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Life in the Minors - Chapter 6: Battle for the Empire

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The Cyclones and Yankees Continue their Storied Rivalry

For the 12th straight year WFUV is taking a look at what life is like in the Short Season Single-A NY Penn League...a close-up view of the Baby Bombers and Junior Mets as they attempt to climb the ladder to Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. It's Brooklyn and Staten Island. It's the Cyclones and Yankees. It's Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives


Brooklyn Cyclones Beat Reporter - DJ Sixsmith

When it comes to the New York Penn League, the biggest rivalry around is Brooklyn and Staten Island. Separated by less than 15 miles, these two boroughs have battled for minor league supremacy since the teams began play back in 2001. While the Cyclones have won five of the eight games against the Yankees this season, the 2012 edition of this rivalry has been one of the most memorable.

In fact, six of the eight games this year have been decided by three runs or less. The fans of both of these squads were certainly given a treat on July 18th when the Junior Mets defeated the Baby Bombers 1-0 in 15 innings. The game lasted nearly five hours and ended in dramatic fashion with a play at the plate. The fans demand results especially when supremacy of the Big Apple is on the line. Infielder Jeff Reynolds understands just how important this rivalry is to the people of Brooklyn. Before the Harvard graduate ever took the field at MCU Park, the first thing he was told by Cyclones fans was that Brooklyn better beat the Staten Island.

Reynolds and the rest of the Mini Mets most certainly delivered on that message as they took three of four from the Yankees to open the season. For some like Brooklyn catcher Kevin Plawecki, being a part of a heated rivalry is nothing new. After clashing with the Big 10’s best for four years, Plawecki says he feels no added pressure when the stakes are raised. However, he does admit that its not always easy dealing with Yankee hecklers

Plawecki isn’t the only member of the Cyclones that has been taunted by a Yankee fan this season. Cyclones shortstop Phil Evans recalls one of the first games in Staten Island when he was badgered by a fan for nearly 15 minutes. Although Evans was irritated by the fan’s comments, the 21-year-old shortstop realizes that the participation of the fans is a mainstay of this rivalry. The fact of the matter is that fans take this rivalry even more seriously than the players because they have been in New York much longer than these major league hopefuls. The Cyclones and Yankees play six more games this year including the next to last series of the year. If the next two series are anything like the first two, Brooklyn and Staten Island fans should be prepared to be entertained. 

Staten Island Yankees Beat Reporter - JT Mercurio 

The word “rival” is described as “a person or thing that is in a position to dispute another’s preeminence or superiority.”  When it comes to sports, rivals most certainly compete against each other for superiority, or what is most commonly known as bragging rights.  That said, there is no rivalry too big or too small in sports.  For example, Brooklyn and Staten Island might be minor league teams; however, the fire behind their rivalry is still burning bright.
The most recent match up between Brooklyn and Staten Island brought passion and excitement that surely added some fuel to this rivalry’s fire.  Aside from large crowds of passionate fans, this series gathered 2 teams from 2 separate N.Y. boroughs to fight for bragging rights and an improved season record.  With intense, nail biting extra innings, a few exciting plays (including one heart pounding play at the plate), and an overall hard-fought battle by both teams, the series came to a close with Staten Island taking 2 of 4 from Brooklyn, bringing the Baby Bomber’s record to 3-5 against them this year. 
While 3-5 might not be where Staten Island was expecting to be against Brooklyn this year, the vibe around the clubhouse seemed to be that all 4 games were most certainly within grasp.  Pitcher Derek Varnadore and first baseman Matt Snyder both recalled how heartbreaking it was to suffer such close losses, especially to a rival team like the Cyclones; however, they were confident in saying that all 4 games could have been theirs. 

This confidence is exactly what Staten Island needs in order to hop on the path to success for the remainder of the season.  Now that the most recent series with Brooklyn was split, the Yanks are motivated to take at least 4 of 6 games during the next 2 meetings with the Cyclones later this summer, earn bragging rights, and finish with a playoff contending record.