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Home cooking at Keyspan Park

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When a team performs well at home, sportswriters like to attribute it to “home cooking.” But in the Cyclones’ case, it might actually be true.

A group of female fans who typically sit behind home plate at Keyspan Park — and call themselves “The Clonettes” — have been preparing home-cooked meals for their favorite ballplayers, who often find themselves subsisting on burritos from 7-Eleven or something in a super size from an outlet called McDonalds.

Stephanie Giannetti serves up Riscossa pasta — “It’s specialty brand, not the kind of stuff you get at Key Food,” she said — with her grandmothers’ famous red sauce: a beguiling mix of fresh tomatoes, garlic and Parmesan.

After the games, Giannetti and friends hand out servings to the players as they board the team bus.

“I’m not doing this to get famous, so I really wish you’d stop writing,” Giannetti berated me at a recent home game, fearful that the recipe — and her motives — would be misinterpreted. (This ain’t “Bull Durham”; she’s not trying to date the players.)

But for someone who claims to want to keep a low profile, Giannetti has been effusive on the Cyclones’ official fan web site(http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/brooklyncyclones).

“I do it because these guys complain to us ‘Clonettes’ that with the little money they have, they are eating junk like canned soup and McDonalds,” Giannetti wrote.

“I feel so bad for them, so my maternal side came out and I made some pasta. These are Brooklyn’s newly adopted sons, so why not take care of them?”

Something must be in that pasta.

Fueled by Giannetti’s home cooking, the Cyclones have posted a 12-2 record within the friendly confines of Keyspan Park.

“It was real good,” said reliever Chat Bowen, one of the lucky recipients.

“Whatever she does, it’s delicious. These are truly dedicated fans.”

Pat Witt, who runs the fan web site, saw the Clonettes as a throwback to the Dodger fans of old.

“It reminds me of how the fans used to treat the Dodgers,” Witt said.

“It is true Brooklyn, and they are true fans in every sense of the word.”

$ for nothing?

Just how hard up for cash are these Cyclones? Well, after Thursday’s day game, the team’s paychecks were handed out — but rather than the joy one typically sees on payday, the checks were received with a round of grumbling.

Seems that no one told the players that $200 out of their monthly $850 checks would be deducted as “housing allowance” — in other words, rent on the tiny dorm rooms at St. John’s University that each player shares with three teammates.

“Look at this,” groused one Cyclone, brandishing his bi-weekly check that, once taxes and the mysterious rent bill were deducted, left him with very little spending money in the big city.

“I’ll sleep on the floor if I have to, but I need this money!”

‘Borschtball’

In an effort to attract fans from all of Brooklyn’s ethnic groups, the Cyclones are following the Mets’ lead by hosting “Ethnic Nights” at Keyspan Park.

Last week, that meant “Italian Night,” which featured plenty of opera music, an appearance by actor Burt Young (Paulie from “Rocky”) and the team’s cheerleader Marty Haber running around wrapped in a red, white and green flag.

This Sunday’s “Russian Night” promises to go a little further. With the Russian community of neighboring Brighton Beach virtually unexposed to baseball, the Cyclones plan to reach out by hosting an evening complete with figure skater Oksana Baiul and Miss Russia, Ana Malov, throwing out the first ball. There will also be traditional Russian music and dancers throughout the stadium. Now, if they would only serve blini in the concession stand.

Transactions

Catcher Mike Jacobs (.288 batting average, 19 hits, 1 homer, 15 RBIs), infielder Danny Garcia (.321, 18 hits, 1 homer) and pitcher Matt Peterson (2-2, 1.62 ERA) were all promoted to the Mets’ full-season Class-A affiliate in Columbia, S.C.

First-baseman Jeremy Todd (0-7, 1 RBI), was released.

(July 23, 2001 Issue)

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