Monday, September 6, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Well, after winning it all in 2009, the Staten Island Yankees ended their 2010 season last in their NY Penn League division with a dismal 34-40 record. On the other hand, the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Yankees' rivals across the water, finished first in the same division. We had an 8-game seat package this season that included all-you-can-eat (my four favorite words) food and drink at the concession stands. Anyhow, the Yankee team lacks a real starter who can hold the opposition to a couple of runs. They also come up short in the power department because the guys who can hit it out swing at way too many bad pitches.

The Brooklyn Cyclones on the other hand have some major league talent who should soon graduate from AA ball to the big leagues. They have at least four pitchers with winning percentages over .700 and ERAs under 3.5. They can hit too, with six starters batting .300 or better. I guess Karma is catching up with the Yankees who practically owned the Brooklyn Dodgers in post-season play during the '40s and '50s. The Cyclones are a Brooklyn team extracting their revenge for all those World Series losses.

Watching baseball in a minor league park is a genuine pleasure. The seats don't cost an arm and a leg, parking is easy, and the food concession prices don't kill you. The Staten Island Yankees' stadium is a beautiful place with no bad seats in the house. The view from home plate is spectacular, out over New York harbor with the Manhattan skyline in the background. The bright orange ferries scurry back and forth carrying people between Staten Island and Battery Park. After most night games, fans are treated to a rousing fireworks display. The Brooklyn Cyclones have a comparable field in Coney Island just a stone's throw from Nathan's Famous hot dog stand.

These minor league ball fields are also very kid friendly. There are between-inning fun events like sack races that the kids can join in. The players are highly accessible, unlike many of the pros who won't sign a kid's baseball unless it's for money. They constantly toss foul balls to kids carrying over sized gloves, and give those kids a memory for a lifetime. After the game the kids are invited down onto the field to run the bases. It gives me a warm feeling to see fathers and sons attending the games together. One of my fondest childhood memories is when my Dad took me to see DiMaggio and the Yankees in the old stadium.

Baseball is one of the things that defines America. It's changed very little from the day when Civil War general Abner Doubleday "invented" the game. Baseball's origins are uncertain, but Doubleday was the first to be officially recognized as its creator. A turn-of-the-century national baseball panel awarded him the honor on the strength of a letter from an old schoolmate claiming Abner devised the rules for the game in 1839 in Cooperstown, New York. No matter how it came to be, baseball is a part of most boys' childhoods. I smile as I watch the kids in the Staten Island Yankees' stadium scramble for foul balls in the seats. It seems like only yesterday that I was chasing down fly balls in Callahan and Kelly Park in Brooklyn. It was really a lifetime ago.


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS: Children's Craniofacial Association

No comments: