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September 10, 2005 / Sports / Brooklyn Cyclones / The Play’s the Thing

Where did the time go?

The Brooklyn Paper

Just the other night, the Cyclones were losing 2-1. Edgar Rodriguez was up for Brooklyn with two out, bases empty, in the bottom of the ninth. The packed crowd was hoping for a miracle. They got one. Rodriguez hit the ball deep into the night, over the fence.

That tied the game, and Brooklyn won it in the 10th on a sacrifice fly by Mike Jacobs.

Wait … no. That wasn’t just the other night.

But it sometimes feels like it was.

Instead, that was Brooklyn’s first home game in 44 years, during the Cyclones inaugural season of 2001. This week, the Cyclones will have completed their fifth campaign.

And after five seasons, it’s time to take stock.

The first-ever Cyclones home game was a sellout, and, for the most part, the Clones have been selling out, or near selling out, ever since.

This has left some fans believing that team management is taking them for granted.

“I know it’s a business, but sometimes I feel as if I’m viewed as just a wallet,” said Patrick Witt, of Downtown Brooklyn and also season-ticket holder. “When the Cyclones asked for playoff money for four playoff games when Brooklyn was about nine games out of first, and it was obvious that there wouldn’t be four playoff games, well, that burned me up.”

Witt isn’t the only one with a gripe.

“The season-tickets holders pay top dollar here compared to other minor league cities and we don’t get enough for it,” said Mark Lazarus, a season ticket holder better known as the “Mayor of Section 14.”

“Hagerstown, for example, gives season-ticket holders breaks on the cost of tickets and free food days.” the mayor noted.

And those aren’t the only complaints.

The noise level of Keyspan, for instance, has increased. Many fans are complaining that it’s hard to carry on a conversation with near incessant screaming and loud music over the public address system — especially between innings, when on-field games and hi jinks take over.

Following the team via the radio is also too difficult. Unlike most minor league teams, Brooklyn does not have a high-powered station carrying the games. Kingsborough Community College radio, WKRB, has broadcast the Cyclones games every season except for 2002, when they were carried on the now defunct 620 WSNR-AM, Sporting News Radio. While Kingsborough gives it the old college try, it’s still difficult for most fans to get a clear signal. Brooklyn, with more than 2 million residents, deserves better.

As far as producing players for the Mets, most Brooklyn fans are disappointed — to put it mildly — that Cyclone alumnus Scott Kazmir was traded to Tampa Bay. While eight Cyclones have reached the majors, only the most recent — Mike Jacobs — is playing with the Mets.

But it isn’t all bad news.

While prices have gone up since 2001, Keyspan Park is still a bargain compared to its major league counterparts. And the atmosphere is still unbeatable.

“I’m really happy with things at Keyspan Park. It’s good, professional baseball and we have access to the players,” said Bob Berardelli, a season-ticket holder from Sheepshead Bay. “It’s good family entertainment and it doesn’t cost five or six hundred dollars to take your family to a game.”

As on-field performance goes, it would be difficult to ask for a superior quality of ball. The Cyclones have made the playoffs in three of their five campaigns, and won a co-championship in 2001.

Off the field, the area surrounding Keyspan Park has improved. Judging from news reports (and by walking around the place), it’s clear Coney Island is in the midst of a renaissance.

Meanwhile, publications such as Baseball America have been reporting the possibility that the free-agent draft will be moved to near the end of June rather than the first Tuesday of the month. This could result in the New York-Penn League, which relies mightily on June draftees, to change its schedule, going to 90 games (up from 76), with a season running from late May until late August, instead of late June until mid-September.

And a few more games in Brooklyn wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Other sources have speculated that the Brooklyn franchise could someday become a full-season team in another league, on the single-A or double-A level, but at this year’s All-Star game, New York Mets senior executive vice president Jeff Wilpon put the kibosh on that idea.

“At this time, we’ve tabled discussions about the Cyclones playing in a full-season league,” said Wilpon. “The weather out here [Coney Island] is pretty cold in April, and it could be hard to fill the seats.”

Still, I would like to see a longer season. Starting the season in late May would be great, but at some point — hopefully sooner rather than later — Brooklyn will have a full-season team. Yes, Coney Island’s weather can be cold in April, but that can be solved with a majority of day games being played there.

So, let’s turn down the public address noise at the ballpark and turn up the radio station power. Let’s see more Cyclones reach — and stay — with the Mets. And let’s have management show the fans they’re appreciated, while the fans maintain a family like, civil atmosphere.

Yes, Brooklyn’s honeymoon with the Cyclones is long over.

But the marriage is just beginning.

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