Help my cousin Jeff win his battle

Jeff Carrier

Click on the image to see the Go Fund Me page.

I don’t ask for much, but when it comes to family, this is the least I can do.

After becoming a successful personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur in the Los Angeles area, my cousin Jeffrey’s health took a turn for the worst.

My cousin Jeffrey has been battling a rare mixture of neurological diseases (mitochondrial disease, Lyme disease, Brain Demyelination, Dysautonomia, immune system deficiencies and the doctors suspect Autoimmune Encephalitis) that have robbed him of his vitality in his absolute prime.

According to my cousin Mathieu, this condition has been treated effectively in Germany and the United States through non-FDA, but clinically proven treatments.

The treatments are very expensive and not within the means or reach of our family as they have been accruing enormous debt on top of numerous medical consultations as insurance will not cover these visits.

Please visit his Go Fund Me page and read his whole story. Whatever you can donate would mean the world to myself and our entire family.

Please share, retweet, reblog or anything you can do. One click can make a difference.

Jeff Carrier 2

Click on the image to donate.

Beat the Bears: My first state championship experience

Nine years ago I was a junior at East Hampton High School. The boys soccer team was preparing for its first state championship game since 1968 and the entire school was behind them.

The school gathered in the auditorium for a pep rally on the morning of Nov. 18 and the only part of it that I can remember is, “BEAT THE BEARS!”

East Hampton was the third seed in the Class S tournament and Granby Memorial, the Bears, were the fifth seed.

The tournament bracket that year looked quite strange, especially if you compare it to recent years. All twelve teams in the tournament received a first round bye and the top four seeds each had a double-bye.

Anyway, I rarely went to games after school. Don’t ask me why, it doesn’t make any sense to me now that sports is my life. I remember seeing the quarterfinal game at EHHS when Sports and Medical Sciences Academy came to East Hampton with the Bellringers coming away with a 2-0 victory — there was even some yelling and almost a fight after the game. I have no idea why, but I have learned to realize that high school students play with a lot of emotion and sometimes it boils over.

In the semi-finals, East Hampton played No. 2 Tourtellotte at Tunxis Mead in Farmington and came away with a 1-0 win. The Bellringers were now set to play in their fourth state finals game and had a great opportunity to win the first state championship in school history — it was supposed to happen.

The boys soccer team had some of the best athletes the school had seen in some time. Scott Wheeler was all-state in almost everything he did, Pat Hammond was one of the states top goaltenders and all of my friends were on the team.

Junior year is when everyone you know is finally getting their drivers licence. It’s also the time when you do a lot of stupid things, because you are free. You don’t have to ask your parents to drive you, they just want you home by a certain time.

This was the first time I really felt like I was on my own.

Friday night, what seemed like the entire school met in the parking lot and we decided who was going to drive. I ended up going with a friend who was still not cleared to drive with friends in the car, but it didn’t matter, we were going to the state championship.

The convoy of cars left East Hampton and made it’s way to Rocky Hill, much faster than it should have, but high school kids are invincible and it’s fun.

We got to the school, piled out of the cars and walked under the lights of the stadium. We filled the bleachers on the near side of the field and as the game game started we went crazy. A few members of the pep-band brought their instruments — this was the coolest thing. Teachers were walking and as weird as it is to see a teacher outside of school, the entire town was behind the team.

Then, in the 20th minute of the game, Granby scored.

It was one goal, but we were down.

Time began moving faster and faster. Granby was strong. East Hampton had a hard time even finding its way into the Bears territory. According to the Hartford Courant, the only game story I could find, the Bellringers were out-shot 19-2 and really had no chance the entire 80 minutes.

Granby Memorial had won its 11th state championship.

I didn’t know then, but the Bears are one of the most succesful boys soccer teams in Connecticut. They have now played in 18 state championship games and won 11 of them, but since that game in 2005 are 0-3.

This Friday will be the fifth state championship appearance for East Hampton.

There were no byes this year, the Bellringers have beaten No. 26 Housatonic, No. 10 Canton, No. 2 Griswold and No. 6 Haddam-Killingworth, three by shutout and one in penalty kicks.

I’m not saying this year’s team is better than the one in 2005, but like the saying goes, “they are hot at the right time.”

East Hampton has seen state champions recently, the baseball team won Class S in 2011 and the girls cross country team in 2008, but the small-ish town East of the river has just five state championships in its history.

In covering high school sports over the last year or so, I have come across some incredible student sections and although there is no “home-field advantage” in the finals, East Hampton can definitely bring it with them.

All that stands in the way of the sixth state championship in school history and first in soccer in the top-seeded Spartans of Somers. A team that has championship experience. They have played for a title five times since 2004 with their most recent coming in 2012 — their only loss. So you better believe those kids want to end their career with a championship.

All I ask of East Hampton is to “BEAT THE SPARTANS!”

The NEC News Wire – September 23

As much as I love CCSU, I can’t pick them first. I believe they will have a good year with a lot of experience, especially in the backcourt with Vinales and McMillan. Drakeford is a senior this year, too, after a year in the system, he should step up as a 2nd team all-conference performer and Peel should have a breakout junior campaign.
Ryan Peters has liked CCSU the last few years as a sleeper team and they have under-achieved. If this isn’t the year they make a run, they won’t for a while.

What is Nick Neumann doing in the minors?

Nick Neumann's headshot from the Jamestown Jammers, the Class A - Short Season affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Nick Neumann’s headshot from the Jamestown Jammers, the Class A – Short Season affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

This isn’t going to become a theme where I just write about low level minor league baseball players that most people have never heard of, but I will occasionally write about the two who were drafted out of Central Connecticut State University this past year.

Yesterday I mentioned JP Sportman, the 27th round pick of the Oakland Athletics this year who played in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game last night and right now I will talk about his former college teammate, Nick Neumann.

Neumann was drafted in the 28th round of the 2014 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates and was immediately assigned to the Jamestown Jammers of the NYPL. 

After getting Tommy John Surgery midway through his career at CCSU, Neumann became the Blue Devils frontline starter, which is also a reason I don’t think I ever got to see him pitch. Most of the games I went to in New Britain were during the week, when I wasn’t working (college students work on the weekends). 

I know you don’t care about what he did in college, so lets get right to where he is now.

The adjustment to professional pitching seemed a little bit rough for the Middletown, Conn. native.

In his first five appearances, he allowed 10 runs in 11 innings and his ERA blossomed to 8.18, but after that, he seemed to figure things out.

After July 4, Neumann has basically cut his ERA in half and as of August 16, the NYPL All-Star Break, it sits at a respectable 4.55 with a low water mark of 4.50 on August 6 after a 2 1/3 inning scoreless appearance in his first game back in his home state since he was drafted.

He has struck out at least one batter in every game since July 18 and is averaging 7.5 K/9 and 3.83 K/BB ratio.

Neumann has been pitching about once every four days and is averaging almost two innings per appearance.

At 23.116 years old per Baseball Reference, he is slightly older than the average player in the NYPL, but with an encouraging trend, I expect Neumann to pitch in a full season league next year.

How did JP Sportman make the New York-Penn League All-Star Game in 26 games?

JP Sportman was a 4-year starter at Central Connecticut State University and tonight will be in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game after hitting .367 in 26 games with the Vermont Lake Monsters. Photo Credit -

JP Sportman was a 4-year starter at Central Connecticut State University and tonight will be in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game after hitting .367 in 26 games with the Vermont Lake Monsters.
Photo Credit –

He can hit, that’s how.

Four years ago I first saw JP Sportman step on a baseball field at Central Connecticut State University. All I knew then was that he had a major league name. Today he takes a step closer to realizing that dream by playing in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.

After being drafted in the 27th round in the 2014 MLB First Year Player Draft by the Oakland Athletics, Sportman tore through the Arizona Rookie League (.321/.414/.393) earning a promotion to the Vermont Lake Monsters after just 22 games.

Going 0 for his first 11 in the NYPL, Sportman collected his first hit on July 26 and hasn’t stopped hitting since. Since that game he has gone 0-fer in just three games boasting a .367 batting average as of the All-Star Break with a high-water mark of .408/.427/.605 on August 11.

On July 29, he hit his first professional home run. The very next night he hit another and to this date, Sportman has three professional home runs.

There are some scouts and writers I have followed on Twitter who tweet about the surprise A’s late round pick. This was the most telling tweet I have seen thus far.

From July 27-August 2, Sportman raised his slash line from .250/.296/.375 to .356/.400/.556 to earn the NYPL Player of the Week award and warranted this response from the Northeast Conference’s Director of Communications, Ralph Ventre.

Tonight, JP Sportman will suit up for the North Division in the All-Star Game in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m., an honor he truly deserves. If you want to see what JP’s friends are tweeting about him, follow #SportmanTracker on Twitter…okay, maybe it’s just me tweeting about him.

By the way, JP Sportman has the highest batting average in the entire Oakland Athletics organization with at least 200 plate appearances.