out of the race-hosting business after that.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Glenn Bass

     (Born April 12, 1939) -- The Buffalo Bills won back to back championships in the American Football League in 1964-65. Two of the reasons why were their wide receivers. Elbert Dubenion is the better-known of the two pass catchers, but partner Glenn Bass could go get the ball as well.

     Bass played college football at East Carolina. He was drafted in the fifth round by the NFL's Cardinals and in the 23rd round by the AFL's Chargers in 1961. Bass ended up, though, on the Bills' roster.

     He fit right in as a wide receiver and punt returner on the second Bills' team in history. Bass caught 50 passes, a career high, for 765 yards.

     The receiver caught 32 more passes in 1962, averaging 17.3 yards per catch that season. Injuries limited his output in 1963, but he was ready to go when the Bills were ready to start winning.

     Bass caught 43 passes in 1964 for 897 yards, an average of 20.9 yards per catch. That included a 94-yarder against Houston. Injuries restricted Bass to only four games in 1965.

     The North Carolina native played one more year with the Bills in 1966, but only made 10 catches as injuries had cost him a few steps. He finished his career with the Oilers over the next two seasons.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Whitey Martin

     (Born April 11, 1939) -- You could have gotten long odds that Ronald "Whitey" Martin would have ever made the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. The odds were almost as long that he'd ever play a second of college basketball.

     Martin was 5-foot-5 when he was cut from the varsity basketball team at Timon High. But he grew five inches in the next year, and new coach Mel Palano liked him enough to make him his starting point guard as a senior.

     Then Martin arrived at St. Bonaventure, and had grown to 6-2. He became the Bonnies' sixth man as a sophomore, and then started as a junior and a senior. Martin was part of a Bona era that saw the team go 65-12 over three seasons. No St. Bonaventure team has ever done better over three years.

     Tom Stith led the way on those teams, averaging around 30 points per game as a junior and senior. But Martin averaged around 12 points per game at the same time, and was a fine defensive player as well.

     Martin was taken by the Knicks in the second round of the 1961 NBA draft, as his college coach, Eddie Donovan, landed in New York that year. Martin played in the NBA for a year before moving on to semipro ball.

     Martin is retired and lives in North Boston. 

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Steve Tasker

     (Born April 10, 1962) -- Steve Tasker's story of football success is an unlikely one. After all, how many NFL standouts began play at Dodge City Community College? 

    The Kansas native got his start there, and then transferred to Northwestern. As a Wildcat he ever played a little rugby for the first time in his life, and was the most valuable player in the Big Ten's conference tournament.

     Tasker was drafted in the ninth round by the Houston Oilers in 1985. He spent almost two seasons there, but was placed on waivers at that point. His football future looked, um, limited.

     Enter the Bills. Coach Marv Levy grabbed him, and installed Tasker as a key member of Buffalo's special teams. He was a sensation. Tasker participated in seven Pro Bowls and was a key member of the great Bills' teams of the 1990's.

     Tasker played in his last game in pro football in 1997, and got thrown out of the contest on the first play. He moved into the broadcast booth almost seemlessly from there. Tasker is on the Bills' Wall of Fame.

     There are those who think Tasker influenced more games with big plays than practically anyone else in his era, and that he deserves to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It hasn't happened yet, but just being in the argument is proof of his outstanding work.

--- Budd Bailey  

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Jim Roberts

     (Born April 9, 1940) --  When asked to make up a list of all of the Buffalo Sabres' head coaches in history, Jimmy Roberts' name might not come up quickly. That's too bad, since Roberts had an interesting hockey history.

     The Toronto native played his first NHL game with Montreal during the 1963-64 season. He was called up to the Canadiens for good the next season, and was a regular for three full seasons on defense.

     When the St. Louis Blues had their first choice in the expansion draft in 1967, they took Roberts. Over the next four seasons, Roberts was a regular for some good Blues teams. He moved up to forward and was in double digits in goals for those four seasons.

     Roberts played under Scotty Bowman then, and the two were reunited when Roberts was traded back to Montreal. There he was three more Cups.

     When Bowman moved to Buffalo as a coach in 1979, Roberts came with him as an assistant. He was promoted to head coach during the 1981-82 season, where he went 21-16-8. That wasn't good enough at the time, so Bowman returned to the job for the end of the season. Roberts stayed in Buffalo until 1984.

     From there, he mostly worked as a coach in the minors or as an assistant in the NHL. The exception was in 1991-92, when he guided the Whalers to the playoffs. Roberts left hockey in 2002.

--- Budd Bailey

Masters -- Final Recap

And the Winner Is . . . Bubba Watson, the former University of Georgia star, breaks into the ranks of major winners with a stirring victory over Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole. Paint the town pink.

In Defense: Charl Schwartzel never shot worse than 71 in last year's victory. This time around he could do no better than a 72, that on Thursday. He carded 74 Sunday.

Double Lightning: Oosthuizen rocketed into the lead with the fourth double-eagle in Masters history and the first at No. 2. They called it the ""Shot Heard Around the World"" when champion Gene Sarazen made 2 at No. 15 in 1935, but tournament coverage was scant back then. How much noise could it have made? The other albatrosses were made by Bruce Devlin at No. 8 in 1967 and Jeff Maggert at No. 13 in 1994.

Tiger Pause: There was no consistency in his game whatsoever. He'd miss left. He'd miss right. The expectations were high, the results beyond disappointing. Sunday's 74 put Woods T40, his worst Masters finish as a pro.

Low Amateur: He was low amateur in last year's U.S. Open, and now he's done it at Augusta with a T47. Patrick Cantlay, 20, is the next force on the horizon.

Stroll in the Park: Bo Van Pelt looked good on paper after last year's T8. He finally looked good on the course in the final round, sizzling to a 64, his best score of the tourney by nine strokes.

Wild Weekend: Stewart Cink trimmed 12 shots off his Saturday 81, making five birdies in a round of 69. Adam Scott dove from Saturday's 73 to a 66.

Out of Sight: Second-round co-leader Jason Dufner finished 75-75 and T24.

Quotable

Bo Van Pelt could have used his ace last year, when he came to No. 16 one shot off the lead. ""Yeah that's exactly what I said to (Scott) Verplank. I was just one year late.""

Luke Donald, No. 1 in the world and still without a major: ""Well, I think regardless of ranking I should be contending. I feel like my game is good enough. Obviously my game was good enough to get me to No. 1. Obviously that's my focus in my career right now is to get myself into contention and win the big ones. It's always disappointing when I don't do it.""

Sergio Garcia told the Spanish press Saturday he'll never win a major. He's not backing off that statement: ""Do you think I lie when I talk? . . . Everything I say, I say it because I feel it. If I didn't mean it, I couldn't stand here and lie like a lot of the guys do. If I felt like I could win, I would do it.""

Phil Mickelson on his triple bogey at 4: ""Nothing happened. I mean, tactically I hit that shot where I had to hit it, which is at the bunker. Anything left of the pin is fine. . . . And the worst I would have made was 4, but unfortunately it hit the metal railing.""

-- Bob DiCesare

Early Sunday at the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Look for a Sunday Shootout in the final round of the Masters.

Early scores indicate there are birdies aplenty available at Augusta National today. Bo Van Pelt has rocketed into a tie for 30th by going 5-under par through 15. Thomas Bjorn and Luke Donald 3-under through 14, Keegan Bradley 3-under through 10.

Nos. 2 and 3 have been generous. Twenty-four of 40 golfers have made birdie at the par-5 second, and 10 have made 3 on the par-4 third. The par-4 seventh also has been target practice, with an eagle and 10 birdies yielded to this point.

No. 1 is playing tough, as it has all tournament. So far there are 25 pars, 12 bogeys and just three birds. The par-3 fourth is also dragging on scores, with24 pars, 11 bogeys and just one bird. So it will be interesting to see how those on the leader board make it through the four-hole opening stretch.

The last group of Peter Hanson and Phil Mickelson tees off at 2:40.

-- Bob DiCesare

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Fred Smerlas

     (Born April 8, 1957) -- Sometimes it's important for a player to come in and not just perform on the field, but change the culture of the team. Fred Smerlas did that once upon a time with the Buffalo Bills.

     The Bills were not a good team in 1978. They were 5-11 under Chuck Knox, then in his first year in Buffalo. Knox knew he needed more talent on the roster. The team's first pick in 1979, Tom Cousineau, fled to the Canadian Football League, but Knox did well with Smerlas of Boston College as the fourth pick in the second round. Later in that round, Buffalo grabbed Jim Haslett.

     Not only were Smerlas and Haslett young and good, but they were personable and funny. The media flocked to them. Buffalo's team had a personality makeover in no time.

     Smerlas moved into the starting lineup in 1980 and didn't miss a start for the Bills for the rest of the decade. Buffalo had some good seasons and bad ones during that time, but Smerlas was a constant. He made five Pro Bowls along the way.

     The run ended in 1990, when Smerlas moved to San Francisco. Then it was on to New England for two more seasons. He only made one start when he wasn't in a Buffalo uniform.

     Smerlas stayed in the Boston area after retirement, and has considered a run for Congress a couple of times in the past decade.

--- Budd Bailey

Audio: DiCesare from the Masters -- Saturday report

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The News' Bob DiCesare provides audio analysis leading up to the final round of the golf season's first major. He has been weighing in with an audio report daily on the Sports, Ink blog:


Download audio

Masters -- Round 3 Review

At the Top: What a difference a day makes. Sweden's Peter Hanson improved by nine shots from Friday to Saturday, and his third-round 65 has him alone on top by a stroke.

Lurking: Three major winners populated the top six: four-time winner Phil Mickelson, two-time champ Padraig Harrington and one-timer Louis Oosthuizen.

In Defense: Charl Schwartzel shot his second straight 75 for a 54-hole total of 222. He'll finish early today and hang around to drape the green jacket on somebody else's shoulders.

Tiger Pause: He's hooking too many tee shots (including his 3-wood). He's fanning too many irons. He has one birdie on the par-5s this week. Given the same game to work with not many of his peers would have made the cut.

Major Downer: It looked like a variation last year's final round when Rory McIlroy doubled the opening hole and doubled the seventh and made the turn in 42.

No Gimme?: Lee Westwood fell three shots back at No. 9 when he rolled a 1-foot par putt around the cup and out.

What's the Point?: The system says Luke Donald's the world's top-ranked player. Does anybody really believe that? How do you get there without winning a major? He hasn't been a factor here since bogeying the opening hole Thursday.

Nice While it Lasted: Fred Couples played his 107th Masters round Saturday and surely sized up a few shots and thought "I've never been here before." He shot 75.

Four!: Justin Rose had two three-putts all week until he four-jacked the 16th green to slip from two back to four back. Then he bogeyed 18 for his third straight 72.

Remember Me? Two-time British Open winner Harrington rolled in birdies on five of the last six holes and matched his career-best Masters round with a 68.

Ouch: Gary Woodland withdrew with a wrist injury following a third-round 85. That increases to four the number of injury-related casualties this year. Dustin Johnson, Mark O'Meara and Jason Day were the others.

Count on It: Sergio Garcia maintained his record of shooting 75 or higher in every Masters appearance.

Quotable

Tiger Woods: "I was so close to putting it together today. I unfortunately did not play the par 5s very well today, and it was I'm telling you it was so close to being a really good round of golf. I just didn't take care of the opportunities when I had them." Huh?

Padraig Harrington: "I'm trying to play down my own expectations, so I'm not worried about other people's expectations of me."

Peter Hanson on Sunday: "This is going to be the biggest thing."

-- Bob DiCesare

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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