Life in the Minors: Chapter 3 - Coming Together
For the fourteenth consecutive year, WFUV talks to the members of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees in the New York Single-A Penn League about the trials and tribulations of being minor league ballplayers. The long bus rides, the low pay, 76 games in 80 days. This is a look into Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives.
This week, Drew Casey and Brendan Bowers talk about the importance of coming together.
The Brooklyn Cyclones with Drew Casey:
While the focus in Coney Island on the Fourth of July was Joey Chestnut and the annual hot dog eating competition, the Brooklyn Cyclones continued their 2014 New York Penn League campaign. Since starting the season at 11-4, the team has struggled a bit and has dropped four in a row as of July 4th.
Strangely enough, the losing streak has come with Dillon Gee, New York Mets opening day starter, appearing in two of the games on the mound. Gee, making rehab starts in hopes of returning to the Mets on July 9, started for the Cyclones in Brooklyn on both June 29 and July 4.
Despite this losing streak, the team has still been able to come together and mesh well with each other. Many players credit this strength to manager Tom Gamboa and the time that the core of the team spent together in Florida during Spring Training. They are confident that the hits will come and that they will break out of this funk. The team will have quite the opportunity to do just this over the next four days.
They will host league worst Aberdeen on Saturday and Sunday before playing four games in a 24-hour period on Monday and Tuesday. Due to two rainouts with Hudson Valley this past week, the team will play a doubleheader in Brooklyn on consecutive days. Monday’s first game at 6:00PM will resume from a 2nd inning suspension, while a second game will follow at approximately 8:30PM.
Tuesday’s first contest begins at 11:30AM with a second game expected to start at about 2:30PM. During this period, the team’s ability to come together well will truly be tested.
The Staten Island Yankees with Brendan Bowers:
With just over a quarter of the season behind them, the ball players of the Staten Island Yankees are right in the mix of things at the top of the McNamara division. The players of the Baby Bombers all agree that a big contributor to their success so far this season has been their ability to come together as a team so quickly.
The Staten Island Yankees enter the weekend with four one-run games, and two walk off wins. Chris Breen, Staten Island’s left fielder, says that all the close competitive games have brought the team together.
Another way in which players come together as a cohesive unit is by spending a lot of time together. That is just what happens when you play in short season A baseball. The team lives in a hotel together, travel to and from the stadium together, and eat meals together. So, both at the stadium and away from it, the players are together almost 24-7.
Ty McFarland, the second baseman, credits all of this time spent together with bringing the team closer. He says that spending time in the clubhouse and going out to eat after games have brought the team together. Similarly, first baseman Bubba Jones believes that having a good group of guys in the clubhouse lets them gel as a team.
Staten Island Manager Mario Garza also believes spending more time with each other than with their families during the season helps them come together as a team. He also has also developed some techniques to introduce new faces, since single A baseball players come and go frequently during the season. Garza says that he has new players introduce themselves in front of the other players and tell them a little about themselves so everyone knows who everyone else is.
If the Staten Island Yankees want to make a run for playoff baseball in September, they will have to continue to bond as a team. With three teams all within 3 games of first place with about 56 games left, it will take good baseball and lots of wins to make the playoffs. The Baby Bombers will need every player on the roster on the same page if they want to make the playoffs because, after all, baseball is a team sport.