Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The Athletic Department is announcing that Dennis Hernandez has resigned as head football coach for Southington High School. He has accepted a position as quarterback coach at Brown University. Coach Hernandez leaves after completing 1 year as head coach with an 8:2 record. The search for a replacement will begin immediately.

Monday, March 28, 2011


(courtesy Chuck Hinkle, Rochester Red Wings publicist)


Ft. Myers, FL – The Minnesota Twins announced today that they have finalized a trade with the Atlanta Braves to retain left-handed pitcher Scott Diamond, who the Twins selected in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft. Diamond has been assigned outright to Triple-A Rochester.

In exchange for Diamond, the Twins will send minor league pitcher Billy Bullock to the Braves.
Bullock began the 2010 season with Class A Fort Myers. He was promoted to New Britain in late June and compiled a 2-4 record and 3.44 ERA in 30 games, all in relief.
The 6'6, 225-pound right-hander was chosen by the Twins in the second round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Florida.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


News that is generally not available locally (anymore), courtesy of Twins publicist Mike Herman and Rochester Red Wings publicist Chuck Hinkle ...

Ft. Myers, FL - The Minnesota Twins announced today that they have optioned right-handed pitchers Jim Hoey and Anthony Slama, and infielder Luke Hughes to Triple-A Rochester.

The Twins have 34 players remaining in camp. Left-handed pitcher Phil Dumatrait and catcher Danny Lehmann will be reassigned to Minor League camp following tomorrow's game, while right-handed pitchers Carlos Gutierrez and Kyle Waldrop, left-handed pitcher Chuck James, catcher Rene Rivera, infielder Chase Lambin and outfielder Brian Dinkelman will be reassigned to Minor League camp following Wednesday's exhibition game in Atlanta.

Slama, Hughes, Lehmann, Gutierrez, Waldrop and Dinkelman have all played for New Britain.

Slama, the Rock Cats closer in 2009, was 4-2 with a 2.48 and 25 saves in the Eastern League before moving to Triple-A Rochester August 12.

Hughes, who gained considerable popularity with the Rock Cats in 2007 and parts of 2008 and 2009, vaulted from utility player to major leaguer during his EL tenure.

He hit .283 with ine homers and 43 RBI in 92 games in 2007. In 2008, he batted .319 with 15 homers and 40 RBI in 70 games before his July 31 promotion to Rochester. After playing in the World Baseball Classic for his native Australia in 2009, he injured his oblique and played 56 games in New Britain (.250-6-36).

The versatile Dinkelman advanced after hitting .296 with eight homers and 65 RBI for New Britain in 2009. He was second in the EL in doubles with 38 and made the league's postseason all-star team.

Gutierrez, a first-round pick out of the University of Miami in 2008, moved between starting rotation and bullpen in 2009, compiling a 5-8 record and 4.57 ERA in 32 games. Lehmann played 34 games in New Britain and batted .236 with a homer and eight RBI.

Waldrop, a first-round pick for the Twins in 2004, had two stints with the Rock Cats, going 3-6 with a 5.34 in 11 starts in 2007, and 2-3 with a 1.46 in 31 relief appearances in 2009.

Monday, March 21, 2011


An old Rock Cats friend is a Minnesota Twin no more.

Minnesota native Pat Neshek, a sidearming right-handed reliever who used his excellent work in New Britain as a springboard to a major league career, was waived Friday and snatched up by the San Diego Padres.

The Twins could have held onto him because he still had a minor league option but they chose to clear a spot on the 40-man roster and relieve themselves of his $625,000 contract.

The Twins never seemed to care for Neshek’s propensity to use his collectables website/diary, “On the Road with Pat Neshek,” as a forum for expression.

While with the Rock Cats (2003-05), he made comment about the manner in which the Twins released fellow hurler Jeff Randazzo in April, 2005.

“Today we arrived in Trenton, New Jersey around 2 p.m. after a long day of sitting in traffic trying to get through NYC,” Neshek’s April 25 entry read. “Before we left we were informed by [manager Stan Cliburn] that he got a call from above and they had to release Jeff Randazzo. ... a numbers thing he stated was the reason for the release.

“It was the strangest way I have seen for a player to get released. He already had his items packed for the trip and on the bus watching his DVD. He got called off the bus and was told the news. It's really sad whenever someone is let go but Jeff's was really tough on the team.”

Last year, he used social networking on the internet as a means to dispute a diagnosis of an injury, prompting meetings with manager Ron Gardenhire and Twins medical personnel that ostensibly smoothed out the situation.

While in New Britain, Neshek was 9-5 with an ERA of 2.87 in 86 games. He gave up 110 hits and walked 42 in 125 1/3 innings while striking out 138. His deceptive stand-up, side-arming motion makes it hard for right-handed hitters to pick him up. Lefties gave him fits in the minors but he battled to fix that. He’s a stand-up guy all around.

Regardless of what anybody thinks of his communication practices, Pat Neshek was among the most refreshing young ballplayers I’ve ever met. He had so much “fan” in him that even pitching in the bigs didn’t alter, sort of a right-hander with a lefthander's personality.

I’m hopeful that San Diego will look back on his acquisition and be able to say it was a destiny-changing event. One thing’s for sure – he can get right-handed hitters out in a role as bullpen specialist.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sara’s Surprise and Melanson’s Marvels make season special

Emotion plays such a vibrant role in sports.

From my perspective, the challenge is to convey the two-dimensional world of words and photographs to provide a multi-dimensional effect so you can capture the essence of the pure emotion that I witnessed first hand.

Over the last two weeks, I have been afforded two opportunities to absorb emotional moments in the arena of play and try to stir my words to paint an appropriate picture.

The first came on March 4 at Hall High’s Frank Robinson II Gymnasium in a girls basketball game I chronicled for the previous issue of the West Hartford Press.

The Hall girls, enjoying the finest season in program history, faced a daunting second-round challenge from Sacred Heart Academy. The Hamden squad built a six-point lead on the strength of its three-point acuity late in the second quarter and the Warriors were in desperate need of a lift.

Hall was toward the end of a 15-point run to close out the half when emotional leader Sara Binkhorst made a play that will forever serve as a signature of the team’s success.

The senior guard motored over the time line and into the forecourt when a Sacred Heart defender knocked her to the floor along the right sideline. She hit the floor with a thud, her elbow absorbing the brunt of the fall.

She grimaced in a way that indicated she may have been hurt seriously. My heart quavered with that sinking feeling. How much I hate to see a young athlete’s heart ripped from its moorings by injury.

Teammate Moira Honyotski helped her up and asked if she was okay. She nodded that she was. I wasn’t convinced, and the tear rolling down my cheek was ample evidence of that.

Binkhorst turned to the official and asked if the Warriors were in the one-and-one bonus. When she was told no foul was called, her mouth formed a perfect circle and her eyes widened three times their normal size. She was stunned and so was I. We were both incredulous but the game must go on.

With only seconds remaining, Binkhorst received the inbounds pass, made a couple dribbles and uncorked a 20-foot shot that swished through the net. She pumped her fist in the air and circled toward the Hall locker room with her teammates.

The fact that a bewildered Sacred Heart team never recovered was of no surprise. I had witnessed one of sports’ beautiful moments, one that Binkhorst will remember at high school reunions for many years to come. I hope that the words I used to describe the moment last week and this retrospective glimpse back will help her remember.

Yet as poignant as Sara’s Surprise was, an even more emotional circumstance was awaiting me at the Newington Arena three days later.

On that very day Sara was enjoying one of life’s uplifting moments, Northwest Catholic’s hockey-playing brothers Jeff and Matt Greenwood were trying to cope with life’s ultimate anguish. Their father David lost his battle with cancer.

The Greenwoods had the weekend to sort through their feelings, but hockey was such a huge part of their lives that there was little doubt as to what they would do.

“From what I gather, hockey was real important to David,” said Margaret Williamson, principal and chief administrator at Northwest Catholic. “The older son Jonathan (now 28) also played for our program. Hockey was something they all did and associated it with family.

“We weren’t surprised the boys wanted to play and Mom made it clear to [coach Don Melanson] over the weekend that it was going to happen.”

As the game between the Indians and Rockville-Manchester-Stafford began to unfurl, the teams were just getting warmed up when a Northwest wing honed in on goal, fired a shot and thrust his stick high in the air.

It was No. 2, sophomore Jeff Greenwood, celebrating a goal that surely had David gushing in heaven’s front row.

The Northwest student body was there in mass support.

“Once the rest of the students [knew the Greenwoods would play], they wanted to make a good showing for the team,” Williamson said. “The energy got transmitted to the players who wanted to win it for their teammates. It spread to the parents, who made ribbons and patches for the players’ jerseys.”

The yellow ribbons and patches had the boys’ numbers – 2 and 35 – along with David’s initials.

The game went back and forth. With just over three minutes left, the Rockville co-op had a 5-3 lead, but over a purely magical sequence of just 27 seconds, Northwest struck for two goals. The Indians won it 34 seconds into overtime to earn a spot against the tournament’s top seed, Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury.

“It doesn’t really matter what happened in the grand scheme of things but they persevered and made a miraculous comeback,” Williamson said. “Maybe there was an angel watching over but it was very special and it helped the boys.”

At one time in my life, I probably would have written off such an ethereal thought, but not after observing Melanson’s Marvels. Top-seeded Brookfield (et al) was absorbed into the local version of “Miracle on Ice,” too, with Northwest’s 5-2 win on Thursday night March 10.

I wonder if Al Michaels is available to broadcast the next game against Watertown.

Monday, March 14, 2011



Ft. Myers, FL – The Minnesota Twins announced today that they have optioned seven players and reassigned seven others to Minor League camp.

The following four players have been optioned to Triple-A Rochester: Right-handed pitchers David Bromberg, Eric Hacker and Anthony Swarzak, and outfielder Rene Tosoni.

The following three players have been optioned to Double-A New Britain: Right-handed pitcher Deolis Guerra, infielder Chris Parmelee and outfielder Joe Benson.

The following players have been reassigned to Minor League camp: Right-handed pitchers Yorman Bazardo and Kyle Gibson, catchers Jair Fernandez and Chris Herrmann, and infielders Ray Chang, Brian Dozier and Justin Huber.

The Twins now have 45 players in camp: 21 pitchers (four non-roster), six catchers (four non-roster), 10 infielders (two non-roster), and eight outfielders (two non-roster).


Saturday, March 12, 2011


Japan is besieged by a natural disaster worse than my most vivid nightmares.  The Middle East is erupting in violence.  A tour bus in the Bronx flipped over and 13 people who were enjoying themselves at Mohegan Sun an hour earlier were killed.

Gas prices are threatening to approach $5.  Partisan politics have hit a boiling point in Wisconsin where politicians actually fleed the state and abandoned their responsibilities rather than representing their constituents.

Now, will someone please explain to me why I should give a hoot about a bunch of spoiled football players under the misguided direction of power-mad unions and owners greedy enough to make King Midas seem like a benefactor threatening the NFL season?

One other thought regarding the hypocrisy of big-time college sports ...

Kids are recruited out of their poverty-stricken surroundings to represent dear old State U. They are given free education, which I wholeheartedly agree is invaluable, but in many cases is not a practical benefit. These kids spend hours and hours practicing and playing.  Ostensibly, they are spending time on their studies, too.
When do they have time to go to work to make a few dollars?  They don't.  Then when they sell some memorabilia to put some jingle in their pockets, they're treated like criminals.  Others ARE resorting to criminal activity, perhaps out of desperation.

As they work at their respective games to fill the stadiums and arenas with fat cats plying $200 tickets, $7 hot dogs and $5 sodas, the colleges are filling their coffers, but God forbid a player sells some memorabilia.  The system stinks! The NCAA is an anachronistic joke! Big time college programs are in cahoots with these amateur sports organizations with back-alley agents that prey on high school athletes are like organized crime syndicates and drug cartels.  Stop this endless cycle of filthy recruiting practices and exploitation of kids who may not be geared to take advantage of higher education. 

You want to see college sports the way they ought to be, go down to Wesleyan or Yale,

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hall-Holy Cross box score -- the correct one

In case anybody is interested in the correct box score from Hall's incredible victory Thursday night in Waterbury, courtesy of the West Hartford Press. 

Also, it was reported that Hall program is moving into semifinals for the first time.  Hall athletic administrator Maryanne Seguro's exceptional research tells us that the Warriors under coach Kathy Walling guided the 1977 team to the finals.  Hall lost to Lee-New Haven, 37-35.

Hall 62, Holy Cross 54
Class LL Tournament

Hall (22-3): Sara Binkhorst 8-14-32, Anna Alferi 0-1-1, Moira Honyotski 3-3-9, Ariana Nestler 2-0-5, Shannon Griffith 0-2-2, Allyson Swaby 3-1-7, Alannah Boyle 0-4-4, Hayley Mullins 1-0-2. Totals 17-25-62.

Holy Cross (23-2): Brianna Ferraro 2-0-6, Angelica Ariola 4-2-12, Melissa DiNino 1-1-3, Briana Bradford 4-6-15, Danielle Dorsett 4-1-9, Kiera O’Donnell 2-0-4, Gloria Christiano 2-0-5, Amy Stafford 0-0-0, Alana McIldowie 0-0-0. Totals 19-10-54.

Hall         7  17  17  21 –  62
HC          8  13  16  17 –  54

Three-point goals: Hall – Binkhorst 2, Nestler; HC – Ferraro 2, Ariola 2, Bradford, Christiano.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Whether it’s Hall-Conard or Conard-Hall, what a week!

If you’ll allow this newcomer some flexibility in his first few months of covering your town, I suppose I can call it Hall-Conard Week.

Why is Hall listed first? Conard comes first in the alphabet but Hall is the original West Hartford high school. Conard proved its superiority in a football season where both made the playoffs. Hall has won out in basketball with sweeps on both the boys and girls side. Blue is prettier than red.

I’m sure proponents of either school can come up with reasons why it should be first and foremost, but the late February edition of Conard-Hall Week was of consequence to me.

The pageantry and mutual respect afforded by both sides at the boys basketball game Feb. 22 was different than any high school sports rivalry phenomenon I’ve ever witnessed.

The game was at Hall so blue predominated. Everything else was even-stephen. Even Stephen Blanchfield, the public address announcer who coaches sports at both schools, balances things pretty well. Bill Watson, the peerless “Voice of Conard,” does the same.

Okay, so he accentuated the Hall players when they made hoops but that’s understandable. He made sure to balance out the halftime entertainment, which featured a routine from the Hall jazz dancers and one by the Conard cheerleaders. He also afforded equal honors to the seniors from both schools playing in their final Hall-Conard tilt.

The reason all this is so unique to me is because the crosstown rivalry is something I didn’t witness growing up in Hamden. Our rival was Notre Dame-West Haven and the dastardly Green Knights whipped my Green Dragons so soundly and so often in football that I had indigestion before the Thanksgiving meal was even served.

Prior to taking on this position with the West Hartford Press, I served the great City of New Britain for 14 years.

By the time I arrived, tales of New Britain-Pulaski had faded into the domain of men my age reminiscing at football tailgate parties and the VFW Hall. There was no arch-rivalry during my days in the Hardware City. The Berlin-New Britain football game is only two years old and the rest of the teams are in different CCC divisions.

I did cover the Bristol Eastern-Bristol Central rivalry from 1991 through 1994 but the only place it really played out in a discernible way was at the wrestling match. I’ll always remember Bristol as a wrestling town. Their Thanksgiving football game – the Battle for the Bell – never took on the aura of the Hall-Conard matchup.

To comprehend fully the nature of the Conard-Hall rivalry, I went to the annals of local history to dig up a few thoughts.

The Conard-Hall Millennium Football Game (played on Nov. 18, 2000), appropriately billed as “A Celebration of a Proud Rivalry of Friends and Neighbors,” had some juicy philosophical tidbits.

The introduction compared the game to Yale-Harvard.

“For those of us in West Hartford, reference to The Game has a meaning closer to home: the Conard-Hall high school football game wagered (sic) each November,” the anonymous introductory statement read. “We think of The Game in very intimate terms. After all, these are our friends, neighbors and relatives who come face to face each fall. … Bragging rights are a secondary byproduct of the opportunity to see old friends, exchange old memories and introduce another group of young people to this annual ritual of friendly competition.”

Perhaps nobody is more interested, yet walks the line of Hall-Conard neutrality, better than West Hartford athletic director Betty Remigino-Knapp.

“It’s like having two children and I love them both,” said Remigino-Knapp, who graduated from Hall, but coached cross country and track at Conard. “I hope it’s always good competition, that it’s not lopsided and they show sportsmanship.”

She offers the perfect analogy. Just like two children, they scrap, but when one of them goes out to face the outside world, they remember that they’re family. Blood, whether its Conard red or Hall blue, runs thicker than water.