I may not be in the Brooklyn Cyclones batting order (nor should I be by any stretch), but the Cyclones players and I share more than you’d think.
Many years ago, I went whitewater rafting down a furious river in the central United States. It was my first experience with such an extreme sport, and all types of emotions came to the surface: excitement, fear, wonder, and how I got myself into this situation.
I’ve felt those same emotions over the last couple weeks as I’ve begun a new extreme sport: living in Brooklyn. I’m from a tiny town in Arkansas – a state many forget about in their count to 50 — and I’m interning in one of the largest cities in the world.
The speed of life is faster than imagined, the sound of horns is far too frequent and annoying for my liking, and everywhere I look, I get dizzy from concrete claustrophobia.
The only relief I had after I arrived was when I had the time to sit down and write. But this even turned out different from what I learned in college. The rules are stricter, and the editing more heavy-handed. As a result, some of the words [Editor’s note: most (just kidding)] I type will never reach your eyes. Everything is done fast and furious here in Brooklyn.
Many of the Cyclones players are going through the same adjustment. Take first baseman Matt Oberste, a rookie drafted in the seventh round out of Oklahoma, just under 200 miles from his hometown of Sallisaw, Okla. The only things for miles around both Oberste and myself are wheat and Wal-Mart.
Oberste also had his element to fall back on: the baseball diamond. The feel of the bat in the hands, ready to swing. The satisfying sound of a baseball hitting the mitt. However, just like my writing, baseball is different on a bigger stage. Oberste looks down the barrel of a fastball from a professional pitcher every night instead of the nervous sophomore stats major. Cyclones manager Rich Donnelly understands this, and is ready to take the journey with his new roster.
“This is (Oberste’s) first pro game. Just seeing a pitch at 95 mph, to see what it looks like,” Donnelly said after the Opening Night loss Monday to the Staten Island Yankees. “It’s like the first time you ever did anything in your life. As the season progresses, you hope you get into the routine of a pro baseball player.”
So what can Oberste fall back on to help him through the difficult adjustments of professional baseball? Shortstop Gavin Cecchini, who played five games for the Cyclones last season, had some advice for players like Oberste, having come from a small town in Louisiana himself.
“Just go out and play the game hard,” Cecchini said. “Help your teammates out and everything will take care of itself.”
Could it be that simple? From the outset, looking at a towering forest of skyscrapers, or a dizzying changeup, it doesn’t seem easy. Oberste and I have been thrown into our own form of raging rapids. We have been doing our respective crafts for quite some time, and we know how it works. It is time to adjust to this level of play, swing for the fence, and soon enough, that special connection of bat to ball, or pen to paper, will sound.
But perhaps, more than anything, our adjustment and our attitude need to match the environment and the opposition.
It needs to be fast and furious.