Life in the Minors - Chapter 8: Battle of the Boroughs

by Eric Mollo, Matt Sinise
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Rusted Strings

Eric Mollo and Matt Sinise dig beneath the surface of the Brooklyn-Staten Island rivalry

 Minor League Baseball: How does it differ from the majors? For the eleventh consecutive year, WFUV goes behind the scenes with the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees In the Short Season Single-A NY-Penn League, it's long bus rides, low pay, and 76 games in 80 days. This is our look at Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives.

 

Matt Sinise, Brooklyn Cyclones Beat Reporter
 
The intense rivalry between the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees is a natural one that was born with the rebirth of Brooklyn baseball in 2001.  Since then, the two squads have battled it out year-after-year as they share the spotlight under the bright lights of New York, just like their big league affiliates.  
 
In 2011, the Cyclones have met the Yankees for two exciting series.  They are meeting for another important 4 game set this weekend.  So this week, we set out to find out how the players feel about their rivals.
 
Even though many Cyclones are experiencing their first season with Brooklyn in Short-Season A ball, just about every player already feels the tension and excitement that accompany meetings with Staten Island.
Outfielder Chase Greene talked about a more electric atmosphere when the two teams meet, and Travis Taijeron loves playing the Yankees because he points out that seemingly every time they meet the game comes down to the wire.
 
It’s clear that the players are aware of the magnitude of the rivalry and its importance to their fans.  The extra spectators and added pressure of the Staten Island games gives the players a little taste of what it will be like playing at higher levels of baseball.  As for this season, the rivalry will only heat up from here, as the two teams face each other three times to close out the regular season.
 
Eric Mollo, Staten Island Yankees Beat Reporter
 
It does not have the tenacity of the Yankees-Red Sox, or the excitement of Phillies-Mets, but when these teams take the field together, they are playing more than just a Single-A matchup. They are defending their area of the Big Apple, and the players feel the competition vamp up when they battle it out in their season series. 
 
Staten Island centerfielder Mason Williams and shortstop Cito Culver both mentioned how playing against Brooklyn allows them to “lock in” and take each play one at a time, focusing on every little aspect of the game. They understand in this competitive series, every play can be a game changer. 
 
The crosstown matchup gives the players a taste of what it means to play in the Big Leagues as well. Every game is sold out, the crowd gets pumped up, and the players feed off the adrenaline as if they were playing ball in October. 
 
They are never happy after they lose to their crosstown foes, and despite their disappointment, there is still a considerable amount of respect and friendliness felt towards the opponent...not exactly how Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez feel after the Beantown-New York series. 
 
The Brooklyn-Staten Island rivalry certainly does not generate as much interest as a Yankee trip to Fenway, but there is a sense of pride in these Baby Bombers and Mini Mets that comes with defending their respective boroughs.

 

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Life in the Minors Chapter 8