Each summer in Brooklyn, fans turn out in droves to watch their favorite Brooklyn Cyclones play the game they love.
For the past few seasons at least, the summer schedule has coincided with the struggles of the parent team, so again this summer, the hype for the Cyclones seems to be through the roof.
Last night, the Cyclones were supposed to open on the road against New York-Penn League rivals, the Staten Island Yankees. But the game was rained out, meaning tonight will be opening night at MCU Park in Coney Island.
With a crowd near the 7,500 capacity expected. The players are certainly excited to play in front of this type of crowd.
“The crowd’s going to be crazy,” said starting Casey Meisner, a 6-foot, 7-inch right-hander from Cypress, Texas, who was supposed to start the home opener but will be pushed back in favor of Friday’s probable, righty Octavio Acosta. “I was in GCL (Gulf Coast League), the lowest level in the minor leagues for the Mets, and there’s no fans. There’s nothing there. Seeing and playing in this big stadium and talking about the crowd, I’m just going to try to block it all out and try to focus to pitch.”
“It’s great,” said righty Josh Prevost, a Seton Hall University product who grew up a Mets fan in Belle Mead, N.J. “You’re in the city; a lot of people are going to be at the games. A lot of people that go to the Mets games are going to be here as well. Hopefully I put on a good show.”
“It’s a complete big league environment,” said new Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa. “The only difference is that there are 7,500 seats instead of 40,000. It’s going to raise their intensity level, and we’re looking forward to getting started.”
The Cyclones usually draw among the highest number of fans for a minor league team in the country, so Gamboa said that playing in front of this many fans at this early stage of their careers could only be beneficial to the young players.
“A real perk as I mentioned to these guys is that they’re getting a chance early in their career to play in front of a lot of fans, which will help them someday ease the transition when they get to the big leagues,” Gamboa said. “When guys get to Double- or Triple-A in that environment, particularly when fans are not with you or at home if you’re not doing well, it helps to toughen a guy’s skin up as a big leaguer.”
The big leagues are still very far off for these players, some of whom will be getting their first experience this summer in professional baseball. Still, Gamboa said he is excited to see how thrilled the players will be to open the season.
“Except for a couple of the college kids, the rest of them have never played in front of crowds like this before,” Gamboa said. “They wouldn’t be human if they didn’t go through a little stage fright. I jokingly refer to that as the sphincter factor.
“I knowingly do that to make guys laugh to try to take the pressure off them to make them realize the sooner that they can get through that, the sooner that they can focus on the task at hand instead of being aware of everything that’s going on around them, the sooner that their true skills will come out. You have to be relaxed and focused to play this game. You can’t worry about outside elements.”
The nerves may be there tonight and there will undoubtedly be plenty of mistakes, but the excitement of playing pro ball in Brooklyn has these players salivating to get out on that field.
“Now that we’re here, the best part is yet to come,” Gamboa said. “Playing in this environment every day is going to be a lot of fun for the players and for the coaches.”
First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m., and an opening night fireworks display will follow the game. The Cyclones are hoping to provide their own fireworks on the field to start their season off on the right foot.