Although the Cyclones front office put a gag order on its players and coaching staff after last month’s bench-clearing brawl with the Hudson Valley Renegades, The Brooklyn Papers, using heretofore unknown journalistic skills, was able to obtain the complete list of suspensions and fines.
Here is what we found out from New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes:
Seven Cyclones players and six Renegades (but who cares about them?) were suspended. Six Cyclones — Noel Devarez, Luz Portobanco, Orlando Roman, Blake McGinley, Forrest Lawson and Francisco Sosa, whose beaning started the whole affair — got the league’s minimum for fighting: a three-day suspension and a $75 fine.
Meanwhile, Joe Jiannetti, who was the first Cyclone off the bench, was given a four-day suspension and a $100 fine on the grounds that he escalated the brouhaha. The sentence was particularly harsh because it kept Jiannetti — the league’s leading hitter — out of action when he was busy trying to accumulate enough at-bats to win a batting title.
“They say I escalated the fight,” Jiannetti said before a recent game — one which he’d watch from the stands. “I don’t know. The benches were already clearing. I just got out there faster.”
As far as the fine — $100 is a lot of money when you only make $850 a month — Jiannetti said he’d “Call grandma and beg.” Yet when asked whether he’d do it again, Jiannetti just smiled and nodded.
The remainder of the players on both teams were hit with $25 fines for leaving the dugout. Renegade Luis Candelario — who had been suspended twice by the league for incidents earlier in the season — was suspended for seven games and hit with a $150 fine. Hayes was obviously miffed by Candelario’s middle-finger salute to the Cyclones bench after hitting a meaningless homer in the inning following the fight.
Someone paid $1,150 to own batting coach Howard Johnson’s dirty laundry. Someone else paid $810 for manager Edgar Alfonzo’s sweaty No. 7. That’s a lot of money for dirty clothes, but it was all for a good cause as The Cyclones raised more than $16,000 for Catholic Charities by auctioning off their home white uniforms during the game on Sept. 1.
Frank Corr led all players in this perhaps-meaningful statistic. His No. 29 went for $800, edging out fellow MVP front-runner Jay Caligiuri by $75. The jerseys will be delivered to their buyers after the playoffs conclude next week.
Attention Kevin Smylie: You owe your mom a nice birthday dinner.
The “mom” in question is Colleen O’Neill and she was sitting at the front of the line for Cyclones’ playoff tickets, holding the place on line for her son, Kevin, who had showed up at noon Sunday — exactly 21 hours before said tickets went on sale on Labor Day.
Before the Cyclones home finale on Sunday was over at 7 pm, about 20 people were already lined up for tickets — with O’Neill at the front.
“I’m holding down the fort for a few hours while my son sleeps,” said O’Neill, a Marine Park native who is herself a diehard Cyclones fan. Although her son would relieve her a few hours later, O’Neill was wasting valuable time on her birthday sitting on line.
“Here, look at this,” she said, showing off a package of pretzels and a Diet Sprite. “This is my birthday dinner.”
O’Neill said she didn’t mind spending all those hours on line to secure Cyclones playoff tickets for her son. After all, it was O’Neill who waited five hours on line at Kings Plaza for Cyclones opening day tickets. “And it was a lot colder then,” she added.
Later, when Smylie returned, he explained why he got on line almost 24 hours ahead of time for tickets that didn’t even immediately sell-out. “I had to be number one,” he said. “I wanted to be part of history and to tell my grandkids that I was the first to get post-season tickets to the Cyclones.”
Others on line invoked history, especially since the Cyclones playoff appearance is the first time in 45 years that a team of professional ballplayers from Brooklyn has made the post-season. But current events were just as important as history.
“You know, I’ve been a Met fan for years and went to every home opener from 1962 to 1987, but I just can’t go to Met games anymore,” said Victor Varricchio, who secured his second spot on line by showing up three hours after Smylie.
“To tell you the truth, it’s not the same now that we have the Cyclones. Major-league baseball is too much of a business.”
Indeed, major-league baseball tickets tend to double or triple in price for the playoffs. The Cyclones froze their ticket prices — $5 to $10 — for the team’s debut in the post-season.
While a dozen of his Cyclones teammates will head to Florida for a month in the Instructional League, 22-year-old pitcher Wayne Ough will learn lessons that are even bigger than baseball. On Sept. 14, the Australian hurler, who missed most of the season due to an arm injury, will marry his longtime girlfriend in Craig, Colo., her hometown. The couple met while they were both students at Trinidad State in southern Colorado.
Meanwhile, pitcher Mike Cox — the team’s resident prankster — is trying to line up some off-season work in his hometown of Pasadena, Texas. “I usually just substitute teach in the school system where I live,” he said. “But I really try not to teach, though. I’m just there to make sure no one starts a fire.”
all over again
The Cyclones’ playoff-clinching victory on Saturday night was quite reminiscent of the team’s home-opener victory back in June. In that come-from-behind win, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers opted to intentionally walk shortstop Robert McIntyre, who was 0-for-4, to bring up catcher Mike Jacobs, who was also 0-for-4.
Jacobs then repaid the favor by knocking in the game-winning run.
Obviously, Batavia Muckdogs manager Frank Klebe didn’t learn from Mahoning Valley’s mistake. In the bottom of the 11th, with the game tied at 2 and a man on third with two outs, Klebe ordered Frank Corr, the league’s leading homerun hitter, walked so that pitcher Nick Glaser could face Forrest Lawson, the lesser threat.
Lawson then repaid the favor by knocking in the game-winning run. But, afterwards, at least he was gracious about it:
“They did the right thing walking Corr,” Lawson said. “He’s had clutch homeruns all year. But it did feel much better to get that hit after they walk a guy to get to you.”
Over in the Muckdogs’ clubhouse, Klebe defended his decision. “I’d do it again,” he said. “I didn’t want to let Corr beat me.”
He didn’t. But Forrest Lawson did.
Sorry, Mr. Mayor
Apologies go out to Mark Lazarus (aka “The Mayor of Section 14”) for misidentifying a photograph in last week’s Papers. The photo was of Irwin Brandon, the old Brooklyn Dodgers fan who swore off baseball completely since his beloved team abandoned the borough, not Lazarus, who is the guy who gives sunflower seeds to the Cyclone players. The Brooklyn Papers regrets the error.
The Cyclones home playoff games against Staten Island will be televised on cable’s FOX Sports NY. Friday night’s game will be tape-delayed at 10:30 pm, and Saturday’s game (if necessary) will be cablecast live at 7 pm.
Catcher Justin Huber, who hit .314 at Kingsport, has joined the Cyclones. He’s 19.
September 10, 2001 Issue