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For GM, hair today … and hair tomorrow!

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General Manager Steve Cohen will keep his lush head of hair — thanks to the Cyclones’ stunning, come-from-behind win against their cross-Narrows rivals on August 29.

Cohen had vowed to shave off his locks after the game if his struggling Clones had lost to the Staten Island Yankees (see game story, above).

He probably should have made the pledge against a last-place team, rather than the front-running Baby Bombers, but Cohen instead on “doin’ the Delilah” against Yanks.

“You have to do it in a game that means something,” he said.

Cohen was a wreck all night, fretting about his future as a Howie Mandel lookalike. With the Yankees leading 2-0, he even went down to the clubhouse, plucked out the rally chicken, and walked with it behind the backstop screen.

When the Brooks scored three in the eighth, Cohen jumped up and down in ecstasy, holding the rubber chicken above his head in triumph.

The team held the lead — and Cohen held onto his hair.

“I’m glad that I was not responsible for [Cohen] having to shave his head,” said starting pitcher Tobi Stoner, who was in line for the loss until the bats came alive.

But what about Cohen? Was it all a publicity stunt or did he just get tired of maintaining a hairdo?

“I was actually kind of looking forward to it,” he said.

He’s more looking forward to a Cyclone playoff berth, which is looking better and better, thanks to that hair-raising win. — Nick Pauly

Here’s Gersh’s pitch!

Editor fires one on ‘Papers Night’

As part of “Brooklyn Papers Night” at Keyspan Park last Thursday, the Cyclones asked a bona fide phenom to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

When we couldn’t find one in our newsroom, we sent me instead.

Throwing out the first ball is a time-honored baseball tradition that would put me in the company of celebrities, cartoon characters, a Sony robot, Will Ferrell and every American president since Taft (except Jimmy Carter).

So of course, I was nervous. I didn’t want to screw it up (like in 1940, when FDR hit a Washington Post photographer), so before the game, I sought out Cyclones manager George Greer for some advice.

“Make sure when you land, your front foot lands softly, like sliding into a slipper,” he said.

I’m more of a Birkenstock guy, I said, asking Greer for another shoe metaphor.

“Just make sure you land softly,” he said.

As I waited patiently on the edge of the infield grass, the voice in my head sounded like Kevin Costner in “Bull Durham”: “Stay on top of the ball; bend your knees slightly; don’t overpower it; slide into the slipper; stop with the Birkenstocks already, they look lousy on you.”

OK, finally, I was ready. Announced to thunderous applause by the Keyspan faithful, I trotted out to the mound, stared in at catcher Terry Dziuba, waited for him to flash a sign that never came, and went into my Luis Tiant-style cobra windup.

Here’s how Cyclones broadcaster Warner Fusselle might have called it: “And the pitch from Kuntzman…outside and high! That pitch had about as much on it as Telly Savalas’s scalp! And there goes Kuntzman, trotting off the field to a chorus of boos.”

Yes, I got the famous Bronx cheer in my home borough, but Dziuba said it could have been much worse.

“Most people bounce it to the plate,” he said. “At least you got it to me.”

Plus, I learned a valuable lesson.

I have got to get a pair of slippers. — Gersh Kuntzman

Clones pitchers say ‘don’t walk’

Cyclone starters recently had an amazing streak of control in which they faced 108 batters without issuing a non-intentional walk. In their five games from Aug. 23-28, starters Tobi Stoner, Todd Privett, Eric Brown, Jacob Ruckle, and Nelson Portillo allowed only two intentional passes.

Brooklyn pitching coach Hector Berrios said he focuses on preventing those costly bases on balls because “walks have a direct link to earned run average.”

His goal is to get the hurlers to narrow their aim.

“Pitchers have to learn to focus not on the catcher’s mitt, not even on the pocket of the mitt, but on a miniscule target, such as a space in the webbing,” said Berrios. It’s working.

The Cyclones have issued only 157 walks this season, tied for lowest in the New York-Penn League with Oneonta, and Brooklyn’s ERA is 3.05, third in the league. — Ed Shakespeare

Gamero draws line in the dirt

New right-fielder Jesus Gamero starts each at-bat by drawing a nifty little design around home plate with the knob of his bat.

From some angles it may look like he’s writing a C for “Cyclones.” From other angles, it looks like a J for “Jesus.”

Turns out, the bat scribbles aren’t some kind of publicity stunt for his team or himself.

“I try to stay the same [distance] away from home plate, so I draw a line just to get ready to hit,” said Gamero, who is in his second stint with the Clones.

“I was doing that in [Class A] Hagerstown, and it worked,” he added.

It has yet to work with the Cyclones, though. The 22 year-old outfielder has just nine hits in his first 63 at-bats since returning to Brooklyn.

Perhaps he should start scribbling “.143” — to remind him of his batting average. — Pauly

September 2, 2006 issue  

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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