Well, that was quick. Expending the bare minimum of time, the Cyclones clinched the 12-game season-series against the Staten Island Yankees on Tuesday night by winning their seventh consecutive game against their cross-Narrows rivals.
The President’s Cup, a trophy that bides its time in the borough hall of the series-winning team, will return to Brooklyn from its one-year tenure in Staten Island — and no one was crowing louder than Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
“All is finally right in the world of baseball!” Markowitz said. “Our beloved Cyclones have proven once again that the best baseball is played right here in Brooklyn. Staten Island never had a chance.
But the Cyclones are only just beginning their march through the New York-Penn League, which I know will end with yet another pennant for Brooklyn!”
Where once the Clones and the Stankees had a hotly contested rivalry, this year’s teams are grossly mismatched. The Cyclones are 21-7 and in first place while the Yankees are 8-19 and so deeply buried in last place that they’re ready to come out the other side and play the Chinese national team.
(As this went to press, the Yanks beat the Cyclones 6-4 Wednesday night. See game summary for details.)
The series clincher on Tuesday night was classic Cyclones. After falling behind 3-2, the Brooklyns rallied with three runs in the sixth and then held on as Staten Island tried to chip away.
The Cyclones sealed the victory in the bottom of the ninth thanks to first baseman Ian Bladergroen’s magnificent catch, David Reaver’s heads-up play and Yunior Garcia’s aggressive defense of home plate — a play they’ll be talking about even as they’re spraying each other with Champagne later this fall (see game summary below for the full description of the phenomenal sequence of events).
After the game, several Yankees players rushed back onto the field to take on Garcia. But the Cyclones, led by the always-outspoken pitcher Tanner Osberg just glared at the hapless club in pinstripes and displayed seven fingers — the number of times in a row that the Cyclones had now beaten the Yankees.
Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro said that his team was merely being kind to the representatives from Brooklyn. “We felt we should give back the trophy as a gesture of friendship to the people of Kings County,” he told The Brooklyn Papers. “They should get to see this beautiful trophy before we win it back for three or four years. Besides, I can’t stand to hear Marty crying anymore.”
As always, Markowitz got the last word: “Staten Island, which I consider a southwestern Brooklyn suburb, must finally come to grips with the fact that we are and always will be the ‘Kings’ of the diamond. We appreciate all of the loving care Staten Island temporarily provided our trophy, but it’s finally coming home to where it belongs.”
Mos Def-initely a weird one
The Cyclones dugout has often been filled with bold-faced names like Spike Lee dropping by Keyspan Park to mingle with Brooklyn’s real celebrities. But just because a guy is trailed by a camera crew and an entourage, doesn’t mean he’s instantly recognizable.
On Monday night, rapper Mos Def showed up to do a few segments for ESPN 2, chatting with Rashad Parker, Jonathan Slack and Ian Bladergroen about how little he knows about baseball. The players humored Mr. Def as he shared his belief that the Cyclones would win because the Auburn Doubledays were wearing their light gray pants.
“I see pants like that on a baseball player and I just think, ‘I’m gonna whup yo’ butt!’” he said (he must have had a point, because the Cyclones went on to win). He also complimented Bladergroen for “having a real baseball name.”
Most Cyclones preferred to use the time to sign autographs or stretch while Mos Def did his pre-game rap. Pitcher Matt Lindstrom walked by and noticed the commotion in the dugout. “Who’s that?” asked Lindstrom, a decidedly unhip Morman. Told it was Mos Def, he was unimpressed. “Who?” he asked, and walked off.
Undeterred, pitcher Matteo Miramontes bought a portable camera and took a picture with the rapper.
“He’s the greatest,” Miramontes said. “I listen to him all the time. This is the sweet thing about playing baseball in New York.”
Being like Mike
For a while, Nike wanted all of us to “be like Mike,” but Tony Piazza is taking it to ridiculous extremes. First, the Wyoming-bred Cyclone with one of the most beloved surnames in Mets history gets drafted by the Mets. Next, he finds himself catching for a Mets farm team.
But before Tuesday night’s game in Staten Island, Piazza was working out at first base — just like the Mets Catcher Who Shares His Name will be doing once he returns from the disabled list.
Mike and Tony aren’t related, but sometimes you have to wonder. It turns out, there’s a logical explanation for all these Piazza parlor games. The Cyclones want Tony Piazza to be ready to play first if Ian “Iron Man” Bladergroen — who has played every game this season, a true rarity in the minors — needs a day off.
“I wasn’t complaining, believe me,” said Bladergroen. “I’ll take all the playing time I can get.”
July 21, 2003 issue