Monday, August 31, 2009

A Day in the Life (of King Henry)

Our ongoing "Day in the Life" series gets you even further behind the scenes than usual with videos that give you a glimpse of what goes into creating the one-of-a-kind atmosphere at KeySpan Park.

Today, check out a Day in the Life of everyone's favorite Monarch of the Ballpark. He's the Imperial Ingestor, the Emperor of Entertainment, the Maharajah of Mealtime, the Tyrant of Tomfoolery, and the Ruler of What's in the Cooler!

Ladies and gentleman, the one and only King Henry:

Stay tuned for more Day in the Life videos!

-- Dave

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

David Wright, Part II

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm going to hear even more "man crush" comments, but this is some good stuff that deserves to be told. David Wright took batting practice with the Cyclones again today, and we opened the gates early so fans could watch the Mets' star take some hacks. He once again peppered the scoreboard with some long home runs, and looked sharp fielding ground balls at third base.

But that's the boring stuff. Here's the good stuff:

He signed autographs for just about every person in attendance, making his way to pockets of crowds in the stands, taking pictures, and talking to the fans. At one point, he had to break away to take some more swings, and a little boy (wearing a David Wright shirt) who was just about to get an autograph looked heartbroken. In fact, he started crying, and had to be hugged by his mom.

At the end of the practice, I mentioned the boy to David, and he made a point to go over to him, and sign an autograph. The little guy was thrilled, and started to walk away with a huge smile on his face. "Hey, Noah," said Wright, calling the kid by his first name. "Come back here, buddy. This is for you." He signed the bat he used during batting practice and gave it to Noah! The kid was awestruck and speechless. He just started screaming!

Then Wright signed his spikes, his batting gloves, his cap -- just about everything he wore or used during the day -- and gave them out to random kids in the stands!

That is what sports and the athlete/fan relationship is all about. All the negative stuff gets the headlines, but what David Wright did today was one of the coolest things I've seen in my nine years with the team. I think it's safe to say there were some kids here who are now DWright fans (and hopefully Cyclones fans) for life!

-- Dave

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All Wright

David Wright was at KeySpan Park today, working out with the Cyclones as he rehabs his way back to the Mets.

DWright looked great (especially sporting the Cyclones logo on his chest), blasted some home runs off of the scoreboard, took some ground balls at third base, ran, threw, and joked around with the Cyclones players and staff! He said he felt good, and was looking forward to getting back on the field with the Mets.

He will be back again to take batting practice on Wednesday, and in a special offer, fans can get to the game early to watch!

The KeySpan Park gates will open extra early tomorrow, at 3:00pm, with BP slated to start at 3:30. You MUST have a ticket to the August 26th game to be admitted to the ballpark. (Get yours here.)

Without getting all wishy-washy, I'll say that David Wright is perhaps the most gracious, polite, down-to-earth superstar athlete I've ever met. In a world full of negative stories about the players we look up to, Wright symbolizes all the things that are good about sports, and makes it really easy to root for him to do well.

So come to KeySpan Park and cheer him on tomorrow, then stay to watch the first-place Cyclones continue their push for the playoffs against the Vermont Lake Monsters!

-- Dave

Monday, August 24, 2009

(No) No Moore

On Sunday, August 23rd, 23-year-old Brandon Moore tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history -- a seven-inning, complete game in which he allowed just three walks and struck out six batters.

The no-hitter was Moore's sixth win of the year, and lowered his ER%A on the season to 2.15.

Brandon checks in on the blog with a recap of his no-hit experience:

You probably won't believe this, and I know it sounds strange when you're talking about a no-hitter, but up until the fifth or sixth inning or so, I was actually pretty upset with myself, because I felt like I wasn't throwing a good game. Being able to locate my fastball is a huge part of my game, and yesterday I just wasn't able to put it where I wanted to. I was so focused on that lack of command, and so mad at myself about it that it kept me from even realizing I hadn't given up a hit...which is probably a good thing.

It was really, really, hot and humid, and I was mostly trying to get quick outs and get back into the dugout as fast as possible. My teammate, Collin McHugh, kept on bringing me water, which was a huge help. It's funny -- he told me after the game that he never saw someone throw a no-hitter and look so horrible while doing it. Between the heat and my thinking about locating my fastballs, I was just drained. Completely exhausted. I kept on falling behind hitters and throwing a lot more pitches than I wanted to, so getting to sit in the dugout and grab some water was pretty much the only thing on my mind...until the sixth inning.

I was going over the game in my head, and I just kind of starting thinking, "wait...have they gotten a hit yet?" I walked a couple of guys, and hit another one, so they had runners on base throughout the game, but I couldn't really remember any hits. Almost immediately, I tried to push it out of my mind. If I was throwing a no-hitter, I didn't want to think about it. I had to force myself not to look at the scoreboard. When I did look, I focused on the balls, strikes, and outs. Deep down, I knew it, but I just didn't want to confirm it.

After I got through the sixth inning, though, I knew it was for real. I finally looked at the zero on the scoreboard, and I knew I had three more outs to go. I went out to the mound for the last inning, and just kind of said, "Here we go. Let's see what happens."

I got a fly ball, and then a strikeout, and then I got two strikes on the next batter, and threw two borderline sliders, trying to get a groundball or a strikeout. They were pretty close, and I thought the ump was going to ring him up, just because it was the last out of the game, but he didn't, and I walked him. The next guy grounded out to second base for the last out.

Some of the guys were saying I was at about 87-88 MPH the whole game, and for the last batter got up to 90-91. I didn't feel any different, but I guess I just had that adrenaline pumping a little more.

When I got that last out, I was just so happy that we won, and that the game was over. Thinking about the no-hitter didn't even hit me immediately. But then the guys swarmed the mound, and everybody was telling me what a good job I did, and congratulating me. It was such a cool experience. I've never thrown a no-hitter before, and I later heard that it was the first one for the Cyclones, too, so it's very cool for me to be a part of the team's history.

The whole experience was awesome! I was so happy to be a part of it. I heard from friends, family and lots of former teammates right away, which was amazing. I was actually kind of shocked how fast the news was spreading, and it was great to hear from so many people.

Thanks a lot to all the fans who wished me congratulations, and who cheer us on every night! We're going to do everything we can to win a championship for Brooklyn this year!

-- Brandon

Wes' 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 is taking his first professional steps towards his big-league dreams, and has agreed to check in on the Blog from time to time to get us behind the scenes in the life of a new minor league ballplayer.

Last Saturday I was asked to work a women’s baseball clinic. I was kind of skeptical at first because I thought it was going to be some women that didn’t know much about baseball and I'd have to spend some valuable off time babysitting or explaining how many outs are in an inning...or what an out or an inning even is.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

These women knew as much, or more than, I did. They were asking some great questions during the Q&A and then when we took the field, they all had their gear and were ready to go. John Servidio and I took them through some stretches and then started playing catch. We could tell right away that there were some ballplayers in the group. We then went into some skills challenges and this was when it became very interesting.

Without mentioning names, there were some very athletic, competitive, entertaining, and interesting women in the group. Seeing their reactions to a dropped fly ball or missed ground ball was hilarious; some chose to show how they felt by throwing their gloves, others had a few choice words to say, and the few that did neither just kind of laughed and danced their way back to the end of the line.

The winner of each competition was awarded the opportunity to throw out the first pitch of that night’s game. I guess that is why there were some that became a little heated. Overall, it was a lot of fun and I don’t think I have laughed that much on a baseball field since the kids camp we had a few weeks back.

As usual, it was great to meet the fans face-to-face, and get to know the people who support our team. Thanks again to all the women who participated for making it so much fun!

-- Wes

Sunday, August 16, 2009

All-Star Fever

We leave tomorrow for the NYPL All-Star Game, and I as mentioned, with six players, five coaching staff members, and 15 or so front office staff members, we are definitely traveling with an entourage.

Maybe that's why Tim-Tim's latest video seems even more appropriate than usual. Check it out (and pay close attention to what look like familiar landmarks):

First baseman Sam Honeck is the lone first-year player among the Cyclones' All-Stars, and has agreed to take (mental) notes for an ASG blog entry either from State College, or right after the ASG experience.

Best of luck to the Brooklyn All-Stars!

-- Dave

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wes' 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 is taking his first professional steps towards his big-league dreams, and has agreed to check in on the Blog from time to time to get us behind the scenes in the life of a new minor league ballplayer.

After losing two out of three against the Jammers we headed to Ohio to take on the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the number one team in the other division.

But before we left, we were able to meet all of our season ticket holders after the third game against Jamestown. This was great! I had no idea there were this many. So many friendly fans and their future Cyclones (some of the kids I remembered from camp, and they have a bright future) made this a great experience. It was great to finally get to meet the people that cheer for us face-to-face.

The next day we had a golf outing at Dyker Beach golf course. There were seven Cyclones players in attendance and we were each paired with three fans to make a foursome. It was probably the hottest day since I’ve been here but we still had a lot of fun. Darryl “Straw” Strawberry was also in the tournament! He stayed at hole number 4, which is a par three, and everyone got to play him in a “closest to the pin” challenge. It was nice getting to meet one of the best players ever to play the game of baseball. Two players on my team beat him in this friendly competition; however, Straw just started playing golf three years ago.

After about our 15th hole, I saw Dave (our communications guy) and asked him when I should leave. He looked down at his watch and said "It's 5:20." I said, "Yeah, I know...and the bus leaves at 6:00 from KeySpan Park and I still have to shower and pack my bags for the road trip." We both looked at each other with a blank stare as if to say, “then why am I still here?”

Luckily for me, just then a course worker with a water cooler had pulled up to refill the water on that hole. I asked him for a ride back to the clubhouse, and we raced off. I love playing golf, so the entire ride back to the clubhouse I wanted to turn around and finish the last three holes, but I didn’t want to face a fine for being late...or risk missing a road trip!
Overall, it was a blast and I’m very thankful I was able to participate.

We made it back from golf just in time to shower and pack. Well, sort of "just in time." The entire team and coaches were waiting on us already on the bus as we pulled into KeySpan. But honestly, what’s the difference between getting there at 3:00 a.m. and 3:15 a.m?

We took two out of three from Mahoning Valley to tie them again for the best record in the league, thanks to some great pitching and unbelievable defense from our centerfielder, Justin Garber, and our second baseman, Matt Gaski. They both made ridiculous diving plays that saved the game last night and we were able to win 2-1.

Today we’ll start a three-game series against the Oneonta Tigers, before the All-Star Break.

See you at the park!

-- Wes

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Congrats to the All-Stars

The 2009 NYPL NL All-Star Team will have a very familiar look to Brooklyn fans, thanks to a whopping 10 Cyclones in uniform (and an 11th on the staff as a trainer).

LHP Mark Cohoon, C Dock Doyle, LHP Jim Fuller, 1B Sam Honeck, RHP Michael Powers, and OF Luis Rivera are the six players named to the team. Manager Pedro Lopez, pitching coach Rick Tomlin, hitting coach Jack Voigt, coach Joel Fuentes and trainer Deb Iwanow round out Brooklyn's invasion of State College, PA. Throw in the 30 or 40 staff members we have going to the game, and it's downright ridiculous.

You can read the official release and see all the All-Stars' stats here.

This is the third time we've had our coaching staff at the helm for the ASG, and the third time we've had six players named to the team. But it's the first time it's ever happened since we've had a blog!

When the guys get back from their current trip in Mahoning Valley, I'll try to get one/some of them to weigh in on the blog about the experience of being selected, and maybe give us some updates from throughout the ASG festivities.

Congrats again to all the All-Stars!

-- Dave

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Interns (Finally) Win...Sort of...Check the Update at the Bottom

It had to happen one of these days. The Interns were bound to beat the Full-Timers at some point. We keep getting older, and they keep getting younger. I'm actually surprised it didn't happen sooner.

This year's intern crop may have been the most athletic we've ever had (nice job, Liz), and I think pretty much every single one of them currently plays on an organized team.

We Full-Timers actually have jobs, so most of us haven't played since...well, last year's game.

And with all that against us, the young bucks bucks still barely squeaked out a 14-11 win, and one or two more hits in the last inning might've made this a whole different blog entry. Just goes to show you how good the Full Timers are. We pick up a bat & glove once a year, have 20 more years of wear & tear on us, and the big dogs can still hang with the pups.

Most details of the game aren't all that important or interesting (let one of them start a blog and write a recap if they want). Big John Haley blasted a mammoth shot off of BTI (who finally threw a strike for the first time in two years), Brooks Cohen showed off his 34-centimeter ups to snag a few line drives, Pat got thrown out at first base from right field a couple of times and got bowled over on a play at the plate, etc., etc., etc.

What is noteworthy, however, is that for the first time I can ever remember, there was no real threat of violence against each other in the game. Sure, John almost scaled the outfield fence to pummel some loud-mouthed passerby on the boardwalk, and Tweety Bird/Johnny Cakes/Rudy (Andrew) almost sent KJ to the hospital by rolling on the ground ("like he was on fire") to avoid a tag. But there was no actual staff-on-staff animosity, which for this group is extremely impressive (and, I'll admit, a little boring).

Nice game all around for both teams. The good news for the Full-Timers is that by next year, most/all of the Interns will be gone, and we can go back to telling everyone that we're undefeated.

-- Dave

UPDATE: Turns out we actually may have technically WON the game, thanks to the diligent research
by Tim-Tim Nelson of a contested rule:
7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance-

(g) Two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made;

APPROVED RULING: If all runners, including the batter-runner, have advanced at least one base when an infielder makes a wild throw on the first play after the pitch, the award shall be governed by the position of the runners when the wild throw was made.
That means we would have scored at least four more runs when the interns were firing the ball all over the park like a hot potato!

And still undefeated...the Cyclones Full-Timers!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Learning to Dance

This past weekend, the Cyclones hosted our first-ever Beach Bum Dance Clinic. It was a great success with boys and girls learning new steps from the Beach Bums themselves.

All the kids were super-talented, and really picked up the moves quickly...except for one particular large, feathery one who was trying his best, but needed a little extra attention:

The kids all had a great time, and looked awesome in their pre-game performance. Thanks go out to everyone involved!

And Sandy, you keep on trying. It's all just memory and hard work (according to Avrey). You'll get the hang of it someday!

-- Dave

Friday, August 7, 2009

BK Back in BK

One of my favorite people ever associated with the Cyclones makes a return trip to Brooklyn today -- Brett Kay.

Brett was the catcher on the 2001 inaugural team that not only brought baseball back to the borough, but set a franchise record with 52 wins (55 if you count the postseason), authored a thrilling playoff series win over the Yankees (more on that later), and won an NYPL
Co-Championship (that, too).

Brett was more than just the team's catcher, though. He and a handful of others -- Ross Peeples, Jay Caligiuri, Frank Corr, Robert McIntyre, John Toner, Harold Eckert, Joe Jiannetti (just to name a few) -- gave the team its personality, and became the face of a new generation of Brooklyn baseball.

Brett was (as he liked/still likes to say) the most media-savvy of the bunch. His dad played in the NFl, his brother does public relations for the Angels, and he played in college at a national powerhouse -- Cal-State Fullerton. So he had been around the block a bit, in terms of media and fan interaction, and it showed. Smart, funny, and honest, Brett became a favorite of front office staff, fans, and reporters alike. And he was my go-to guy for a good interview and a good quote. In fact, radio voice Warner Fusselle credits Kay with one of the best lines he's heard in over 30 years in the business. Brett mentioned that in a takeoff on Ringling Brothers' famous slogan, the St. Louis Rams had dubbed themselves The Greatest Show on Turf. Noting the ballpark's location, he then declared that the Cyclones should be known as The Greatest Show on Surf! (We've been using that in marketing materials ever since. Thanks, BK.)

From an appearance on MTV's
Total Request Live (before it was known simply as TRL) to photo shoots for Japanese sports magazines, to meetings with Spike Lee, Brett became one of the most recognizable faces on the team. He was even the subject of a book, titled The Brooklyn Cyclones: Hardball Dreams and the New Coney Island, written by Ben Osborne. He started wearing hipster horn-rimmed glasses, and moved into an apartment in downtown Manhattan. The kid from California was truly soaking up the Big Apple. (And although he likes to pretend it came easily, I will never forget the terrified look on his face the first time he took a ride on the big, bad, F train. Classic "Welcome to New York" moment.)

And, oh, by the way, he was pretty good on the field, too. BK hit .311 that year, belted five home runs, and had 16 multi-hit games. But he really cemented his place in franchise history in a postseason elimination game -- Game Three of the '01 playoffs against the Staten Island Yankees. Brett made two spectacular defensive plays -- a "dead man" decoy tag on a throw from left fielder John Toner, and a bare-handed, off-balance play on a bunt -- and then drilled a two-run home run over the left-field wall in the eighth inning to put the game (and the series) away. Brett was officially a Cyclones legend. Anyone who was at that game still talks about it as one of the most electric atmospheres they've ever been a part of, and Brett's performance as one of the best they've ever seen.

It may sound cheesy or corny, but that summer was truly magical. Brooklyn baseball was new again, and it was a season of firsts for everyone involved. Players, coaches, front office, fans, media, mascots, ushers, vendors...everyone. We were all really young, and were all caught up in the fun of the being a part of history. That Game Three September night seemed like a culmination and a coronation. The Championship Series was still to be played, but everyone in the league that year knew that it would come down to the Cyclones and the Yankees. Those were the two heavyweights, and Brooklyn had delivered the knockout blow. All that was left was to finish up what seemed like a foregone conclusion.

We loaded up for Williamsport, won Game One of that series, and headed back home giddy about the fact that we had to win just one of the next two games to win the league championship and cap off a storybook summer. No one knew that in the days that followed, that magical summer would be tragically cut short, and baseball would be the last thing on anyone's minds. That was the night of September 10th, 2001.

The terrorist at
tacks of the next morning ended the season, and brought everyone back to a harsh reality of a world outside of Brooklyn baseball. Brooklyn and Williamsport were declared Co-Champs. Brett and Jay Caligiuri came into the office for a conference call with the media who had covered the team. The following day, the entire team gathered briefly, and everyone said their goodbyes.

In the years that followed, Brett made his way up the ladder in the Mets' organization, before finally deciding to end his playing career and begin a new chapter as a coach. In fact, in his third year as the varsity head coach at JSerra Catholic High School in California, Brett led the school to its first-ever playoff victory (sound familiar?) and was named the Orange County Baseball Coach of the Year by the OC Register. (He even got to participate in another photo shoot...and got to model his "I'm a tough-guy coach all dressed in black" look.)

Over the years, we've stayed in touch, re-hashing the "Glory Days" of 2001, giving updates on mutual friends, and moaning about getting older. I've tried to get BK back to Brooklyn several times, but his fear of flying and busy work schedule kept him anchored in Cali. Until now. He made a cross-country drive, and marked off Coney Island as his ultimate destination.

On Saturday, he'll throw out a first pitch before the game, check out his old digs, say hello to some old friends and familiar faces...and I'll probably twist his arm into doing an interview or two, just for old times' sake.

It'll be great to have Brett back where it all started...for him, and for the Cyclones.

Welcome back, BK. It's about time.

-- Dave

Wes' 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 is taking his first professional steps towards his big-league dreams, and has agreed to check in on the Blog from time to time to get us behind the scenes in the life of a new minor league ballplayer.

This week was very much like the roller coaster we're named after, as far as our wins and losses. We started out losing two straight to the Yankees before beating them at our place on Thursday night in front of our largest crowd of the year on “Irish Heritage Night.” It was a great crowd -- very loud and very anti-Yankees. We then went back to Staten Island and lost both games of a double header. However, we were still a few games up on our cross-town rivals at that point, and split a home-and-home series with Hudson Valley to stay ahead of them, as well.

On Tuesday, we woke up at 5:00 a.m. and left for Keyspan Park at 6:00 a.m. where we would load up on the bus and head to Batavia, NY to take on the Muckdogs. This turned out to be a tough 7 and ½ hour bus ride -- our longest yet. When we finally arrived at our immaculate Days Inn hotel we were all relieved to get off the bus (even with the distinct aroma of fresh cow manure in the don't get that smell very often in Brooklyn!).

We had about two hours to relax and get something to eat before getting back on the bus and heading to the field. With so many restaurant options in the area it was ironic that everyone on the team chose to go eat at Bob Evans (the same place we would eat every meal while in Batavia).

The field in Batavia was pretty good...there was not much a of a crowd but it was a nice atmosphere full of locals and senior citizens yelling at us, saying our roster had too many 23-year-olds on it!

We ended up sweeping the Muckdogs, which is always considered a great success, especially considering they were last year’s New York-Penn League Champs. Game one was a slugfest, (unfortunately, I was a part of it as a pitcher). Games two and three were nail-biters as the Muckdogs attempted to make a comeback in the 9th inning on both nights, only to fall short each time.

The sweep extended our lead in the McNamara Division, moving us five games ahead of the Yankees and seven games ahead of the Renegades.

Overall, it was a great trip. I got to see the countryside of New York on the way there, get a nice change of scenery (and smell), and then on the way back I got to see the sun come up on Manhattan, since we got back at 7:30 a.m this morning.

After catching up on as much sleep as possible, tonight we’ll start a three game series against the Jamestown Jammers.

Hope to see you there!

-- Wes

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Day in the Life (of a juggling peanut vendor)

In the days and weeks to come, the Blog is going to get you even further behind the scenes than usual with "Day in the Life" videos that give you a glimpse of what goes into creating the one-of-a-kind atmosphere at KeySpan Park.

From dancers to facepainters, kings to clowns, jugglers to pink apes -- every Cyclones game is filled with so much more than just great baseball (although we have that, too...and we'll get you behind the scenes with the players, as well).

Today's installment takes us into a day in the life with Kyle, the juggling peanut vendor:

-- Dave