Thursday, September 10, 2009

"See Ya Saturday" (or maybe not)

On the day after Labor Day, my friend Peter and I saw the last game of the year for the Brooklyn Cyclones. Of course, we didn't know that at the time. After the 3-1 loss to the Mahoning Valley Scappers, cable-TV comedian King Henry told the departing fans, "See ya Saturday." However, the season ticker holders made their good-byes like they weren't going to see each other again until next summer. (Photo of his highness by PaulMiles.) The New York-Penn League affiliate of the Mets started with 16 wins and 2 losses, a franchise record, and held first place for most of the season. However, they limped into post-season as the wild card, despite once having an 8.5 game lead over its crosstown rival, the Staten Island Yankees. There wasn't much optimism after Tuesday's game and rightly so, it turned out. The Cyclones lost the second game of the division play-off, also by a score of 3-1, somewhere outside of Youngstown the following evening. In a three-game series, every game is a must-win after you lose the first one.

At least the local fans didn't have to see the visiting team celebrate on the field, as they did in 2007 (above). Even more painful to watch were the Auburn Doubledays fans who made the trip down from the Finger Lakes and cheered their team on from a rented suite (below). There was crying in the stands that night. One couple got into an embarrassing public argument, with him finding tears a bit much and her screaming that his stoicism (not that she referenced any Greek philosophers) proved he wasn't a real fan. The Cyclones have made the post-season in six of their nine years but have so far failed to capture the championship. (The league named the team a "co-champion" when it ended the season early in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.)

Despite the loss, Peter and I had an enjoyable evening. We started at Nathan's, of course, where I confirmed for myself that the lobster roll is a delicious alternative to hot dogs. There were few people at the Coney Island snack bar and that turned out to be the case at KeySpan Park as well. I doubt there was half the announced 2,649 paid attendance actually in the stands. I don't know why it is but the Cyclones, who attract large crowds all season, don't draw in the post-season. It was comfortably cool, even right off the ocean. Both pitchers were sharp, as were several of the eleven total hits. Jason Kipnis hit a home run in the fourth inning for Mahoning Valley that landed with a clang in the empty bleachers. Right off the bat, Nick Santomauro's homer for Brooklyn in the seventh sounded like it would go out of the park. But the Cyclones infield was sloppy, beyond the two errors in the box score, and that gave the Scrappers the opportunity to win the game.

MiLB Reports: Game Recap Box Score

We had good seats, about ten rows behind the Cyclones dugout--not bad for a walk-up. From there we got an eyeful of the "Beach Bums," a dance/cheer squad, whose bums were indeed on display in their blue stretch gym shorts. (Does baseball really need this?) One did a front walkover for the total number of strike-outs, after each strike-out, on top of the dug-out. The nine strike-outs for the home team had the blood rushing to her head. The ladies also participated in the obligatory t-shirt toss. Peter had a laugh when one landed in the lap of a young Chasidim, dressed simply and traditionally as the ultra-orthodox do. His face seemed to say, "When and where will I ever wear this?"

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