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Alex Cora Fully Believes the Red Sox Are a Contender in 2021

Alex Cora met with the media both Thursday and Friday; Here’s what he had to say:

With the Red Sox coming off of a disappointing 2020 season, Alex Cora fully believes the Red Sox can compete this year in 2021, and said they aren’t trying to rebuild. “We have a good team, and we have a chance to play in October.” Cora said to the media on Thursday. “If a player here isn’t thinking about winning a championship, he better leave.” 

Cora also said with the Red Sox not having a guy assigned to the closer role yet, there will be a traditional closer. They have just not figured out who that is. Cora went into a deep discussion about Eduardo Rodriguez. Cora says he is looking good after spending the 2020 season out with Myocarditis, and that he’s happy for him. Alex said that the Red Sox aren’t taking any extra precautions with Rodriguez, and they have him labeled him as a full-go.

Cora highly praised Martin Perez, and how the Red Sox will benefit from him more as a teammate and leader than anything. He jokingly added as well that JD Martinez got “mad” at Cora, because Cora only bet $1 that Martinez will have a better 2021 than 2020, so Cora said he’d raise it up to $5.

Cora talked a lot about the challenges with Spring Training in the middle of the pandemic. As far as the situation, how they’re dealing with it, and what it’s like compared to a normal Spring Training.

When asked about the leadoff spot, Cora said “We have a few ideas.” and said he is confident some of his ideas will work. He said he was impressed with Verdugo’s 2020 season at the leadoff spot. Cora also said that he is prioritizing defense. And that they have to be better than they were in past years defensively.

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Revs Return From Break with 3-2 Win Over NYCFC

The New England Revolution picked up from where they left off following the MLS international break with a dramatic 3-2 win at New York City FC. New England have now won four consecutive games. Saturday night marked their second consecutive victory on the road.

It did not start out all that well for the Revolution. Just 10 minutes into the game, Andrew Farrell tripped up Jesus Medina inside the box and a penalty kick was awarded. However, New England had no reason to worry as Matt Turner dived to his right to deny Valentin Castellanos. The impressive save by Turner would be the first of many more to come in a spectacular performance by the Revolution goalkeeper.

New England then broke the deadlock in the 27th minute as Gustavo Bou netted a beautiful right-footed volley from just outside the penalty area. The Revolution held a 1-0 lead into halftime.

New York City FC started the second half strong with a 55th minute goal from Brazilian substitute Thiago Andrade, making his MLS debut.

New England reclaimed the lead in the 78th minute when rookie center back Jon Bell headed home a Carles Gil cross for his first career MLS goal. The lead was short lived for the Revolution as New York City FC equalized in the 85th minute courtesy of an Ismael Tajouri-Shradi goal.

Moments later, New England responded with a goal from Tommy McNamara in the 88th minute as he buried Tajon Buchanan’s cross to score the game-winner against his former club.

NYCFC had one final golden opportunity to salvage a point in stoppage time, but Matt Turner made another incredible stop, denying Maxi Moralez with his right arm to secure the three points for New England.

The win means the Revolution maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 6-2-1 (W-D-L) and 20 points. The resilient performance from New England was certainly telling and they will look to extend their win streak to five games back home at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday when they face the New York Red Bulls at 7 pm.

Top Three Candidates For Celtics Head Coach

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 09: Chauncey Billups addresses the media after winning the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award in honor of Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes before Game Two of the 2013 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Following the recent front office drama in Boston, the Celtics are one of seven teams across the league who are looking for a new head coach next season.

As general manager Danny Ainge steps down, and Brad Stevens becoming the president of basketball operations for the Celtics, there have been many rumors about who the team’s next play caller could be.

While many teams in the NBA will be competing to fill this role, the Celtics could be an ideal destinations for incoming coaches, because of the young and talented roster that Boston currently has, led by star forward Jayson Tatum.

The first candidate that the Celtics seem to be eyeing is Chauncey Billups.

Billups, the former NBA point guard, is currently an assistant coach with the L.A. Clippers. He is highly regarded as one of the best guards in the history of the game.

Billups played 15 seasons in the league and was a 5 time all-star. He also won the 2004 NBA championship as a key member of the Detroit Pistons. While he is known for his years with the Pistons and Nuggets, Billups started his career in Boston after being drafted third overall in 1997.

Another potential coach that could end up with the Celtics is Ime Udoka.

Udoka is currently an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets. He bounced around many NBA teams for many years after going undrafted in 2000. Udoka was a member of the Lakers, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Kings, and Spurs. He also had many brief stints with international teams.

Since his playing days, Udoka has served as an assistant coach with the Spurs, 76ers, and now Nets.

His coaching experience is what could make him very attractive for Boston in their search for a new head coach.

Another candidate that has been on the Celtics roster is Darvin Ham.

Ham is currently an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks. He played for over ten years in the NBA and internationally, spending brief time with many teams, including the Nuggets, Pistons, Wizards, Pacers, Hawks, and Bucks.

Since then, Ham has also had many positions as an assistant coach. He was the assistant coach for the Lakers, Hawks, and two G-league teams. Ham has quickly risen as a top coaching candidate around the league, not just for the Celtics as he’s been in the conversation for some other head coaching jobs too.

Martin Perez Bounces Back Tossing 5 Strong Innings, Bobby Dalbec Powers Offense in Red Sox’ 7-1 Win Over Royals

The Red Sox picked up a 7-1 win over the Royals Saturday after Martin Perez tossed five strong innings only allowing one run.

Perez only allowed three hits, while walking two and striking out three. The left-hander bounces back from allowing five runs through not even two innings. Perez’ season ERA moves to 4.36, while he picked up his fifth win of the year to make him 5-4.

The Red Sox bullpen only allowed four hits through four innings of work, along with no walks and four strikeouts. Garrett Whitlock tossed the sixth and seventh, and would hand it over to Hirokazu Sawamura who threw a 1-2-3 frame.

Brandon Workman finished the job in the ninth to cap off the Red Sox’ 43rd victory of the season.

The Red Sox plated seven runs to lead them to victory Saturday night. Boston opened the floodgates early after Xander Bogaerts hit an RBI single in the first inning to drive in Alex Verdugo, who doubled.

It was the fifth inning that was the big outlier, as the Red Sox Bobby Dalbec knocked in Kike Hernandez with a triple to make it 2-1, and Danny Santana plated Dalbec despite grounding out.

J.D. Martinez cranked a two-run homer for the Red Sox’ fourth run of the inning, making it 5-1.

Bobby Dalbec capped off a great day at the plate with a two-run big fly in the ninth to make it 7-1. The rookie went 3-for-3, along with being hit by a pitch. He was a double shy of the cycle while knocking in three runs.

 

NYCFC vs. Revolution Match Preview: Revs Look to Gain First Place in MLS

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The Revs will visit NYCFC at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night at 7:30PM EST. New England holds the top spot in the Eastern Conference, while NYCFC sits in the five slot. A win would put the Revs atop all of MLS, as well as the first to reach 20 points on the season. It’s been over three weeks since the last Revolution match, so it will mark the continuation of the season.

NE POTENTIAL XI:

GK: TURNER

DEF: JONES, FARRELL, KESSLER, BYE

MID: POLSTER, KAPTOUM, TRAUSTASON, GIL, BUCHANAN

FWD: BUKSA

LINEUP NOTES: Gustavo Bou is “100%” fit for tonight’s match. Luis Caicedo and Christian Mafla continue to battle their individual injuries. Adam Buksa has been coming off the bench and producing goals, and the Bou-Buksa striker partnership has disappointingly altered. Will Bruce give it another go, or pick one over the other?

NYCFC POTENTIAL XI:

GK: JOHNSON

DEF: AMUNDSEN, SANDS, CHANOT, TINNERHOLM

MID: PARKS, TAJOURI-SHRADI, MEDINA, JASSON

FWD: CASTELLANOS, MORALEZ

LINEUP NOTES: NYCFC will be without 4 players at Gillette Stadium. One being Alexander Callens, an every match starter at CB, as he is with Peru for Copa America. Expect young star James Sands to drop into defense. Nicolás Acevedo, a usual starter in the midfield, was red carded last game against LAFC. Brazilian striker Héber remains out, in addition to Chris Gloster.

Red Sox Fail to Capitalize on Several Chances, Fall 5-3 to Royals

The Red Sox fell to the Royals Friday night, as their three-game winning streak came to an end as they lost 5-3. Boston missed out on the opportunity to gain the division lead with the loss.

Nick Pivetta went five innings, allowing a three-run bomb off the bat of Adalberto Mondesi in the third along with six hits and six strikeouts in total while walking three.

As noted by masslive.com’s Christopher Smith, it was Pivetta’s sixth homer allowed through his past three starts, after giving up just four through his first 11 starts this season.

Matt Andriese dug the Sox into a deeper whole, as he allowed a pair of runs across the sixth and seventh inning.

Red Sox muster just three runs, fail to capitalize on several chances:

Alex Verdugo singled home a run in the third to put the Red Sox on the board, plating Danny Santana for the first run of the game in the third.

J.D. Martinez came up to bat next with runners on the corners and nobody out, hitting a ground ball to third, that Royals third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez threw on to second for teh forceout. But Christian Arroyo decided to run, and he was tagged out at home to complete a 5-4-2 double play.

In the fifth, after J.D. Martinez drove in Marwin Gonzalez for the Red Sox’ second run of the game, Xander Bogaerts would walk to load the bases. But Rafael Devers would strike out swinging to retire the side, ending the rally by stranding three runners.

Rafael Devers launched a solo homer in the eighth over the centerfield wall, but it wasn’t enough.

Revolution Stadium Rumors Resurface in Everett

The stadium search has been an infinite process for the New England Revolution, but many think the end is near. The front office made it clear that a rebrand would come with a stadium announcement. The rebrand is clearly upon us, as MLS has now trademarked the leaked logo. Does that mean the stadium announcement is right around the corner?

A few years ago, stadium rumors began to pop up in Everett, Massachusetts, which lies North of Boston. Rumors are now beginning to pop up for the same area. This comes as a result of an announcement from Everett saying that the Mystic Station power plant will be shut down. This new redevelopment plan includes hotels, retail, and music. The part that is giving fans hope is the mention of potential “sports venues” being built on the water in that area.

Many of times, Revs fans have been lit up with joy over stadium news, just to have it get shot down again. Only time will tell if this is yet another case of a false alarm. This time around though, the stars are seemingly aligning a bit more clearly.

Among this good news, the Revolution are set to return to action in MLS play this weekend. After what seemed like a year long break, MLS is returning in full. Midweek games will be more prevalent as teams cram their schedule in through the summer months. The Revs will visit Red Bull Arena to play against a fellow Eastern Conference contender in NYCFC on Saturday night at 7:30 PM EST.

Tanner Houck Tosses 3 Innings For WooSox in Return From Injury

Red Sox top pitching prospect Tanner Houck, who had a right flexor injury in early May, tossed three innings for Triple-A Worcester Thursday night in his return to the mound.

Houck fired 45 pitches (26 strikes) in the WooSox’s 3-2 win over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The right-hander didn’t allow a run, nor a hit while walking just one, and striking out six of the 10 batters he faced. He was scheduled to throw just two innings, but with the right-hander dealing, manager Billy McMillon elected to give him another inning.

Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram said Houck was consistently reaching 96 MPH on his fastball.

“I felt 100 percent,” Houck said. “Excited to keep building up. Excited for next week whenever I get back on the mound. Excited for two days from now working out of the bullpen. It’s a matter of showing up every day and giving what you can and just keep repeating.”

Houck, 24, ranks as the fifth overall Red Sox prospect on soxprospects.com, behind Gilberto Jimenez, Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, and Triston Casas while ranking as the top pitcher in the system.

The 2017 first-round draft pick out of Missouri has appeared in three games (two starts) this season with the Red Sox, allowing seven runs (five earned) off 14 hits, while striking out 12 through 10 1/3. Houck has just one start prior to Thursday with the WooSox this season, where he allowed three runs through three innings before getting injured.

Houck was one of the few bright spots on the 2020 Red Sox, where through three starts (17 innings) Houck allowed just one run. From 2017-2019 in the Red Sox system, appearing in Low-A, High-A, Double-A and Triple-A across those three seasons, the lanky right-hander posted a 4.08 ERA through 249 innings, and 66 appearances (50 starts).

 

Bruins Re-Sign Anton Blidh

The Boston Bruins signed former 2013 sixth-round draft pick Anton Blidh to a one-year, two-way contract worth 750k on Thursday.

Blidh didn’t come over to Boston until the 2016-17 season. He would play 19 games that season and tallied one goal and one assist. Since then, he has only played 19 games for the B’s from 2018 to 2021, although playing 10 games this past season scoring one goal.

Blidh took to Twitter after the signing tweeting “Happy to be back in black and gold for at least one more season.”

The 26-year old looks to add depth to the bottom-six forwards for Boston, but with the little playing time, it looks like Blidh could still have a few more years to go to be a regular on the ice.

Celtics Swing Trade, Say Goodbye to Kemba

Most people thought Brad Stevens’ first move as the decision maker for the C’s would’ve been finding his successor. But that didn’t end up being the case as Boston has made a move to unload Kemba Walker.

It was reported early Friday morning by ESPN that Oklahoma City and the Celtics struck a deal seeing Kemba be shipped to the Thunder. Boston will receive former Celtic Al Horford and big man Moses Brown along with a 2023 second-round pick. The Thunder will be getting Walker along with the Celtic’s 2021 first-round selection (16) and a 2025 second-round selection.

The upheaval in management signaled things were going to begin to change in the New England area. The Celtics haven’t been happy with the way things have gone over the past couple of years. It seems like they’re looking to stabilize as they try to build around their two young stars.

First, it was the Kyrie experiment. It seemed the Duke product was going to be in Boston for a long time. That was before he decided to defect to a division opponent in the powerhouse Brooklyn Nets. After that came Kemba.

Signing Walker looked like a good move as he brought the same scoring punch Irving had without the drama. It became evident why Charlotte was unwilling to pay their franchise guard his asking price as Kemba couldn’t stay on the court long enough to make a big impact. Kemba average 19.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists during his two-season tenure with the Celtics.

Those were solid numbers as he acted as the third star behind the budding duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. It wasn’t quite enough, though. Walker’s porous defense to go along with a long list of injuries hampered the team’s ability to reach the pinnacle. Because of that, it was time to let go.

For Boston fans who didn’t watch much OKC basketball, this past season here is what you should expect from the return. The veteran big man is crafty and affects the game in a myriad of ways, helping lead to wins.

He may be a few years removed from his time as a Celtic, but his play now isn’t that different from what it was during his first stint in Boston. Seeing Stevens’ first move be to bring in someone like Al isn’t all that surprising. He was someone Brad could trust as a coach and he’ll be able to do so now as the GM. Horford is a stabilizing figure both on and off the floor and should bring some much needed veteran leadership while being able to produce on the floor.

The other two pieces in this trade returning to the C’s shouldn’t be overlooked. Moses Brown and a second-round pick won’t have people’s ears perking up, but those aren’t just throw aways either. Some may see a second-round pick and it won’t move the needle for them. That’s fine, but there has been good value found in the second round recently. When exactly was Nikola Jokić picked again?

Brown shows the potential to be a useful backup big. The former UCLA Bruin got plenty of reps this past season and showed the ability to impact the game. He averaged 8.6 points to go along with 8.9 rebounds and a block in 21 minutes a night. He’s an agile, long athlete who, with the right coaching, should be able to hold his own in switches. The vast majority of his shots come within five feet of the hoop so spacing won’t be a strong suit of his. If Moses can begin to shoot from the outside just enough to keep the defense honest, he could be a pretty valuable piece moving forward.

It is hard to say that the Brad Steven era has begun given his history with the Celtics. Brad Stevens 2.0 maybe? Whatever the case, this team is going to look different compared to the past regime. This is the first step of many towards Boston’s new attempt at being a premier organization and in my eyes it seems to be a good one.

 

Stop Hating on Cam Newton

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton walks to the field for an NFL football training camp practice, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, Pool)

It’s important to criticize the players on the Patriots roster; It is what makes the analysis fair and constructive. However, it becomes fruitless when it reaches the point of taking sides and desiring one’s downfall. Fans should be ecstatic about Mac Jones and his future, but getting excited about Cam Newton’s hand injury, constantly hoping he fails is aimless and unproductive.

A Better Supporting Cast

Bill Belichick on Cam Newton’s offseason progress:Cam’s way ahead of where he was last year at this time…There’s no question about that. As you would expect, he has a good year of experience under his belt and he’s able to start the process at the beginning and not be in a catch-up mode like he was last year.”

As much as the offense struggled with Cam Newton under center, the talent was poor and lacked significant depth. There’s a reason why Bill Belichick made Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith two of the five highest paid Tight Ends in the NFL. There’s a reason why Bill Belichick overpaid for the league’s leader in YPC in 2020.

There was no talent, depth, or versatility in the 2020 passing attack. Opposing defenses lined up in their run defense; the offense was painfully predictable. While Newton did not produce enough in the passing game and even cost New England some wins, he deserves a real chance to be QB1 for the Patriots.

The Best QB Wins

Again, Patriots fans should want Mac Jones to start because he wins the job. But if Jones is not ready and or if Cam Newton earns the spot, fans should root for that. Let the football be the guide. A veteran can win the starting job AND the rookie Quarterback can be good and have a bright future ahead of him. It does not have to be one or the other.

Cam Newton is a difficult player to evaluate in OTAs. Newton’s talents are much more suited for live game situations. His ability to make plays with his feet and his deep passing is not going to be on display everyday in June. While many Patriots fans believe Newton’s arm is shot, the “Cam Newton can’t throw deep” narrative is lazy. According to PFF, Newton ranked third in adjusted completion percentage on deep passes. Newton’s receivers in 2020 also generated bottom of the league seperation.

Although Newton had small numbers throwing deep, he hit his deep shots more accurately than most Quarterbacks. Just watch the Seattle, Houston, and New York tape.

A Revamped Security Blanket

One area of Newton’s game that is strong is his connection to Tight Ends. Tight End Greg Olsen led the team in yards, receptions, and targets five out of eight seasons with Newton as the starter. The 2020 Patriots were dead last in the league in Tight End yards, receptions, touchdowns, and targets. Regardless of who is under center for 2021, that number will change significantly.

What’s Best For The Team

Cam Newton on the Patriots drafting Mac Jones: “It didn’t make me feel any type of way because he was the right pick, in my opinion…He was the best player available and that’s what the NFL Draft is for.”

It is fair to criticize Newton’s inconsistent short accuracy and the amount of time he holds onto the football. Those are areas of the game that the Patriots do not typically value. Mac Jones on the other hand, is exceptionally accurate and excels in quick decision making. But both Quarterbacks have had good days and bad days in the Patriots offseason program. And they will continue to throughout the offseason, it is part of the learning process.

At the end of the day, root for the Patriots, support the QB1, and hope that the best man wins the starting job. That decision is what is best for the team, not for personal interests or fan favorites.