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      F I E L D  T R I P S

JULY 16, 2003

July 15 , 2003: Brooklyn Cyclones at New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium
Missing It? Not Exactly

Among the things I missed on a recent extended vacation to California and Alaska was the naming of the All-Star teams and the annual flurry of debate which surrounds them. In a brief airport surfing session, as I checked the announced teams, I had a chance to smile at Paul Lo Duca finally making the game, raise my eyebrows at Hideki Matsui starting in centerfield for the AL, and wonder whether Melvin Mora was the first father of quintuplets ever to make the team. But I had neither the time nor the patience to contribute my two cents to the debates, nor to compile my own versions of the All-Star teams. For that matter, I missed the All-Star Game itself. Last year I was in Milwaukee, gorging on the ASG's surrounding festivities — the Fan Fest, the Home Run Derby, the Futures Game, the Celebrity Softball Game, and even a chance run-in with Bud Selig — like a man with an unlimited supply of bratwurst (too close to the truth, alas). But the resulting tie game and all of the bellyaches it caused drained most of my enthusiasm for this year's contest, even moreso with MLB staking home-field advantage in the World Series and Fox serving up a ham-fisted "This Time It Counts" campaign to go along.

So , to borrow a line from Office Space, I wouldn't say I missed this year's game. Rather, I chose an alternate form of baseball entertainment — though to be honest, when I bought the tickets three months ahead of time, I had no idea the game conflicted with the ASG. Anyway, five friends and I ferried to Staten Island to watch an installment of the Class-A version of the Yankees-Mets crosstown rivalry, as the Brooklyn Cyclones battled the Staten Island Yanks. The Staten Island ballpark, officially Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George, is a 25-minute free ferry ride from Manhattan. The park's outfield opens up to reveal Upper Bay and the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan — as unique a vantage point as any professional stadium in America, even with the loss of the skyline's two most prominent buildings.

The Cyclones have owned the Baby Bombers this season; they entered the game having beaten the Bombers six straight times and with an 11.5 game edge in the McNamara division of the New York-Penn League. The game itself, however, was a nip-and-tuck affair. The Cyclones scored two runs in the top of the first inning, but the Yanks tied it up in the second and took the lead, 3-2, in the fourth. The 'Clones scored three in the sixth, but the Baby Bombers clawed back with a run in the eighth to make it 5-4.

The bottom of the ninth was a wild affair. A leadoff single by one Horace Lawrence was followed by a poor sacrifice bunt by Alexander Santa (who did not deliver) which led to a force at second. Then the Bombers centerfielder, 18-year-old Melky Cabrera, stroked his fifth hit of the ballgame, putting runners on first and second. The next batter, Adam Shorts, popped a foul ball down the first base line. Cyclones first baseman Ian Bladergroen, made an over-the-shoudler catch on the run, and the runners tagged. Bladergroen (isn't that what happens in a long bathroom line?) threw the ball to the shortstop ahead of Cabrera, who stopped in his tracks and began retreating to the uncovered first base. Meanwhile, Santa rounded third and headed for home, as the shortstop finally came to his senses and threw a perfect peg to catcher Yunir Garcia, who held the ball in a collision at the plate. The Yanks lost, but nobody left feeling as if they'd gotten anything less than their money's worth on that one.

Final Score: Cyclones 5, Yankees 4: Two hot dogs, two Killian's Reds, one round-trip ferry ride, and about as much fun as a game can get on $7. BOX SCORE