Life in the Minors Chapter 11: The Battle for New York City
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, Brendan Bowers and Drew Casey go deeper into the rivalry between the Baby Bombers and the Mini Mets.
The Staten Island Yankees with Brendan Bowers:
With only two games remaining in the New York Penn season, the Staten Island Yankees were officially eliminated from playoff contention after last night’s 5-3 extra inning loss to Vermont. One thing Staten Island can still win though, is the Battle for New York City. Going into the last two games against Brooklyn, the season series is tied 6-6. The rivalry between Brooklyn and Staten Island has heated up in the past week and a half because both teams had a legit chance to win the wild card coming out of the all-star game; but, there will be only one wild card winner.
Coming out of James Madison University, a 10th round pick in this year’s draft, Yankee second baseman Ty McFarland claimed the amount of times the two teams have met has fueled the rivalry. McFarland has been one of the Yankees most consistent hitters this year, batting .281 with 17 doubles, 39 RBIs and 5 home runs.
Another first year player, Connor Spencer, the Yankees 8th round pick out of UC Irvine, thinks there is also a rivalry between Brooklyn fans and those of Staten Island. He noted that the amount of fans from Brooklyn that come out to Staten Island is unbelievable. Spencer has also been a bright spot on the Yankees’ roster this year. Spencer is batting .368 with 68 hits, 14 of which are doubles.
Staten Island manager, Mario Garza, says he does not believe that the rivalry between the players is that big. He states that the competitive nature of both teams is very high and both teams want to win every game. He says it is good competition, and any time you play a team 14 times in a season, you get a sense of competitiveness between the players.
With the last two games of the season being played against each other, the rivalry between Staten Island and Brooklyn has the potential to go to the next step. Because Brooklyn and Connecticut are tied atop the wild card standings, and Connecticut holds the tie breaker, Staten Island still has a chance to spoil Brooklyn’s hope of making the playoffs.
The Brooklyn Cyclones with Drew Casey:
The Brooklyn Cyclones seemed to have the wild card well within their grasp earlier in the week when they held a two game lead over the Connecticut Tigers. However, the team, after being swept by Tri-City, currently finds themselves in a tie for the wild card with just two games remaining in the season. If the standings hold as a tie, Brooklyn will not advance to the playoffs due to a losing head-to-head record with Connecticut. They will need a strong showing and likely two wins against the Staten Island Yankees to close out their season if they want to qualify for the postseason. It won’t be easy as Staten Island is Brooklyn’s clear rival in the New York Penn League.
Cyclones outfielder Joe Tuschak, who is in his fourth year as a professional, believes that Brooklyn and Staten Island have a rivalry in large part due to their parent organizations at the Major League level, the Mets and Yankees. The Pennsylvania native also said that it’s very odd playing an away game in Staten Island when Brooklyn is so close. Additionally, Tuschak thinks that just this season a rivalry has developed between the Cyclones and Tri-City.
Cyclones catcher and utility player Tyler Moore also believes that there is a rivalry present between the Mini Mets and the Baby Bombers. He enjoys playing the Staten Island Yankees and is extra excited to take the field when they are the opponent. Furthermore, he especially likes playing the Yankees at their park in Staten Island, because of the overall atmosphere of the stadium.
The Cyclones know the Yankees very well, and they will need to use that knowledge this holiday weekend to extend their season. Sunday’s game will be played in Coney Island at 6, while Monday’s regular season finale will be in Staten Island at 7.