Cyclones’ 2020 season officially canceled
'Sad day for many' as Brooklyn fans wait until next year
What was already a foregone conclusion due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic became official this week as the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was canceled, leaving Brooklynites without one of their favorite summer attractions on Coney Island.
The Brooklyn Cyclones, Class A short-season affiliate of the New York Mets, will not get to take a victory lap after capturing their first-ever outright New York-Penn League Championship last summer at MCU Park.
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without minor-league baseball played,” MiLB President Pat O’Conner announced in a league-issued statement Tuesday.
“While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”
There really wasn’t anything uncertain about it.
Once Major League players began leaving their respective spring training sites back in March for an indefinite pause due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the minors’ chances of staging a 2020 campaign immediately dwindled.
Brooklyn, which has been home to the Cyclones since 2001 and has emerged as the top draw in the NY-Penn League over the past two decades, was supposed to host the arch rival Staten Island Yankees here on Surf Avenue for the June 18 season opener.
That game and the entire 76-game short-season slate have been wiped out.
The Cyclones, who captured a share of the league title during their inaugural campaign, ended an 18-year championship drought in dramatic fashion last September, outlasting the Lowell Spinners in a scintillating best-of-three NY-Penn Finals to take the crown.
“I hope they keep this feeling,” Brooklyn manager Edgardo Alfonzo said on the field after the Cyclones’ series-deciding 4-3 victory on Sept. 10.
“Any time you win the championship it’s a good feeling … You teach the guys how to play the game, but at the same time, you have to learn how to win championships. It’s a big part of the development of players in the Minor League system of any organization.”
The Cyclones have also been a big part of Brooklyn since arriving here nearly two decades ago.
Brooklyn has led the NY-Penn in attendance virtually every year of the franchise’s existence and has also received numerous awards for its creative promotions, including the ever-popular Seinfeld Night.
But with no fans allowed to attend games and no significant television revenue stream for MiLB, it became nearly impossible to imagine that the Cyclones would ever play this year.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the 2020 New York-Penn League season is being delayed indefinitely,” the league announced last month as Opening Day came and went.
“The League and its clubs will continue to monitor the situation and work with our Major League Baseball affiliates, while following the recommendations of public health officials and adhering to local reopening guidelines. As always, the health and safety of the New York-Penn League fans, players and staff members are our top priorities.”
The MLB campaign is still slated to begin July 23 as teams have already descended upon their home stadiums across the nation in the hopes of giving fans a 60-game season, and potentially a World Series in October if COVID numbers don’t continue to spike, as they have in a number of states.
Brooklyn fans clamoring to come to MCU to see the next Pete Alonso or Michael Conforto, or even to catch a glimpse of a rehabbing Mets player like right-handed flame-thrower Noah Syndergaard, will simply have to wait until next year to enjoy their Baby Bums in action.
The financial impact of a lost season on Coney Island isn’t likely to stop the Cyclones from coming back strong in 2021, but that might not be the case for some of the 160 or so MiLB clubs across the nation.
With the operating agreement between the majors and MiLB set to expire in September, there had already been talk that as many as 40 clubs would be eliminated from the field.
That number could actually grow exponentially if teams operating on shoe-string budgets, relying solely on ticket, beer and hot dog sales, can’t find a way to find outside investors to aid their cause.
The Cyclones have already been mentioned as a team that could rise a few levels in the Mets’ organization, going from Class A short-season to as high as Double-A if the minors are restructured.
For now, the only thing Brooklyn fans know for sure is that, for the first time since 2000, there won’t be a summer of Cyclones baseball on Coney Island.
Like many of the famed boardwalk’s summer attractions, the Cyclones have provided Brooklynites with a great ride since moving in to their Surf Avenue address.
Let’s hope that ride continues, and continues to flourish next summer.
This, That and the Other Thing: Though there won’t be a baseball season on Coney Island this year, MCU Park is expected to see at least some activity over the next few weeks as Mets players and prospects may use the facility during their training sessions ahead of the start of MLB’s abbreviated season. With the Mets regathering for workouts at Citi Field in Flushing on Wednesday for a secondary spring training, there may be an overflow of players needing to get their work in and MCU will be the spot the Mets send them to.
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