Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not-So-Secret Santa

One of the front office traditions (that we can print) is our annual holiday lunch, complete with a "Secret Santa" gift exchange.

I should explain that in addition to sharing the joy of the holiday season, we also exchange insults and do all that we can to embarrass each other. Hence, the sentiment that leads to one of the party's highlights...the Newbie A Cappella Performances.

Each year, any new full-time staff members are required to sing a song in front of the rest of the group, and the musical renditions range from mildly entertaining (B-Mac rapping Ice Ice Baby) to downright humiliating (a 6'6", 340-pound Will doing I'm A Little Teapot).

This year,
Baby Alexa and BTI graduated from the ranks of interns to join the full-timers (which now officially makes him BTFTE, but that doesn't have the same ring), and we've been joined by newcomer Matt Slatus. Brian regaled us with The Dreidel Song, and though he did a much better job than Cartman, it was a bit unsettling that he needed to read the words off a sheet of paper. What a meshugeneh. Matt then belted out a version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame that would have ended up here if we were in Chi-Town. And finally, Alexa did Nicky Pizza proud by turning Dominick the Donkey into a raucous singalong.

Next up came the gift-giving. With Ricky serving as Santa's helper, our "secret" gifts were doled out to the appropriate parties. I air-quoted the word secret because although it originally started out as a random drawing, it seems that people just kind of pick who they want these days, or put a name back in the hat if they don't want that person. I have to tell you... I'm all for this type of target marketing. It really makes everyone happier in the end.


I don't remember everything that everyone got, but some of the highlights included hand sanitizer for KJ, a not-so-limited edition of Return to Glory for me, pint glasses for Mahoney and Pat, Vlad giving his son a razor, and Steve getting Michael Scott's World's Best Boss mug (we think he gave it to himself, but no one really knows for sure).

And then came the coup de grace.


For those of you that don't remember, the highlight of last year's shindig was when, due to a name-selection snafu, Gary was told
this.

I drew Gary's name this year, and originally planned to again give him nothing...in the name of tradition, of course. Then, after rooming with
Captain Underpants in Indy, I decided to go a different route. I (cough, cough) noticed that GP could use an upgrade in undergarments, so I decided to be a good Samaritan and help him out. I had to guesstimate the size, of course, but I'm pretty confident that I was on target (size 7X).

See for yourself:

Just to be on the safe side, we did some actual tests, with as close to the real thing as we could get:

Needless to say, he was thrilled with the gift. He didn't say much -- he seemed awestruck, really -- but I could tell by the look in his eyes that I had given him exactly what he'd asked Santa for. It's a pretty amazing feeling to know that you've given someone the perfect gift. Something they want so badly, they don't even dare to imagine their dreams might come true. Those are the holiday moments that warm the cockles of my heart. I kind of feel like a more generous version of Ty Pennington. You're welcome, GP. You're welcome.

All in all, another wonderful holiday celebration in Cyclones Land.

Here are some more pics:








And speaking of The Office, ours will be closed from the 25th through the 3rd, but we'll be back on the 4th, and ready to roll for our 10th season. We have some cool announcements coming your way in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

Until then, enjoy the holidays, and have a safe, healthy, and happy New Year!

-- Dave

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Meetings Wrap-Up

I decided to put the last few days' worth of stuff into one giant post, rather than braving the molasses-slow network that is the Embassy Suites Business Center...

On Tuesday, we had our New York-Penn League meeting, which is sometimes filled with unique and interesting tidbits from around the league. This was not one of those times. After a scintillating start to the meeting ("Do I have a motion to adopt the minutes?" "So moved." "Is the motion seconded?" "Second."), each club gave a brief update/recap of the 2009 season (apparently, it rained last summer...I hadn't noticed), followed by a look ahead to 2010 ("we're looking forward to the 2010 season").

We were then briefly addressed by the president of Minor League Baseball, Pat O'Conner, which provided an oasis of interestingness, but then we got back to things like umpires uniforms and schedules. (Sidenote: we were informed that umps will be using "hand-held lightning detectors" this year, which were described as "inexpensive." I spent the next 10 minutes imagining an umpire standing on the mound, holding a fork in the air, waiting to see if a lightning bolt would hit it.)

Next up was a recap of the league's finances, contributions, etc. The charts on the projection screen were approximately this small (actual size), so I couldn't make out one single letter or number from my vantage point 50 feet away...but the overall message was that the league is in good shape (I think).

The NYPL as a whole drew over 1.75 million fans again last year, and has done so in every year since 2003. Pretty impressive for a Short-Season league. Granted, I haven't personally been a part of any other leagues, but I have to say that I think this one is filled with well-run teams and talented executives, from top to bottom. A really good group to be involved with.

Last but not least, the league awards were doled out, and the Cyclones received the Vincent J. McNamara Award as the league's outstanding club. But you already knew that.

After the meeting, we hit the Trade Show floor to check out some new promotional items, inflatable games, staff shirts, food, tarp covers, seat cushions...anything you can possibly experience at the ballpark is being hawked on the Trade Show floor. It's pretty cool, and traditionally my favorite part of the week. Some fun stuff in store that I'll leave up our collective sleeve until a later date.

On Wednesday, we had another NYPL meeting, during which Steve gave a presentation on the league's Charitable Foundation, and Kevin ran the nitty gritty of the Power Point presentation. (Pretty sure the "nitty" was his computer help, and the "gritty" was when he followed up the good will of the report by almost coming to blows with Oneonta GM Andy Webber...who was, admittedly, asking for trouble when he politely requested that an email of the presentation be sent to him. The gall of some people!)

We then discussed an exciting initiative the league will be taking this year to form an all-time team (more on that, too, at a later date), and then listened to a couple of pitches from vendors, before adjourning.

That afternoon, we gathered the crew from St. Lucie to form our traditional "pack," and headed to a popular Indianapolis restaurant called Harry & Izzy's for the inaugural "60/40 Dinner." It's partially owed by Peyton Manning (as is, I believe, every building, person, dog, cat, and horse in Indianapolis) and is renowned for its world-famous shrimp cocktail (which, incidentally, is slathered in a freshly-ground horseradish sauce that burned like wildfire through my nasal passage and singed my frontal lobe...and may have sent Gary to the hospital with an enlarged uvula). A good time was had by all.

Later that night, The Pack attended the MiLB Gala at Lucas Oil Stadium, home to -- you guessed it -- Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Peyton Mannings Colts. It was a really great venue for the Gala, and included tours of the stadium. The Brooklyn contingent of The Pack took a tour that led us through the bowels of the stadium and onto the field:

The tour also led us to the highest point of the stadium, where I was amazed to find a completely foreign concept to me...a press box from which you can actually see the field! Huh. Imagine that:

It's really a great-looking stadium, and the tour was a fun perk. (I also used it as an opportunity to ask the guide if everyone in Peytonapolis got excited when the Giants came to town, because they got to see the "good" Manning. You know, the last one to win the Super Bowl. Elijah. She gave me a death stare and ignored me for the rest of the tour.

All in all, a good Winter Meetings trip, although somewhere a little warmer in the heart of the winter might be a good idea. Maybe someplace where dreams come true and we can all get a bit goofy. Just an idea.

-- Dave

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Meetings, 2009

With December comes the Winter Meetings -- baseball's annual executive get-together, packed with seminars, roundtable discussions, a trade show, awards, banquets, luncheons, and dinners. The 2009 edition has teams from around the country on a pilgrimage to Indianapolis, IN, where they apparently have a football team or something. (You literally can't go more than half a block without seeing a picture of a colt, a horseshoe, Peyton Manning, or Peyton Manning riding a colt while playing horseshoes. Sidenote: I've made it my personal goal to ask at least 10 Indianapolites if they can help me figure out Eli's brother's name. "Not Cooper. The other one." I might not make it home.)

Steve, Mahoney, Gary, and I made the trek this year, and got off to a bit of a rough start on Sunday (this is my bed, this is my air conditioner, and
this is my roommate). After arriving at the airport and spending 20 minutes watching our cab driver unsuccessfully but repeatedly slam the trunk on our luggage (he just needed an Allen wrench and some WD-40, according to Steve), the Meetings got underway on Monday morning with a few seminars, followed by the Opening Session (or a tour of the chicken samplers from the guys in the local mall food court, for those of us that opted out).

Next up was an awards luncheon, recognizing various honorees from various leagues (or "Dine & Dash," for the St. Lucie crew). Steve loved the cake.

Then, we headed to the Roundtable Discussions portion of the day. Lots of idea sharing in categories like "Sales & Marketing," "Fan Experience," "Ballpark Operations," etc. I attended mainly discussions that were themed around new media, social networking, tweeting, and things of that nature. It turns out this whole "Internet" thing is probably going to stick. As you know, since you're reading this, the Cyclones are at the front of the curve thanks to our
website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter page. It's interesting to see what other teams are doing and what some new trends are. I also got to see Ben Hill, who, along with Mark Titus and Joyce Huang, round out my top three favorite bloggers. (Incidentally, an impostor from a team in Lexington, KY claimed during his shpiel that they had the most popular blog in the minors. The little counter doohickey on the right says different. I demand that his false statement is stricken from the record.)

I should mention that our hotel location required us to use the indoor skywalk, which gives us the feeling of being inside a bio-dome, and is approximately seven miles long (at least it feels that way). We walk back and forth about a four dozen times a day, and ride the escalator about a million times. Since many of those times, it was just me and Kevin, and since we were dressed up, and dressed in similar attire, I referenced Rain Man every time we rode every escalator. In all of my references, I was Charlie, and Kevin was not happy.

On Monday night, the Mets hosted a cocktail hour for all of their affiliates, and in a stunning upset, Steve was named the Paul Taglieri Sterling Minor League Executive of the Year! Steve did his best Johnny Drama, thanked Kevin for doing all the "nitty gritty" stuff, and then was congratulated in the unique way males do such things...he was relentlessly made fun of for the remainder of the night.

Updates on the Trade Show, the NYPL meeting, and more tomorrow!

-- Dave

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Steve C. Phone Home

Some people are less tech savvy than others. Some people are virtually tech illiterate. And then there's Steve.

Quick example: A few years ago, at a meeting with our friends at the High School of Sports Management, a 15-year-old student took out a flash drive and explained that all of her info was on the drive. Steve later confided that until he saw her plug it into the laptop, he thought she was just going to throw it in the air, and a hologram would come out. (Help us, Steve. You're our only hope.)

Now, I'll admit...not everyone is on the level of Bill Gates, Al Gore, or myself. But there are some things that I thought -- until today -- everyone knew how to use, regardless of their level of tech-comfort. Like, say, a phone.

I was wrong.

Baby Alexa gave Steve a crash course in phone use this morning ("you talk into this end"), and somehow did so with a straight face. After their brief (20-minute) session, Steve decided to experiment by having Alexa go back to her desk (15 feet from his office), calling her from his cell, and doing his best
Verizon Guy impression, while testing out different grips.

He settled on the standard right-hand-to-right-ear position for cell use, but occasionally slips back into his
land-line comfort grip, which causes all sorts of problems (and makes next to no sense at all, since he's right-handed, despite the lefty placement of his mouse pad).

So if you call Steve on his new cell over the next few days (weeks), bear with him. He may not hear you, you may not hear him, or he may be trying to answer his stapler. He'll get the hang of it soon enough.


Until then, he'll be trying to figure out why his bluetooth won't work, even though he set his up just like
this guy.

-- Dave

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

Ever since the Pilgrims blogged about landing at Plymouth Rock, all of America (and some of Canada) has used this time of year to celebrate things for which we are thankful. We at the Cyclones are no different (well, some would say we're very different, but that's a matter for another time).

As we head into the Turkey Day holiday and weekend, we suckers workhorses who are still in the office would like to use this space to "give mad props" (according to Alexa) to some of the things that bring us joy. (Disclaimer: the following people may or may not have said all the things attributed to their names.)

Dave: pizza, the Internet, Ms. Pac Man, Wally Backman, faithful blog readers, Ultimate Warrior promos, the innovator of infield defense known simply as "Mex," Rev. Branch, Miss Lescure, Club Trillion, mayhem, mischief, family, friends, and Cyclones fans

Mahoney: all my best BUDdys

Pat: free Applebee’s, that Vlad already winterized the ticket windows, Wally Backman, the hot stove, that we close the office for a week between Xmas and new years, Brad Holt, thinking of promotions, and coming back to Brooklyn after spending Thanksgiving in NH with the snow and cold

Ricky: having the entire 25-man roster in my car at some point this season, not having to pick up Jabi's family, and the inadmissibility of polygraph tests

Liz: working for the Man of the Year & working with a crazy group of people who truly help me find the spirit(s) of the season

Gary: my family, friends and the countless hours I spend with my co-workers pulling tarp each year. Also, elastic waistbands, Just for Men, cell phones, Roland Hemond, travel-sized cups of marinara sauce, and for Gary having the ability to talk about Gary in the third person

Sharon: that gas prices went down 2cents/per gallon since I’ll be driving to Cape May, NJ on Saturday. I’ll fill up today and park until it’s time to leave. And for all the volunteers that will be helping to serve Thanksgiving Dinner at Coney Island Gospel Assembly on Thanksgiving Day

Alexa: beatboxing, that I got to meet DJ, Babe, Babe II, the "fridge" in the basement, Kevin D., and that there are only about six months to Opening Day

Steve (via satellite): my wonderful family, the terrific people I work with and most of all...that we finally got rid of our fruit fly epidemic. Nd 4 my blkbry of crse

Enjoy the holiday, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night!

-- Dave

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Message From Wally

After his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Wally Backman recorded a special message just for Cyclones fans:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Introducing Wally

Today's press conference was an exciting one, as we officially introduced Wally Backman as the Cyclones' manager for the 2010 season.

Wally told the assembled media that he had actually lived in Brooklyn during his first year with the Mets, and reminded them that he played in the New York-Penn League after being signed by the Mets as a 17-year-old first-round draft pick.


He talked about incorporating his style of play -- aggressive, scrappy, and focused on speed and defense -- and teaching the players under his watch how to be better ballplayers and better people, while preparing them to move up the ladder towards the big leagues.

Here are some quick clips from the presser, courtesy of our old friend Vanilla Ice B-Mac:



-- Dave

Monday, November 16, 2009

Going Wild for Wally

Big announcement today -- Wally Backman has been named the Cyclones' manager for the 2010 season!

Backman is an all-time favorite among Mets fans, revered for his all-out, hard-nosed style of play. (On a personal note, I was obsessed with Mex, HoJo, and Wally as a kid, so I might be even more excited than you are!)


How could you not love Backman? A scrappy table-setter who set the tone with his gritty, grinder, gamer attitude. Diving all over the place, sacrificing his body, his uniform, and the laws of physics to make a play, get on base, or score a run.

If you were a Mets fan in the 80s, I dare you to watch this and not get goosebumps:



Now, Wally will be bringing that brand of baseball to Brooklyn as the Cyclones' manager! I can't think of a place better suited for his style and attitude. As Steve said in the official press release, "Brooklyn and Backman were made for each other."

Stay tuned! We'll have a recap of the press conference and some quotes and video from Wally himself tomorrow.

-- Dave

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

The Cyclones would like to thank the veterans, troops, and military families for all their sacrifices, and for defending and protecting our country and our way of life.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Survey Says!

With the goal of more accurately assessing our fans (who you are, what you like, what's important to you, the best ways to get you information, etc.), we've created a brief survey that we hope you'll take a few minutes to complete.

I'd like to think that once we have all the results, Steve will bring us into the conference room, throw on a baby blue checkered suit, stand behind the podium, and do his best Richard Dawson while we all guess the answers...but it probably won't be anything that exciting.

If you'd like to participate, you can fill out the survey online. It's quick, anonymous, confidential, and it'll be really helpful to us.

Thanks, as always.


-- Dave

Monday, October 19, 2009

Apocalypse Now?

It has been said (by the director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow) that the world will end in the year 2012. However, the same thing was said in 2000, and guess what? We're all still here. (While we're on the topic, how come the Mayans, Nostradamus, and all the other future-predictors only foresee earth-shattering, cataclysmic events and not everyday things like "On October 25th, 2009, there will be heavy eastbound traffic on the Belt Parkway beginning at 10 am?" That would be way more useful. And are we really supposed to believe that these ancient civilizations could see things thousands of years ahead of their time when Al Roker and the Doppler 4000 can't even accurately tell me what the weather will be like this afternoon? And isn't The Day After Tomorrow just plain ol' Wednesday?)

Anyhoo...back to the point at hand. One of the signs of the apocalypse is purported to be a swarm of locust, and we here at the Cyclones offices may be experiencing this harbinger of doom as we speak! Either that, or we have way too many fruit flies.

OK, OK. So they are actually just fruit flies and not evil insects prophesizing our doom (although that would be way more cool). And the fact that they are simply uninteresting non-world enders just makes it even more annoying to sit at your desk all day and feel like this:

In fact, if this infestation gets any worse, I may have to call Billy the Beekeper. And believe me, no one wants that type of extreme measure to be taken!

-- Dave

Friday, October 16, 2009

Outstanding!

The Cyclones have been honored with the 2009 Vincent McNamara Award, given annually to the New York-Penn League's Outstanding Club!

This is the second such award for the Cyclones (we won it in 2003, as well) and at the risk of sounding like Ron Burgundy, it's kind of a big deal. Being named the top team in the NYPL is a rewarding recognition of our staff's efforts and our fans' ongoing support...so feel free to celebrate along with us!


And that's not all. By virtue of winning this award, we have also been nominated for the John H. Johnson President's Trophy, which is given annually to the Minor League Baseball club that "best exemplifies the standards of the complete baseball franchise, such as financial success of operation, contributions to baseball in the community and baseball industry, and long-term franchise stability."

This is pretty much the industry's top honor, and we've been working on our nomination presentation, which we will be submitting today. Keep your fingers crossed. We'll be up against very stiff competition -- high-level, long-season teams from around the country -- but we all know Brooklyn never backs down from a challenge!

Thanks, as always, for your support, and for being a part of our team. Without you, we wouldn't win any of these awards!

-- Dave

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back and Blogging

Back from vacation (and not quite as tan as I'd hoped).

Thousands (or at least a couple) of loyal blog readers have emailed, called, texted, facebooked, and tweeted, demanding new entries ASAP!

Fear not, fans. I am on the case.


-- Dave

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vacation Hibernation

I'm heading on a vacation for a while. Normally, you wouldn't care (and I wouldn't care to tell you), but since Joyce is moving, Wes is back home, KJ's hands are finally germ-free, and Andrew is off busily building buzz (say that 10 times fast), that means the ol' Blog is going on a brief hiatus.

Fear not, though, loyal readers. Absence simply makes the heart grow fonder.

If you truly love something, set it free, and see if it comes back to you. That's deep. (If it doesn't come back, by the way, follow it around until it calls you a stalker, files a restraining order, or finally recognizes and reciprocates your love. That's what I do, at least.)

Since the Blog is inanimate, however, and can do none of the above, just sit tight (or better yet, catch up on past hijinks by reading through the archives).

There'll be more posts on the way in mid-October!


-- Dave

Monday, September 21, 2009

Goin' Back to Cali

Joyce Huang is a German-and-Chinese-speaking native of the planet Mars (or the state of California...I always get them confused) who loves math, knows nothing about pop-culture from 1970-2004, has a tapeworm named Frederick that causes her to eat 15 times a day, thinks Step Up 2: The Streets deserves an Oscar, and occasionally smartens up the blog with actual intelligent posts from time to time. Oh...and she is also a flat-leaving traitor who is pulling an L.L./Brooklyn Dodgers on us (not that we're bitter or anything):

Sadly, I recently gave my two weeks’ notice to the Cyclones, and I'll be leaving Brooklyn to return to my native California. It has been an eventful three years in New York, and naturally, the less time I have here, the more I appreciate what I’m going to miss.

Normally, I wouldn’t think to write a farewell blog (because let’s face it, we don’t want to throw my many personal fans, who definitely know who I am, into a deep abyss of depression), but...
1. Dave asked if I wanted to, and when Dave asks you something, you don’t say no (unless you simply don’t feel like it)

2. The season is over, and I’m about to leave for good, so there’s not much to do except blog
and
3. I like making lists, which I will be doing here as I recount what I will miss most about working in Brooklyn with the Cyclones:
  • I will never pick up a ringing phone in California and hear “How you doin’?”
  • In Cali, they don’t greet you with that warm, heartfelt kiss on the cheek the way they do in Brooklyn, so that you feel like you can always come over for milk and cookies. Where I’m from, they greet you with the Oprah/pregnant lady hug, where you stand an arm’s length from each other and pat each other faux-enthusiastically on the shoulder. When I inevitably forget, and lean in for the kiss, I am going to end up getting a lot of harassment complaints from Californians.
  • There can never be a duplicate of Ricky Viola. Though that’s probably a good thing for concerned parents everywhere, I will miss him, his disturbing personality, and his “that has GOT to be fake” Brooklyn accent.
  • I will never again have Dave summon me to his office to debrief me on proper behavioral protocol before my first trip to John’s Deli (“Know exactly what you want when you get in there; don’t react to the vulgar stuff they have playing on the TV in the corner; don’t be offended by the guy they call Pancho…or the other guy they call Pancho; and for the love of God, don’t get out of line!”)
  • I will never again be able to listen to the ticket office’s phenomenal ability to argue a topic endlessly (after work hours, Steve), while throwing in references to Ivy League schools, the birth date of America, someone’s sister, and New Hampshire. In one conversation. The View has nothing on John, Pat, Katie, and Adam.
  • I will never work with another ticket manager with the same combination of quiet good-naturedness and devastating one-liners as Chris.
  • I will never again be able to experience the lunchtime improv that is KJ and Ricky.
  • If I ever get into a fight at a bar, my most helpful ally, Elizabeth Lombardi, will be on the other side of the country.
  • I will never be able to joke to Nino of Gargiulo’s that I would appreciate a tray of meatballs the next time he came to the stadium, only to have him actually show up at a game with a tray of meatballs for me. As everyone who knows me can tell you, food is the fastest way to my heart, and my love for Nino is now forever.
  • I doubt I will find another Lisa Gavaletz among the more relaxed California sports fans…she has cheered us on through thick and thin, sat through 24 Hours of Baseball, and best of all (for me), brought the front office lollipops on the last game of the season. I’ll miss you, Lisa! And thank you Simos Xenakis, for the pastries you dropped off for Pat (which I neglected to tell him about until after I took my share of cream puffs).
  • I will never again, on a road trip, be able to listen to Dave ask Kevin Mahoney (a country music fan): “What would you like to listen to? Brooks and Garth? Swift Taylor?” And then see the look on Kevin’s face that makes me a little afraid for Dave’s life.
  • The next Gary I work with probably won’t tolerate me calling him “Gare-Bear.”
  • The first wave I ever caught surfing was not in CA, but in Long Island (thanks Shawn, for being my teacher and doing all the work for me while I just lay on the board and got a push).
  • I’ll never again be able to watch Brian The Intern (BTI) struggle to speak Spanish (inadvertently mixed with French) to a customer at the ticket window, only to see Miguel The Intern (MTI), who is fluent, sitting to the side, leaning back with arms folded and observing in silent, unhelpful amusement. And then have Steve Cohen walk in on the scene and try to come to Brian’s aid by exercising his entire Spanish vocabulary: “Dos! Dos tickets! DONDE ESTA LA BIBLIOTECA?!”
  • Speaking of Miguel, I will miss the most powerful marketing tool we have ever placed at our selling window. When girls see him there, they automatically want to buy tickets. When guys see him there, they are automatically intimidated into buying tickets.
  • I will never be able to watch a girl from Commack, Long Island (that’s you, Alexa) rap Lil’ Wayne for three minutes straight in the back seat of a van on the way back from Aberdeen.
  • Since there is no snow in California, I will never again be able to experience a snowball fight on our field with our front office in the winter.
  • The next accounting dept. I encounter will not allow me to steal their chocolate and cookies the way Tatiana and Olena have.
  • I will likely never again hear more than ten New Hampshire references a day (Pat and Brandy)…or for that matter, hear a man from New Hampshire rap Lil’ Wayne as well (that’s you, Pat).
  • I will never again have a boss like Steve Cohen. No one who will remind his staff on a daily basis that he is a handsome man; who will play third base during a front office vs. interns game while pulling a sandwich out of his pocket; who will take us out to a relaxing, bonding evening in a restaurant and pull out pocket schedules for the hostess; who will ask during a drizzly game over the walkie-talkie, as we’re waiting at the end of the third baseline to pull tarp, “Is it raining in Section 21 yet? Because it’s starting to in Section 5;” or when I hint a month and a half in advance that I might be leaving, immediately comes in and starts taking measurements on my cubicle.
Front office and Brooklyn fans alike, I will miss you dearly. There is no one else like you.

-- Joyce

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brooklyn Bashes Birds in Blowout Bonanza

Apt alliteration aside (help! I can't stop), the Cyclones' front office staff did put on a dominating display against the Aberdeen IronBirds' staff on Tuesday in our annual softball challenge.

Each year, for the past four years (except last year), we have rotated the home field, with each team taking the road trip into enemy territory. We drove to Maryland the first year and lost, then they drove to Brooklyn the next year and lost, then last year, we made the mistake of trying to involve other teams and it never happened. So, this year it was our turn to hit the road. Adding to the excitement, this year we'd be on the big stage, as we were slated to play in an actual stadium, with dugouts, seats, and a press box. It's the jewel of the amateur side of the Ripken complex -- "Cal Sr.'s Yard!"

We loaded up the van and headed for Aberdeen, knowing that the road team had never won in the series (usually because they were literally weighed down by Roy Rogers or Nathan's)...until now.

On Tuesday, we took the all-time series lead by busting out the heavy lumber (actually, lightweighted aluminum) to sweep a doubleheader, winning the first game, 9-3, and the second game, 17-4. And neither game was even as close as the score indicates. In Game One, Aberdeen scored two of their three runs only because Mahoney refused to catch any ball Steve or I threw to him, because we offered to fire him and give his job, office, and company car(s) to a far more attractive IronBirds staff member trade him. In Game Two, we had 37 hits. 37! (And yes, we actually keep score. We're dorks.)

This was truly a total team effort, with big hits, big defensive plays, and a big pitching performance.

Chicks dig the long ball, so we'll start there. Gary put the "round" in round-tripper by blasting three home runs, including a shot to lead off the game that set the tone for the day, and would have made his "refer to myself in the third person" idol proud. For one day, at least, he didn't just look like the Bambino, he hit like him! I later followed with a three-run blast of my own (S.I.S.). Miggy made up for an otherwise hitless day with a mammoth shot off the warehouse (Sr.'s Yard is a replica of Camden Yards), and Big John busted out the rye bread and the mustard when he went Grand Salami in the first inning of Game Two.

"Eagle Eye Viola" morphed into "Ripping Ricky" when he tripled his lifetime hit total in one day by notching seven hits -- including a 5-for-5 performance in Game Two. Chris used his "Nerve Gas" on the mound to paralyze the Aberdeen hitters and hold them to just one earned run all day. Steve was a righthanded Ichiro at the plate, his usual Brooksy self in the field, and terrorized both teams on the bases. Mahoney had five hits of his own in Game Two, and ended the day wanting to fight a guy on the other team, because...the guy ran hard and tried to reach base safely. Adam (ATI) had some clutch hits, and played the outfield one-handed without spilling. Alexa and Brandy added some big hits of their own, gave our lineup some pop all the way through, and shored up the right field defense. Liz kept a meticulous scorecard (allowing for the stats herewith), and Joyce was a passive-aggressive third-base coach, leading to a variety of injuries and hilarity in the 60 feet from the hot corner to home plate (more on this later).

Here's how Damage, Inc.'s performance will be remember by the annals of history:
  • Gary: 4-for-10, 3 HR, 5 RBI, one 4.7 Richter Scale landing at home plate.
  • Steve: 4-for-9, two diving stops, seven defensive gems, one on-purpose error, one ball thrown into the stands because Mahoney wouldn't go to first base.
  • Dave: 5-for-9, 1 HR, 3 RBI, two "leaping" catches that totaled 6.1" off the ground, one ridiculously stupid slide that caused the game's only bloodshed (my own).
  • Big John: 7-for-9, 1 GSHR, one Web Gem catch to rob a home run in the left field corner, zero fights with random passersby (for once).
  • Mahoney: 6-for-9, one hit batsman, one near-fight, one boycott of throws from the left side of the infield.
  • Miggy: 1-for-9, 1 monster HR (only because ABD plays with a "no strikeout" rule), one missed class, one highway rest-stop stalker, countless broken hearts.
  • Alexa: 3-for-9, one at-bat with 15 swings and misses, 12 f-bombs, one sniper shot to the ankle.
  • Chris: 3-for-9, 34 smiles, 0 HR allowed, 0.64 ERA, three words spoken.
  • Adam: 4-for-9, two failed pick-up lines.
  • Ricky: 7-for-9, one collision/tumble/romantic interlude at third base, seven new reasons to protest being slotted at the bottom of the lineup in the future, 74 passed balls during his three innings as catcher.
  • Brandy: 3-for-9, one generally calming and pleasant personality on a team filled with raving lunatics.
I mentioned some injuries earlier. I slid into home plate when Joyce waved me home, despite me being out by 20 feet (on 60-foot bases). Normally, no big deal. However, Sr.'s Yard apparently hadn't been watered since the season ended, so it was a bit like sliding on concrete. In shorts. I wound up with a massive raspberry on my shin, a slightly smaller one on my knee, and a third on my ankle. I like to think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but I almost cried and nearly passed out in the shower when the soap and water hit my leg last night, and again this morning. Thanks, coach.

Baby Alexa was also a victim of Joyce's coaching style, when she was waved home, only to be told "Um, wait. Maybe stop." She rolled her ankle in the confusion, and it's now swollen to the size of Rishi's head.

Best of all, though, had to be Miggy, who "fake dove," four or five steps after already catching a fly ball (a la Derek Jeter). Only problem was, he jammed his shoulder, and potentially blew his chances of being drafted, since we all know of at least one scout in attendance who included the boneheaded injury in his post-game report. Plus, Miggy will probably fail whatever class he skipped when his professor reads this blog. (Because everyone reads this blog, Steve. Mwah hah hah hah!)

The ride home was a strange, though victorious, one. Liz "missed" the bridge (It's a giant steel structure connecting two land masses over a body of water. How can you "miss" it?) and took us on a scenic tour of lovely Wilmington, DE. Alexa went all Commack-style on us and gangsta-rapped the lyrics of a Taylor Swift song ("Yo, she wears dem high heels, yo, I wear da sneekaz, she da cheer captain, @#!*%, but I'm on da bleechaz"). Mahoney tried to punch the spider-webbed glass of the back window in the hopes -- yes, the hopes -- that it would shatter and critically sever his jugular. And ATI expounded on his religious upbringing and pop-culture beliefs ("Billy Joel is my favorite Jew...besides Moses").

All in all, it was another legendary outing for the Dream Team. (No, seriously, have you ever seen that movie? Click on the link. Watch the trailer. Tell me we don't have waaaay too much in common with escaped mental patients on a road trip. I think about it every time we're in a van together.)

Two dominating (like Mike Swindell) wins, and one ultra-long blog entry. I call that a success any day. Sure, we're a bunch of weirdos...but we're good at what we do.


-- Dave

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Veekies!

The Cyclones recently received a "Veekie Award" from ESPN The Magazine, in recognition of one of the best promotions of the year -- our Baracklyn Cyclones night!

The Veekies are highlighted on page 30 of the Sept. 21 edition of The Magazine (on stands now...Tim Tebow is on the cover). The award is named after the late Bill Veeck, who is hailed as baseball's ultimate showman (after Steve Cohen, of course).

As you probably remember, the Baracklyn Cyclones night was great fun, a huge success, and drew rave reviews around the world (except from McCain supporters, who didn't get the joke).

Earning the Veekie is a very cool nod to our hard work, and a great honor for us. (Perhaps more importantly, it gave me a legitimate excuse to email Amber/Obama Girl girl again!)
The '09 season has only been over for a few days, but we're already brainstorming about some big ideas for next season, too. Hopefully, this is only our first Veekie, and not our last!

-- Dave

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Cyclone of Life

With the conclusion of the season, and the mixed emotions it brings, some of us "veterans" in the office have been talking about the thoughts and feelings that ebb and flow throughout the calendar year -- the Cyclones Cycle, if you will.

We may not hoist baby Alexa in the air like Mufasa each season, but there is a certain Circle of Life among members of the front office that repeats itself year in and year out. Birth. Life. Death. Repeat. OK, maybe it's not quite as dramatic as that Circle, but it's our Circle, so it's important to us. Aaaaand, if it's important to us, it must be important to you (at least, that's the self-absorbed philosophy that keeps the Blog alive).

So, without further ado, I give you (a condensed version of) the front office Circle of Life -- the Cyclone Cycle! (And I'll start with the birth of the new season, in the hopes of beating this analogy as far into the ground as humanly possible.)

There are, of course, unique blips that occur on the radar of each season, but the following are things that you can set your watch to, without fail. The real Groundhog Day elements of the job. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and the Cyclones have this:


Mid-June

Everything's (hopefully) in place. The players have been drafted, the promotional nights have been finalized, ads have been running, tickets have been sold and shipped
, Ponte's been mowing the grass for the last 273 consecutive days, and anyone who hasn't quit Vlad's crew has been painting, scrubbing, and generally fixing up the ballpark to get it looking in tip-top shape. Opening Day is upon us. All the time and energy we've spent preparing for the last several months has all been for this. The gates open, the fans file in, the players line the steps to meet them, and a new season is underway.

The staff feels a thrilling sense of anxious excitement, anticipating the craziness to come in the next three months...coupled with a crippling sense of intense dread, fearing the craziness to come in the next three months.

We say goodbye to our friends and family for the summer and say hello to our Cyclones friends and family for the summer. Like many of the emotions involved with the job, it's a mixed bag. That's just the way it is.


Get yourself ready for 15-hour days, tarp pulls, unloading boxes of last-minute promo items, and all the other fun stuff in store. Here we go!

July

With a few games now under our belt, the newbies have been broken in, and everyone's starting to get into their own routines, and into the full swing of the season. Steve has learned at least three players' names (two of whom were on the team last year), and will now spend the next month trying to match up their faces, and complain that it's impossible, because they all look the same -- 6'2" blond kids from Idaho, or wherever.

July brings the Kids Camp (which means Liz will be super-stressed, and Gary will finally get to talk to the players he drafted...and the two of them will come very close to killing each other).


The midway point of the season also means the pennant race is on, between the Cyclones and the Yankees. No offense to the IronBirds and Renegades (or the Crosscutters and Cardinals before them), but this is basically a foregone conclusion. Since the Cyclones entered the league in 2001, no other team besides Brooklyn and Staten Island has worn the McNamara Division crown.

Mid-July is also when we as a staff start to hit that imaginary wall. So much effort and energy goes into kicking off the season, that once that initial high wears off, you look at the remaining games on the schedule and can't believe you're only halfway through it. Halfway? That means that everything you've just done? You have to do it all over again. Your friends are all going on vacations, going to weddings, going to the beach, and like, having lives and stuff. And you hate them for it. That light at the end of the tunnel? It looks like this. At this point you can't wait for the season to be over (but be careful what you wish for...more on this later).

August
August brings the NYPL All-Star game, which serves two purposes for the staff:
  1. Provide a break in the action and an opportunity to recharge.
  2. ROAD TRIP!
Now, I realize that those two things don't really go hand in hand. You finally get a few days off to get away from baseball and catch up with friends and family, so you...leave your friends and family to travel with colleagues to go watch baseball?

Part of the reasoning behind this is that you have to be a little "touched" to work in baseball. You just have to be. So things that make sense to normal humans don't really apply. Another part of it is that although you spend most of your day with co-workers, players, and coaches, you don't actually get to unwind or really hang out with them in a relaxed setting all that often, so the ASG is a good opportunity to do so. Another part is that the host team usually sets up some cool events -- go-cart racing, pub crawls, brunches with Hall of Famers, freak shows at the aquarium -- and you feel like you deserve to enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor after months of your own hard work. And last, but certainly not least, you know that if you don't go, you'll be ripped mercilessly by everyone that did, both to your face and behind your back.

Anyway, the ASG comes and goes, and there are now about three weeks left to the season. That's it? Man, it went by so quickly! I wish we had more time.

Whaaaaaaaaat? Do you hear yourself? Just a couple of weeks ago, you were comparing the season to Moses' journey through the desert.

I don't know...I told you, there are mixed emotions all over the place, and we're all a little off, anyway. And we're never happy with whatever situation we're in. Don't try to figure it out. It is what it is.

Early September
We're in the home stretch now. The division race is coming down to the wire, the interns are all going back to school, and the video guy has put in his two weeks' notice. (We should, like, download some video clips or something.)

Unfortunately, it's also Labor Day weekend, and school is starting, so our usually vivacious and electric crowds thin out a bit. The beginning of the end.

We make the playoffs (or we don't), travel to one or two more upstate/western NY destinations, and then -- win or lose -- it's over. The team is gone the next day, the circus tent is gone the next day, Coney's neon lights are gone the next day, and it is officially the offseason.

Ugh. And whew! Oh no. And thank goodness. (There are those mixed emotions again.)

Mid-September
The first couple of days & weeks immediately following the season are filled with housekeeping stuff. Writing season recaps (and seemingly endless blog postings about the Cyclones Cycle), running attendance numbers, creating proof-of-performance packets for sponsors, cleaning the stadium, etc.

It's also time to re-introduce ourselves to society, and to the people we love -- Ms. Pac Man, Pac Man, and Junior our families.

Plus, we'll throw in some outdoor activities like softball games against other front offices, baseball games against over-60 leagues, or football in the outfield to make up for lost time in the summer.

Many of us (but probably not enough) will also get back into the gym and try to lose the extra pounds we packed on by eating ballpark food twice a day for 120 days.

October













November - December
Gearing up. That's the catch-all phrase when people ask you what you're up to at work. It can mean anything, and it's used so frequently throughout baseball that no one really makes you go into any more detail.

A typical winter conversation will go something like this:
"Good season for you guys?"
"Yeah, it was. Lots of good stuff to build on."
"New Year just around the corner."
"Yup. Another season."
"You guys getting ready?"
"Gearing up."
"I hear ya."
No further explanation is necessary.

So these are the months for gearing up. Well, that and scouring HotJobs.

December is also the month for the Winter Meetings, baseball's annual trade show/league meeting/job fair/networking extravaganza. For those of us that go, it's the time of year to refocus on new ideas, new giveaway items, new entertainment options, and generally get revitalized about the upcoming season. For those that don't go, it's a nice few days with Steve and Kevin out of the office.

January
Winter break is over, and the calendar has turned to a new year. This is the month that we traditionally announce our new schedule and coaching staff, start selling sponsorship packages & ticket plans, and start brainstorming for the season ahead. After all, it's "right around the corner."

Only. Six. Months. Away.

Now it's like we're coming through that endless tunnel in reverse!

February - March
Spring Training! Baseball is finally in the air again. And although the players who will make up the coming year's roster are mostly still in college at this point, we can watch former Cyclones play with the big boys in the major leagues. Even if it's split-squad games.

April
The MLB season starts, and we can see which of our alumni have made the cut. This is also the start of the really busy couple of months just before our season. The sales teams are beating the pavement. Print and ad deadlines are hurtling towards us, classes are touring the ballpark, high schools and colleges are playing on the field, and the weather is starting -- just starting -- to hint at Spring.

May
Now, the season really is just around the corner. Most of our promotional dates are locked in, we've designed and ordered the giveaway items, and no one can actually believe we're going to do this all over again. Now, if only we knew who was going to be on the team...

Early June
The draft takes place in the second week of the month, and we start playing in the third week, so you can imagine what that last-minute rush is like.

We're also putting the finishing touches on several other last-minute ideas, updates, and adjustments. At this point, we're hip-deep in it, and we're rolling with what we've got.

What comes next? Scroll back to the top and start all over again!

-- Dave

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wes' (Final) Week That Was

23-year old Wes Wrenn was selected by the Mets in the 35th round of the 2009 draft, out of The Citadel, in South Carolina. He makes his home in Greensboro, NC. Wes took his his first professional steps towards his big-league dreams in a professional debut season with the Cyclones. Each week, Wes checked in on the Blog to get readers behind the scenes. The following is his final entry of the summer:

After three months of playing here in Brooklyn, I would have to say that my first year of professional baseball has been all that I expected and then some. The Brooklyn fan support, the Cyclones staff, the golf tournament, the kids camp, the ladies camp, the craziness of Coney Island, the pricey tours of Manhattan, the extensive road trips to places I never thought existed, and being on the number one team in the organization this year! It all has all provided me with more than enough memories and stories to tell. So while we may have fallen a little short in the playoffs, we still had an amazing year, one of the best in franchise history, and I'm proud to have been a part of it.

I would like to say “thank you” to all the fans that supported us through all the ups and downs of this year’s roller-coaster season. We started out unbeatable with a 16-2 record at one point, and then we lost a few players and a few more games to go along with them. But overall, this year was definitely a great success. We made friends that will last a lifetime, we learned some valuable life lessons and baseball knowledge from our experienced coaching staff, and we’ll have stories to talk about for years to come.

I can only hope that next year, wherever I end up, is as exciting as this year.

So long Brooklyn!

-- Wes

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All Good Things Must Come to an End

The 2009 Cyclones season has come to its end, unfortunately, but it was another fun-filled chapter in the story of Brooklyn baseball.

We led the league in attendance again (nine years in a row), and qualified for the playoffs again (six times out of nine). Think about that for a second. Think about how impressive either of those feats are on their own...and then think about the fact that we do both almost every year. It's become kind of commonplace, and somewhat expected (some might say to take the "somewhat" out), but every once in a while when I actually stop to think about all the work that goes into both those things, and the support from the fans that makes it all possible, it's pretty unbelievable.

We had some amazing moments both on and off the field this year -- no-hitters, Hall of Famers, Commanders-In-Chief (sort of), All-Stars (of the minor and major league variety), and much, much more. Several of those highlights are recapped here.

And for a give-you-goosebumps end-of-year video that captures even more on camera, check this out:



The summer goes by too fast. It's a pretty intense three months, during which you spend lots of time with people who are all working together (sort of) towards a couple of common goals. And then, like that (a la Keyser Soze), it's gone. Even after nine years of it, that sudden end still takes some getting used to.

This season, though, was an unforgettable one, and we'd like to sincerely thank the fans, coaches, players, staff members, and everyone else (especially the Blog readers) that were a part of it.

Don't worry, you don't have to go 100% cold turkey. We've got some more good stuff in store for you in the coming weeks to ease you out of Cyclones baseball slowly. And we've already got a few tricks up our sleeve for next year, too.

Stay tuned. And thanks again.

-- Dave

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Playoffs? Yes, Playoffs!

After 75 regular-season games, the Cyclones went 45-30, won the NYPL Wild Card, and tonight begin the "second season," needing four more wins to become champions of the New York-Penn League.

As any blogger worth their salt knows, when talking about the playoffs, you are contractually obligated to link to this. Done and done. (If there's one thing everyone says about me, it's that I'm worth my salt.) However, you simply can't get to the playoffs without practice...which is why I think this is even funnier.

Anyway, back to the playoffs ("playoffs?" Sorry. Once you get started it's hard to stop). We'll take on the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at home tonight in the first game of a best-of-three series. Games Two and Three (if necessary) will be played at Mahoning Valley on Wednesday and Thursday. (We'll be trying to make Game Three unnecessary by winning the first two. I wasn't in the team meeting, but I'm pretty sure that's the game plan.)

Over in the other Semifinal match-up, Staten Island and Lowell will be slugging it out for the right to face us in the Championship Series. (Or, hypothetically, the Scrappers...but we don't allow negativity to permeate the positive zen of the Blog.)

We're sending our two-headed Ace Monster to the mound in the first two games, with Mark Cohoon (9-2, 2.15) toeing the rubber tonight, and Brandon Moore (he of the no-hitter, and the team-best 2.09 ERA) getting the start tomorrow. So, on paper, our rotation couldn't have lined up any better for us. Now we just have to get it done on the field. And as our 10th man (technically 11th, thanks to the DH, but that doesn't sound as good), you can help out from the stands!

Come on down to Coney Island tonight to cheer on the Cyclones and help us bring another championship to Brooklyn!

See you at the game.


-- Dave

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Staff BP

From time to time, a few Cyclones managers have offered to throw the front office staff batting practice (and become staff favorites in the process) -- TJ, Fonzie, and now...Pedro.

Pedro invited us all outside today to embarrass ourselves show off our swings, while hitting coach Jack Voigt looked on (in what had to be agony and disgust).

We all had a great time. Steve and I showcased the left-side infield defense that has people calling us "The Wall" (and by '"people," I mean me and Steve). Speaking of walls (ahem, ahem), I hit a few balls off the big one in left field, but couldn't quite find the pop to put one out. Alexa jumped in the cage in jeans and a polo, smoked a few line drives, and then disappeared back inside. Miggy had a hard time shaking off his late-night salsa-dancing rust and never quite got in the groove. (Hitting, that is. Apparently, his dancing groove was working just fine.) Gary stepped to the plate to his very own theme song after earlier receiving a brand-new nickname. Nicole made her mark as the only Beach Bum willing to wake up before 1pm take a shot at the whole "baseball" thing (and she was pretty good for someone who had to be taught how to put on a glove)! Liz used her unusual combination Jeff Bagwell/Phil Plantier stance. Andrew took off his Rolex in the middle of his round (not sure it helped). Joyce ogled from the stands.

All in all, it was a good day.

Many thanks again to Pedro and Jack for giving us the chance to get out of our offices and get on the field! We truly appreciate it.

-- Dave

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stayin' Alive

We're already in the playoffs, so whether or not we win the division isn't really all that important...but you have to admit, it'd be nice.

We lost tonight, but so did Staten Island, which means we're still 1.5 games back with two games left to play.

Call me Lloyd, but I'm still hanging onto hope.



See you at the ballpark on Saturday!

-- Dave

Down the Stretch We Come

The last three games of the season are upon us, and the Cyclones are locked into a playoff berth, but still battling for the division title. We've played about .500 ball over the last two weeks, but Staten Island has rattled off 13 wins in a row. So...these last three games will be interesting. We need some wins, and we'll be doing some scoreboard watching.

Making things even MORE interesting, we've got a superstar centerfielder playing for us these days -- Carlos Beltran!

Beltran is rehabbing with us on his way back to the majors, after being sidelined since June 22nd. It's always exciting to see star big leaguers like Beltran, Wright, LoDuca, Floyd, etc. take the field wearing the Brooklyn uniform.

Beltran is in the lineup again tonight, and may be with us throughout the weekend.

With the playoffs on the horizon next week, this Labor Day weekend should be a good one at the ballpark, filled with a pennant race, star sightings, fireworks, giveaways, and more.

-- Dave