Thursday, September 16, 2010

Award Tour

On Wednesday, Darrell Ceciliani went to Citi Field for the 2010 Sterling Award ceremony, and I was his chauffeur/photographer/documentarian/manservant.

It was an amazing day, with all the award winners getting to take batting practice, shag fly balls, meet with big leaguers, and then be honored in a ceremony before the game.  There were six Cyclones/former Cyclones in all, and it was great to catch up with them.  They all have amazing memories from their time in Brooklyn.

Darrell would probably kill me if I didn't mention up front that he hit a home run at Citi Field -- a blast to right-center field that cracked off the Wise Snacks sign and drew some oohs and aahs from the executives and coaches around the cage.

Foreshadowing, courtesy of the Home Run Apple
In the cage at Citi Field
The home run swing
Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wilmer Flores each took their hacks as well, while Mark Cohoon -- Pitcher of the Year, and still one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet -- was told not to go near a bat under any circumstances!

Afterward, Mets General Manager Omar Minaya met with the guys, congratulated them, and posed for a quick picture with Cohoon, Nieuwenhuis, and Darrell.  "This is the future of the Mets right here," he said with his arms around them.  "You guys continue working hard and you never know what will happen.  Two years ago, Ike (Davis) was in Brooklyn and now he's up for Rookie of the Year."  It was a pretty awesome exchange that brought a big smile to each of the players' faces.

Cohoon, Nieuwenhuis, Minaya, Ceciliani
Minaya congratulating Darrell on a great year
Next came the actual ceremony, with our own Warner Fusselle emceeing.  The award winners each donned personalized Mets jerseys, all wearing the number 10 to honor Darrell Ceciliani and his record-breaking season in Brooklyn.  Or, because the year is 2010.  I couldn't get a straight answer from anyone, so I'm going with the former.  The jerseys were "dirty," according to Darrell.  I immediately checked for stains, but apparently, when you're 20 years old, "dirty" means "awesome" (or "rad," "fresh," or "mint" for those of us who grew up in the 80s).  Also, I was confused, because I thought that "dirty Jersey" meant something else entirely

As Warner read each player's accomplishments to the crowd and highlights were shown on the ballpark's video scoreboard, the player came up to the podium, accepted his award and posed for pictures.  When it was Darrell's turn, Warner gave a little extra love to the home team, and gave a more detailed description of how electric and exciting DC was this year.  Then, I'll admit that I had some goosebumps when he roared into the mic "Get ready, Mets fans, there's another Darrell (Darryl) coming to Queens!"  That was dirty. (See what I did there?)

All the winners: Duda, Cohoon, Gee, Nieuwenhuis, Flores, Puello, DC, Rodriguez, and Tapia
Former Cyclones Nieuwenhuis, Cohoon, Flores, and DC
Darrell accepting his award
The "dirty" jersey
Finally, the players all threw out a ceremonial first pitch.  I begged Darrell to skip his in the dirt, because I thought it would have been funny if one of the organization's best players couldn't reach the plate, but he ignored me and fired a strike, as did all the award winners (where's the fun in that?).

Ceremonial first pitch
It was really a great experience and a tremendous honor for all the award winners.  I know Darrell had a blast (and yes, we know, we know, he hit a blast, too).

Congratulations to all the award winners (especially those that played in Brooklyn).  Cyclones fans will be following many of their careers, and rooting them on as they make their way towards the major leagues.  After all, when you're a Cyclone, you're a Cyclone forever.  Brooklyn's proud to say we saw them first!

-- Dave

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Truly Sterling Performance

Look up the word "sterling" in the dictionary and here is what you'll find (after several less apropos references to British currency and thickness of silver):
ster·ling [stur-ling]: thoroughly excellent:
In recognition of thoroughly excellent (as opposed to totally excellent) performances each year, the New York Mets name a Sterling Award winner -- emblematic of the team MVP -- at every level of the organization's minor league system, as well as an overall Sterling Player of the Year and Sterling Pitcher of the Year.  (Click here to see all the winners.)

This year, Brooklyn's Sterling Award is none other than our record-setting centerfielder, Darrell Ceciliani!  Ceciliani's .351 average was the the highest single-season mark in franchise history, and he became the first Cyclones player ever to win the New York-Penn League batting title.  Darrell set a variety of offensive records this year, in addition to his .351 batting average, also establishing new franchise highs with 95 hits, 56 runs, and 12 triples.  If not for a groin injury that held him out of action for a week, Darrell would have extended those records even further, and likely would have set a few more marks, as well.

And, oh, by the way, he hit a team-best .474 in the postseason, with six runs, two doubles, two RBI, and four stolen bases in five games.  In Game Two of the Championship Series, Ceciliani refused to go down without a fight.  The Cyclones had just five hits in the final game of the season, and Darrell had three of them.

If you've been to a game, you know what Darrell's like on the field...a gritty gamer with both speed and power who will do anything and everything it takes to win.  He can hit a home run, he can bunt for a hit, he can go from first to third, he can lace a ball in the gap, he can move the runners over with a ground ball, he can draw a walk, he can steal a base, he can make a spectacular play in the outfield, etc., etc., etc.

What you may not know is that he's barely 20 years old from tiny little Madras, Oregon, had never been to New York before this summer, and despite being the youngest player on the team, has become one of its leaders.

Off the field, he's a fiery ball of energy -- always laughing, yelling, joking, singing, dancing, and playing pranks.  He might have more fun at the "office" than just about any player I've seen wear a Brooklyn uniform.

It probably has something to do with this:
When I was a kid, baseball was just a lot of fun.  I worked on my family’s ranch, so I didn’t really play on travel teams or anything like that.  Baseball was a way for me to have fun and hang out with my fiends.  It wasn’t until my junior or senior year (of high school) that I started to feel like it was something I could be successful at, and then I started to get pretty serious and competitive.  Now that I'm a professional, I take the game very seriously, and I work as hard at it as I possibly can...but I still think of it as a game, and a fun way to hang out with my friends!
With a .351 average, 95 hits, 144 total bases, 12 triples, 21 stolen bases, and a walk-off home run, I could end this post with countless photo or video highlights, capturing DC's MVP-esque season.

I'd rather leave you with these:

And, oh, by the way...did I mention he likes to dance?

Congratulations, Darrell, on the Sterling Award and one of the best seasons in franchise deserve it!  A big thank you goes out to you from all of Brooklyn for making this an unforgettable summer! 

-- Dave

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Third Time's a Charm

I guess no one called weather.

For the second straight night last night, Game Two of the NYPL Championship Series was postponed -- this time thanks to some of the heaviest rain I've seen in a long time.

As Darrell Ceciliani would say (in an over-the-top, loud, annoying, nasally, hick voice), "It was rainin' sideways, cousin!"

The tarp was on the field, lightning was in the air, there was a waterfall in the dugout, and Hamilton Bennett was building a boat and setting sail for the high seas.

Take a look:

Now, before the rains came, HB told me that he had drawn a "rain turtle" on the warning track, who would push away any bad weather:

Apparently, no one told the turtle:

While taking cover from the wrath of Poseidon sitting in the dugout, though, I was able to witness two very funny things.  First off, HB's old friend Scotty joined us, and decided to do a home run trot/tarp slide.  Instant classic.

Next, I was privy to the best seat in the house for a game of "rain delay ball toss."  The teams scribbled messages on a baseball, and threw it from one dugout to the other...kind of like passing notes in class.  The funniest exchange came when one of our guys drew a tic-tac-toe board and made a move, then tossed it to the Tri-City side.  The ball came back with the following message:

"Does this count as Game Two?"

No, Valley Cat, it did not.  The real Game Two will take place tonight at 7pm (barring another flash-flood/semi-natural disaster).

Great seats are still available, so get your tickets now, and come on down to MCU Park! 

-- Dave

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Deja Vu

OK, we've been here before.  Down a game and staring elimination in the face.

Last time it was Jamestown, this time it's Tri-City.  

Different team, but we're gunning for the same result.

We're 32-8 at home this year, and once again, there is no tomorrow.


-- Dave

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On The Road

We're on the road to Tri-City for the Championship Series and the excitement in our van is at a fever pitch!

-- Dave

Friday, September 10, 2010

On to the Championship Series

As you can see in the picture above, we won Game Three (again, in thrilling fashion -- the Jammers had bases loaded and no one out in the top of the ninth) and have advanced to the NYPL Championship Series!

We'll be taking on the Tri-City Valley Cats, who edged out Connecticut by half a game to win the Stedler Division, and then played an exciting series against Batavia that included an extra-inning walk-off home run and a 1-0 Game Three win.

The Cyclones and Valley Cats met in the 2004 postseason, with Brooklyn falling two games to one (I still think there was some shady business with the tarp that led to us facing the league's best pitcher twice in a three-game series...but I'm not bitter or anything).

A bunch of us will be making the trip, so I'll post an update from AlbanySchenectadyTroy tomorrow.

We're back home on Sunday and, if necessary, Monday, so make sure you get to MCU Park to cheer Brooklyn on!  

-- Dave

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Game Three

After an absolutely thrilling win in Game Two, we've forced a deciding Game Three.  That means win and you're in.  Lose, and you're going home.

The team came from behind again and again last night, showing the fight and the heart that led them to the league's best record.

Now, they're facing elimination again -- or a berth in the championship series.

It reminds me of when Tony Tijerina was our manager, and on Opening Day, he wrote "Today is the most important game of the year" on the board.  He left it there the whole year.  The message was clear...don't look ahead, don't look back, just focus on what's in front of you.  Every day.  One game at a time.

Tonight is the most important game of the year.

-- Dave

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Apollo Said It Best


Let's go Cyclones!!!

-- Dave

Against the Wall

That's the problem with these best-of-three lose one game -- one measly little game -- and you're immediately facing elimination.

Last night, the Cyclones traveled to Jamestown to take on the Jammers and fell behind by five runs early.  The team fought all the way back (and fought through a nearly-two-hour rain delay) to tie the game at 6-6 in dramatic fashion in the top of the eighth inning, but Jamestown scored a seventh run in the bottom of the inning, and that was all she wrote.

There are plenty of little things that could have gone differently on Tuesday and swung things in our favor (some around the office are even floating "curse conspiracies"), but the bottom line is that here we are, the best team in the league (and that's not bias talking -- the standings and leaderboards agree), playing two must-win games if we want to continue this fantastic season.

Lucky for us, both those must-win games will be played here at MCU Park, where we have a 30-8 record, the most passionate fans in baseball on our side, and we've been able to pull off more than just a little bit of magic this year.

Great seats are still available, so come on down to Coney Island tonight (and hopefully tomorrow) to cheer on your Cyclones!

It ain't over until Brooklyn says it is!

-- Dave

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Playoffs? Playoffs? Yes, Playoffs!

Well, it's been a foregone conclusion for quite some time, but as we close out the regular season, the Cyclones are now gearing up for the Playoffs.

As you know, anytime anyone anywhere mentions the word Playoffs, the worldwide unwritten contract dictates that someone must imitate Jim Mora or embed his infamous rant in their blog.  Far be it from me to break the rules:

The New York-Penn League Playoffs (you just did it, didn't you?) start on September 7th, and we'll face the Wild Card team on the road on Tuesday, then host Game Two and, if necessary, Game Three on Wednesday and Thursday -- with both games at 7pm.

Right now, Williamsport is leading the Wild Card race, and I have to admit I'm rooting for them.  Not because of any on-field match-up or anything, but simply because Williamsport is only three or four hours away.  The team they lead by a half a game?  Jamestown.  About seven hours away.  No thank you.  For the next two games, I am officially the world's biggest Crosscutters fan, and i think about 15 Front Office members and 30 or so players would probably agree.

No matter what, though, we'll be home on Wednesday night to take on someone, and you can get tickets now!  In addition to the chance to see a possible championship run for Brooklyn, the first 1,000 fans will receive great Playoff T-shirts, thanks to our friends at U.S. Gas & Electric.

See you on Wednesday!

-- Dave

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hi, I'm Outside And It's Raining...Can You Tell Me What The Weather's Like?

So here's how the whole rain/weather/tarp thing works: we subscribe to a satellite weather service (from here on out referred to as "Weather") and they tell us what Mother Nature intends to do to us over the next few hours to several days.

At least, that's how it's supposed to work in theory.

How it actually works in practice is a completely different matter.

I had always assumed that when we call Weather (that's a term you'll hear about 40-50 times a day on days there's even the slightest chance of rain.  "Did you call Weather?"  "I'll call Weather."  "What did they say when you called Weather?") there are hundreds of operators sitting in a room with interactive maps, like a scene out of 24, War Games, or Apollo 13.  I assumed that the guy on the other end of the phone when we call Weather had some kind of exclusive access to a Doppler-5000-type of satellite that can pinpoint any directional change in storm fronts within a 1,000 mile radius of us.  I assumed these things because Steve and Ponte (our groundskeeper) treat the word of Weather like it's coming from the Big Guy In Charge of Weather, himself.

However, more and more, I'm beginning to think that the guy on the other end of the phone when we call Weather is a 19-year-old named Herman, sitting in his underwear in his mother's basement playing Halo or something and pulling up on his dad's Commodore 64 every time we call.

I also think it's a little absurd that we stand around outside and call someone in another part of the country who's inside to have him tell us what the weather is.

Thanks to today's fake Hurricane panic (after "bracing in the Northeast for Earl's fury" we got about 17 drops of rain), Steve and Ponte were burning up the phone lines all morning, calling Weather.  Here's a brief sampling of how it played out:
7am: Steve calls Weather to check on the day's weather.  He is told that it will probably rain and be windy.

7:05am:  Ponte calls Weather to check on the day's weather.  He is told that it will probably rain and be windy.

8am: Steve calls Weather to check on the day's weather.  He is told that it will probably rain and be windy.

8:05am:  Ponte calls Weather to check on the day's weather.  He is told that it will probably rain and be windy.

9am: Steve calls Weather to check on the day's weather.  He is told that it will probably rain and be windy.

9:05am:  Ponte calls Weather to check on the day's weather.  He is told that it will probably rain and be windy.
10am: Steve calls Weather to check on the day's weather.  There is no answer.

11am: Ponte calls Weather.  He is told that the impending storm might miss us altogether.  Or we could get hit hard by it.  Or anything in between.

12pm: Steve calls Weather.  The person on the other end does not speak English.

1:30pm: Steve alerts the office that we will be "peeling back the tarp" so Ponte can work on the field.
1:30pm-2:30pm: Ponte works on the field.
2:30pm: Steve gathers everyone to take the tarp off the field.

2:31pm: It starts to rain.

2:32pm: Walking alongside him to the tarp, I tell Ponte "It's raining."  He says "Let me call Weather."  I explain to him that we are actually outdoors, and can see, hear, and feel the rain drops.  He insists on calling Weather.

2:33pm: Ponte calls Weather.  He is told that it is not raining.

2:34pm-2:45pm: I relentlessly mimic and mock Steve and Ponte calling Weather ("Hi, Weather?  This is Steve in Brooklyn.  I'm outside and it's raining and windy.  Can you tell me if it'll be raining and windy in Brooklyn today?").

2:46pm: Ponte says Weather told him there was a "big green thing sitting right above us."  I ask if he thinks it's an alien invasion, the Incredible Hulk, or a fire-breathing dragon.  He tells me "on the radar."  ( the kind you find on  Ponte continues, unfazed (or unaware that I am making fun of him), saying that Weather also told him "if we're not getting anything, it might miss us," and "he really can't predict anything."  So to recap this latest call with Weather, if you're outside and it's not raining on you, it's probably not raining in your area.  Also, no one can predict the weather.

3:00pm: Steve tells the office that he talked to Weather, the "storm" has missed us, and we're in the clear for tonight's game.
Once again, it has been proven that meteorologists are today's snake-oil salesmen, weather reports are completely untrustworthy, and when we call Weather we're probably interrupting Herman and his buddies in a rousing game of Dungeons & Dragons.

Either way, the good news is that it looks like we're still on track for a 7pm game tonight, despite all the hype about Earl washing us out to sea.  So come on down for another great night of Cyclones baseball!

Of course, weather can change on a dime, and no one can really predict it, anyway.

We better call Weather again, just to be safe.

-- Dave