New York High School: Adam Droz

Coaches surprised by two-game suspensions

June, 23, 2011
The Public School Athletic League announced Wednesday that two baseball coaches, Nick Carbone of George Washington and Adam Droz of Lehman, have been suspended two games to start the 2012 regular season. Neither coach thought the suspension was overly unfair since both coaches were suspended, but both were surprised by it.

The incident that led to the two suspensions occurred June 3 at MCU Park in Brooklyn. After game one of the PSAL Class “A” semifinals, a 5-4 George Washington win, some of the George Washington players refused to shake hands with their Lehman opponents. Droz took exception to this and let the league’s commissioner, Bob Pertsas, hear it on the field.

“I regret how I handled it,” Droz said. “I should have brought him to the dugout and discussed it, but I was angry. I don't regret talking to him about it though. I demand respect and that's the utmost disrespectful thing to do on the baseball field.”

Carbone said that he was unsure that the teams were even supposed to shake hands after the game as his experience from college baseball taught him that teams normally reserve that until the end of a series. Since this was after the first game in a three game series he told some of his players that they weren’t even going to do the handshake line.

He said that once his kids went out on to the field it wasn’t every kid that refused to shake hands, or even most kids, and the entire incident was overblown.

“The problem was there was a newspaper report that said that our guys walked down the line with their ‘hands pinned to their sides,’ and that didn't happen,” Carbone explained. “If there were guys in the front of the line that didn't shake hands, that was addressed. Sportsmanship is high on my list.”

Carbone thought the incident was behind both teams.

“It's kind of confusing, there was an incident in the hand shaking line and it was addressed that night by myself, commissioner, and Coach Droz,” Carbone said. “The following day we had another meeting to address it further. On Saturday, both teams were well behaved and there was zero incident. I thought it was handled.”

Carbone also took exception to the fact that the same day they sent him a letter to attend a disciplinary meeting was the same day that he was asked to coach the Mayor’s Cup, an all-star game between the catholic league and public league.

“They said the suspension was due to 'unprofessional behavior' on Friday,” Carbone said. “If I’m so unprofessional than why am I good enough to coach the all-star game? I don't understand that.”

Droz said that he does not plan to appeal the suspension. Carbone, who will return to Washington as an assistant coach after serving as interim head coach this season, has already reached out to his union rep to discuss an appeal.

“I'm just a volunteer assistant. I'm doing this for the kids, so yeah I want to be out there as much as possible,” Carbone said. “I contacted the union rep, at this point I don't know what my rights are as to weather I can fight it. I have contacted them so I’ll see what they say.”

PSAL suspends GW & Lehman baseball coaches

June, 22, 2011
The Public Schools Athletic League will suspend interim George Washington baseball coach Nick Carbone and Lehman coach Adam Droz two games each for “unsportsmanlike behavior following the first game of the semifinals,” according to New York City Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg.

The two teams had a heated rivalry during the season, as it was Droz who filed the complaint that led to the suspension of George Washington coach Steve Mandl, who ultimately missed the entire season.

Droz alleged that Mandl recruited Fernelys Sanchez, who transferred from Lehman to George Washington, and the PSAL suspended Mandl for a full year. Mandl is still waiting to hear from the courts as to whether city acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner and violated his due process rights. He is scheduled to return to the dugout next season, which would make Carbone the assistant once again next year when he serves his suspension.

George Washington and Lehman faced off the PSAL Class "A" semifinals this season, a series that the Trojans ended up sweeping on their way to a PSAL crown. The first game, a 5-4 George Washington victory, included a controversial play in which Sanchez was originally ruled out on a ground ball, but the umpires later reversed their decision and said the ball hit him in the box, making it a foul ball. On the next pitch, Sanchez stroked a two-RBI single to give George Washington a 5-3 lead.

According to the New York Post, several George Washington players did not shake hands after the game with some of Lehman's players and with Droz, which upset the Lions. PSAL Baseball Commissioner Bob Pertsas ultimately talked with both coaches for 20 minutes following the game, the Post reported.

Both Carbone and Droz were unavailable to comment Wednesday night.

Rapid Reaction: PSAL SF: George Washington 5, Lehman 4

June, 3, 2011
NEW YORK –It couldn’t have been scripted much better with George Washington facing Lehman in the Public Schools Athletic League baseball semifinals on Friday night. It had been Lehman head coach Adam Droz who filed a complaint against GW coach Steve Mandl for allegedly recruiting one of his players that led to Mandl’s one-year suspension.

If the plot wasn’t exciting enough already, it got juicier once the game started as the player with the winning hit for the Trojans, Fernelys Sanchez, is who Mandl allegedly recruited.

“I know everyone is making a big deal about the entire situation, but I was just trying to focus on the game,” Sanchez said. “Fortunately I was able to come up with the big hit to help my team win.”

After originally being called out in his at-bat, only to have his out be called a foul ball, Sanchez drove home the go-ahead runs in the fifth to lead George Washington to a 5-4 win over Lehman in Game 1 of the PSAL Class “A” semifinals at MCU Park in Brooklyn.

“I don’t think you could write a better script than that,” Trojans interim coach Nick Carbone said of Sanchez delivering the game winner.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Lehman jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first when starting pitcher, Steven Pinales, helped his own cause with a bases-clearing triple.

With the score 3-1 in the fifth, Washington made its rally. Nelson Rodriguez doubled and came around to score on a fielder’s choice by Alexis Torres. The Trojans later tied the game an error by Lehman second baseman Andy Ramos on a ball hit by Henry Rodriguez.

That brought Sanchez to the plate with two on and two outs. He grounded to first and was called out, but after Carbone came out to argue the call the umpires determined Sanchez had fouled it off his foot in the batter's box. On the next pitch, Sanchez drove the ball to center field for a two-RBI single and gave the Trojans a 5-3 lead.

“That’s a situation where we were able to capitalize on a second chance,” Carbone said. “That’s baseball. This deep in the playoffs, you can’t afford to give up second chances. Good teams will capitalize one it and that’s what we were able to do.”

TURNING POINT: Sanchez got the big hit, but it would not have been possible without Ramos’ error as it led to three unearned runs.

“There is no doubt that is the turning point,” Droz said. “Between that and the umpires overruling the call, which was a fair ball, how are my kids supposed to react to that?”

STAR OF THE GAME: It is fitting that Sanchez would be the star. He went 2-for-3 and added a stole base.

“With all of the off-the-field stuff I made sure to sit down with him and have a talk about keeping his head in the game and not to worry about that other stuff,” Carbone said. “In a situation like that you don’t want to do too much and I think he did a great job keeping his head in the game.”

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “I don’t know if we’ve led yet in the playoffs. It’s not comfortable being in that situation, but we are not going to fold. We are resilient and we find a way to win.”—Carbone

Tottenville 8, Grand Street Campus 3: In the first semifinal, Tottenville was forced to use closer Vinny Aiello as its starter with all its other pitchers having pitched too often this week.

The move paid off as Aiello went 6.2 innings in his first start and allowed just one earned run as Tottenville beat Grand Sreet. Campus 8-3 to take a 1-0 lead in its series. George Kanczian's two-RBI single gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead they never gave up.

UP NEXT: All four teams are back at it again at MCU Park on Saturday. Washington and Lehman will be first at 3:30 p.m. and Grand Street Campus tries to keep from being eliminated by Tottenville at 6:30 p.m.

Suspension fuels GW-Lehman semifinal

June, 3, 2011
Interim George Washington baseball coach Nick Carbone and his squad have to look no farther than the other team's dugout to find motivation for their Public Schools Athletic League semifinal series against Lehman that begins Friday at 7 p.m.

Friday's opener will match George Washington against a Lehman squad coached by Adam Droz, who filed the charges that led to George Washington coach Steve Mandl’s one-year suspension for allegedly recruiting a former Lions player.

Suffice it to say, Droz is about as popular with the Trojans as someone in a Red Sox t-shirt at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s a motivating factor for us,” Carbone said. “Coach Mandl is part of our family. He’s our coach. When someone makes false accusations, that is a motivating factor.”

While hitting, fielding and pitching will determine which team survives the best-of-three series and advances to the Class “A” title game, it’s the off-the-field controversy that led to Mandl’s suspension that has added some spice to this weekend's games at MCU Park in Brooklyn.

“It would mean a lot to us as a family to beat Lehman,” Carbone said. “We’re a family. We spend so much time together and we work so hard all day and every day and when someone falsely accuses one of your family members of something he didn’t do, to get that redemption on the field, that’s a great thing.”

On May 13, 2010, Droz filed a complaint with the PSAL that Mandl had approached one of his players, Fernelys Sanchez, about leaving Lehman and coming to George Washington to play baseball for the Trojans. The PSAL investigated the claim and ruled that Mandl had indeed recruited Sanchez and on Feb. 15 it suspended Mandl for one season.

Since then, Mandl has vehemently denied that he recruited Sanchez and tried in vain to get a Temporary Restraining Order that would reinstate him as coach. He will appear again in court on June 6.

With Mandl gone, Carbone led the Trojans to an undefeated league record and the top seed in the PSAL, where they now will meet Lehman. Carbone said it’s almost “like it was meant to be” that this matchup is happening, having seen the possibility when he did a mock bracket.

Carbone isn’t afraid to label the suspension as a rallying point for his team, but doesn't want his team to focus solely on it.

“Our goal is to win a championship and we have to be able to separate the off the field stuff from on the field,” Carbone said. “We’ve talked and it’s addressed. We know we have to throw strikes and play baseball, and we have to do certain things successful.”

In the Lions' camp, Droz avoided the subject, saying that it’s all about his team. He said his team is excited about an opportunity to reach the final and has its own motivation to pull an upset as the No. 4 seed in the tournament.

“I think our team has been playing very well,” Droz said. “We’re the kind of team that doesn’t give up easily and we’ll keep coming at you.”

When Mandl last appeared in court on May 19, he brought his jersey with him in his car hoping to be on the field. Instead, there’s only one chance left for him to coach again this season, albeit a very small chance, and that would be the city title game on June 10.

For that to happen, the Trojans will have to survive a three-game series that promises to challenge them physically and mentally.

“They ripped the family apart and the kids are upset their father is being accused of something that is ridiculous,” Mandl said. “I appreciate it but want them to go out and play baseball.”
Lawyer Ken Ross, who acted of council for suspended George Washington baseball coach Steve Mandl during his court appearance Friday, believes the coach’s litigation is going well, but worries that even if the suspension is lifted that Mandl won’t have much time left to coach this season.

Mandl was suspended for a year by the Public Schools Athletic League after the league investigated a claim by Lehman coach Adam Droz that Mandl recruited one of his players. The league ruled that Mandl violated its recruiting policy. Mandl and his attorneys then filed a notice of claim against the PSAL, Board of Education and former New York City Schools Chancellor Cathleen Black, seeking that the suspension be overturned.

“We’ll probably have the final determination by June 6, but that will be after the championship game in the PSAL and that wouldn’t do much good,” said Ross, a lawyer for McGivney & Kluger who is helping with the case. “We have to continue and complete the litigation, and actually a couple of months of litigation is a pretty fast time frame for any litigation, but not good enough to get Steve back before the end of the season.”

On May 6, Mandl appeared in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan as part of the litigation process, and according to Ross, the judge asked the Board of Education attorneys to go back to the Board of Education and the PSAL to recommend that they voluntarily lift the suspension during the litigation process.

Ross said the judge is not reviewing the merits of the suspension, as to whether the PSAL fairly suspended Mandl. He said the judge is reviewing if Mandl’s due process rights as a tenured teacher through the Department of Education’s collective bargaining agreement with the United Federation of Teachers were violated. He explained the PSAL is contesting that Mandl does not have the same rights as a coach that he does as a teacher since he was suspended from his coaching position, not his teaching job, at George Washington.

Ross added that the judge, reported by the New York Daily News to be Shlomo Hagler, has already said that if he had been ruling on the merit of the suspension, he would have nullified it because he doesn’t find the PSAL’s reasoning sound.

The next scheduled court appearance is May 16, when Ross said the judge will rule whether he will issue a temporary restraining order, which would nullify the suspension while the litigation is ongoing. On June 6 the final decision will be made as to whether the PSAL violated Mandl’s rights under the collective bargaining agreement.

“It just seemed very unusual that the PSAL conducted this investigation last summer and fall and came to their conclusion and didn’t issue the suspension until February,” Ross said. “That gives Steve little time to appeal and get the suspension nullified and it seems very unfair to issue it at a time when Steve won’t have the time to get it overturned before the season is lost.

“The judge, knowing and recognizing that and appreciating all that, asked the PSAL to lift the suspension because he knows we’re getting to the end of the legal process and the judge is going to rule on May 16. He made it seem very much like he’s going to issue an injunction, and at that point Steve would go back, but not much of the season would be left.”
Suspended George Washington baseball coach Steve Mandl appeared in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday as he and his attorneys tried to get the one-year suspension overturned, according to the New York Daily News.

The article says that Judge Shlomo Hagler adjourned the case until May 16, when the decision will be made about whether a preliminary injunction will be issued and allow Mandl to coach the rest of the season. The judge also said he will decide between rescinding or allowing the suspension in an additional hearing on June 6, according to the New York Daily News.

According to the report, the Department of Education lawyers asked the judge to dismiss the the lawsuit, but Mandl's lawyers asked for two more weeks before a decision is made. The article also says the United Federation of Teachers has also filed a grievance on Mandl's behalf to have the suspension overturned.

“I think it went great. We’ll see what happens,” Mandl said Saturday. “My whole team was there and a lot of parents were there, community, friends, family, it was a tremendous amount of support. It was overwhelming and very emotional to me.”

Mandl, who won over 900 games with the Trojans, was suspended by the Public Schools Athletic League on Feb. 15 after the league investigated a claim by Lehman coach Adam Droz that Mandl recruited one of his players.

Following the suspension, Mandl and his attorneys William J. Dealy and Milo Silberstein filed a notice of claim against the Board of Education, the Public Schools Athletic League and former New York City Schools Chancellor Cathleen Black, stating that Mandl’s one-year suspension overturned.

The notice of claim stated that Mandl was suspended without a due-process hearing and said he should be reinstated, receive all benefits of employment and be repaid the cost fees for going forward with the notice of claim and other legal matters.

“I was never given the benefit of any due process owed me [after] 28 years as an employee of the system to even answer the allegations in any formal proceeding," Mandl told in February. "I'm angry and disgusted. This base of action can tarnish my reputation that I worked my whole life to build and I’m going to challenge it, it's a false accusation, with every means at my disposal."

Lehman takes Tottenville in first meeting since '10 finals

April, 21, 2011
NEW YORK -- Last season’s PSAL ‘A’ division finals came down to a one game final between Tottenville and Lehman in which Tottenville barely squeaked out a 1-0 victory in the 10th inning on an error.

It was a heartbreaking way to lose and something that Lehman has not forgotten.

Lehman got their first chance at redemption on Wednesday in the semifinals round of the James Monroe Tournament. Most of its players played down the importance of the non-league game, but a few were willing to admit how much the game really meant to them.

“We were definitely looking forward to it, I couldn't sleep,” said Lehman’s Jhosse Estrella. “I was like, ‘I'm playing Tottenville tomorrow.’ It's a game you want to play. I was up until two in the morning just watching TV and waiting to play.”

Lehman took advantage of their opportunity when they beat them in a 7-6 come from behind victory lead by Estrella, who went 2-3 with four RBI’s and a walk. He also retired the final two batters of the game to record the save.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: It started out as a pitcher’s duel between Tottenville’s Michael Gillen and Lehman’s Dymin Morillo. Lehman struck first offensively when John Martinez scored on an RBI single by Jorge Alvarez that gave them a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second.

The game stayed that way until the top of the fourth when Morillo finally started to get smacked around. Tottenville scored five runs on four hits that inning including a two-RBI double by Carmelo Donofrio to give them a 5-1 lead.

With the way Gillen was throwing up to that point a comeback seemed unlikely, but Lehman started chipping away from Tottenville’s lead right away in the bottom of the fourth. Estrella picked up a big two-RBI single that inning after Lehman scratched out two base runners by reaching on an infield single and drawing a walk.

Lehman then scored four more runs to make it 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning on five hits including back to back doubles by Estrella and catcher Andy Ramos. Tottenville nearly managed a seventh inning comeback as they created a mini-rally by reaching on a walk and an error by the second baseman. Estrella, if he hadn’t done enough already, came in to close the game for Lehman.

Estrella made it interesting as he allowed a single and a sac fly, but he ultimately got the job done and Lehman had won 7-6.

TURNING POINT: Morillo was roughed up quite a bit in the fourth inning. After Lehman’s Geovanni Castellanos was seen warming up in between innings it seemed like the starter’s day was over. However, Lehman’s coach Adam Droz decided to stick with Morillo and the move paid off.
“I thought he was going to take me out,” Morillo said. “It gave me confidence that he thought I could do it. He trusted me though and I came through for him.”

Morillo settled down after the tough inning and retired Tottenville without allowing a base runner in the fifth and sixth innings. Only when he started closing in on 100 pitches did he tire and allow another base runner on a walk.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Estrella started off his game by getting caught looking at a fastball, but didn’t look bad for a minute after that. He made some strong plays at shortstop and picked up four RBI’s on two hits and a walk. As if that wasn’t enough he got the save too.

“I'm the shortstop, I feel like I'm the leader,” Estrella explained. “I'm supposed to lead my team to win, that's my job.”

BIGGEST SURPRISE: After the game Droz admitted that Morillo has become the team’s ace. He also talked about how far he had come to get to this point explaining that as a freshman Morillo, now a senior, couldn’t even make the JV squad.

“I tried out for JV and I didn’t make it,” Morillo said. “It made me realize that I had to work a lot harder. I got personal trainers and worked out a lot and when I tried out again though, they put me on varsity.”

OTHER SEMIFINALS MATCHUP: In the second tournament game of the day between Monroe and Manhattan Center, Monroe won easily 10-1.

Kelvin Toribio got the big hit in the second inning when he got a bases loaded double that drove in all three runners and left Monroe with a 6-0 lead. They never looked back locking down the game behind strong pitching by Jeffrey Castillo, who was a little wild but blew Manhattan Center away with his fastball.

“He threw the entire game without a curveball,” Monroe’s head coach Mike Turo said. “Castillo threw a real good game. He’s only a sophomore so I’m really happy for him. That was his best outing. He only had the one bad inning and after that settled down.”

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “We still didn’t win that game, but it really helps us a lot to see that we could come back against them and win that game [today]. It was a really important game for us,” Morillo said of what this victory really meant.

UP NEXT: Lehman will move on to the quarterfinals round of the Monroe Tournament on Thursday where they face Bryant at 12:00 p.m. The other game that day will be between Monroe and Grand Street Campus that starts at 10:00 a.m. Both games are at Monroe high school in the Bronx.

Baseball preview: GW ready for season without Mandl

April, 1, 2011
NEW YORK -- For nine non-league games and one league contest, George Washington baseball players hung long-time coach Steve Mandl’s jersey on a fence in their dugout. Mandl’s No. 32 is also hanging in the team’s locker room.

“It’s just a way to show guys, to show us and other teams that no matter what they do, they’re not gonna stop us,” said senior pitcher Jariel Cedeno. “They still have to play the Trojans. They still have to face us.”

That’s been the mantra at George Washington. Nothing is going to change for one of the most dominant baseball programs in New York City’s history.

On Feb. 15, the PSAL handed Mandl a one-year suspension for violating the league’s recruiting policy. Mandl, who has claimed innocence, and his attorneys later filed a claim against the PSAL, the board of education and Chancellor Cathleen Black seeking that his suspension be rescinded. In the meantime, assistant Nick Carbone is serving as interim manager.

It’s a heavy bat to carry. Mandl has logged more than 900 wins in 27 years including 26 division championships, two city titles and counts major league slugger Manny Ramirez among his alumni.

Carbone, 29, served as Mandl’s assistant coach for the past three years. He’s made it clear that he has no intention to pretend to he his Mandl. But “we’re going to do things as if Coach Mandl were here,” he said.

Carbone comes from a coaching family. His father, Gerry, is a longtime coach at Torrington High in Connecticut, where Carbone played in high school and who the Trojans play Saturday. Carbone went to play outfielder at Manhattan College. He was an assistant at Riverdale Country School for three years before taking a job as a history teacher at GW.

“I don’t know if I had the courage to ask Coach to be a part of his staff,” Carbone said. “I guess intimidated would be the word. It’s just that, a guy with that presence and that reputation and a team with that reputation, you’re asking yourself, ‘Does he want an assistant? Does he need an assistant?”

Then he realized that if he ever wanted to coach baseball again, he’d have to choke up on his bat and take a swing. It took him three years to build the nerve to talk to Mandl about joining his staff.

“I’m glad I did,” Carbone said. “It’s been incredible.”

The alleged claim against Mandl is that he helped orchestrate a transfer of a player from Lehman in the Bronx. According to the notice of claim, the unnamed student was denied a geographic and safety transfer before being allowed a medical transfer and enrolling at GW in 2009.

Mandl’s suit claims that the league failed to conduct an adequate investigation and that claims by Lehman coach Adam Droz that Mandl recruited Sanchez, are false.

“I know in my heart the allegations are false,” Carbone said. “I think that will come out over time. I think the truth will surface. But at the same time, we got to keep things going. The kids need to play. We’ve got a tradition to uphold. The bottom line is baseball is baseball.”

No one on the team claimed that the suspension or impending lawsuit has become a distraction. The team has star juniors in Sanchez and catcher Nelson Rodriguez, a .524 hitter last year, who was named to Team USA. Sanchez has tremendous speed at centerfield.

Carbone doesn’t expect anything less of them than Mandl would. In fact, Carbone seems more impressed with the kids’ poise.

“It feels a little different,” Rodriguez said. “But it’s still the same thing. It’s still baseball.”

The players still see and speak to Mandl, who is a gym teacher at George Washington, but they aren’t lamenting the situation. It’s simply given the team a giant chip on the shoulder.

“I look at it like they took our coach away but, at the end of the day, we’re on the field,” Cedeno said. “We are the ones that play. We are the ones that determine what our future is. Losing a great coach doesn’t mean the whole time has to lose. It’s just going to give us the motivation to go out there and play.”
Attorneys for suspended George Washington baseball coach Steve Mandl have filed a notice of claim against the Board of Education, the Public Schools Athletic League and New York City Schools chancellor Cathleen Black, stating that Mandl’s one-year suspension should be rescinded.

Mandl and his attorneys, William J. Dealy and Milo Silberstein, are challenging that Mandl, who was suspended from his coaching duties for a year for violating the league's recruiting policy, was suspended without a due-process hearing.

The claim, dated March 2, says that Mandl should be reinstated as George Washington's baseball coach, receive all benefits of employment and be repaid the cost fees for going forward with this notice of claim and other legal matters.

A notice of claim must be filed before a lawsuit.

"Coach Mandl, who has coached George Washington’s baseball team for twenty-seven (27) years, expects to be fully vindicated in this matter and looks forward to be returning to coaching the George Washington Trojans as soon as possible," Silberstein said in a statement.

On Feb. 15, Mandl was suspended for a year after the PSAL investigated a claim from Lehman coach Adam Droz that Mandl had violated the league's recruiting policy.

According to the notice of claim filed by Mandl's attorneys, the player Mandl is accused of having recruited transferred from Lehman in the Bronx, but never played a game for Lehman. It adds that the transfer to George Washington was approved for medical reasons and the PSAL ruled the player eligible.

"As detailed herein, the allegations and findings of Respondents, which have no basis in fact, are based on rank speculation engendered by the coach of Lehman, a rival baseball team," the Mandl claim says. "Respondents failed to conduct an adequate investigation into this matter and allowed their investigation to be colored by the false allegations lodged by the Lehman coach, all while denying Claimant his due process rights."

Mandl, who has won more than 900 games and 26 division titles and two New York City championships, has denied any wrongdoing.

"I was never given the benefit of any due process owed me [afer] 28 years as an employee of the system to even answer the allegations in any formal proceeding," Mandl told in February. "I'm angry and disgusted. This base of action can tarnish my reputation that I worked my whole life to build and I’m going to challenge it, it's a false accusation, with every means at my disposal."