Before sinking his teeth into a meal across the Narrows, Borough President Marty Markowitz had to eat a bit of crow.
The “Borough Challenge,” a bet between Markowitz and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro on the season series between their respective minor league baseball teams, the Cyclones and the Yankees, went foul for Brooklyn at year’s end.
The Clones were bested in eight of the 12 regular season battles against the Yanks.
“I’m an honorable man, and Brooklyn never goes back on its word,” Markowitz said this week through a spokesman.
“I was the one who made the challenge initially to the Staten Island Borough President, who was reluctant to accept it.”
Markowitz tossed his wild pitch to Molinaro early this year, although it took a few months before the bet could be made official.
With Markowitz refusing to set foot on Staten Island, and Molinaro refusing to make the bet on Brooklyn turf, the two boarded a ship that stopped somewhere near the middle of the Narrows to shake on the wager, which was a dinner in a restaurant of the winner’s choice.
Molinaro will also have the honor of displaying the soon-to-be-created Borough Cup, furnished by the teams themselves, inside Staten Island Borough Hall.
“I’m delighted, but not at all surprised that our Staten Island Yanks beat the Brooklyn Cyclones in this first-ever inter-borough wager,” Molinaro said through a spokeswoman.
While the Cyclones racked up six wins against two defeats last year when facing their cross-Narrows rivals in the regular season, and went on to beat the Yanks in the playoffs, 2002 was a whole other ballgame.
The Cyclones kicked-off the season under a good omen, winning the first two out of three meetings against the Yankees. Those numbers were reversed, however, in their second and third series and in their last three-game series, the Cyclones were swept, losing twice at home.
“We’re not playing the way I’d hoped we would play down the stretch,” team manager Howard Johnson told Brooklyn Papers’ columnist Gersh Kuntzman last month, after the Cyclones’ second loss to the Yankees.
The challenge opened with a trash-talking display worthy of any good rivalry. Markowitz called Staten Island “the southwest suburb of Brooklyn,” and Molinaro vowed to pack on the pounds the self-proclaimed Marty Party lost during his “Lighten Up” campaign.
At the bet’s end, however, it concluded about as graciously as one would expect from Brooklyn’s favorite cheerleader.
“A bet is a bet and I’m ready to join him at a restaurant of his choice, in Staten Island, which I will begrudgingly pay for because I know the food is much better in Brooklyn,” Markowitz said.
“I know my colleague Marty Markowitz is famous for his generous hospitality and I am already looking forward to a delicious meal on Marty’s tab,” Molinaro countered.
The restaurant of choice, however, is still up in the air, according to Molinaro spokeswoman Beatrice Shali-Ogli.
September 9, 2002 issue