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:


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!


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 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.
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.)

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.


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.

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.

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.

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

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