June 5, 2013
Patch.com took home two first-place plaques at the Press Club of Long Island’s 2013 Media Awards Wednesday night at the Woodbury Country Club.
Farmingdale Patch’s coverage of the PGA Tour’s Barclays Tournament at Bethpage State Park last August was honored. Regional Editor Jason Molinet and Editors Joe Dowd and Geoffrey Walter took home first place in the Narrative Sports News category for their week-long reporting at Barclays while Molinet and Walter earned first place in Sports Photograph for their golf coverage.
“Joe Dowd, Geoffrey Walter and Jason Molinet are great reporters and editors, and the Patch family is proud of them,” said David Reich-Hale, associate editorial director for Patch.com’s Connecticut and New York operations.
Sachem Patch and former Editor Chris Vaccaro earned second place in the Social Media category Best Use of Facebook.
Five Towns Patch Editor Stephen Bronner earned third place in the Narrative Neighborhood/Community category for post-Hurricane Sandy report: “Hard-Hit Meadowmere Feels Forgotten After Sandy.”
Dowd earned a PCLI first-place award for the second straight year while Walter is a three-time winner and Molinet is a four-time winner.
PCLI is a local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Patch.com operates 43 sites on Long Island.
May 28, 2012
Title: From Honor Guard to Grand Marshal; Mayor George Doll once served in honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery. He brought pomp and ceremony Monday to Northport Memorial Day parade.
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: May 28, 2012
Word Count: 468
Before he was mayor of Northport, before he was a lobsterman, George Doll served in the honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
Just a lanky kid from the Long Island suburbs, Doll landed the prestigious duty in 1965, just as the war in Vietnam started to intensify. Doll was drafted and served 18 months with the 3rd Infantry Division guarding Washington.
So Northport picked the right Grand Marshal for Monday’s Memorial Day Parade.
“Down there it’s real serious,” Doll recalled of his stint at Arlington, home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “The day before Memorial Day, the whole army goes out and puts a flag on every one of those graves.”
Doll was a member of the Army drill team in his youth, in part because of his height. As he led the parade down Main Street on Monday – astride a white-haired draft horse and representing the American Legion – Doll appeared downright imposing.
He takes his current role deadly serious.
“Even though I didn’t serve in combat, I was very close to people who did,” Doll said. “My platoon leader, Lt. [Micahel Eugene] Kraft, was sent to Vietnam. He was killed within [three months]. He came back and we had the detail to bury him.”
Kraft was killed in action in the An Lao Valley on April 8, 1967. He was interred at Arlington.
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Doll’s tie, featuring Texas state flag, is a tribute to another fallen comrade. It was a gift from a buddy who died in Vietnam.
“This is not part of the American Legion uniform,” Doll said of the tie. “One of my friends in the service gave me this before he got killed in Vietnam. So I wear this on Memorial Day.”
Doll has been part of the Northport parade since he was a child watching the procession march by.
There was a time – before Doll – when the annual Memorial Day ceremony paraded down an unpaved Main Street. Through the decades, it’s an event that binds the Village and one generation to another.
“The parade always has the right touch,” Doll said. “A lot of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Legionnaires. We are very receptive to the flag display put on by the Rotary Club. If you are doing something patriotic, you have a good chance getting it OK’d.”
The formal pomp of the day struck the proper red, white and blue chord.
Maybe some future mayor of Northport watched Monday’s ceremony in awe sitting on the street curb – or a stroller – as Doll rode past.
It was an inspiring morning. The dead were honored. Our living war heroes were saluted. It was a day where you were proud to live in Northport.
About this column: Regional Editor Jason Molinet weighs in on the people and issues which make Long Island great.
November 20, 2010
Title: St. Anthony’s Stat Man Shows Grit; Friars football statistician Tom Langan roams the sideline despite losing leg to infection and diabetes.
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: Nov. 20, 2010
Word Count: 960
You know Tom Langan. He’s the guy with an infectious smile, clip board in hand and numbers at his fingertips, navigating the pulsing sideline at St. Anthony’s football games as he keeps pace with what’s happening on the field.
He’s the team statistician, a volunteer job he’s done going back to two decades. And while Langan, 57, has missed games through the years, he has been as much a fixture in the Black and Gold as coach Rich Reichert himself. In fact, the two are cousins.
“I try to tell the kids, ‘You have so many dedicated people here you don’t really realize they are doing things for you behind the scenes,’” Reichert said. “This is really important to him. And he does a really good job for us.”
St. Anthony’s (10-0) plays Iona Prep (8-2) in the CHSFL Class AAA championship game Saturday at 4 p.m. at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale. It’s no surprise Langan will be there doing his duties for the Friars.
The remarkable part is that Langan is here at all.
The same day St. Anthony’s beat Iona Prep on Oct. 9, 2009, Langan’s left leg was amputated above the knee. It was the result of a freak infection gone wrong and a previously undiagnosed condition.
Reichert gave his cousin the game ball in the hospital. He stopped in every night after practice. And he’s been there for Langan ever since, through a long and evolving rehabilitation process.
His big step forward came during the home opener in September against Holy Cross. Langan made his return to the St. Anthony’s sideline, albeit with his clip board balanced on a walker.
“Tom was there all the time. And we counted on him all the time,” St. Anthony’s athletic director Don Buckley said. “So when he was out last season, it was obvious. Everyone was saying, ‘Where’s Tom?’”
Langan, who is still adjusting to using his titanium prosthesis, recently transferred from a rehab facility in Long Beach to an assisted living home in Medford. Each day is another closer to normalcy.
“I can get around,” said Langan, who is on disability after a career spent in retail. “I use the walker and I’m training with the cane right now. My goal is to walk without anything. It may take two years, but I’m going to do it.”
Today Langan’s life is packed away, boxed up in Reichert’s garage. He was an only child and never married. The football program is his family. Langan finds deeper meaning in everything now, especially on the sideline of a football game. It’s one small but significant step in the rehabilitation process.
“People say, ‘It’s a shame what happened to you,” Langan said. “I say, ‘It happened.’ You have to do your best to adjust. You do the best you can to get your life back.”
It’s not the first time. When Langan’s father died in 1964 – when Langan was all of 10 – Reichert’s dad took on the role of surrogate father figure. So the cousins spent a lot of time together and grew as close as brothers.
This is Reichert’s 24th season at the helm of the St. Anthony’s football program. Langan joined him on the sideline starting in 1991.
“Richie asked me,” Langan said. “He said, ‘Can you help me out? You’re good with numbers.’”
The closest he had been to a sports venue was as a vendor at Yankee Stadium growing up in the Bronx. But Langan took instantly to his statistician duties.
There were unexpected benefits. The winning was addictive. Being close to his cousin was great. He forged lasting relationships with the coaching staff. And the positive energy flowing from the teenaged players energized him.
“It keeps me young being around the teenagers,” Langan said. “The coaches treat me great. It’s like I’m part of the staff. I feel like I’m part of the St. Anthony’s family.”
That family has seen him though an ordeal.
When Langan discovered a pebble embedded in his left foot, he removed it with tweezers. It drew a little blood. He bandaged it up and didn’t think twice about it. That was August 2009.
But the wound became infected. Langan ignored it, expecting it would get better. Then the infection spread to the bone. Next thing Langan knew he was unable to get out of bed. He called his cousin.
“As soon as I saw his leg I knew he was in trouble,” said Reichert, a former Nassau County Police officer. “He almost died that night. It was really bad. Gangrene.”
Reichert rushed his cousin to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown. Langan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which only exacerbated the injury. And his leg would have to go. Surgery was scheduled just 24 hours later.
“When you wake up you see what’s not there any more,” Langan said, “it’s a shock.”
All that seems like a lifetime ago. Langan has been to five games this season. He was on the sideline when Reichert won his 200th game last week. The title game will make six. He has a job to do.
“This gives me an incentive to do something,” Langan said. “It gets me outdoors. I’m seeing people again. I’m more determined. You have to push yourself to do it.”
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the courage of the everyday.
“He’s a true inspiration,” Buckley said. “He’s done so well with his rehab, most of the kids don’t even realize there’s anything wrong. He doesn’t draw attention to himself. He’s a guy behind the scenes.”
On the same turf where athletes push themselves to the limit for the glory of sport, so is the humble stat guy. He’s simply learning to stand tall and walk once more.
September 3, 2010
Title: Long Island Football: 2010 CHSFL Preview; St. Anthony’s still the CHSFL team to beat
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: Sept. 3, 2010
Word Count: 1,009
There’s little doubt that the Catholic football league is the toughest and most talent-rich in New York state. There’s also no contesting that one school sits atop the heap.
St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington is a Long Island football dynasty with all the trappings of royalty. Coach Rich Reichert has one of the biggest and most experienced staffs you’ll find on a high school field. The 80-man roster is as deep as any college program’s. And the Friars play on a lighted, turf field before packed crowds approaching 2,500, and with TV and radio crews regularly stalking the sidelines.
Little wonder the Friars, despite graduating several key players from last season’s 10-1 CHSFL Class AAA championship, are the top seed and favorites once again. Success breeds success.
Behind the play of QB Tom Schreiber, the Friars won eight games in a row to end the 2009 season. He engineered a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives to lift St. Anthony’s past previously unbeaten Holy Trinity, 28-21, in the title game. It marked the eighth league championship in the last nine seasons.
How will the 2010 CHSFL season play out? Holy Trinity, Chaminade and Holy Cross will vie for the title while the Friars break in a new QB. Regardless, the path to the championship still runs through South Huntington and St. Anthony’s. That because Reichert doesn’t rebuild, he reloads. Here’s a look at the CHSFL:
1. St. Anthony’s
2. Holy Trinity
4. Holy Cross
5. Iona Prep
7. St. Joseph Sea
9. Mount St. Michael
10. Fordham Prep
12. St. Francis Prep
14. Cardinal Hayes
16. St. John the Baptist
17. St. Peter’s
19. Bishop Ford
20. Christ the King
St. Anthony’s: The Friars will look to reach the CHSFL Class AAA title game for the 12th straight season with a new QB but the same unbeatable attitude. The difference maker for the Friars is up front, where their defensive and offensive linemen play on one side of the ball and have the heft to dominate.
Holy Trinity: Can the Titans fill the void left by the graduation of all-everything RB / LB Anthony Brunetti? The four-year star served as the sparkplug for Holy Trinity’s run to the CHSFL Class AAA title game a year ago. If Holy Trinity lets QB Chris Laviano air it out, then look out.
Chaminade: The 2009 season ended with Holy Trinity returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown with 18 seconds left in a 28-24 playoff loss. You can bet second-year coach Stephen Boyd, a former Pro Bowl linebacker, will have the Flyers playing inspired defense. Chaminade will be in every game.
Holy Cross: A semifinalist a year ago, Knights have top wideout Devon Cajuste (921 yards, 7 TDs) back. Holy Cross gave St. Anthony’s a scare in the regular season but bowed out with an injury-riddled lineup in a 28-7 playoff loss to the Friars. This cast will be motivated for more.
Mount St. Michael: Thanks to a No. 9 seed and easy schedule, look for the Mountaineers to play their way into the Top 8 and a spot in the CHSFL Class AAA playoffs. Veteran coach Mario Valentini gets his team to play and Mount finished strong in 2009 with a AA title. Multitalented QB Jaylen Amaker leads the offense. Think sleeper.
Devon Cajuste, Holy Cross, WR: The 6-4, 211-pound senior was unstoppable a year ago as an NYSSWA first-team All-State pick. He led the CHSFL in receiving with 921 yards and 7 TDs on 40 catches, good for 23 yards a reception. Committed to Stanford.
Isaiah Kearney, Xaverian, RB: After a standout freshman year in which he averaged 8.2 yards per carry and rushed for 774 yards and 6 TDs, all of Brooklyn is buzzing over Kearney. The sophomore back is sprinter fast and a true game breaker.
Chris Laviano, Holy Trinity, QB: MaxPreps calls him a Top 100 recruit. This 6-1, 180-pound sophomore will be the focal point now that 2,000-yard rusher Anthony Brunetti is gone. He threw for 1,122 yards and 8 TDs in 2009. He’s got a big arm and a heady sense of the game. Poised for a breakout year.
Tyler McLees, St. Anthony’s, LB: The 6-0, 210-pound senior led the league with 121 tackles a year ago and added 4 sacks. The son of former Carey coach Matt McLees (himself a linebacker at Southern Connecticut), he’ll be a leader on defense.
Charlie Raffa, St. Anthony’s, QB: An Under Amour All-American in lacrosse, the 5-10, 185-pound Raffa has great instincts. And like his predecessors, he can beat you with his arm or legs. Committed to Maryland for lacrosse.
Farrell at Kellenberg, Sept. 18: This is as important a game as Kellenberg will play all season. If the No. 11 Firebirds hope to qualify for the CHSFL Class AAA playoffs, then a win against No. 8 Farrell is a good place to start.
Holy Cross at Holy Trinity, Oct. 16: Holy smokes! A pair of CHSFL Class AAA semifinalists from a year ago collide. Buckle up. This one should be fun to watch.
Chaminade at Holy Trinity, Oct. 9: These Nassau rivals have met in the playoffs two of the last three seasons. It’s always close and heated. The winner of this game could be in the driver’s seat for a home playoff game.
St. Anthony’s at Chaminade, Oct. 16: This rivalry defines the two schools. While Chaminade hasn’t been a factor of late, there’s no one the Friars would rather beat. But it’s the middle of a tough stretch in the schedule for St. Anthony’s. Expect a physical and emotional game.
St. Anthony’s at Holy Trinity, Oct. 23: A rematch of the 2009 CHSFL Class AAA title game. St. Anthony’s has ripped the Titans in recent seasons (outscoring them 201-62 since 2005), bringing Holy Trinity back to Earth after sky-high expectations. This one will be for playoff seeding.
CHSFL Class AAA-AA
|St. Joseph Sea||7||2||357||240|
|Mount St. Michael||5||5||195||273|
|St. Francis Prep||2||8||192||276|
2009 Playoff Results
CHSFL Class AAA
St. Anthony’s 49, Xaverian 7
Holy Trinity 28, Chaminade 24
Holy Cross 32, Fordham Prep 14
Iona Prep 40, St. Joseph Sea 29
St. Anthony’s 28, Holy Cross 7
Holy Trinity 27, Iona Prep 18
St. Anthony’s 28, Holy Trinity 21
|St. John the Baptist||4||6||173||223|
|Christ the King||1||8||147||292|
2009 Playoff Results
CHSFL Class AA
Mount St. Michael 21, Xavier 14
Cardinal Hayes 26, Kellenberg 24
St. Francis Prep 35, Stepinac 21
Farrell 41, St. John the Baptist 6
Mount St. Michael 28, St. Francis Prep 21
Cardinal Hayes 33, Farrell 7
Mount St. Michael 28, Cardinal Hayes 22
St. Peter’s 27, Christ the King 20
Bishop Ford 38, Spellman 0
St. Peter’s 41, Bishop Ford 0
July 1, 2010
Title: Empire of Riches: Long Island lacrosse’s Empire State Games opens doors and as a tradition, is second to none
Publication: Long Island Pulse magazine
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: July 2010
Start Page: 42
Word Count: 1,059
Max Seibald is one of the most recognizable names in lacrosse.
Just in the last year the 22-year-old midfielder was chosen second overall in the 2009 Major League Lacrosse draft, led Cornell to the NCAA title game and won the Tewaaraton Trophy as the college player of the year.
Yet his rise from unknown high schooler to elite prospect seemingly happened overnight at the Empire State Games, New York’s annual Olympic-style festival. Earning a roster spot on the Long Island scholastic boys’ lacrosse team is a sure ticket to stardom.
Look no further than Seibald, who tried out after a strong junior season at Hewlett High School. But he was among 500 other Long Island hopefuls vying for 20 spots in June 2004. Seibald auditioned the previous summer and was cut the first day. What were the odds a kid with only moderate Division III interest could turn heads and land a job?
“Coming back the next year, it was intimidating,” Seibald said. “You see college coaches on the sidelines. It motivated you but also made you grip the stick a little bit tighter. This was my first experience at this level and I wanted to make things happen.”
Seibald not only made the team, he starred. His roommate on the road that summer? Notre Dame goalie Scott Rodgers, a Wantagh native and MVP of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
Empires put Seibald on a new trajectory. On the first day college coaches could make contact, the Hewlett teen received an early-morning phone call that woke him up. Then-Princeton coach Bill Tierney was on the other end. The offers came pouring in from there.
That’s the Empire effect.
“It’s been a springboard for kids to get into college,” longtime ESG lacrosse coordinator George Fox said. “There were some kids who have made this team that were surprises. And there were some kids expected to make this team who didn’t.”
Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala agreed. Before he grew into one of the great defensemen in lacrosse history and won two national titles as a coach, Pietramala was an unassuming junior at St. Mary’s High School. Then he earned a spot on the inaugural 1984 Empire State Games squad.
“I wouldn’t be sitting where I am right now if I hadn’t played in the Empires,” said Pietramala, who was recruited to Johns Hopkins as a player only after his ESG performance. “That’s the God’s honest truth. I would have never gone to Johns Hopkins.”
The Empire State Games resumes in Buffalo from July 21-25 after a one-year hiatus forced by recession fears and a state-wide budget crunch. The event draws 7,000 teenaged and adult athletes in 33 sports and has been a summer staple since Gov. Hugh Carey opened the first Games in 1978.
These Games are more cash conscious than ever before. Buffalo area businesses pledged $1.1 million in cash and in-kind support. And for the first time, ESG decided to charge athletes a $10 registration fee.
While some grumble whether the Empire State Games should even move forward at a time when the state threatened to close parks, others are glad to see the Games back. They are a rite of passage, especially in the lacrosse community.
For lacrosse players, the void was filled by the Long Island Showcase Games, an event sponsored by the Nassau and Suffolk coaches associations. As much attention as it garnered for the sport, the Showcase couldn’t replicate the Empire experience.
“I was disappointed. But I was disappointed for Long Island,” Sachem North coach Jay Mauro said. He was a former player and now he’s the Long Island coach. “This is prestigious. It’s great for the kids. We’ve medaled every year. I’m just glad they brought it back this summer.”
That’s why a record 630 players showed up at ESG boys lacrosse tryouts in 2008, and why another 558 registered to compete for a Long Island roster spot by the end of May. And the alumni? A who’s who of lacrosse greats.
Scholastic girls lacrosse, introduced to the Empire State Games in 2001, has medaled each year and won the last three golds. The girls boast the same talent, if not the tradition.
“It’s really the flagship sport,” Fox said. “It means a lot to the kids to make this team. They realize they are representing Long Island. This is the highest level, a select all-star team in an event that’s been important over the years.”
With Fox at the helm, Long Island’s scholastic boys lacrosse team has developed into an elite program with a demanding schedule that’s served to sharpen any rough edges on the assembled talent. Five days of tryouts in each county were followed by a Top 50 game. The final team was announced with fanfare at Hofstra on June 25th.
Then comes the hard part: A month of practice to go with three out-of-state tournaments. All of it serves as a warm-up to the Games themselves—five games in three grueling days in the heat of summer followed by a medal round at Canisius College in Buffalo.
“That is a high-profile sport on Long Island,” Long Island region director Bob Kenney said. “We are the team to beat. And who knows what it would be like if we had an open team?”
True enough. The 2008 Long Island squad drilled Western, 14-3, in the gold medal game. Rocky Point’s Matt Palasek scored five times and West Islip’s Nicky Galasso, the top prospect in the class of 2010, added a goal and three assists.
To the chagrin of the state’s other five regions, the victory locked up Long Island’s fourth straight gold medal and 15th overall. The scholastic boys have medaled every year since the sport’s inception in 1984, a feat on par with the Harlem Globetrotters.
As if playing for a college scholarship or Long Island pride weren’t enough, the 2010 team has a unique opportunity at history.
“We’ve never won five golds in a row,” Fox said.
One way or another, this collection of talent from every corner of Long Island will turn heads. Whether they bring home gold medallion keepsakes, or a scholarship offer or an unforgettable memory, the Empire State Games experience is rich and lasting.
June 1, 2010
Publication: Long Island Pulse magazine
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: June 2010
Start Page: 49
Word Count: 1,451
Want to play world-class golf? Go east. Some of the best holes anywhere can be found on courses snaking along the East End of Long Island, from Friar’s Head in Riverhead to the wind-swept dunes at Montauk Downs State Park.
The concentration of golf courses is remarkable. Nassau County features 47 clubs and the expanse of Suffolk holds another 77 courses. In fact, there are more golf courses than McDonald’s drive-thrus on Long Island. Chew on that.
“Eastern Long Island, there’s no place better in the world. And I mean by far,” said Mike Meehan, 41, winner of the last two Long Island Opens and the first assistant pro at Nassau Country Club.
And for those who don’t have guest privileges at one of the famous and fabulous private courses, there’s always Bethpage State Park. The Black and Red courses are widely considered among the best public links in the US. So is Montauk, a destination in its own right.
“Long Island is a destination for people who want to play great golf courses,” said Steve Smith, executive director of the Long Island Golf Association. “The diversity of courses on Long Island is noteworthy.”
All those well-manicured greens got us thinking: What are the best holes on Long Island? Call it a quest. Great courses are plentiful. Memorable holes? Even more so. We cherry-picked nine favorites from locals in the know. Here is our highly subjective, but eminently playable list:
Atlantic Golf Club No. 11
1040 Scuttle Hole Road, Water Mill
Pro: Rick Hartman
Signature Hole: 128-yard, par-3 11th
The Skinny: The Rees Jones course was built in 1992 and has routinely been listed among the Top 100 courses in the US. Atlantic will host the USGA Mid-Amateur Championship Sept. 25-30. Like all East End courses, the wind is a factor. Last year’s Long Island Open was decided on No. 11. In the final round, the golfer chasing Meehan saw his demise there, where anything to the left bounces off the green and into the hazard. “He was a yard off from the perfect uphill put,” Meehan said. “It landed on the left side, hopped off the green, down the slope and into the hazard. I couldn’t believe it. It’s one sick hole. Of all the holes, that’s a really cool par 3.”
Deepdale Golf Club No. 15
Horace Harding Expressway, Manhasset
Pro: Darrell Kestner
Signature Hole: 410-yard, par-4 15th
The Skinny: Built on the grounds of the William K. Vanderbilt II estate in 1924 and redesigned by Dick Wilson in 1954, this private course is home to one of Long Island’s top golfers in Kestner, 56, winner of 1996 PGA Club Professional Championship with a record 17-under-par. We’ll let him break it down: “It’s a very demanding golf course,” he said, noting that fairways are always cut tight and the course plays firm and fast. “You have to hit the tee ball straight and the targets are small with deep bunkers. And you have to have great touch and feel around the green with a good short game. It’s the ultimate test. A lot of our members will shoot a lower score at Shinnecock than Deepdale. Deepdale is just so much more demanding around the green. It’s a very underrated golf course.”
Friar’s Head No. 15
3000 Sound Avenue, Riverhead
Pro: Adam McDaid
Signature Hole: 485-yard, par-4 15th
The Skinny: Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in collaboration with Ken Bakst, this masterpiece in the dunes became an instant hit when it opened in 2003. Golf Week ranked it ninth among modern courses. Nos. 14 and 15 combine to form among the best back-to-back holes in the world. And No. 18 is another classic. The stairway to No. 15 reveals a challenging downward par-4 with great vistas. “It’s a straightaway hole going downhill,” Meehan said. “It looks so natural. The whole course is impressive.” Added Kestner: “Friar’s Head is one of the prettiest golf courses on Long Island, very scenic.”
Montauk Downs Golf Course No. 12
50 South Fairview Avenue, Montauk
Pro: Kevin Smith
Signature Hole: 228-yard, par-3 12th
The Skinny: This course has a beguiling past and to golfers who have battled the wind, it still confounds. Master builder Carl Fisher birthed the course as part of a grand development in 1927. Robert Trent Jones Sr. redesigned it in the 1960s and the state took control in 1978. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, but be prepared for the swirling wind blowing in from the Sound and the Atlantic. No. 12 features a well-bunkered green. “You’re not going to find your ball if you miss-hit to the left into bramble. And to the right are a couple of lateral water hazards,” said longtime pro Kevin Smith, who has never seen a hole-in-one at No. 12. “It’s a green you either knock it on and have a shot at par or miss it and take bogey and possibly more.”
National Golf Links of America No. 17
16 Sebonac Road, Southampton
Pro: Jim Morris
Signature Hole: 360-yard, par-4 17th
The Skinny: Scottish links-style course, which opened in 1908, was laid out by Charles B. MacDonald and later redesigned by Perry Maxwell and again by Robert Trent Jones. The old windmill is an ever-present landmark. So are the bunkers. Everyone agrees the visuals are stunning. “The 16th hole they call the punch bowl,” said Steve Smith, a 20-year member. “The green is in a crater. You can’t see much else. When you walk up the side to the 17th tee, you are looking at a downhill par-4 hole with a 180-degree panorama of Peconic Bay. This hole is worth the price of admission.” Another classic is No. 4. The National will host the USGA Walker Cup in 2013.
Sebonack Golf Club No. 18
405 Sebonac Road, Southampton
Pro: Jason McCarty
Signature Hole: 560-yard, par-5 18th
The Skinny: Sebonack, designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak and opened in 2006, is a stunning course with several great holes along Peconic Bay. Golf Week ranked it sixth among modern courses. No. 2 gets a lot of raves. But the closing hole is special. “The hole is all about the wind,” Meehan said. “If there’s none, then the hole is not difficult. But a breeze changes the entire matter. It’s not a hard hole if there’s no wind. But when it gets into the wind, man what a different golf hole this is.” Sebonack will host the 2013 USGA Women’s Open Championship.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club No. 11
200 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton
Pro: Donald McDougall
Signature Hole: 158-yard, par-3 11th
The Skinny: The history is undeniable. Shinnecock is the oldest golf club in the US, established in 1891 by a group which included William K. Vanderbilt. Four US Opens have been contested among the dunes, the last in 2004. Golf Digest ranks the course third in the nation. The uphill No. 11 hole is admired for the challenge it presents, called the “shortest par-5 in the world.” The green offers a small target buffered by bunkers. “Their par 3 really is a unique hole,” Steve Smith said. “It’s one of the memorable holes on Long Island.”
Village Club of Sands Point No. 14
1 Thayer Lane, Sands Point
Pro: Steve Suarez
Signature Hole: 170-yard, par-3 14th
The Skinny: The club, built by IBM in the 1950s, sits on 210 acres, which once belonged to the Guggenheim family. Purchased by the Village of Sands Point in 1994, the course underwent renovation in 2001. The signature hole runs along Hempstead Harbor and features a tee shot over a ravine. Suarez said you have to hit the hole because hazards surround the green. “It’s very underrated,” Kestner said of this gem. “No one really knows about that one. That will surprise a lot of people.”
Bethpage State Park, Black Golf Course No. 4
99 Quaker Meeting House Road, Farmingdale
Pro: Joe Rehor
Signature Hole: 522-yard, par-5 4th
The Skinny: No Long Island course is as well known or widely played, with a history dating to 1923. Bethpage Black is the signature course, ranked 26th in the US by Golf Digest, and host to the US Open in 2002 and ‘09. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast, Tiger Woods was the lone golfer to finish under par at the ‘02 US Open. That’s one tough course. While the entire hilly, back nine is exceptional, the par-5 No. 4 is legendary. Its strategic crossing bunker and sheer yardage are epic. “Demanding tee shot. Demanding second shot,” Kestner said. “And one of the best par 5s in the world. It’s a classic. It’s really, really good.”
May 1, 2010
Title: Softball’s Dynasty: Bay Shore softball coach Jim McGowan has a legacy beyond more than wins and championships
Publication: Long Island Pulse magazine
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: May 2010
Start Page: 36
Word Count: 966
Jim McGowan leaned against the chain link backstop, surrounded by reminders of his championship past, his gaze trained on the promising present but his words focused on the future.
Billboards adorn the dugout at Fifth Avenue Elementary, where McGowan built the Bay Shore High School softball program into a dynasty. These monuments to seasons past tick off accomplishments so long they read like the nutrition label on a cereal box.
On this sun-drenched Saturday, the players warmed up in the outfield for a scrimmage as the coach paused for an interview. Yes, the Marauders have high expectations after losing in the Suffolk Class AA championship series a year ago. So much promise lay ahead.
But so does the finality of a decision the legendary coach made long ago. When his daughter Taylor McGowan graduates, he’ll move on.
“I’m done after next year,” said McGowan, 58, also a social worker at the school. “I just want to go out on top. It’s time.”
Taylor McGowan literally grew up in the Bay Shore dugout. The youngest of four children sat in a stroller behind home plate as mom Robin McGowan filmed games. And when she was old enough to stand up straight, Taylor McGowan assumed the role of mascot before growing into the job of team manager.
She finally stepped into the pitcher’s circle as an eighth grader, fulfilling what she was destined to do—pitch for the Marauders. She was the Suffolk League II pitcher of the year and a Newsday All-Long Island pick as a sophomore.
“I’ve been going to games for as long as I can remember,” Taylor McGowan said. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do. I could not wait to be on the team.”
At the start of her junior campaign, she has just one goal—win.
Bay Shore has come frustratingly close the last few seasons. It lost in the 2006 state title game. In 2007, the Marauders fell to Long Beach in the Long Island championship game. The 2008 team lost to West Babylon in the county semifinals. And last year Brentwood beat Bay Shore in the county championship series. Long Beach, West Babylon and Brentwood each won state titles.
“We’re getting closer each year,” Taylor McGowan said. “This is our year. Each year we lost to the eventual state champion. It’s our turn.”
The numbers are astounding. Jim McGowan has won 609 games, 23 league, 11 Suffolk County, nine Long Island and six state championships in 27 seasons.
Yet his greatest legacy has little to do with wins, titles or accolades. Look around Long Island and you will see a softball landscape redefined by the in-your-face taskmaster. He’s tutored pitchers for rival schools. Two sons are successful high school softball coaches. Two former players coach (and countless others are assistants, coached in the past or are mainstays in different sports). And when McGowan steps aside after the 2011 season, another former Bay Shore pupil will succeed him in Jackie Pasquerella.
“My [players] are my judgment,” McGowan said. “I love my kids and respect my kids. That’s my legacy. Hopefully I made a difference in their lives.”
It’s a living legacy that says more about the man than any plaque ever could. His influence will live on long after his accomplishments become forgotten clutter in the trophy cases at Bay Shore High School.
Truth is, no one has won more high school softball games in state history than McGowan. And he’s done it his way—equal parts motivational speaker and drill sergeant with a dash of Martha Stewart perfectionism. His gruff act has drawn plenty of critics over the years.
“A lot of times [the criticism is] unwarranted,” said son Jimmy McGowan, in his 10th season as the Hauppauge softball coach. “If he was 12-10 every year people would say he gets the most out of his talent. The fact that he goes 25-2? People like winning but they don’t like winners. That’s a big part of it with him.”
“Jim is a tremendous student of the game and really works at it,’’ Hofstra coach Bill Edwards said. “He always has the kids’ best interests at heart. He’s old school and uncompromising in his values, which kids today need.”
The supporters are winning out. McGowan will be inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame on May 6.
“It’s about time,” said son Jason McGowan, a third-year softball coach at Plainedge. “I don’t know why it took this long. It’s a huge accomplishment. But he deserves it.”
Back on the field, McGowan gathered his team in a circle and went over a mental checklist before the scrimmage. Preparation is an important ingredient to his success. Little wonder why he owns an incredible .888 winning percentage and the longest winning streak in state softball history (54 wins from 1994-95 with Pasquerella in the lineup).
“Practice makes perfect,” Taylor McGowan said. “That’s what he’s been telling me since I was 7.”
Oh, Jim McGowan has a saying for every occasion.
“Our motto this year is: No better time, no better team,” the elder McGowan said. “The name of the game is pitching and we have two All-Long Island pitchers. I feel good about this team. ”
The coach knows the clock is ticking. After three decades of kicking clay, taking on umpires, developing talent and hoisting championship plaques, the end is near. He’ll tackle it on his terms.
“I try to emulate what he does and hopefully I can be half as successful,’’ Jimmy McGowan said.
He’s already there. Hauppauge reached the Suffolk Class A championship series last season while Plainedge advanced to the second round of the Nassau Class A playoffs. So long as a McGowan is on a softball field somewhere on Long Island, past, present and future remain perfectly aligned.
April 19, 2010
Title: Super 75: Top Long Island Boys LAX Players
Publication: MSG Varsity.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: April 19, 2010
Word Count: 2,553
When it comes to high school boys lacrosse, no other region in the country compares with Long Island. From tradition-steeped Ward Melville, the excellence of Catholic school rivals Chaminade and St. Anthony’s to the budding dynasty at West Islip, the breadth and depth of the sport on Long Island is impressive.
The individual talent the Island produces each spring can only be compared with other heralded prospect-rich locales, such as South Florida football, Southern California baseball and New York City basketball. You want dominance? Look no further than the Empire State Games, where Long Island has won 15 of the last 25 gold medals.
So it comes as no surprise that Inside Lacrosse magazine’s Top 50 seniors in the nation included 10 Long Islanders. West Islip’s Nicky Galasso is rated No. 1. MSG Varsity compiled its own list of top players for the 2010 season. Of course Galasso made the cut. But check out who else did too. Here is MSG Varsity’s Super 75 Long Island players of 2010 (in alphabetical order):
Gavin Ahern, South Side, Senior, Attack: This big lefty was an All-Nassau pick as a junior. He’s tied for the county lead with 25 goals in eight games. Signed with Penn State.
Richie Akpinatis, Hauppauge, Senior, Goalie: This tough-to-score-on goalie is an intimidating 6-3, 245. The All-Suffolk pick as a junior signed with Manhattan.
Michael Andreassi, Sachem North, Senior, Attack / Midfield: An All-Suffolk pick as a junior, Andreassi is a threat to score with either hand. The four-year starter has 20 goals in six games this spring. He put up nine points in a win over West Islip this season. Signed with UMass.
Tyler Begley, East Islip, Junior, Attack / Midfield: This Hofstra-bound talent was a serious point scorer as a sophomore with 46 goals. He’s a big target.
Drew Belinsky, Manhasset, Senior, Midfield: Led the Indians to the state Class C title a year ago. With seven starters from that team now playing NCAA Division I ball, Belinsky’s role has grown. Great athlete. Committed to Penn.
Evan Bloom, Sachem North, Senior, Defense: Played in the Long Island Showcase. His defensive prowess showed in the team’s upset of West Islip earlier this season. Committed to Dartmouth.
Tyler Brenneman, East Hampton, Senior, Midfield: One of the most prolific scorers in school history, Brenneman has 17 goals and 34 points in seven games this season. He scored three goals with four assists in a 15-11 victory over defending Long Island Class B champ Sayville. Signed with Notre Dame, where brother Zach is a junior.
Trevor Brosco, Shoreham-Wading River, Sophomore, Midfield: A great faceoff man with soft hands who can shoot lefty or righty on run. A team co-captain who compares well to another SWR star: 2003 All-American Tony Ferriera.
Ricky Buhr, Manhasset, Senior, Midfield: This Syracuse-bound talent is a faceoff machine and one of the cogs in last season’s state Class C championship team.
Pat Candon, Holy Trinity, Junior, Attack: An All-NSCHSAA pick a year ago. This young gun already has 19 goals in CHSAA play.
Jesse Chazen, Jericho, Junior, Attack: An All-Nassau pick as a sophomore, Chazen has emerged as a true offensive force this spring. He’s tied for the county lead with 25 goals in seven games.
Steven Christofides, Glenn, Senior, Goalie: Played in the Long Island Showcase last summer. Christofides made 20 saves in a 10-3 win over Huntington this season. Enough said. Headed to Limestone College.
Tom Cleary, Comsewogue, Senior, Midfield: All-Suffolk pick as a junior is headed to Dowling. A true scorer, the 6-1 Cleary is fast and boasts a hard shot. Scored 25 goals a year ago.
Austin Cohen, Glenn, Senior, Defense: A rugged, 1,000-yard running back in football, Cohen was an All-Suffolk pick in lacrosse a year ago. He’s an Under Armour Long Island All-Star. Headed to Dartmouth.
Eddie Collins, Long Beach, Senior, Goalie: Led Long Beach to 2008 Nassau Class A title game and was an All-Nassau pick as a junior. He’s an Under Armour Long Island All-Star.
Ryan Curley, Eastport-South Manor, Sophomore, Attack: Starred in the Long Island Showcase sophomore game and has opened the season in impressive fashion with 23 points in seven games.
Greg Danseglio, St. Anthony’s, Junior, Defense: IL’s No. 15 junior after helping the Friars win the state CHSAA title a year ago. Already committed to Virginia.
Greg D’Arienzo, Carey, Senior, Midfield: An All-Long Island football player, D’Arienzo tallied
21 goals and 32 assists on the lacrosse field. This Under Armour Long Island All-Star is headed to Maryland.
Tom DeNapoli, Lynbrook, Senior, Attack: An Under Armour Long Island All-Star, DeNapoli is among the Nassau scoring leaders with 31 points in eight games. He is headed to Towson.
Ryan DeSimone, Smithtown East, Junior, Attack: IL’s No. 22 junior has already committed to Villanova.
Al DeStefano, Ward Melville, Senior, Midfield: Team co-captain and speedster. Also an impact player in football and indoor track. Committed to Army.
Devin Dwyer, Garden City, sophomore, Attack: Rated one of IL’s Rising Sophomores, Dwyer was an All-Nassau pick as a freshman and a top assist man. He sees the field and is a crisp passer.
Mike Ehrhardt, Chaminade, Senior, Defense: IL’s No. 45 prospect and an Under Armour Long Island All-Star. He was an All-Long Island football player. Signed with Maryland.
Brian Fischer, Garden City, Junior, Defense: IL’s No. 18 junior was part of Garden City’s Nassau Class B title team in 2009. Was named a U.S. Lacrosse All-American as a sophomore. Already committed to Harvard.
Jake Frocarro, Port Washington, Sophomore, Attack / Midfield: An IL Rising Sophomore and the brother of Princeton’s Jake Frocarro. He’s among the Nassau goal scoring leaders with 17.
Nicky Galasso, West Islip, Senior, Attack: The nation’s No. 1 prospect, according to Inside Lacrosse. West Islip has won three of the last four state Class A championships. He was named Newsday player of the year after scoring 71 goals and 136 points. Galasso is off to another fast start with 21 goals and 33 points in six games. Galasso signed with North Carolina, the gem of IL’s top-ranked college recruiting class.
Jake Gambitsky, Wantagh, Junior, Goalie: IL’s No. 38 junior is drawing a lot of attention from recruiters. He recorded 20 saves in a win over Lynbrook this season.
Brandon Gamblin, Hicksville, Junior, Midfield: Scored five goals in Long Island championship loss to West Islip a year ago to finish with 36 on the season. Strong on defense.
Nick Giampaolo, Ward Melville, Senior, Attack: Opened the new season on a tear, with 17 goals and 25 assists. Signed with D-I Bryant.
Nick Gibaldi, Rocky Point, Senior, Goalie: From backup to starter, there are high expectations for Gibaldi. The talent is there. So far so good. Signed with Wagner.
Robert Goeren, Massapequa, Senior, Midfield: Currently among the Nassau scoring leaders with 27 points, he had three goals and three assists in an upset of defending champ Baldwin. Signed with D-I Bryant.
Zak Goldbach, Plainview JFK, Junior, Attack: Ranked No. 50 in IL’s junior class. He’s among the Nassau leaders with 24 points in seven games.
Tom Gordon, Garden City, Junior, Attack / Midfield: Helped lead Garden City to the Nassau Class B title last season. Three-year starter and great finisher. Already committed to Johns Hopkins.
Austin Heneveld, East Hampton, Senior, Attack / Midfield: Has already recorded 29 points in East Hampton’s high-scoring attack. Headed to Navy.
Will Himler, Chaminade, Senior, Attack: IL’s No. 9 prospect. Himler had 15 points and 27 a year ago. He already has 13 assists this season. Headed to Princeton.
Andrew Hodgson, West Islip, Senior, Attack / Midfield: This Towson-bound talent is IL’s No. 10 prospect. Hodgson came up big down the stretch of West Islip’s state Class A championship run. He had four goals in the county title win over Ward Melville and two more in the state final against Orchard Park.
Adam Hull, Smithtown East, Senior, Attack / Midfield: Starred in the Long Island Showcase game last summer. He has 25 points in six games this season. Headed to Dartmouth.
Stephen Jahelka, Garden City, Junior, Defense: IL’s No. 8 junior and member of the Trojans’ Nassau Class B championship team last season. This three-year starter is tough, as evidenced by his Newsday All-Long Island selection at linebacker. Already committed to Harvard.
Myles Jones, Whitman, Junior, Midfield: IL’s No. 6 rated junior, the 6-4 Jones is a pure athlete and unstoppable one-on-one. He helped Whitman upset Ward Melville this season.
Kyle Keenan, Smithtown West, Junior, Attack: IL’s No. 41 junior. Keenan is second in Suffolk with 38 points (25 assists) through six games. He forms a great tandem with James Pannell. He’s an early commitment for Duke.
Tom Kelly, Rocky Point, Senior, Midfield: Kelly was part of a state Class B championship team in 2008, but the season ended in the Suffolk semis a year ago. The faceoff master signed with powerhouse Virginia. He’s out injured, but should be back for the playoffs.
Christian Kennedy, Cold Spring Harbor, Senior, Midfield: IL’s No. 37 prospect. An All-Nassau pick a year ago, Kennedy has 10 goals in six games this season. Committed to Georgetown.
Matt Kunkel, Ward Melville, Senior, Defense: A three-sport athlete and an All-Suffolk selection as a junior. He’s considered a lock-down defender. Signed with Duke.
James Lang, Hicksville, Senior, Defense: Key member of Nassau Class A championship team last season and defensive MVP of the county final. An All-Nassau pick and Under Armour Long Island All-Star. Signed with St. John’s.
Cam Lee, Cold Spring Harbor, Junior, Midfield: This lefty is an important cog in the Seahawks’ attack. Lee is already committed to Duke.
Joe Leonard, Hicksville, Junior, Attack: Leonard scored three times in the Nassau Class A title game, including the winner, to beat Baldwin a year ago. Once again Leonard is among the Nassau scoring leaders with 18 goals and 26 points. Already committed to UMass.
Dylan Levings, Plainedge, Senior, Midfield: All-Nassau player for county Class B semifinalist last season. This faceoff dynamo is an Under Armour Long Island All-Star. Committed to Yale.
Joe LoCascio, St. Anthony’s, Junior, Midfield: IL’s No. 29 junior. Has 13 points so far. Both his father and uncle were D-I lacrosse players. Already committed to Maryland.
Zach Losco, Hauppauge, Senior, Midfield: Ran the 55 meters during the indoor track season, so he’s a burner. Among the Suffolk scoring leaders this season with 13 assists and 26 points. Headed to Penn.
Sean Mahon, Chaminade, Junior, Midfield: IL’s No. 37 junior has been a leader at each level. He was Chaminade’s freshman (2008) and JV (2009) team MVPs. Has 7 goals so far.
Brandon Mangan, Wantagh, Senior, Attack: This two-time All-Nassau pick scored 56 goals and 29 assists a year ago. He’s an Under Armour Long Island All-Star. Committed to Yale.
Will Mazzone, Ward Melville, Junior, Attack: IL’s No. 26 junior. Mazzone has 10 goals and 19 points in a deep lineup. Committed early to Army.
Kieran McArdle, Connetquot, Senior, Attack: Great assist man has formed quite a one-two punch with fellow senior Matt McQuade. He currently leads Suffolk with 28 assists and 46 points. Signed with St. John’s.
Sean McCann, St. Mary’s, Senior, Midfield: All McCann has done is explode for 30 goals in five games, leading the CHSAA and propelling St. Mary’s to a 5-0 start. He’ll join brother James at Belmont Abbey College.
Dan Mellynchuk, Sayville, Senior, Defense: Helped Sayville to the Long Island Class B title a year ago. Signed with Maryland.
Maxx Meyer, Half Hollow Hills East, Senior, Midfield: Long stick specialist is IL’s No. 24 prospect. He was a Newsday All-Long Island pick as a junior, contributing 12 goals. Committed to Penn.
Chris Moriarty, Cold Spring Harbor, Junior, Midfield: Scored in the Nassau Class C title game a year ago. Has 5 goals and 7 assists this season. Already committed to Penn.
Brandon Noblett, East Meadow, Junior, Attack: An outstanding center in football, this brick wall on the lacrosse field is physical — and deceptively fast.
Zach Oliveri, Connetquot, Senior, Goalie: This elite stopper has Connetquot soaring with 17 saves against Sachem North and 15 more against Ward Melville. Signed with UMass.
James Pannell, Smithtown West, Sophomore, Attack: An IL Rising Sophomore with great instincts. Naturally, older brother Rob plays at Cornell. He has 14 assists and 27 points so far.
Ryan Payton, Floyd, Senior, Attack: Talented lefty is among the top Suffolk goal scorers with 18. Signed with Manhattan.
Michael Pellegrino, Connetquot, Junior, Defense: IL’s No. 19 junior is a two-time All-Suffolk pick and a physical presence. Already committed to John’s Hopkins.
Kyle Rebman, Baldwin, Senior, Attack: Led Baldwin to a Nassau Class A title game in 2009, tallying 59 goals and 26 assists. He’s currently second in Nassau with 39 points and third in goals (23). The All-Nassau pick signed with Jacksonville.
Mike Rooney, East Islip, Senior, Attack: QB for county finalist football squad. He’s already proving to be a great one-two tandem with teammate Kevin Wendel. Rooney has 29 points and 16 assists in six games.
Tim Rotanz, Shoreham-Wading River, Freshman, Attack: Started as eighth grader on senior-laden team. He’s a 5-11 lefty, the son of coach Tom Rotanz and plays like it. Great vision and hard driver to the cage. Rotanz has 15 goals and 11 assists in five games.
Jimmy Ryan, Ward Melville, Senior, Midfield: Missed the entire regular season with a back injury as a junior. Ryan has gotten off to a solid start in 2010 with 5 goals and 7 assists in seven games. Played RB in football. Committed to Colgate.
Eric Schneider, Massapequa, Senior, Goalie: IL’s No. 33 prospect had 15 saves in a big win over defending Nassau Class A champ Baldwin this month. Schneider was an All-Nassau pick as a junior. Signed with John Hopkins.
Tom Schreiber, St. Anthony’s, Senior, Midfield: Newsday All-Long Island pick and U.S. Lacrosse All-American as a junior and IL’s No. 4 prospect. He led the Friars to a CHSFL football title at QB, so he’s tough and clutch. Headed to Princeton.
Brendan Schroeder, St. Anthony’s, Senior, Attack / Midfield: This sure-handed talent played WR on a championship football team and is IL’s No. 49 prospect. He’s headed to Navy.
Derek Sganga, Eastport-South Manor, Junior, Defense: This lefty has gotten rave reviews from rival coaches for causing havoc. An excellent defender with a knack for timely goals too.
Kevin Teresky, Whitman, Junior, Attack: Played in the Long Island Showcase last summer. He is the second-leading goal scorer in Suffolk with 24.
Doug Tesoriero, Syosset, Senior, Midfield: Helped Syosset reach the state Class A title game as a sophomore. Off to a fast start with 14 goals in seven games for the Braves. Committed to Cornell.
John Urbank, Chaminade, Senior, Defense: IL’s No. 36 prospect and a key part of Chaminade’s run at a 2010 state CHSAA title. Signed with Georgetown. Younger brother Paul is a rising sophomore.
Kevin Wendel, East Islip, Junior, Midfield: It’s been a big junior year so far. This prolific scorer has already amassed 20 goals and 27 points in six games. And he’s already committed to Navy.
Alex Zomerfeld, Comsewogue, Senior, Midfield: Three-year starter and All-Suffolk pick a year ago. He’s a selfless player, just as happy getting the assist as scoring, according to coach Pete Mitchell. QB on the football team. Signed with Bryant.
Originally published at MSG Varsity.com
April 1, 2010
Title: Who’s On First?: Never fear baseball fans, the next big thing is warming up in the on deck circle
Publication: Long Island Pulse magazine
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: April 2010
Start Page: 44
Word Count: 893
With a vicious uppercut swing, the baseball jolted off the bat and sailed over the right fielder’s head. He stopped giving chase after only a few steps toward the outfield wall. Fans on the grassy berm began to back peddle, attempting to track the flying object. But it sailed past them too.
The mammoth grand slam landed beyond the picnic tables and bounced over yet another fence before disappearing into the palm-filled Florida landscape.
“A bomb for Ike Davis!” SNY announcer Kevin Burkhardt shouted excitedly, as if it were 1986 all over again.
No one made a bigger splash at Spring Training than Ike Davis. The New York Mets prospect sprayed the field and showcased game-changing power throughout his March audition in Port St. Lucie, Fla., doing his best to lay claim to the first base job.
His March 4th grand slam against the St. Louis Cardinals was just one of the many promising moments for Mets fans everywhere. It also highlighted a central theme of America’s pastime: Prospect watching. Whether your team is in first place or on the way to losing 100 games, promising minor leaguers keep the faithful going.
“Wait ‘til next year!” was once a popular refrain in Brooklyn among Dodgers fans. The Mets have picked up the torch of late. No team suffered more cruel and freak injuries a year ago, prompting a flood of not-ready-for-prime-time rookies to take the field.
Carlos Delgado was just one of the veterans who broke down and left a void. The Mets opted not to bring back the slugging first baseman, handing the job to Daniel Murphy during the off-season and dispatching former great Keith Hernandez to work with the youngster at fielding the position.
But first base is not Murphy’s natural spot and it may be only a matter of time before the Mets turn to Davis, the 18th overall pick in the 2008 draft out of Arizona State. The left-handed Davis, 23, batted .309 with 13 homers and 43 RBI in 207 at bats last season at Double-A Binghamton. He’ll likely start at Triple-A Buffalo. Who’s on first? Look for Ike Davis to relocate to Flushing at some point in 2010.
No rookie made an impact for the New York Yankees on the road to a 27th World Series championship. Sure, Francisco Cervelli filled in admirably for catcher Jorge Posada last May and Ramiro Pena hit for average at third base while Alex Rodriguez was out. Those were the highlights.
The Yankees, as always, used their best prospects as poker chips in off-season trades to acquire Curtis Granderson and Javier Vasquez. So talented outfielder Austin Jackson and hard-throwing pitcher Arodys Vizcaino are gone. Barring injury, you won’t see many players shuttle between Scranton, Penn., and the Bronx this summer, either.
But the Mets are another story. If recent history is any indication, expect a revolving door of endless possibilities. Truth is, there are plenty of youngsters to get excited about for Yankees and Mets fans alike, starting with Ike Davis. With that in mind, here is Long Island Pulse Magazine’s prospect watch:
New York Mets
Ike Davis, 1B: This power hitter is the son of one-time Yankees pitcher Ron Davis, and a former hurler himself in college. His career path compares favorably with Brewers star Ryan Braun. The lefty lengthened his swing and kills right-handed pitching. Outlook: Citi Field by the All-Star Break.
Fernando Martinez, OF: Not to be outdone by Davis this spring, Martinez maintained his status as one of baseball’s brightest prospects with a strong March. He’s already seen time in the big leagues and been sidetracked by injury. But people forget Martinez is just 21 and still developing. He was the Caribbean Series MVP in February. Outlook: He’ll be the first injury replacement from Buffalo.
Jenrry Mejia, RHP: Manager Jerry Manuel compared the 20-year-old Dominican to Mariano Rivera. Perhaps an overstatement, but not by much. His pitches touch mid-90s and Mejia possesses the same cutter Rivera dominates hitters with. But the Mets must balance his overall development with filling an immediate need in the bullpen. Outlook: September call-up.
New York Yankees
Jesus Montero, C: Called the organization’s best hitting prospect since Derek Jeter, an injury by Nick Johnson may be all it takes to get Montero to the Bronx. MLB.com ranked this Venezuelan as baseball’s 19th best prospect and projects him to first base or DH. He boasted a .539 slugging percentage at Double-A Trenton. Just 20, he’ll start the season in Triple-A Scranton. Outlook: September call-up.
Austin Romine, C: Jorge Posada is getting old and Francisco Cervelli suffered a concussion this Spring, which means an opportunity could be just around the corner. The Yankees’ minor league player of the year, Romine, 21, hit .276 with 13 homers and 72 RBI in 442 at bats at Class A Tampa. He is a defensive catcher with a solid bat and could develop into a fixture behind the plate. Outlook: September call-up.
Zach McAllister, RHP: With Arodys Vizcaino traded, McAllister becomes the best pitching prospect in the system. The Yankees’ minor league pitcher of the year, the 22-year-old starter opens his fifth pro season just an injury away from the fifth starter spot. He went 7-5 with a 2.23 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 121 innings at Trenton. Outlook: With the aged Andy Pettitte and fragile A.J. Burnett one pitch away from breakdown, who knows?
March 1, 2010
Title: New Yorker’s Guide To Spring Training: Take in a Yankees and Mets exhibition while enjoying Florida’s warm distractions
Publication: Long Island Pulse magazine
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: March 2010
Start Page: 39
Word Count: 1,041
Forget that heart-warming parade through the Canyon of Heroes. There’s another good reason to thank the baseball gods Spring Training is finally here: It’s been a damn cold winter.
For New York baseball fans, the Grapefruit League offers an excuse to make a March pilgrimage to Florida, the land of sun, sand and amusement parks. The Yankees call Tampa home while the Mets make spring camp on the east coast in Port St. Lucie, part of MLB’s 15-team contingent in the state. The rest play in Arizona.
Whether you drive down or jet in, there’s nothing like a week chasing your favorite baseball team groupie-style through the Sunshine State. And the economic downturn—Florida has been particularly hard-hit—means everything is on sale and seats are aplenty.
Catching big league stars and rookies alike in the relaxed atmosphere that is Spring Training has been a favorite pastime of mine going back to my days as a teenager in Tampa Bay. I showed up an hour before game time in Kissimmee last March and got a first-row view behind home plate to the Marlins-Astros. Former President George H.W. Bush sat two sections over. More importantly, it was my first look at unknown Chris Coghlan. He homered, and by season’s end was the surprise NL Rookie of the Year. Score!
Of course, some tickets are tougher gets. The two-time NL champion Philadelphia Phillies have a state of the art complex in Clearwater and a rabid fan base. And I paid a premium (but hardly New York prices) for a Phillies-Blue Jays game in Dunedin a day later. Basking in the sun while chomping on peanuts and watching Chase Utley homer was worth every penny.
Newly renamed Steinbrenner Field, off busy Dale Mabry Highway in the heart of Tampa, used to be an impossible ticket. Not in recent seasons, although the Yankees bringing home world championship No. 27 in November, their first since 2000, may change the equation.
Showing up at the box office shouldn’t be a problem (that means you, Mets fans), especially on the road. But a little planning goes a long way. And if you happen to start your journey in South Florida, don’t forget to visit the loved ones in Century Village. Here is Long Island Pulse Magazine’s guide to Spring Training:
New York Yankees
Home: Tampa, Fla.
Stadium: George M. Steinbrenner Field
The Skinny: The defending champs will be a top draw, so prepare to battle crowds—and the media—if you stop by to watch morning workouts. At least this camp should be controversy free. Getting autographs is an art. BP and main fields after workouts are best bets. The minor league complex across the street is good too for up-and-comers. Just bring a Sharpie and patience. As for games, it’s rare to see a full lineup. But one tip is to look for ace pitchers C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. When they pitch, the regulars should start. The Yankees face NL champ Philadelphia five times this spring. Sorry haters, the Mets and Red Sox aren’t on the schedule. But get a first look at new additions Nick Johnson, Javier Vazquez and Curtis Granderson. Also, a great alternative is an Orlando vacation. The Yanks play the Braves and Astros in Kissimmee and the Tigers in Lakeland. You might book a cheaper flight there, too.
Five Key Games: Rays at Yankees, March 5, 1:15pm; Yankees at Twins (Ft. Myers), March 7, 1:05pm; Yankees at Phillies (Clearwater), March 22, 1:05pm; Phillies at Yankees, March 26, 7:30pm; Orioles at Yankees, April 2, 1:15pm.
Top Attractions: Adventure Island, Tampa (water park); Busch Gardens, Tampa (theme park); Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa (zoo); Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg (modern art); World Woods Golf Club, Brooksville (world-class golf); Pass-A-Grille Beach, St. Pete Beach (nicest beach).
Worth Noting: Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City (March 4-12); Spring Breakers flood Clearwater Beach; Hooters off Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. in Clearwater is the original; Ybor City is famous for hand-rolled cigars (try La Herencia De Cuba); March offers great snook, redfish and speckled trout fishing in the Bay area.
Swank Accommodations: Renaissance Tampa International Plaza, Tampa; Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, St. Petersburg; Don CeSar Loews, St. Pete Beach.
New York Mets
Home: Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Stadium: Tradition Field
The Skinny: After a pair of disastrous seasons, the hopeful tone of Spring Training should prove soothing. Also, there will be plenty to see, from the arrival of Jason Bay to the recovery of stars Jose Reyes and Johan Santana (Carlos Beltran will most likely still be inactive). According to one beat writer, autographs are easy to get. Arrive early, roam the open grounds and be on the lookout because David Wright could be lurking around the next corner. Game day traffic is horrific. As with the Yanks, scan the probable starters for Johan Santana. The Mets will field star power whenever their ace pitches. Just remember, there’s not much exciting about Port St. Lucie other than the games themselves. But it will be Spring Break in Daytona. So hit the road with the Mets instead. The Cardinals and Marlins share a facility to the south off I-95 in Jupiter while the Nationals play just north in Melbourne. The family-friendly Orlando area features the Braves, Astros and Tigers. Fly Southwest from Islip to West Palm Beach for convenience and a good deal. Or into Fort Lauderdale if you plan on hitting South Beach. And the Miami waves are surprisingly warm compared to say, Daytona.
Five Key Games: Mets at Braves (Kissimmee), March 3, 1:05pm; Red Sox at Mets, March 11, 1:10pm; Cardinals at Mets, March 15, 1:10pm; Twins at Mets, March 19, 1:10pm; Mets at Marlins (Jupiter), March 26, 1:05pm.
Top Attractions: PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie (golf); Navy Seal Museum, Fort Pierce; Manatee Observation and Education Center, Fort Pierce (wildlife tour).
Worth Noting: Drive A1A, one of America’s most scenic roads; The St. Lucie Inlet is diverse and offshore fishing promises sailfish and dolphin; Bike Hutchinson Island trails or kayak the St. Lucie or Indian rivers.
Swank Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn at PGA Village, Port St. Lucie; Courtyard by Marriott, Jensen Beach; Marriott Hutchinson Island, Stuart.