Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Brooklyn Cyclones

Larry Toman, guest baseball blogger extraordinaire, is filling in for The Tomahawk again this week. Sounds like he had a good time in the Big Apple. Thanks, Larry!

Last Wednesday, July 27, I went with family to watch professional baseball at Coney Island. MCU Park (Municipal Credit Union) is the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League. The league consists of fourteen teams in three divisions – McNamara, Pinckney and Stedler. The Cyclones are in the McNamara division with Staten Island, Hudson Valley and Aberdeen. Brooklyn is a Class-A affiliate of the New York Mets, which is known as Short Season Class-A. It is only fitting that their arch rivals are the New York Yankees affiliate from Staten Island.

It was on September 22, 1999 that the Brooklyn Baseball Company announced that it would purchase the St. Catharines Blue Jays, a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate in the NY-Penn League. It would then relocate the team to Brooklyn for the 2001 season. The team was named after the historic roller coaster The Cyclone, which made its debut on June 26, 1927.

MCU Park has an intimacy not found in the big league parks, because of its size and design. It has a capacity of 7,500. The night we were there saw a boisterous crowd of about 5,000 fans taking in the action. It is fan friendly, family orientated and boosts the atmosphere and amenities of the amusement park that resides behind the stadium. From Nathan's Famous hot dogs to burgers, pretzels, pizza, peanuts, popcorn and Brooklyn’s own micro-brewed Brooklyn Lager, it has something for everyone. Souvenirs abound everywhere. We had great seats in Row 12 looking directly down the first base line from home plate. The tickets were $16.00 each.

The game we saw had a little bit of everything, as the Cyclones hosted the Connecticut Tigers who are an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Pitchers for both teams were throwing from the high 80’s to the low 90’s. After a scoreless first inning, Brooklyn would take a short lived 2-1 lead into the third. The Tigers would put up runs in each of the next three innings and the Cyclones were now facing an 8-2 deficit heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Then Brooklyn came alive and rallied for four runs, which was the most scored by either team in one inning. The gap was now narrowed to 8-6, but the Tigers would add an insurance run in their eighth inning, and the Cyclones would run out of gas. Connecticut would prevail for a 9-6 victory, in a game which featured four home runs.

Since their inception in 2001, the Cyclones have been the recipients of several prominent former major league players including Howard Johnson and Bobby Ojeda on the coaching staff. This year the team has former Cy Young Award winner and Minnesota Twins great Frank “Sweet Music” Viola as their pitching coach.

There are seven current members of the New York Mets who played for the Brooklyn Cyclones between 2001 and 2007. They are: Angel Pagan,OF, Nick Evans, 1B/OF, Daniel Murphy, 3B/OF, Bobby Parnell, RHP, Ike Davis, 1B, Lucas Duda, 1B/OF, and Dillon Gee, RHP.

As of August 2, 2011 the Brooklyn Cyclones have a record of 24-20 for a .545 winning percentage. The club is currently in second place, 8.5 games behind division and league-leading Staten Island. Overall, in the fourteen-team league, the Cyclones are tied for fourth with Jamestown and Williamsport. They conclude their regular season schedule on September 4, 2011 hosting the Staten Island Yankees.

MCU Park is the first professional baseball stadium in the borough of Brooklyn since Ebbets Field was torn down in 1960. In 2007 the park hosted its two millionth fan, with the Cyclones reaching the attendance mark faster than any club in Short-Season history. On July 27,2011 the three millionth fan was welcomed to the park. Pro baseball in Brooklyn is thriving with a competitive ball club and a strong and loyal fan base.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Excellent piece, Larry, and a good reminder that there's a lot of good baseball being played in the minors every day. If you're in a town that has a team, make it your business to see if there's a game on.

And it's so great to see baseball back in Brooklyn after all these years!