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The Astros Are In Big Trouble
Is Alex Cora a Cheater? Pretty Good Chance Of It.

By Jeff Solari

Alex Cora has three World Series rings. But how many of them did he cheat to get?

Cora played in 83 games for the 2007 Red Sox. That ring is most likely legit. Let’s hope we can say the same for the 2018 ring he earned as the manager of the Sox.

But that might be a bit in question.

It’s been widely reported that Cora was a central figure in the group of cheaters who allegedly stole signs to help the Astros win it all in 2017. Did he bring his devious and underhanded ways to Boston one year later? 

Major Lease Baseball is investigating and Commissioner Rob Manfred has promised to put the hammer down on those involved in the 2017 Astros scandal. That could mean Cora. 

According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic , Cora played a “key role” in Houston’s scheme. Cora was the right hand man to Houston manager A.J. Hinch, serving as the team’s bench coach. They report the team had a camera set up in center field at Minute Maid Park, aimed at the opposing team’s catcher behind the plate, which was shown on a monitor set up between Houston’s dugout and clubhouse. 

Astros employees would watch the catcher’s signs throughout the game, figure out when a pitcher was about to throw a changeup, and pass that along to whoever was at bat by banging on a trash can. 

The Astros went 8-1 at home that postseason.

While he may not have been the one beating on the trash can, as bench coach there’s a pretty good chance he was heavily involved in the scheme.

Cora is innocent until proven guilty in the Astros case. And let's hope that similar allegations don’t surface from his time in Boston. Remember dumb ass John Farrell and members of the Sox were caught relaying signs from the replay room to a trainer in the dugout in 2017 using Apple Watches. MLB fined the Sox. No big deal. But Manfred warned of more serious sanctions, including the loss of draft picks, for future violations.

It seems the Astros might be in some big trouble. Hinch might be suspended. He and the Astros will be fined and lose draft picks. Good.

What will happen to Alex Cora? It seems a fine is in order if proven guilty. He is one of the lowest paid managers in the game at $800,000 per year. A heavy fine could hurt. As it should.

Of course baseball is all about suspensions as punishment. Will the Sox be without their manager to start the season. That would be surprising. But not as surprising as a scheme that involves beating on trash cans near the dugout to cheat.

Heads Could Roll In Astros Scandal

By Jordan Kobritz

During last month’s General Managers meetings, Jeff Luhnow of the Houston Astros was reportedly shunned by his fellow GM’s. For good reason.

Rumors have been circulating for years that the Astros were stealing the signs of opposing teams. Although sign stealing is legal, using artificial means to do so is not. What Houston allegedly – if we can use that adjective, given the number of first-hand accounts by former players describing the team’s actions - did, goes against specific, written rules and makes a mockery of the game. 
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has promised a thorough investigation going back at least three years, which covers the team’s two World Series appearances and one title. 

If the complaints are verified, punishment could include steep fines, loss of draft picks and reductions in draft and international signing money. Unfortunately, all those options would punish many innocent current and future players and staff.

What Manfred should do is banish those found responsible for the reprehensible behavior – for life. He imposed the “nuclear option” twice before, both in 2017, against executives Chris Correa and John Coppolella. Correa, the scouting director for the St. Louis Cardinals, and ironically a former colleague of Luhnow’s, was permanently banned for hacking into the Astros scouting database in an attempt to gain a competitive edge in scouting.

Manfred banned Coppolella, former general manager of the Atlanta Braves, for circumventing MLB rules regarding the signing of international free agents. Neither of those instances had a direct impact on the outcome of a game, unlike the facts unfolding in the Astros case.  

If the Astros were engaged in illegal activity, it’s difficult to believe Luhnow and others didn’t know about it. If they did, they should be banned for life, like the eight members of the 1919 White Sox who conspired with gamblers to throw that year’s World Series.  

Why would Houston, arguably the best team in baseball the past three years, resort to illegal means to steal signs? We may never know, but one theory suggests the sports trend of hiring technocrats - executives schooled in math and analytics who never played the game, a group that includes Correa, Luhnow and most of the Astros’ management team - has led to a lack of respect for the game itself. Any advantage, by whatever means, can be justified.

Whether the theory is true or merely jealous criticism leveled by “baseball men,” the Astros have left a stain on their team and the game that won’t easily be erased. 

Jordan Kobritz is a non-practicing attorney and CPA, former Minor League Baseball team owner and current investor in MiLB teams. The opinions contained in this column are the author’s. Kobritz can be reached by email at .
Patriots Notebook:
The Next Four Week's Will Be Very Interesting

By Sterling Pingree

Last night the Patriots lost their spot as top seed in the AFC which means home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

As we go along in the 2019 season, that appears to be of paramount importance.

The Ravens and Patriots are tied record wise at 10-2, with Baltimore holding the tie-breaker over the Patriots (because of their head to head victory). New England would have to run the table the next 4 weeks (do-able, although that means beating KC six days from now, at this point that feels unlikely) and Baltimore would have to drop one. 

Remaining schedules for the Patriots and Ravens

Patriots : vs Kansas City, at Cincinnati, vs Buffalo, vs Miami
Ravens:  at Buffalo, vs NY Jets, at Cleveland, vs Pittsburgh

Best bet for the Ravens to botch one is this week at Buffalo. Although, the Bills are just a game behind the Patriots for the AFC East. Feels like forever since the division has been in question this late in the season, seems like the Patriots have clinched by Thanksgiving every year. 

What a difference a day makes : 24-hours ago, the Patriots were the #1 seed in the east, 2 games up in the AFC East. 

Now:  The Patriots are in second place in the AFC and lead Buffalo by a game in the East. If the playoffs started today (thank goodness they don’t) as the 2 seed the Pats would get a first round bye (for the 10th year in a row, holy smokes) and likely play Houston or Kansas City in the Divisional round. Then if they could escape they’d have to go to Baltimore for the AFC title game. 

I say this every year, but the road to the Super Bowl looks like the Patriots most daunting ever. Two weeks ago, we all thought the AFC was a joke. 

How different is last night’s game if Bradley Roby doesn’t pick off Brady in the first quarter? At that point, the Texans hadn’t moved the ball in two drives and the Pats had put together a sustained drive, resulting in points. Then the pick and the Texans scored 21 unanswered points. I wonder how much getting struck with the flu affected the defense? 

Silver lining:  welcome back James White! Maybe it took going back to the scene of White’s greatest day, but White reclaimed his role as Tom Brady’s second most dependable weapon. It was glaring to see the contrast of Brady throwing more to White today than he has all season and Brady yelling at Meyers to flatten his route along the sideline parlayed with his reluctance to acknowledge N’Keal Harry’s existence after the Roby interception. 

(Also, the Patriots were a different hop off the hand of Brandon Bolden from having a shot to win this game in the final 50 seconds. It’s true Houston went Charmin soft during the final 5 minutes, but the Patriots’ offense looked like the Patriots offense, instead of the Michigan Wolverine package they’ve used the last 3 games.)

Should I have bought a new TV on Black Friday or did  Tom and Jules dye their hair black ? I wasn’t reading Tom’s lips of frustration on the sideline, I was checking out what appears to be a Just for Men job. Can’t you picture Edelman seeing Tom dye his hair in the locker room and ask if he can dye his hair too? 

We have to laugh, because if we don’t, we’ll think about losing back to back games in December for the second year in a row. 

Of course that turned out ok last year.


Decision Day For The Red Sox

The deadline is 8pm Monday to offer 2020 contracts to the following arbitration eligible players:

Bradley Jr - $11m
Leon - $2.8m
Betts - $27.7m
Workman - $3.4m
Rodriguez - $9.5m
Barnes - $3.0m
Hembree - $1.6m
Benintendi - $4.9m
Hernandez - $700K

Mike DeVito Named to KC Chiefs
All Decade Team

The Athletic has named former Black Bear Mike DeVito to the Kansas City Chiefs All Decade Team.

DeVito played 28 games for the Chiefs from 2013-2015. He retired over health concerns and to spend time with his family after the 2015 season.

Mike is the video host of
3 and OUT! for the Sports Chowdah and also hosts the
3 Point Stance podcast with Sterling Pingree and Aaron Jackson.

Black Bears Lose Best Player
in America East
University of Maine senior Blanca Millan will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Millan suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in her left knee on Friday, Nov. 29 in a game against Arizona State.

Millan is leading the team in scoring, rebounding and steals per game.

Last season she was the America East Player of the Year and America East Defensive Player of the Year.

Courtesy UMaine Athletics

Random Thoughts on Maine hockey, The Bruins, High School Hoops and More!

By Ryan McLaughlin

Some Thanksgiving leftovers while trying to clean out my fridge of all the remnants of two family gatherings.

The University of Maine hockey team needs more consistency on offense.

That was evident in last weekend's series at St. Lawrence, in which the Black Bears emerged with a 5-2 victory and a 1-1 tie.

A win and a tie is solid, but St. Lawrence is 57th in the PairWise rankings. This is a team Maine should've swept. One goal is not going to cut it against high-powered UMass next weekend.

Goaltender Jeremy Swayman is Maine's best player, but without offensive production, this team won't go anywhere against the big boys in Hockey East. 

Collin Kaepernick deserves a chance to play in the NFL again.

There. I said it. 

I could name a handful of teams the former 49ers quarterback would start for right now. Maybe even two handfuls.

Let's also remember he not only took the 49ers to a Super Bowl, he did something opposing quarterbacks almost rarely do: Come into Gillette Stadium in December and beat Tom Brady and Co., which Kapernick's 49ers did late in the 2012 season.

Whether or not you agree with the method Kaepernick chose to protest police brutality, kneeling during the national anthem isn't crime of the century. And players like Zeke Elliott and Tyreek Hill, who have histories of domestic violence, adorn NFL rosters.

Roger Goodell and the owners need to get their priorities straight. If the unthinkable were to happen to TB12, I'd push for the Pats to sign Kaepernick in a heartbeat.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to UMaine women's basketball star Blanca Millan.

The reigning America East Player of the Year suffered a torn ACL during a recent game against Arizona State. On the court, it's a tough loss for coach Amy Vachon's club and the conference in general. Millan is a great player and a class act on and off the court.

She'll be missed, but the Bears will have to move on and try to win games. They have the depth to do so. 

I t's clear the Bruins have moved on from last spring's Stanley Cup heartbreak.

As of Sunday, the B's were perched comfortably atop the Atlantic Division at 18-3-5 (41 points). Only Washington (43 points) has more.

The B's are doing this under the radar among the 10-1 Patriots and the new-look Celtics dominating Boston-area sports headlines. 

The start of December means one thing in Maine: High school basketball is upon us.

It'll be tourney time before we know it. 

Congratulations to my journalism peers Travis Lazarcyk, Steve Craig, Joe Cyr and Bill Green, Dale Duff and Rich Kimball on being chosen as respective finalist for Maine Sportswriter and Sports Broadcaster of the year.

All six of these guys are great at what they do. I had the pleasure of hearing Green speak at my college graduation and being in classrooms with Duff and Kimball.

The Baltimore Ravens will lose in the Divisional Round of the playoffs and won't see the Gillette Stadium turf in January. You heard it here first. 

Sports Chowdah Readers Have Their Say

Good Morning Jeff,

I really appreciate the balance Steve McKay brings to Sports Chowdah. Most of your articles tend to be bitch sessions over some sports failure or another.

Steve apparently recognizes when there are losers, there are also winners and he would rather talk about them.

I'm primarily a baseball fan. During this off-season, I tend to not read the football and basketball articles because they do not interest me. But I do read Steve's pieces even when his sport is taking a walk in the woods.

Thanks for presenting so many opinions. Let's start guessing about what kind of good things can come out of Boston. Pablo is gone. His money will be soon as well. He really does not need to be discussed any more!


Jeff - Really enjoyed your blog about Bill Belichick fibbing when saying he respects the Cowboys coach. One of the funniest articles I have read in a long time. Your take on Jason Garrett was "spot on"


After reading this column, I now better understand why Bill doesn't talk much. When he does, some knuckleheaded "journalist" with an inflated egotistical opinion of him/herself writes a perfectly non-sensical article calling Bill's mental capcity to task. Hypocrite.

It's because of folks like you he doesn't speak much, denying the rest of us what might be interesting insights to his coaching stratagies and philosophies. Thanks a bunch.

"What If" Things Had Gone Differently for UMaine Football This Season?
4th and Goal!

After a sorely disappointing football season for the University of Maine let's play a game of "what if".  

What if Joe Harasymiak never left for Minnesota? I certainly don't begrudge him his opportunity, and am not criticizing him for that move.

But what if that continuity of coaching from last years Final Four appearance was still in place? What if Maine hadn't simply promoted from within and had conducted a thorough national search for a new head coach and found someone with more experience?

That's not to say I think Coach Charlton did a bad job this year. But 6-6 is still 6-6 and in the FCS world, there is no Weed Eater Bowl for a 6 win team.

What if Chris Ferguson hadn't gotten hurt during the Richmond game and missed the remainder of the season? 

What if Maine's star receiver, Earnest Edwards, didn't break his nose playing pick up basketball and had to miss the Richmond game via injury or suspension? 

Yes, it was reported he broke it in football practice. But that's not what I hear. I am told he may have been elbowed, or even punched on the court. Either way it appears his poor decision to play basketball during the season probably cost UMaine the game.

So, what if they had won that Richmond game and stopped the losing streak (5 out of 6) in it's tracks. That could have generated some momentum which might have resulted in at least one more win. What if that win made Maine 8-4? That's a playoff spot.

All of this added up to a very disappointing ending to a season. So, as we look ahead to 2020 let's hope there aren't as many "what if's" . Let's hope that Coach Charlton learns from the miscues of this year. Let's hope star players stick to football and football only. Let's hope that our young QB doesn't hit the sophomore slump with the force of a freight train.

For this fan it will be a long off season of getting over the what if's and looking ahead to what might be.

Travel Schedule
Presented by Bangor International Airport

The UMaine Hockey team travels to
UMass this weekend for two key Hockey East games.

Maine men's basketball travels to Northeastern Wednesday.

Wherever your travels take you, fly BGR!

LT & Bill Belichick:
The Greatest Show on Television

By Sterling Pingree

Over the summer, I was listening to the Rich Eisen show. After being away for two days, Rich let listeners in on why he’d been off the air for a couple of days. Rich had been filming a show for NFL Network, where over the course of 6 episodes, the NFL 100’s All-Time Team would be announced. Co-hosting with Rich would be Cris Collinsworth and Bill Belichick. (Cue record scratch.)

BILL BELICHICK? A studio analyst?

It makes sense when you think about it, this is a team built up over the 100-year history of NFL and who knows that history better than Bill Belichick? The unbelievable thing is that someone convinced Coach Belichick to work on the project.

Rich described a scene where the producer was in his ear telling him to cut off Coach Belichick because he was talking too much. TALKING TOO MUCH! Never has it happened in the history of human events that with a camera on him, that Bill Belichick has ever been accused of talking TOO MUCH.

Eisen said that this is the Bill Belichick you hear exists but have never seen before. For months I have waited for this show and last week it premiered.
In the first episode, the 12 running backs were announced; legends Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith joined Rich, Cris and Coach Belichick in studio. You’ve never seen the coach like this, the reverence in his eyes as he asks Emmitt Smith “What did you see out there?” After watching Coach Belichick interact with two of the all-time greats, my first thought was: “God I hope they have Lawrence Taylor in studio!”

My prayers were answered this past Friday night as the panel announced the defensive line and linebackers of the team. After yakking it up with Ray Lewis, the group was joined in studio by LT. The greatest defensive player of all-time and the greatest defensive coach of all-time, coach and pupil, legend & legend at the same table.

Coach Belichick’s reverence (second time I’ve used that word) for Taylor knows no bounds. Last year when reporters asked Belichick if Khalil Mack is in the same class as Lawrence Taylor, the coach guffawed out loud:

"Now, wait a minute. We're talking about Lawrence Taylor now," Belichick said, at which point everyone started to chuckle at his response before realizing he was not being funny.
"Yeah, I'm not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor's class," Belichick said before an extremely pregnant pause. "So ... 
"You can put everybody down below that," Belichick continued. "With a lot of respect to a lot of good players now, but we're talking about Lawrence Taylor." (Will Brinson,

It is incredible to see these two at the same table. Bill Belichick: the never satisfied task master, who was determined to outwork everybody and LT: the ultimate defensive weapon who fell asleep during team meetings and would still dominate on Sundays.

There may have been times in that moment where they were oil and water but the combination made each the best ever at what they did. The respect between the two and the perspective both have gained with the passage of time makes this show special.

How often do shows, movies or games disappoint after massive amounts of buildup and bluster? Not the NFL 100’s All-Time Team, this is Belichick like we’ve never seen before. 

Who knows, if we will again either. 

We Present Our
End of Decade Awards Show:
"The Stompies!"
Presented by Stompers

Hard to believe it's almost 2020! The start of a new decade.

What an amazing and sometimes crazy decade it has been for New England sports.

This month we'll look back at this past decade and hand out Stompies Awards in a number of sports categories.

You'll get to vote as well.

Here are a few of the categories:

Bizarre Story of the Decade

Brad Marchand licking opponents
Aaron Hernandez
Robert Kraft & Orchids of Asia

Boston Team of the Decade

2014 Patriots
2016 Patriots
2018 Red Sox
2011 Bruins

Best Fight of the Decade

Joe Kelly vs Tyler Austin
Eck vs David Price
Tom Brady vs Roger Goodell
David Ortiz vs Dugout Phone

Worst Signing of the Decade

Pablo Sandoval
Rusney Castillo
Carl Crawford
Antonio Brown

Game of the Decade

Super Bowl 49 (Butler Pick)
Super Bowl 51 (28-3 comeback)
2018 AFC Title game at KC (OT win)
2013 ALCS Game 2 (Ortiz Grand slam off Benoit)
2018 World Series Game 4 (Sox take 3-1 lead in extras)
2011 Bruins-Lightning Game 7 Eastern Finals (1-0 Bruins)

Michael Scott Award: Clueless Leader of the Decade

Cindy Blodgett
Bobby Valentine
Dave Dombrowski

MVP of the Decade not named Tom Brady

Mookie Betts
Patrice Bergeron
David Ortiz
Rob Gronkowski
Julian Edelman

Retirement of the Decade

David Ortiz
Paul Pierce
Rob Gronkowski
Mike DeVito

Worst injury of the Decade

Gordon Hayward’s Broken Leg 2017 opening night
Gronk’s broken leg 2011 AFC title game vs Baltimore before SB 46
Pedroia on the Machado slide
Kendrick Perkins Game 6 2010 NBA Finals vs Lakers

Best Person to Party With of the Decade

Mike Napoli
Robert Kraft

Pick NFL Games Against
Shannon The Shark

Each week Shannon "The Shark" will pick five NFL games. No point spread, just straight up winners. 

You pick the same five games and e mail us your winners. If you beat or tie her, you'll be put into the random drawing for the $25 gift card from Stompers and a $10 gift card from Hero's!

The Shark had some bite last week going 3-2.

But many readers had a bigger boat, and whooped her.

So I randomly drew a name and came up with Randall from Holden who went 4-1. That was good enough!


Cowboys over the Bears
TB Bucs over Colts
Buffalo over Baltimore
Vikings over the Lions
GB Packers over the Redskins

So, How Close is TB 12
To The Finish Line?
Well, like many New England football fans, I find myself again wondering if this is the end? Is it different this time? I mean how many times have we heard that long toothed veteran we affectingly call THE GOAT answer the question of “When is the time to hang ‘em up?” The answer generally seems to be “When it’s NOT fun anymore”.
Tom Brady is not having fun. You know it’s bad when Gronk, who by the way is not walking through that locker room door anytime soon, tells Big Tom to enjoy the win no matter how bad it looks.  

Our quarterback is severely frustrated.

No matter what those videos say, Tom is slower and not just afoot. His decisions are slower, many times indecisive and that window to the receiver is changing. Brady is throwing the ball high on the out patterns and sometimes even to wide open guys. These are standard plays that used to get the Patriots the needed yardage.

As you saw last night, many times the receiver is waiting for the ball to come down and having to slow down their route by a good five yards.
Sure, there’s a different set of players out there. But the Patriots have always been able to adapt. As with many of us who are getting older, the GOAT is experiencing that shortened lack of tolerance for change.  

Brady is expecting receivers to be at “the spot” instead of changing the spot based on personnel.
How do I know this? Ask me something relative such as my attitude towards the prior heavy wet snow and the impending storm tonight and tomorrow. Just NOT fun anymore! And TB12 is not having fun with storm that is the Pats this year either.

Lots of opinions from our bloggers again this week. As always they are just that, their opinions, and not necessarily shared by Jeff Solari and The Sports Chowdah, or our sponsors. We also from time to time share articles from other publications and websites. Obviously sharing links is very common today but we also like to share great content in its entirety. The authors' opinions and content belong to them, not the Sports Chowdah or Rock Lobster Media LLC.
Who Is This Jeff Solari Guy Anyway?

Jeff Solari is the President and owner of Rock Lobster Media and The Sports Chowdah. Jeff is also a former co-host of the regions most listened to afternoon sports talk show, The Drive on 92.9FM The Ticket in Bangor.

He has been in sports media since he was 17. He is not shy with his opinions or unique perspective on the world of sports.

Jeff is a graduate of Mount Desert Island High School and the University of Southern Maine.

Jeff Solari | Sports Chowdah | (207) 735-7323 |  |