Don’t bother asking Tom Gamboa about Tuesday night’s All-Star Game. He didn’t watch it.
The Cyclones manager doesn’t watch any games.
“None. Zero,” he told me. “I watch the highlights on SportsCenter of the playoff games and the World Series, but when you live it your whole life, the last thing I’m going to do is sit on my couch and watch a baseball game.”
As NFL Hall-of-Fame running back Walter Payton once said, “For me to watch a football game at home makes about as much sense as a secretary going home and spending her nights typing.”
So the manager who appeared in the movie “Moneyball” is an avid moviegoer who found solace in watching “Ted 2” after a loss on Sunday.
Gamboa has the Cyclones off to a quick start as Brooklyn entered the series with the hated Staten Island Yankees in first place in the McNamara Division. But there are still moments when the reality of rookie ball sets in.
In the Sunday afternoon loss, Gamboa called for an intentional walk to Steve Laurino, who had already hit a home run. Catcher Brandon Brosher got the sign and then crouched down before Gamboa got his attention again. Brosher, a converted catcher who had never been behind the plate for an intentional walk, didn’t know what the sign meant.
“I can’t fault him,” Gamboa said. “Right after I got his attention again when I saw him go into the crouch, right away I made the connection ‘I bet this is the first time he’s ever been back there for an intentional walk.’ ”
The skipper has also found the need to talk to his team about sliding into first base. Jose Garcia jammed his thumb when attempting to go headfirst, and then Manuel Hilario may have cost himself a hit by trying the same thing several days later.
“We told the players, ‘The moment you leave your feet, you’re slowing yourself down.’ Had he run through the base, there would have been no doubt in the umpire’s mind that he was safe,” said Gamboa after a 2–0 loss on Monday. “The only time you ever dive or slide into first base is if you’re going to be out and the throw is poor and you’re trying to avoid a tag from the first baseman.”
It might be a case of a player trying to do too much combined with a small amount of professional experience.
“What’s frustrating is that we just talked to the team about that three days ago, but this is rookie ball and these guys are young and they forget,” he said. “They think it’s extra hustle, they don’t realize they’re slowing themselves down. They’re defeating the very purpose of what they’re trying to accomplish.”
Pedro Perez had a nice weekend as his family came in from Colombia to watch a few games, including a 2–1 win where the infielder drove in both runs.
And a few members of Gamboa’s family made a surprise flight from California to see Monday’s game.
Players can react differently to the crowd. David Thompson struggled in front of his family.
“You’re so anxious, that David wasn’t waiting for good pitches to hit and he was getting himself out,” Gamboa said. “And we tried to calm him down and say, ‘Hitting starts with the mental not the physical. You have to get a good ball to hit.’ ”
With his family out of town, Thompson had a four-hit night at Hudson Valley.