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4th & Goal - A Grumpy Bam Reviews 2017 and Previews 2018

Wow. 2017 is almost gone. What a year it's been. A whirlwind of sorts. Ups. Downs.

The latest down? I started 2-4 in my college football bowl pick em contest. But 2017 will finish on a high note. A good friend from Maine will be making the trek to Oklahoma this week. We will be making the Dallas sports circuit with NHL, NFL and a college bowl game, all on the menu. We might even get a white Christmas down here, just for old times sake I guess. That's in the down column.

This year will be remembered in part for all the nonsense surrounding Aaron Judge. Nonsense is putting it mildly. A guy who is basically on pace to be the next Dave Kingman ( some of you will have to Google that name) shouldn't be hitting the radar so hard. I am waiting patiently for the impending drop off in year two.

Eli Manning was finally shown the bench. Only to have him get his coach fired the next day and get his starting job back from the new guy. Great optics out of new jersey for sure.

Perennial underachievers like Marvin Lewis continue to have a job, although he is finally quitting at the end of the year.

The Celtics have finally broken through and are poised to go back to the NBA finals where they belong! Great fun to watch them play in Boston a few weeks back. That trip was highlighted by UMaine football playing at Fenway park . It was cold but it was great to see Maine in action .

I have traveled the country watching the baseball team for several years, but had not seen the football team since my exodus from Maine in 2009. While their record, on paper, was a disappointment, the overall product was not. There are those, who probably didn't attend a single game this year, who think the season was an abstract failure. Those " tee shirt" fans are totally clueless.

If you watched closely you saw a kicker who couldn't do his job and a defense that didn't know how to knock down a hail mary. Those two plays, ironically on opening night and closing night, are the only difference in 4-6 and 6-4. So if you were paying attention, you know that Maine was probably two plays and one more win away from being a playoff team. Far from failure. All this was accomplished with a freshman quarterback who will have 3 more years to grow this program and a young head coach who knows what he is doing.

While Maine hockey doesn't have a young head coach, and at times ( goalie selection) this season we wondered out loud if he knew what he was doing, they are still showing massive signs of improvement. There is optimism once again at Alfond Arena. It's been a long road but the light might be starting to shine at the end of the tunnel.

2018 should be a great year for sports in Maine. Hockey finishing strong will be a good jumpstart .

The baseball team, led by newly minted and permanent head coach Nick Derba should be exciting to watch. ( More road trips for me upcoming! hello Lubbock, San Antonio and Las Cruces).

Professional hockey will return to Portland after a brief hiatus. It is still shameful what happened to the Portland Pirates and that ownership group should never be forgiven by the people of Maine, but next fall will usher in a new brand of hockey that will still be exciting and will have some built in rivalries from some old enemies in the form of Manchester and Worcester. I hope people give it a fair shot and support it.

So here's to 2018. May the Yankees investments fail. May the Celtics raise another banner and may the Seahawks win the Super Bowl! Happy holidays to all. I'll be back in a couple of weeks. A year older and a year grumpier.

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