Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cyclones at Shea, Part II

Last night, Cyclones Season Ticket Holders (STH) were invited to a FREE Mets game at Shea Stadium -- just one of the great exclusive benefits of being the most loyal of Cyclones fans.

Over 800 STH lined the field before the game for the National Anthem (and most even followed directions, so we may actually be allowed back)! Six lucky fans also got to go behind home plate before the game and catch up with former Cyclone Joe Smith.

My sherpa and I loved our seats (although I wasn't quite dressed properly), and we saw one of the most exciting games of the year -- home runs by Reyes, Castillo and Endy Chavez (en-DEE! en-DEE! en-DEE! en-DEE!), and a walk-off double by Fernando Tatis.

It was good to see some of the familiar faces of STH, and we're looking forward to seeing you a lot more often in less than a month (19 days to Opening Day, as my countdown clock keeps on tickin').
-- Dave

Career Day

This morning it was my turn to do what many of my colleagues have already done -- visit a local elementary school for Career Day. It's a good experience that keeps us involved in the community, and introduces the Cyclones to some new audiences.

Today I went to P.S. 219, and rotated from class to class among fifth graders.

I like it because it gives you a sense of what people are thinking about us around the borough...and kids are brutally honest. They hold nothing back. So, it makes for some fun and funny exchanges.

Some of my favorites were (in no particular order or relevance to what I was actually talking to them about):
"How much money do you make?" Not much (I dropped the "for the love of the game" on them...they weren't impressed).

"What position do you play?" I don't play for the team. I work in the front office. "You're not good enough to play for them?" Um, no. No, I 'm not. "And you're too old." Wow. Look at the time. I think I should be heading to the next class now.

"Have the Cyclones ever been champions?" Yes. We won the league championship in 2001, and we've won four division championships in seven years. "So you don't win every year?" Well, no, but we've made the playoffs five times in seven seasons...that's pretty good, right? "But not every year." Um, right. "And twice you didn't even make it to the playoffs." This guy's pretty good in math, huh? Is it getting hot in here?

"I went to see the Cyclones last summer." Great! Did you have fun? "It was awesome! I got autographs, and caught a foul ball!" OK, now we're rolling. "My dad said he could hit better than the players on the team." Ugh.

"Does your job have a lot of pressure?" Ever have to stand in front of 30 fifth graders? Ever had to wear a skin-tight bat suit in front of 9,000 fans? Ever had to stick your arm in a drain full of God-knows-what up to your shoulder to avoid a rainout? Ever had to get good seats for the manager's wife? Let me tell you about pressure, kid. (I almost went all "Kareem in Airplane!" on the poor little guy..."I'm out there busting my buns every night! Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.")

"Do you think Kevin Garnett should have won the MVP?" I think we're getting a little off track here.

"Do you play hip hop music at the games?" Sure, sometimes. We also play rock, pop, country...a little bit of everything. "Who's your favorite hip hop artist?" Tribe Called Quest...(silence...tumbleweed)...Have you guys ever heard of them? "I think my grandfather listened to them." Seriously. Look at the time. I really have to go.
Hopefully, I gave the kids a good look into the inner workings of the organization, and maybe created a few new Cyclones fans (or some potential future employees) along the way.

Either that, or I bored them just enough to make them focus on their education instead of a career in sports. Either way, a successful day all around.

-- Dave

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cyclones at Shea

Tonight, Cyclones Season Ticket Holders will get to take advantage of one of their exclusive benefits...a FREE Mets game at Shea! Cyclones STH will not only get to see the game...they'll get to go onto the warning track for the National Anthem. As cool as that would be any year, it's even cooler this year, since it's the least season at Shea.

And six lucky fans (randomly chosen...sorry, no bribes...unless they're really good bribes) will get to take part in a photo op at home plate with Cyclones alumni Joe Smith, Carlos Muniz, and Nick Evans (and maybe HoJo if he's available).

It's going to be a great night at the ballpark (and for once it looks like it won't rain during one of our extra-curricular activities). Hopefully some good stories, pics, and video tomorrow.

-- Dave

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Sour Music" Viola

For weeks now (months? years?) Ricky Viola has been asking -- make that demanding -- that he be given an opportunity to pitch in 24 Hours of Baseball. Despite the fact that we will be playing for 24 straight hours, and are desperate for arms, most people here (all of us) don't want Ricky anywhere near the pitcher's mound.

Why? Well, among other reasons (too long to list), in a recent game against a 65-and-over team, he delivered an inside (and by "inside," we mean behind the batter)
fastball (and by "fastball," we mean 45-MPH unintentional eephus) that, according to battery mate Steve Cohen, "almost went into the opposing team's dugout."

But, to be fair, we decided to give Ricky another shot. A tryout. An opportunity to redeem himself. A chance to get back on the hill.

He got 10 pitches from the mound at KeySpan Park, and had to hit the agreed-upon target at home plate with seven of them in order to secure a spot in the 24 Hours rotation.

Best of all, we captured it on film, so you can watch Ricky's tryout on Brooklyn Cyclones TV! (Spoiler alert: It did not go well.)

Take a look and let us know if you think we should (ever) let him on the field again!

And please don't forget to make a donation to 24 Hours of Baseball! We'll be fighting sleep, hunger, dehydration, and rational judgment on June 6th and 7th as we play baseball for 24 straight hours against 12 teams in an effort to raise money for Autism Speaks, HeartShare, and the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation.

Every dollar makes a difference, and we truly appreciate your support!

-- Dave

Thursday, May 22, 2008

You Don't Know Him, But You Know His Work

Kevin Jimenez (KJ) is the graphics manager for the Cyclones, tasked with creating much of the artwork and imagery fans see throughout the season. KJ has been with the Cyclones since the team's interim stint as the Queens Kings in 2000.

Most of fans don’t know me, but they see my work all the time; on the field, in the parking lot, in their seat. That’s the mark every designer wants to make – on everything. A ‘grip and grin’ position it’s not. However, my first priority is to make an impression.

Having the ability to make a fan happy with what I do is a big challenge. You always want to outdo what you’ve done in the past and do it better.

One of my biggest challenges is our giveaways. Our fans have some pretty high standards...and I do everything possible to live up to them. Now, if you’ve always wondered the process is of honoring someone with a bobblehead – sometimes it isn’t easy. For example, last year we gave away Joe Smith, Lee Mazzilli, and Willie Randolph to name a few. We got great pictures of each, put them in a position and...well, you’re done (sort of). This year, not so easy. Take our Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton bobble giveaway for the July 14 game vs. the Spikes for example. If you didn’t know, Boomer & Carton host a popular morning show on 66 WFAN.

Of course, you can’t just make a likeness of someone and not ask for their feedback. Well, little did I know that feedback would create a controversy that would span an entire week on the morning airwaves. My first sketch was of Boomer (a former pro quarterback) receiving a football hiked to him by Carton. I’ll admit – it wasn’t a great sketch and it only took me a couple of hours from start to finish. The half-life of this doodle was many times longer. Carton proceeded to rip the sketch for almost four hours the next day. To tack onto the exposure, it was even featured on their page on the duo’s website! The last thing any designer wants to hear is negative feedback. Boy, did I.

As the debate continued on with the hosts, listeners and even my co-workers, I had other work to do. I had three heritage nights to create on-field jerseys and caps for the players to wear: Jewish, Irish and Italian. On the flip side, the Jewish uniform was getting some love from uniform fans online. That was a nice breath of fresh air – seeing some positives for my work from people I’ll probably never meet. Despite the controversy of the first bobblehead design, I also had other bobbles to create – Maverick the Wonder Dog, Carl Erskine, and mini versions of those Brooklyn Birds; Sandy and Pee Wee. No critiques from Mav and the mascots – if you don’t count barking or hand gestures. Still, with less than a month left before the season starts, I’ve got miles to go.

Plan Ticket Holders need their guaranteed giveaways, the Ladies Clinic needs a new logo, the pocket schedule has to be finalized, victory balls, speed pitch balls...but wait. Did I forget something? Oh yeah...those guys on the radio. After three more versions, additional blog posts to their webpage and video homage on Jib Jab to my original design – success!

These are the items that need a bunch of lead time to get made and shipped to the ballpark in time for the giveaway. Other items, like the game program and superhero comic coloring book giveaway take a lot of time to put together. As a former aspiring comic book artist (which put me on the path I’m on now), it’s a guilty pleasure – letting my imagination go, drawing STS and P’Dub don their crimefighting capes and invoking their Cyclone Powers!

The greatest compliment is when I see something I’ve created years ago – like someone wearing a 2005 Irish Night tee at the grocery store, Kevin James with a Cyclones jersey on during a “King of Queens” rerun or getting a kid excited about baseball when they use their Diamond Dreams activity book.

There’s a lot to do during the off-season and 38 home games can make a summer by the beach a memorable one. I hope that my work helps make those memories last with things like that programs, t-shirts and bobbleheads (even one that gets dissected then bisected on the radio or on the internet).

-- KJ

Check out the entire Promo Schedule to see some of the giveaways KJ's been working on this year.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brooklyn Cyclones: THE MOVIE

Every person in every workplace has asked the question at one time. "If they made a movie about us, who would play whom?" Well, here at the Cyclones we ask that question quite a bit...and I am proud to say that I have come up with some answers.

In what I think is a brilliant (or maybe just evil?) twist, instead of discussing this with my colleagues, I've gone ahead and just replaced their pictures on the website without their knowledge, swapping in the people I think fit the bill. And I'll share them with you -- loyal blog readers -- first. They'll see them eventually...or they'll just be very confused when people start making fun of them. Either way sounds good to me. And either way, I'll probably be in trouble. (Although I have to admit, I have not acted completely alone. If they like the pictures, it was all my idea. If they don't, it was Liz's fault.)

Now, keep in mind, there are various reasons for the choices, and they're not all based on looks. Some stem from particular interests. Some come from nicknames (that they may or may not even know exist). Some have similar talents. Some have similar names. Some have similar dance moves. Some seem like they have the right attitude. And some are just straight-up dead ringers. (It's good being the only one who knows how to upload the pictures!)

So click around on the front office page. If you know us (or even if you don't), let me know what you think about the casting of Brooklyn Cyclones: THE MOVIE. Good choices? Bad ones? Any better suggestions?

But keep it quiet...let's see how long it takes them to figure it out!

-- Dave

Monday, May 19, 2008

Catching Up With ...Edgar Ramirez

In 2007, 6'4" Edgar Ramirez was part of the Cyclones' "Towers of Power" pitching staff, and a workhorse out of the Brooklyn bullpen, appearing in 19 games, and notching a 3.07 ERA in 29.1 innings.

Off the field, he put in even
more work, as the front office's go-to guy for school visits, book readings, camps, and more. On his first day in uniform, Edgar appeared in a commercial scarfing down a Nathan's hot dog, and talked about how much he loved interacting with fans. He was true to his word, and became a fan favorite for the Cyclones.

Having moved up to the Savannah Sand Gnats (A), Edgar recently took some time to look back on his time in Brooklyn, and tell us what the "Big Donkey" is up to these days:

Q: You were incredibly popular during your time with the Cyclones. What memories do you have about your time in Brooklyn, and about the Brooklyn fans?

ER: There are no words to express how amazing the fans are. It was always exciting to go to the field and have the energy of the crowd behind you at KeySpan. Best memory must be when we had the horses on the field and how the fans stuck around for about two hours to see the rest of a baseball game. Just goes to prove that they are really fans.

Q: Do you have any other favorite memories from your time as a Cyclone?

My favorite time as a Cyclone was when I got an opportunity to meet the Hall of Famer Don Newcombe. He took the time to talk to me for a while about pitching (or as he would say, "winning pitching"), and that was something I'll never forget. That, and the time I also got to meet Miss Cyclone!

Q: You led the team in off-the-field activities…book readings, school visits, camps, clinics, autographs…do you see that as part of your responsibility as a professional athlete? And do you enjoy it?

ER: It is a part of my responsibility as a professional, however, I really enjoy interacting with the fans and seeing the kids smile on and off the field. There is no bigger satisfaction, than to see the kids put up signs with your number and name during a game.

Q: What was your offseason like after you left Brooklyn ?

ER: Well, it started off really warm in Miami working as a substitute teacher. However, I moved out to Louisiana and got a job in construction. I know, it is not Brooklyn cold but, it was pretty bad working outside in 19 degree weather. I did get a lot of baseball work done and got to spend a whole lot of time with family.

Q: Tell us about a typical day at Spring Training…what time do you get up, what are your activities throughout the day…what do you eat…do you have any free time to yourself…that kind of stuff.

ER: Well, we usually get up at around 5:30am to head out to the complex out in Port St. Lucie. Start breakfast at 7 with eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal and bagels always being served. Practice starts at 9 on the dot and we usually don't get a break until about 12:30. Get a snack break which consists of an apple and juice. Get back to work at 1 until about 4 and lunch is served right after that. Lunch consists of either spaghetti or some chicken and rice. That pretty much sums up our day at spring training. Nothing too exciting, but lots and lots of hard work.

Q: When did you find out you’d be assigned to Savannah ? As much as you may have liked playing in Brooklyn , you had to be excited to be moving up, right? What were your thoughts?

ER: I was actually told I was staying in Extended Spring Training to start off, the day before camp broke, then the actual day that camp broke I was brought in for another meeting and was told I was going to be given a chance in Savannah. Yeah, I was super excited to get a chance to move up in the organization. There is still nothing like Brooklyn. I would love to go back but don't know if that would be a good sign or not, career-wise. Either way, I know I would have a great time there with the fans.

Q: What are some of the differences between Savannah and Brooklyn , both on and off the field?

Well on the field, the fields are pretty much similar. The playing field I mean -- there are obviously a whole lot more fans in Brooklyn. Off the field, there is not as big of a fan base here in Savannah like there is in Brooklyn, but the fans we do get are pretty rowdy and really make the games exciting.

Q: Do you set goals for yourself each year? If so, what are they, for 2008 and beyond?

You always have to set goals for yourself, no matter what you do for a living. This year I just want to be able to continue improving on my pitches and to be a constant in the bullpen. A big deal for me is to have a low ERA, but two things bigger than that are to have a low WHIP (walks and hits allowed per innings pitched) and keep opposing teams batting average under .250.

Many thanks, as always, to Edgar for his time, and best of luck as he moves up the ladder. Brooklyn fans will be watching and rooting -- knowing that when you wear the uniform, you're a Cyclone forever!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


There's a saying in the minor leagues about wearing many hats. Or getting your hands dirty. Or...wearing dirty hats. Something like that. Basically, what it means is that you do a little bit of everything. You do your own job, plus help with some others -- pull the tarp when it rains, answer the phones when they're ringing off the hook, hang pictures on the walls when they're barren, and do just about anything else that comes up.

On Sunday, fans got another glimpse of that at the 5th Avenue Fair in Park Slope, when Steve Cohen -- reigning NYPL Executive of the Year, mind you -- put on one of his many hats and became a barker for the Cyclones booth.

After a slightly more subdued morning in his absence, the afternoon saw Steve hit the scene like the team's namesake, whipping the crowd (and himself) into a frenzy.

"Who needs a Cyclones schedule?" "Cyclones schedules here!" "Get your tickets while you can!" "They're going fast!" "Brooklyn's favorite team is here!"

Soon, other booths were answering his chants. Passersby were spontaneously breaking into choruses of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." Steve hasn't been this sharp since that week three years ago when he only ate fruit! He brought his A-game, "live from the Catskills," Shecky Greene material, and he had the audience in the palm of his hand.

And then the rains came.

Basically, the crowd dispersed and the booth vendors were generally less happy (and more wet), but Steve wouldn't let up.

"It never rains on Coney Island!" (When pressed by a disbelieving fan, he conceded that it had rained on Coney once. Once. In June of 1937. But not since, and never again, if he had his way.) "Come see the Cyclones, where the sun always shines!"

And it only got better (worse?) from there. Now he was going bi-lingual. "Get your schedules...calendars...(how do you say schedules in Spanish?)...calendariooooooooo!"

The folks from the musical Wicked looked on in horror as he proclaimed that the headline song from their show was "The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow," and then started to sing the words. When told that that was more likely from Annie, he broke into "Memories." Nope, still not right. So he made up his own song that consisted of one word -- "wicked" -- set to the tune of the Spy Hunter theme song and also included a "Back to Basics" dance (reminiscent of Carlton Banks).

Just about then, the rain got even heavier, Steve's cab showed up to whisk him away, and the 5th Avenue Fair became a lot less interesting.

Next up, the 7th Ave fair...make sure you stop by our booth to see what Steve has cooked up next. And don't forget to get your tickets now to see the Cyclones in Coney Island...where the sun's been shining since 1937.

-- Dave

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Birth of a Bobblehead

Giveaway items are always among the most popular attractions at a Cyclones game. We give away something at almost every game, usually to the first 2,500 fans to enter the ballpark.

And in the world of giveaways, bobbleheads are king. The nodding, oversized heads have become synonymous with minor league promotions, and a badge of honor for those whose likenesses are captured. In short, if you have your own bobblehead, you know you've made it big.

This summer, the Cyclones will be giving away five different bobbleheads, immortalizing Dodgers legend Carl Erskine, WFAN's Boomer & Carton, and mascots Sandy, Pee Wee and Maverick (the Wonder Dog).

While it's great to just walk into the ballpark and get a free collectible, the process behind the creation of the items can be extremely interesting, as well.

So how is a bobblehead born? Ceramics with raging hormones? Not quite.

Of course, it all starts with an idea. We try to imagine bobbleheads that will capture people's attention, drum up some excitement, become collector's items, and look good. Usually, we try to target people (or animals) that are specifically popular among our fan base. (although sometimes they become popular because of the bobbleheads...Dave & Carrie anyone?)

After a boring approval/legal process, the fun begins. Our designer, Kevin Jimenez (KJ), usually starts with a sketch, drawn from a picture of the person (or bird, or dog) whose bobble is being created. The sketches are then analyzed, tweaked, edited, changed, re-sketched, and re-analyzed all over again (whatever you do, don't bring up Craig Carton to KJ) until everyone involved is happy with the way they look.

Then it's off to the manufacturer. In a few weeks, we see an unpainted mold of the bobblehead, and the approval process starts all over again. Does it look like the sketch? Is the glove on the right hand? Is the name spelled right on the jersey? Things like that. You have to look at every little detail (twice) in an effort to get it right.

Once the mold is approved, we'll next see a painted version. This is when we really see what the finished product will look like, and how close it is to (or far away it is from) the real thing. (And also when we start to ask questions like: Why is that hat purple? Is John Franco an albino? What color is Joe Smith's hair, anyway?)

Once the colors are approved, we're off to the races. Production begins and we keep our fingers crossed that everything stays on track and we get the items in time for the designated game. From start to finish, it's about a six month process.

Above, you can see some of the stages of the Carl Erskine bobblehead we'll be giving away on August 17th!

So next time you get a bobble you really like, think about the process that went into its creation. And keep your fingers crossed...maybe some day the little ceramic figurine with the giant nodding head will look just like you!

-- Dave

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

BCTV is online!

For a while now, we've been working on launching a new video component on our website that lets us easily post, customize, categorize, and archive content. I'm happy to say that the brand-new Brooklyn Cyclones TV is now up and running!

We kick it off with a question and answer segment with Steve Cohen, and have posted some favorites from last year, including the The Cyclones Are Brooklyn skit, and the Superhero Night montage.

Throughout the year, we'll be adding new content to BCTV as often as possible -- Q&A's, weekly recap shows, game highlights, skits, parodies, and more.

So stay tuned, as we bring you the best in Brooklyn baseball entertainment!

  • Watch Brooklyn Cyclones TV NOW

  • -- Dave

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Help! (Or at least help some great causes)

    Well, 24 Hours of Baseball is less than a month away, and on the whole, our squad is struggling.

    I fractured my shoulder in April and will be playing against doctor's orders. Steve's back may never recover from his battle with a refrigerator last year (just think, it could have been worse). KJ's hamstrings are wound tighter than Eddie V's axe. Gary has a stiff neck from ALWAYS being on the phone. Mahoney can't possibly pitch another 11 hours, like he did last year. Ricky...well, he's not injured, but he's also not allowed on the mound or behind the plate. The list goes on and on and on.

    And yet, we're forging forward like the warriors we are (whining and complaining all the way). We'll be playing 24 straight hours of baseball (oh, dear God, why did I agree to this again?) against 12 teams from throughout New York in an effort to raise money for some truly worthy causes -- Autism Speaks, HeartShare, and the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation. (Oh yeah, that's why I agreed to do it...and that's why we need your help.)

    It really is a great event, regardless of the pain it inflicts on your favorite front office staff (or at least, the front office staff of your favorite team), and we hope you'll join us either at the ballpark, or by making a donation.

    We'll be on the field from 12 noon on June 6th to 12 noon on June 7th if you want to stop by and see how we're doing. Help make our suffering worthwhile with a little encouragement...or by making a tax-deductible donation. Either way, we appreciate your support and hope to see you at the ballpark!

    We also hope we're all still standing by hour promises.

    -- Dave

    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Road Trip

    On Tuesday night, the Cyclones staff took a road trip to see the Reading Phillies host the Binghamton Mets. We wanted to check out Reading's gameday operation, and see some of their entertainment. It's always cool for us to go to another ballpark and see how another team does things. Sometimes it sparks some new ideas, sometimes we see what we can do better, and sometimes we see that we're pretty happy with the way things go at KeySpan Park.

    In addition, this was a chance for us to see a bunch of former Cyclones who are now playing for the B-Mets. 15 total players on the Binghamton roster previously spent time in Brooklyn, including Ambiorix Concepcion, Caleb Stewart, Eddie Kunz, Jake Ruckle, and Joe Hietpas. It's always great to watch former players make their way through the organization, and to be able to say we saw them first. That's part of the fun of being a Cyclones fan (or working for the team).

    But I digress. Back to the promotions in Reading (which, by the way, is pronounced "REDDING," contrary to the way most of us used to say it when we played Monopoly...makes the Reading Reading Program kind of confusing, I'd think, but whatever...digressing again). Very different atmosphere and crowd (but isn't everyplace, compared to Brooklyn?). Lots of fun and funny video clips, some zany (some might say "crazy," but no one from Brooklyn probably would) characters, and an overall nice vibe.

    After 6 hours in a van there and back (thank God for Tom-Tom, even though we still managed to get "sidetracked" a few times), I think we got a good sense of a few things we can improve on, and a few things we're pretty proud to say we do quite well.

    And more importantly, we all made it back in one piece, and are all still talking to each other the next day! It's all starting to gel!!!

    -- Dave

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008


    The hot topic at today's Tuesday Morning Meeting (TMM) was pork rinds. The snack food is so popular among some members of the office that the Cyclones will be holding a Salute to the Pork Rind Night on July 14th.

    The night will feature, among other things, a pork rind-filled swimming pool, pork-rind sculptures, pork-rind eating contests, and a possible visit from Lima, OH -- "The Pork Rind Capital of the World!" And of course, lots and lots of pork rinds being given away that night.

    For a look at some of the other crazy things we have lined up throughout the summer, check out the 2008 Promotional Schedule.

    -- Dave

    Monday, May 5, 2008

    Brooklyn Cyclones TV

    After much design and development (and delay, the "third D"), we are just about ready to launch a brand new multimedia interface that will change and improve the way you watch video on our website -- Brooklyn Cyclones TV!

    BCTV will allow us to easily post, categorize and archive videos that will give you an inside look at the team (and the team behind the team). Game highlights, player Q&A's, commercials, weekly recap shows, and more will be featured on BCTV, enhancing's status as the ultimate online source for Cyclones information and entertainment.

    There are still some adjustments to be made, and MUCH more video to be added, but as a loyal reader of the blog, you can get a sneak peek!

    Let us know what you think, and stay tuned to BCTV!

    -- Dave