The latest Battle of the Boroughs will kick off this year’s Brooklyn Cyclones season, as the mini-Mets take on the Evil Empire of the New York-Penn League, the hated Staten Island Yankees in a four-game set — and the first pitch on Opening Night at MCU Park will be Saturday at 6 pm.
Sitting in the front car for the Clones this season will be new manager Tom Gamboa, who says he’s ready for the wild ride that can only take place in Coney Island after taking two years off from baseball.
“It has definitely reenergized me to be around young people,” said Gamboa, 66, who has done time in the Cubs and Royals organizations, and is best known for his on-field run-in with thugs who attacked him while he was coaching first base for the Kansas City Royals in 2002. “I’m just trying to pass on my experience to help the players.”
The names of those players had not been finalized before we went to press, but the team is expected to included highly touted Dominican shortstop Amed Rosario, a five-tool player whom Gamboa compared to Dodger superstar shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
“He can literally do everything — steal bases, hit balls out of the ballpark — he’s just a force to be reckoned with,” Gamboa said.
If he gets the call, Rosario would become the youngest player to ever don a Cyclones uniform on Opening Night.
Another player that could be ticketed for the team is first-round pick and Team USA alum Michael Conforto, the Oregon State left fielder who smacked 31 homers and drove in 179 runs in 182 games during his three years with the Beavers.
The Cyclones hope to improve upon what could only be considered a dismal season last year when the team’s anemic offense — a .235 average and only one player with at least five home runs — led to a 38–37 record that wasn’t good enough to get them into the playoffs.
Hopefully, players with big bats like Conforto’s will solve that problem, say the team’s fans.
“Clearly, if the Clones hope to go anywhere this year, they are going to have to hit better,” said Sylvan Migdal, who monitors the Cyclones’ progress each season from in the stand and at his desk at the Community Newspaper Group. “Players of Conforto’s caliber would be fun to watch, and would give us a better chance to pick up some Ws.”
Of course, heading out to the ballpark isn’t just about beating the Yankees.
Cyclones fans can expect exciting new promotional games, including the highly anticipated “Seinfeld Night” on July 5, which commemorates the 25th anniversary of the first episode of the beloved sitcom. The buzz surrounding Seinfeld Night has gained the Cyclones national attention, and fans who show up will receive a Keith Hernandez bobblehead to give to fans while they enjoy nine innings worth of “Seinfeld”-inspired antics.