Now that Labor Day has come and gone, it would be very easy for me to sit here and embrace Fall. This will be my first Fall back in New York in 6 years, which means it’ll be the first Fall that doesn’t feel like summer. Jacksonville has beautiful weather and all, but I think my time there kind of blended together since it’s hot 360 days a year and there were never actual seasons. Before the cold comes in, I wanted to take advantage of another summer tradition: the Brooklyn Cyclones.
I’ve already written about how I love going to Coney Island. I wanted to check out the Cyclones way earlier in the season, but something always seemed to come up, or I was just too tired to take a 90 minute subway ride into Brooklyn after work. Fortunately, I got there before the end of the season. The team has one more game this year (against its biggest rival, Staten Island), and you can get tickets for it here.
The Brooklyn Cyclones are a minor league baseball team based in Brooklyn (duh) and affiliated with the New York Mets. They play at MCU Park, a smaller stadium located just off the boardwalk.
The Cyclones actually got their start as the St. Catharines Blue Jays up in Ontario in 1986. Just before the 2000 season started, the team was purchased and moved to Queens, where they played at St. John’s University. They moved to Brooklyn (back then the stadium was called KeySpan Park) the next year, and a contest was held for a new name. Yep, the team is named after the Coney Island Cyclone.
How does minor league baseball work? Basically, minor league teams are used as a way for players to develop and prepare before they’re brought up to the majors. There are different classes (Triple-A, Double-A, etc.) that I know nothing about that won’t try to explain here. The Cyclones have sent 60 players to Major League Baseball, including Jose Reyes, Ike Davis, and Bobby Parnell.
If you’ve never been to a minor league baseball game before, you’re definitely missing out. I went to a few games in Jacksonville, and the environment is just a lot of fun. Yes, there are divisions, and the teams are playing for league and division titles, but it doesn’t feel as high stakes as professional baseball does. The Cyclones have actually won 8 division titles and 2 league titles since they started playing.
Minor league games are big on fan involvement, so each season features a ton of different giveaways and promotional nights. The game I went to was part of “Christmas in August,” and we all got these awesome ski caps with the team logo. Some of the other giveaways (all listed on the schedule at the start of the season) include bobbleheads, calendars, shirts, and baseball caps. Tickets are usually under $20 each, so it’s a good deal if you want a fun night out.
I got to MCU Park about 20 minutes before the doors opened, and there was already a line. We made our way inside to the sounds of Christmas music (help) and sleigh bells.
MCU Park isn’t really known for its food, and the prices were pretty comparable with major league stadiums. I was surprised that you couldn’t bring anything in yourself, and I think it would get more people in if you were allowed to bring your own water or snacks. It is all about the money though…
I actually picked a night of a doubleheader (2 games back to back), so I got to see extra playtime. Minor league games are only 7 innings (compared to 9 in the majors), so they really don’t last that long. As I said, it’s a fun family atmosphere, so innings are separated with games for the kids, t-shirt tosses, and other activities. I went by myself (as per usual), and I still had a great time!
MCU Park is a beautiful place to catch a game! The boardwalk and Luna Park are right behind you, so there’s a really cool backdrop to the field.
After 7 innings, the Cyclones won game one! There was a 30 minute break in between games, so I wandered around the stadium for a little bit. I caught some of the second game before I hopped on the F train to go back to Queens. Next summer I want to take advantage of more games and giveaways. Even for someone who isn’t 100% crazy about baseball, the Cyclones showed me a great time!