PR man on mark

Hometown boy

The Brooklyn Paper

Finally we know who the best pitcher on the Cyclones is: It’s the team’s public relations manager Dave Campanero! Of course, that depends on what kind of pitching you’re talking about. If you want to strike out a bunch of Staten Island Yankees, then Kevin Deaton is your man. But if you want to win at those completely fixed baseball-toss games on the Coney Island midway, get Campanero.

No one expected to find a new star when Campanero arranged for three Cyclones pitchers — Brandon Kentner, Tim McNab and Wayne Ough — to accompany a New York Post reporter to the infamous milk-bottle toss a few blocks from Keyspan Park. Only Kentner was able to successfully knock down all three of game operator Dennis Vourderis’ weighted milk bottles with a single toss of a beanbag. But he failed on several other attempts.

When all three pitchers were done throwing the beanbag as hard as they could, Campanero walked up and lightly tossed the bag of beans. He knocked over all three milk bottles on his first try.

“It was total dumb luck,” Campanero told The Papers. “They were firing it in like they were trying to strike out Mike Piazza. But that kind of game demands a light touch.”

Give that man an overstuffed teddy bear!

New Doctor K

The Mets see him as the Pitcher of the Future, but to the Brooklyn Cyclones, flame-throwing hurler Scott Kazmir is the Man of the Moment.

Kazmir, the Mets’ No.1 pick in the 2002 draft, finally came to terms on a contract on Aug. 2 — and the 18-year-old from Cypress Hills High School in Texas pocketed a cool, $2.15-million signing bonus, the highest the Mets have ever offered.

On Saturday, Kazmir was at Shea Stadium, throwing 97-mile-per-hour fastballs in the bullpen that made a delightful pop when they hit the catcher’s leather. The next day, he was at Keyspan, getting a warm welcome from fans who watched him toss for a half-hour (and leave a large hole in the back fence of the bullpen after a blistering fastball sailed a bit higher than he wished).

The Cyclones said publicly that Kazmir, who will wear No. 29, will be “worked into” the pitching rotation in the next week or so. But Brooklyn fans can’t wait to start hearing that loud pop move from the bullpen to the playing field.

Banner day

It’s baa-aack! Banner Day, that celebrated and infamous Mets tradition dating back to their first season at Shea Stadium, will make its debut at Keyspan Park before the Cyclones’ game this Sunday.

Back in the fabled days of Met ineptitude, the annual “Banner Day Doubleheader” was one of the most hotly anticipated dates on the team’s schedule. Originally run as a parade between innings of a Sunday twinbill (remember those?), Banner Day was eventually scrapped by Mets management because the fans’ bedsheet sentiments were becoming too rude. (Full disclosure? This reporter once carried two banners onto the field; one banner — a generic one reading, “Let’s Go, Mets!” — concealed a more hostile bedsheet that mocked a Mets utility man who had recently gotten into some problems with the law. Once on the field, I pulled away the generic, happy banner, revealing the controversial banner beneath. Another year, I carried a banner complaining about the bathrooms at Shea during the infamous M. Donald Grant years).

The Cyclones’ version of this venerable tradition will begin at 3:30 pm when the Keyspan Park gates will open. Anyone with a banner — even non-ticketholders — can participate simply by registering in advance. E-mail howie@brooklyncyclones.com.

Since the team’s announcement, fans have been trading memories of their favorite Banner Day creations. Three standouts include, “The Mets are like fine wine. Always in the cellar,” “When the Mets play/The other team learns/How to play baseball/From John Stearns,” “To Err is human. To forgive is a Met fan.” That last banner actually won the top prize in 1965, because the irrepresible Tug McGraw was judging that year.

Hometown boy

Not that hometown fans need a new rooting interest, but there’s finally a New Yorker on the Cyclones roster — Washington Heights native Domingo Acosta (hey, that only took a season and a half!). Acosta, a graduate of baseball-mad George Washington High School, joined the Cyclones from the Mets rookie league team in Kingsport last week.

“It’s great to be playing in New York City again,” said Acosta, 21, who played two years at Palm Beach Junior College after graduating high school. He was born in the Dominican Republic, but moved to Washington Heights when he was 11.

“I always thought I’d have to wait until the big leagues to play in New York,” he said. In his first outing in Saturday night’s drubbing by Hudson Valley, Acosta retired all six Renegades he faced.

August 12 , 2002 issue  

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