Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014-2015 New England Patriots Season Preview

It seems like just yesterday I was stuffing my face with chicken wings, pizza, meatballs, and cold drinks watching the Seattle Seahawks completely expose Peyton Manning and the record-setting, high scoring Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. As a Patriots fan, it was tough watching after getting knocked out in the AFC Championship game by the Broncos. I am positive I speak for the entire Patriots Nation when I say that I am extremely excited for the 2014-2015 season! For the first time in what seems like forever, the Patriots made some noise in the off-season. It's no secret that our glaring weakness was our secondary. Despite losing Aqib Talib, we went out and signed cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Browner won't be eligible to play until week 5, as he is facing a 4 game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Regardless, Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan should be worthy replacements for the number two corner position. While it appeared as though long time DT Vince Wilfork was on his way out of New England, the Patriots and Wilfork were able to agree on a new restructured 3 year deal worth $22.5 million, with $3 million guaranteed. Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Jerod Mayo, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Devin McCourty will anchor a defense that should find itself amongst the league's best.. This, along with a Tom Brady led offense featuring a (finally) healthy Rob Gronkowski, should have the Patriots as serious contenders for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Barring injuries, which for any team is practically inevitable, I can see this team finishing 13-3, winning the AFC East and either finishing 1st or 2nd in the AFC. If they finish 2nd, it will be the Broncos who edged them out. In the next part of this preview, I am going to break down the Patriots schedule game by game.

Week 1: The Patriots travel to division rival Miami. With a healthy Gronkowski expected to play, I see no reason why the Patriots lose this game. (1-0)

Week 2: The Patriots travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. Aside from Adrian Peterson, nothing is certain in Minnesota. They have yet to name a starting quarterback, which is expected to either be Matt Cassel or 1st round pick Teddy Bridgewater. Regardless of who is under center, I think they lack the fire power on both sides of the ball to beat the Patriots. Chalk this up as another W. (2-0)

Week 3: The Patriots return to Massachusetts for their home opener at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots rarely lose. They will play host to the Oakland Raiders. I can see this one as getting out of hand very early. You can expect to see some of the Patriots reserves make their season debuts in this one. (3-0)

Week 4: The Patriots head out to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. This is the first real test I see them facing. The Chiefs started out really hot last year, but seemed to fizzle out towards the end. However, they still possess one of the league's best defenses and a MVP contender at RB in Jamaal Charles. Alex Smith is a good game manager. If the Chiefs are up at half time, the Pats may be in trouble. With that being said, I still think New England is the better team, even on the road so I'll take them in a close one. (4-0)

Week 5: The Patriots return home to host Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals. I don't know what it is, but the Bengals always seem to give Tom Brady a hard time. The Bengals have a great defense and have one of the league's premier wide receivers in A.J. Green on the other side of the ball. Last year, the Bengals beat the Patriots 13-6. With a healthy Gronkowski and a receiving corps with a year under their belts, I see the Patriots as being able to score more than 6 points this time. This one could really go either way. It will be Brandon Browner's first game as a Patriot and I think his return will be the spark that puts New England on top in a nail bitter that will come right down to the last play. (5-0)

Week 6: The Patriots hit the road for Buffalo to take on EJ Manuel and the Bills. In 2013, the Bills and Patriots split. The Bills were victorious in the team's first meeting in Buffalo 30-28. The Patriots rebounded 2 months later and won 34-20 at home. I can see these teams splitting this season as well, however, I think that loss will come in week 17 when the Pats have little to play for. I'm taking New England in the first meeting. (6-0)

Week 7: This is a date that is marked on every Patriots and Jets players' calendar, as the two teams square off in New England. It is no secret these two teams hate each other. This will be the game for Geno Smith, Dee Milliner, and Calvin Pace to walk to walk. Unfortunately, the Jets bark is a lot bigger than their bite and I think New England will crush the Jets with no problem. (7-0)

Week 8: The Patriots play host to Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. Despite losing Brian Urlacher, the Bears defense will still be very formidable. On offense, they are lead by arguably the league's best wide receiver tandem in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jefferey. If that isn't enough, they have a top 5 running back in Matt Forte. I can see this as a great game with Revis on Marshall and Browner on Jefferey. Matt Forte may be the difference, but I think Tom Brady leads the troops to victory. (8-0)

Week 9: In their last game before their bye week, the Patriots play host to the defending AFC Champions, the Denver Broncos. The Broncos had themselves a respectable off-season. They lost Eric Decker to the Jets, but still have the “Thomas Towers” with Julius and Demaryius expected to lead the way offensively. They also added ex-Cowboy DeMarcus Ware on defense. This game is going to be the game of the season in my opinion. I expect a packed Gillette Stadium on a chilly, November Sunday. A healthy Rob Gronkowski gives the Patriots the edge in this game. Assuming he will play, I'll give this one to New England. (9-0)

Week 10: Bye Week. If the Patriots are 9-0 at their bye week, I am sure coach Belichick will be extremely happy, but not satisfied. My predictions assume a healthy Patriots roster, which has been a major problem the past few seasons. A key injury or two early in the season, and this team may only be 6-3.

Week 11: The Patriots couldn't have asked for a more challenging first game back from their bye week as they head to Indianapolis to take on Andrew Luck and the Colts. Luck is the real deal. In just his 2nd season, he showed everything that he was hyped to be. Since his arrival to the NFL, no quarterback has more 4th quarter game winning drives. He knocked off both Denver and Seattle last year. I think this is the game where the Patriots lose their undefeated season. I like Luck and the Colts at home. They added Hakeem Nicks in the off-season to go along with Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener. I think Indy wins with a score somewhere in the ball park of 21-17. (9-1)

Week 12: After the tough loss to Indy, the Patriots return home to take on Matthew Stafford, Megatron, and the Detroit Lions. There's no doubt the Lions are a good team and could very well win this game, however, I don't think Bill Belichick lets this team lose two in a row. They will make the necessary adjustments in practice leading up to Sunday to fix what went wrong against the Colts. The Lions can bring it on offense. Johnson, Bush, Stafford. They are high profile players. I can see this being a high scoring affair. I still like New England to land the last punch. (10-1)

Week 13: While I believe the Patriots will right the ship in week 12, I think they have their hands full when they head to Lambeau Field to take on Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. You'll want to grab your popcorn for this one folks. Two of the league's best quarterbacks square off in a game that may come down to a field goal as time expires. While the Patriots may look better on paper, Lambeau Field is one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play at. The game is November 30th and it will be cold. I can see Cobb and Nelson doing Lambeau Leaps as I write this. I'm going to go with the Packers by a Mason Crosby field goal. (10-2)

Week 14: The Patriots will look to regroup in sunny San Diego against Philip Rivers and the Chargers. It's a shame that San Diego never seems to add to their team as Rivers is a top 10 quarterback in this league. He has shown signs of excellence throughout his career, yet has never seemed to have the team around him. Top target Antonio Gates is passed his prime and is always battling a nagging injury. I see New England taking this one fairly easy. (11-2)

Week 15: The Patriots play host to Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins. While I think this will be a much better game than Week 1, I just don't think the Dolphins are good enough to beat New England at home. Like I said, it will probably be a close game (7-10 points), but I think New England has their sites on big things and the Dolphins are just another stepping stone. (12-2)

Week 16: The Patriots travel to MetLife Stadium to take on their pesky division rival, the Jets. For some reason, no matter how out matched the Jets are by the Patriots, Rex Ryan always seems to find some way to make things interesting. While it's possible Ryan and his Green Army pull off the upset, I just think this year's New England team is too good. I'm gonna take New England on a game winning 4th quarter drive by Tom Terrific. (13-2)

Week 17: It's likely at this point the Patriots will be fighting Denver, and maybe even Indianapolis for the top seed in the AFC. Playing at home in Foxborough will be comforting, but playing against the Buffalo Bills, who will likely be playing for each other and bragging rights, is not. As I mentioned earlier, I can see this team splitting with New England. For a young quarterback, EJ Manuel is the type of player who seems to find a way against New England. You can't forget about rookie stud WR Sammy Watkins or RB C.J. Spiller. I think this is the week that despite the Patriots being the home team fighting for a first round bye, that the Bills find a way to close out their season on a high note. (13-3)

So there you have it. Those are my 2014 regular season predictions. I could be 100% right or I could be 100% wrong. That's the beauty of it. My predictions are based on a lot of things that may or may not actually be true. I am assuming the Patriots key contributors stay healthy all year. That's a lot to assume, considering that's rarely the case, especially with Rob Gronkowski. Nevertheless, I've always been an glass half full kind of guy and tend on the side of optimism. I hope you enjoyed my 2014 New England Season Preview. For the sake of New England, I hope I am right! Go Pats! -Lance

Bangor and Brewer pick up wins at the first day of the state legion tourney

The local teams came up big at the first day of the state legion tournament at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University.

Kyle Alexander allowed one unearned run in nine innings, and the Brewer Falcons scored three runs in the 10th inning to earn a 4-1 victory over Staples Crossing of South Berwick on Wednesday morning.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bangor and Brewer will play in the state legion tournament

The Bangor Comrades and Brewer Falcons American Legion baseball teams have advanced to the state tournament that will begin on Wednesday at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University.

Peter Kemble pitched a complete game four hitter and the Comrades offense led by Justin Courtney exploded en route to an 11-1 victory over Trenton on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, Bangor advances to take on the Falcons in the zone 1 championship game on Sunday afternoon.

If Brewer wins the 1 p.m. game they would win the zone championship. If Bangor wins, it would force a 4 p.m.contest.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Zone 1 American Legion tournament schedule

Jordan Treadwell and the Bangor Comrades earned the top seed in the zone 1 American Legion tournament with a 16-2 record. Photo by Marc Calnan

All games will be played at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University

Tuesday, July 22nd- play in game
  • G1- Motor City 11 VS Penquis 0- 7 p.m.
Thursday, July 24th- Double elimination tournament begins
  • G2- Trenton 2 VS Brewer 11-
  • G3- Bangor 11 VS Motor City 2 

Friday, July 25th
  • G4- G2 loser VS G3 loser- 4 p.m.- Loser is eliminated
  • G5- G2 winner VS G3 winner- 7 p.m. 

Saturday, July 26th
  • G6- G4 winner VS G5 loser- 7 p.m. - loser is eliminated
Sunday, July 27th
  • G7 (championship game 1) - G5 winner VS G6 winner- 1 p.m.- G 5 winner wins championship if they win.
  • G8 (championship game 2 if necessary)- G5 winner winner VS G6 winner- 4 p.m.

Note: Due to Zone 1 being the host of the state tournament, both the champion and runner up will advance to the state tourney being held from July 30th-August 3rd at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University.

Monday, July 21, 2014

John Winkin did it all in his 94 years

A legendary baseball coach in the state of Maine, have an award named after you, inducted into 11 halls of fame, a friend to Joe DiMaggio, a friend to Ted Williams, and a witness to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

John Winkin did all those things.

On Saturday afternoon, Winkin died at the age of 94.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

American Legion- Bangor 13 Penquis 3

Jordan Treadwell earned the victory for Bangor. Photo by Marc Calnan

DOVER-FOXCROFT--- The tone for a baseball game can be set as early as the first batter in some games.

That was the case on Monday afternoon, when Andrew Hillier led off the game for the Bangor Comrades and ripped a triple to right field on the 10th pitch of the at bat.

Hillier got behind 0-2 in the count against Penquis starting pitcher Tanner Strout. Hillier fouled off six straight pitches. Hillier reached base three times and scored three runs to pace the Comrades to a 13-3 victory over the Navigators in a zone one American Legion game.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cherington and the Red Sox turn focus to 2015

Before the 2013 major league baseball season, most of the so called experts, picked the Boston Red Sox to finish in last place in the American League east.

The Red Sox went on a magical ride where  they did not lose more than three games in a row all season and they finished it all with a duck boat parade in late October.

Before the 2014 season, most of those same so called baseball experts, picked the Red Sox to win the division, or at the very least grab a wild card spot.

It is not even the all star break and the manager along with some of the players have hinted that they have put themselves in a situation where it will be difficult to contend this season.

The Red Sox started the season with a shortstop (Xander Bogaerts), third baseman (Will Middlebrooks), and centerfielder (Jackie Bradley JR) with very little major league experience. They also started the year with a leadoff hitter (Daniel Nava) that they probably overestimated after his excellent 2013 season.

Put that all together along with Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz under performing, and you have a team that is 39-51, last in the league in runs scored, and 10.5 games out in the AL East.

I do not believe what is happening is all that shocking to general manager Ben Cherington. The guy is a smart baseball man. He is the one who put together the 2013 team.

Cherington would not have started the season with Bradley JR, Bogaerts, and Middlebrooks in the lineup if he didn't have an eye on 2015 and beyond.

The Red Sox have only been over .500 on three dates this season, the last of those came after a 9-4 win at Minnesota on May 14th. They followed that up with 10 straight losses.

Cherington made it look like they were trying to contend when on May 21st he signed Stephen Drew for the rest of the season. The problem with that, Drew was two months behind everyone else. That made the already light hitting shortstop, even weaker with the bat. He is hitting .131 in 88 at bats.

Now that they are in this situation, the Red Sox should start the process of unloading any player that are not in their plans beyond the 2014 season.

It sounds like Jake Peavy will be the first in that process. Rumors are that the Braves, Dodgers, and Cardinals are interested.

Allen Craig was out of the Cardinals lineup on Tuesday night. That started talk that a Peavy for Craig trade would be announced soon.

If that is something the Cardinals are offering, it is something the Red Sox should jump on quickly. Craig is as good as anyone that will be available for a bat in free agency during the upcoming offseason. He is signed through 2017 with a team option for 2018.

Craig is struggling a bit this season, with a .246 average. He hit .307, with 22 homers, and 92 RBI in 2012. He followed that up with a .315 average, with 13 homers, and 97 RBI during the 2013 season.

Peavy is a competitor, that loves Boston, and should have success in the national league. The guy even purchased a duck boat after the 2013 parade.

Trading Peavy, would open up a spot in the rotation for Rubby De La Rosa.

A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, Edward Mujica, and Koji Uehara are all players that should be dealt before the July 31st deadline.

Hopefully these guys will get a chance to play in the 2014 postseason.

This will allow the Red Sox to go with a young catching duo that will include Christian Vazquez playing on a regular basis for the final two months of the season.

Trading Uehara would not be a popular move, but the dominant closer will turn 40 next April. They could find plenty of teams that would be interested in Koji.

The Red Sox would most likely have to pay part of Drew's salary for a team to take him, but he could be a key piece to a team that already has plenty of bats. Last October, Drew proved how valuable his  glove can be. It would also give the Red Sox the opportunity to play Xander Bogaerts at shortstop or maybe even give Deven Marrero some playing time late in the season.

John Lackey will most likely be a popular topic when other general managers call Cherington. A lot of the smaller market teams that are in contention like the Pirates and Royals may be interested in Lackey. They would have Lackey for two months this season and next year he is under contract for the veterans minimum.

I would be careful with trading Lackey, all the other guys above they should unload and enjoy the boatload they will get in return especially for a guy like Uehara.

Other than that, the Red Sox main priority should be getting Jon Lester signed as soon as possible, and getting at least one big bat come this offseason.

The last two months will let the front offeice evaluate guys like Bradley JR, Bogaerts, Middlebrooks, Betts, Vazquez,De La Rosa, and Workman against major league competition. It will also let them evaluate how Tazawa does in a more prominent role in the Red Sox bullpen.

As for now, enjoy watching De La Rosa.and Workman starting on a regular basis, and watching Jackie Bradley JR playing the kind of defense we have not seen in center field since Fred Lynn.

There is no excuse for a Boston Red Sox team to have a .243 team batting average through 90 games, and it would be surprising if that happened again in the near future.

This team is not that far away from being great. Remember, they won the world series just nine month ago. They just need to get the right pieces to go around the strong nucleus they already have.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Karli Theberge and Gage Feeney capture athlete of the week honors

Karli Theberge from Hermon high school and Gage Feeney from Washington Academy combined for seven athlete of the week honors during the spring sports season.

Theberge earned four athlete of the week honors including the final week of the season, when she pitched Hermon to victories over Gardiner in the class B regional final and over Wells in the state final. Click here to see the full article.

Feeney allowed only one run in 14 innings to lead the Raiders to a regional final victory over George Stevens, and a state championship victory over Sacopee. Click here to see the full article.

It is the third athlete of the week honor for Feeney during the spring season, and fifth overall.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Red Sox End Grady Sizemore Experiment

At the end of spring training it looked like the Boston Red Sox were going to score big with the flyer they took with outfielder Grady Sizemore, then the regular season started and it all fell apart. On Tuesday the Red Sox designated Sizemore for assignment and now have ten days to either trade of release the veteran.

In the end this will be a very tiny blip in Red Sox history, but taking a chance on guys like this will only pay off in the long run. The team will win some and lose some, but the risk is small and the payoff can be huge. Maybe some other team will be willing to take a chance that Sizemore's bat will come around, but I think the time was right for the Red Sox to say this one didn't go their way on this one and move on.