YES! A Rivalry Does Exist

Between the fans that is... It is the minor league version of the Subway Series, however for the fans it suits them just fine. "Obviously the excitement level is not the same as Mets-Yankees, however it is still very special for us fans" say's Billy Williams a regular at KeySpan Park, and a native of Brooklyn. "The fans are into every pitch just a little more than a normal Cyclones game."

Friday night is the first of twelve meetings between the Brooklyn Cyclones, and the Staten Island Yankees. A sellout crowd of 8,000 plus is expected to pack KeySpan Park for the first game of the three game series, in which two games, Friday and Sunday, will be played in Brooklyn . The middle game of the series will be played at Richmond County Bank   Ball Park in Staten Island .

Many would say this simply is a "fictional rivalry" because most of these players are first year professionals, and have never played this  Staten Island team before. However, these players have all played against teams they considered "rivals" in college, and they know the kind of atmosphere it creates, and what it means for their fans if they win that game. The same thing holds true in this situation.

They know the excitement level that the Mets-Yankee games create, they know the Staten Island Yankees are an affiliate of the New York Yankees, they know the teams play in the same borough, and as a result they can realize how much their fans want to win this game, and how a win will mean just a little more extra for the fans exiting the stadium.

"I was at a game last year between the Cyclones and Yankees, and the first pitch of the game was called a strike. I never heard the fans at KeySpan roar that much for a first pitch strike call." say's Kevin Llamos, a self proclaimed die-hard Cyclones fan. "From first pitch these players understand the game means just a little more extra."

Joseph Sollazzo, a Cyclones fan living in Staten Island , shares similar sentiments with Llamos. "The fans make it a rivalry especially in Brooklyn " Sollazzo said. "The players must feel the passion coming from the stands at Coney Island . It's more "dead" on Staten Island , but it is still fun."

Another "Joe" from Staten Island , also a Mets and Cyclones fan, is the third fan to back up that statement. "The Brooklyn-Staten Island Yankee series is all about bragging rights. The Staten Island fans want to beat the Brooklyn fans and Cyclone's fans want to beat the Yankee fans, simple as that" say's Joe.  "The players can feel the intensity from the fans, and it provides for a really exciting game."

However, according to Thomas Crest, a Yankee fan, and a follower of Staten Island baseball, the Staten Island crowd is not into the games as much as the Brooklyn fans, because the Yankee fan already has the bragging rights to the biggest treasure chest.

"The Yankees beat the Mets every year" say's Crest. "We are in the playoffs every year, and they are home watching it. We have won 26 World Championships, they have won 2. Obviously the Mets beating us in a simple and small minor league game will mean a lot to the Met fans because they can't beat us in the major leaguers, the place that it really counts."

Crest is referring to the 20 victories the Cyclones have over the Yankees in their 35 regular season meetings. The Cyclones also won two of three games in their 2001 play-off series to advance to the NY-Penn League finals.

"That is just the typical Yankee fan" say's "Llamos." "If the Yankees defeated the Cyclones, then the Yankee fan would just add that to their cheers, and put-down of the Mets. Even the minor league Yankee fans are front-runners. When the Staten Island Yankees are going well just as they did in 2001 the fans show up, otherwise they stay home."

Say what you want, however clearly the major league Mets-Yankees rivalry carries over to Brooklyn and Staten Island .

"Some of my friends are Yankee/SI Yankees fans, so bragging rights are a definite plus of the games" say's Sollazzo.

"Just look at the bench clearing brawl that occurred last year in Staten Island " say's Michael Carlio. "Clearly there is some energy in the Ferry Boat Series."

Michael is referring to the 28 minute bench clearing brawl that occurred last year at Richmond County Bank BallPark. Yankees pitcher Matt DeSalvo hit Andy Wilson in the head sparking a bench clearing brawl.

DeSalvo as well as Wilson each got ejected along with Alexander Santa, Carlos Rosario, Melky Cabrera, Brad Blackwell from the Yankees and Shawn Bowman, Ender Chavez, Joe Orloski, Rashad Parker and Robert Paulk from the Cyclones.

"Oh please!" Crest say's. "That would have happened in any other game. A guy got hit in the head. Obviously he will charge the mound. Now if he charged the mound after an 0-1 strike call maybe he would have a point."

Say's Carlio: "Many say Mets-Yankee games are no longer a rivalry, because the Yankees beat up on the Mets every time. Well the Cyclones beat up on the Staten Island Yankees every time, and that turns the Yankee fans away."

The bottom line is the exchange between Kevin Llamos, Michael Carlio and Thomas Crest proves whether it is at the major leagues, or the NY-Penn League, Mets, Yankees, and their affiliates will provide a rivalry.

It could be a stickball game between Shea Stadium ushers, and Yankee Stadium ushers, and the antagonism of Mets and Yankee fans will carry over, and the bragging rights of the ushers game will exist

"We definitely have better ushers. Those guys are the bomb" Carlio said referring to the Mets ushers.

Series Preview...

The Cyclones (11-8) depend on their top and middle of the order to get things done for them in terms of scoring runs. Dante Brinkley and Corey Coles are setting the pace in the top of the order hitting a combined 48-135 (.355) with 5 home runs 20 runs batted in, 34 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. The Cyclones have 85 runs batted in this season with 52 of them coming from the 1-5 hitters, Coles, Brinkley, Watts , Davidson and Concepcion. Derran Watts is expected to be sent back to Capital City (A) with his rehab ending which means an outfield spot will be opened for Ambiorix Concepcion who has driven in the game winning or tying run three times this season.       

The Yankees (5-14) are led by starters Edgar Soto, Friday night starter and Jason Jones, who will not pitch in this series. Jesse Hoover (1-0  0.75) and Michael Knox (1-1 1.61) have given the Yankees stellar relief pitching.

Joseph Williams (1-0 2.95) is expected to start Friday's game against Edgar Soto (1-1 1.56). Evan MacLane (2-1 1.45) is scheduled to start Saturday's game with TJ Beam (0-2 5.30) pitching for the Yankees. Will Quaglieri  (1-1 4.26) is expected to face Andrew Edwards (0-2 8.44) in the series finale on Sunday.

With the Cyclones-Auburn game being postponed due to rain Wednesday night, Mike Swindell, Wednesday's scheduled starter could start Friday night's game against Staten Island , with Williams pitching Saturday and MacLane going on Sunday.

A special thanks to all those who participated in this article and to all those who submitted quotes. Due to the large amount of feedback received not all quotes submitted appeared in the article.

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