Every time I go to MCU Park to cover a Cyclones game, I always forget one thing — a jacket. I sit in the press box, which is high above the field, allowing me to get not only the best view of the game but also the most wind.
It is far too early in the season for it to be a hot and muggy summer night, so I spend most of the night shivering. Every night I curse myself for not grabbing my jacket that more often than not is just sitting in my car, keeping my seats warm. Bringing a jacket with me is a lesson I’m going to have to learn the hard way, something that can’t be taught and must be discovered on my own.
This job of covering the Cyclones is going to be full of lessons that will be learned the hard way but also lessons that can be taught. I’m learning through my editor the ins and outs of being a not only being a sports reporter, but a reporter in general. I came into this job almost completely blind except for those journalism classes I took in high school and a couple of public relations classes in college, but nothing prepared me for what I have been experiencing. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Everything is new and exciting.
The young Cyclones are going through something similar. They will be learning lessons throughout the season. Some they’ll learn on their own through trial and error, and some will be taught by their manager, coaches, and senior teammates.
Even though this is a game these guys have been playing their whole lives, it is now on a totally different level and scale. For the first time in a lot of these guys’ lives, they will be playing games in front of big crowds, Manager, Tom Gamboa prides himself on being a teacher of the game and said the point of the short season that the Cyclones are a part of is to get the guys used to playing every day.
“The short season is good to give the guys a taste of what professional baseball is like,” he said. “Most of them, even the college guys, haven’t played in front of this many people before.”
And playing in New York is completely different than playing anywhere else. Fans are tough on their teams, especially if and when they hit a rough patch, so learning to block out the crowds is a lesson players have to learn on their own.
Teammates also take the role of teacher to young players, as is the case with Cyclones veteran Tomas Nido.
“I try to talk to the team what to let them know what to expect and how it’s going to go,” he told me.
Sometimes a lesson is better received when it is coming from the mouth of peer as opposed to a coach or a manager.
Another one of the lessons I’ve learned as I continue my work at the paper is language. When it comes to writing and reporting, there is a whole set of vocabulary that my editor clues me in on, and not unlike myself, the Cyclones are up against language barriers.
Many of these young players are from Latin American countries, so coming to the U.S. to play the game using another language is a big challenge. But Gamboa has a plan to help them, pairing Spanish speakers with English speakers on road trips.
“Part of that is building chemistry, and at the same time, the English-speakers are going to learn a few words of Spanish and the Spanish players are going to learn a few more words of English,” he said.
The Cyclones and I will continue to learn throughout this season.