Friday, August 22, 2008

Behind the Clubhouse Door

The clubhouse is among the most sacred of places in sports. It is a team's home away from home, its sanctum, its place of refuge, its Fortress of Solitude. There are a series of rules -- both written and unwritten -- that police the behavior within the walls of the clubhouse, and foremost among them is that what happens inside stays inside.

But, armed with a small video camera, and a list of silly and semi-interesting questions, a daring duo of intrepid interns (Gus and Neil) made their way into the lion's den in search of some inside information. Some players agreed to answer a few questions only after much (non-pitching) arm twisting. Others had to be forcibly removed from the stage, Gong Show-style, before the camera battery died.

It turns out that once they are assured that they are given permission to make fun of their teammates and divulge harmless, yet embarrassing secrets, many players are ready to sing.

Who's the biggest slob on the team? Who's the most high-maintenance? Who would be lost without their cell phone? Can Erik Turgeon really hit?

Check out some of the Q&As on BCTV to learn a little more about your favorite players.

-- Dave

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fists of Fury

Overcoming weather conditions, a change of venue, intense competition, familial rivalries, and carpal-tunnel symptoms, one RPS gladiator reigned supreme.

On Sunday, the Cyclones hosted their second annual Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament, and were witness to some of the stiffest competition to date.

32 RPS combatants squared off in a single elimination, bracket-style tourney in the Brooklyn Baseball Gallery. Fists, fingers, and palms were flying, as the battle royale eventually weeded out the weak until only two remained.

James "The Iceman" Crispino, Jr. -- so named after the cold-hearted manner in which he eliminated his father, James Crispino, Sr. in the first round -- squared off against rookie RPSer "Yo" Adrienne Wilson.

Crispino led off with a rock that crushed Wilson's scissors, and then the two engaged in round after round of stalemates, reading each other perfectly, until Crispino used the stealth of the scissors to cut Wilson's paper, and her championship dreams, into pieces.

In addition to the pride and glory of being Brooklyn's greatest RPSer, Crispino walked away with a team-autographed replica Cyclones jersey and $100 in Cyclones cash.

-- Dave

Thursday, August 7, 2008

And STILL the Undefeated, Undisputed Champs...

The Full Timers, of course. (You didn't think you'd be reading about the game if we had lost, did you?)

OK, I'll admit, this space has been known to use some exaggeration, hyperbole, and straight-up fictional writing from time to time. But in all honesty, the 8-3 drubbing of the "all talk, no walk" interns on Wednesday was by far the greatest total team effort the full timers have ever put together. For the first time I can remember, every single member of the team made an extremely valuable contribution, leading to a big, big win.

Of course, we had our share of gamesmanship (and near fights) to start the game. I love getting into the young kids' heads. But from inning one on, it was all business as we shut down and the "all smack, no back" '08 intern crop.

B-Mac patrolled the vast expanse of centerfield and bashed a two-out home run in the 6th (almost lapping the lead runner in the process). Gary handled the hot corner with aplomb after a late defensive switch (Steve's arm was sore from his seven inning shutout earlier in the day). I scored the first run of the game, and tossed in a few "make 'em saw 'wow'" Web Gems for good measure (gotta admit...the dive into short left field was probably in my personal top 3 plays of all time). Big John Haley brought the thunder with 3 hits (including a controversial booming ground rule double into the soccer net about 3 miles away that I still think should have been a home run). Wall Hooky Nelson shored up left field with some nice plays. The next out Steve makes will be his first, as he went 3-for-3 and scored two runs, burning up the basepaths and playing stellar defense. Mahoney racked up a couple of hits, and provided the intimidation factor (to both teams). Patoy picked up a few hits of his own (and made sure the ticket office had coverage throughout). Chris notched a big hit and a big run in the last inning. Eagle Eye Viola had two -- count 'em, TWO -- RBI, including the insurance runs that sealed the deal in the eighth. Rebecca had a big hit. Liz busted up a potential double play that kept the inning alive for B-Mac's HR. Joyce not only had a hit, but ran fast enough to score from first, and not let Brendan catch her! And Kevin (Moises) Jimenez threw a gem on one leg (he blew out his calf earlier in the day). Everyone did something in this win.

On the other side of the field, there was lots of singin' it, and not much bringin' it. All those home runs that were predicted to rain down on the boardwalk never actually came to pass. All those pitches that were supposed to have us tied in knots never actually found the strike zone. And all those gold glovers in the infield looked at times like they were playing a big game of hot potato. But, they should take heart...they were probably our stiffest competition yet (even though we keep getting older and the interns keep getting younger).

Team Turmoil wins yet again, and convincingly at that. We're kind of like the '86 Mets...down and dirty, tough and talented, and ready to take on anyone in our way (whether they're on our team or not). In-fighting, out-fighting, controversy, shunning -- the more there is swirling around us, the beter and more focused we become!

So step on up, security guards, Aramark employees, Peggy O'Neils patrons, and all you other challengers out there. Consider yourselves warned.

-- Dave

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Are You Ready For Some Softball?

Today is one of the most highly-anticipated days among Cyclones Front Office Members. It's the day of the Full Timers vs. Interns softball game!

The softball game has become an annual tradition, full of trash-talk, boasts, battles for supremacy, and broken hearts (mostly those of the interns, who have never beaten the full timers). It's an exercise in bonding, and team-building, like no other.

Ahhh, I remember the warm, fuzzy feeling of unity when I told Chris Parsons I was going to punch him in the face as we argued over a call at first base. (Chris later joined the full timers and he and I went on to become friends...although we continue to threaten each other with physical harm.)

Or the outpouring of love when Kevin Mahoney cursed out No-Belt Keith, told him he looked like Max Patkin, and promised to slap him until his hat went straight. (Keith went on to work for the Super Bowl champion Giants and he and Kevin never spoke again.)

Or the way we all came together that time KJ had to be physically restrained from strangling Justin the Elf Boy for mocking his throws back to the mound. (Justin went on to star in as Frodo the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and KJ may or may not still have him tied up in his trunk.)

Heck, we're practically sitting around a campfire and singing Kumbaya with the youngsters.

Listen, we're a competitive group. You already know about 24 Hours of Baseball. This morning, in Game One of our doubleheader, we were merciless in our 9-0 victory over the Old Boys of Summer (65 and over former pro ballplayers). The undefeated championship Full Timers put it all on the line each year, and take on all challengers. We've never let go of the trophy yet, and we don't plan on today being that day.

(Best of all, the interns all leave in a couple of weeks anyway, so even if we lose, we'll still be "undefeated" the following year...there's no one left to dispute the claim!)

So let's see if the young bucks can back up all that smack they've been talking. Check back tomorrow for the game recap and results (Or, if you never see another post about the softball game, and this one is deleted, you can assume the worst.)

-- Dave

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go AWAY!

Unbelievable. Somebody here must have done something to tick off the Big Guy upstairs. (OK, truth be told, if you know this group, just about everyone here has done something to tick off the Big Guy upstairs, but still.)

It seems like every single night we have a game, it rains. Or there's the threat of rain. Or it's just about to rain.

Every. Single. Game.

I think I have pulled the tarp more times this season than in any of my previous seven seasons. Maybe more than all seven combined!

It's gotten to the point that when Al Roker and Chris Cimino give me the 10-day forecast, I can tell which days are game days by the ones that have the dark thundercloud and crackling lightning on them.

I'm really starting to hate the weathermen.

Now, here's the amazing thing. We still haven't had a rainout! When you play 76 games in 82 days -- and three of those off days are travel/All-Star Game days, a rainout can throw everything into turmoil. And so, our staff attacks the post-rain field like no other. You've probably seen us if you've been to any game with a delay. We're raking, squeegeeing, dumping, pumping, dragging, and doing just about everything we can to get the field ready to go. I've ruined countless pairs of pants and shoes, and have that unmistakable brown hue at the bottom of just about every pair of frayed gameday khakis I own.

I've seen guys with their hands down the drain up to their shoulders. I've even seen -- no exagerration -- a colleague hold his breath, and go fully submerged into the muck to pull off a clogged drain cover (Steve Gresh, 2002).

When it rains, it's all hands on deck, and everyone from the GM to the interns becomes an immediate and eternal member of the Grounds Crew.

Players will often look outside, see end-of-the-world type of rain, and say something like "no way we play tonight, right?" Without fail, I'll tell them to be ready, because I've seen worse, and we've still played.

Even in the driving rain, a couple of thousand people will undoubtedly still show up (that's the other comment players always make..."these are the most loyal fans I've ever seen"), and that means we have a responsibility to try everything we can to get the game in.

So, next time you're thinking about skipping a game because it rained earlier in the day, think again. We're all probably outside, putting the finishing touches on the field and getting ready to play ball!

It's a bonding experience of sorts...a fraternity that all minor league baseball employees belong to (and are forced into). It's kind of like being in a foxhole. You really see what people are made of.

But I can think of lots of other ways to bond that don't involve dirt, mud, and me getting soaking wet while doing backbreaking manual labor in front of thousands of angry and anxious fans. So pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease -- pretty please -- no more rain. Please.

-- Dave