Wally Backman won a World Series with the New York Mets in 1986, but the most-coveted possession in all of sports — a New York–Penn League championship ring — has now moved one step closer to his finger as the Brooklyn Cyclones clinched the McNamara Division title in fine fashion last Saturday night.
It’s the fifth division crown for the 10-year-old franchise, but the first since 2007 — evidence that this Cyclone team is different than recent incarnations.
Perhaps this squad — 47-22 as we went to press — is the best Cyclones team ever, better than the 2001 team that went 52-24 (.684) and won the franchise’s only New York–Penn League title.
The 2010 team certainly clinched the division title like champions, destroying the Connecticut Tigers 10–0 on Aug. 28.
The Cyclones were up just 2–0, thanks to a SAC fly and a Blake Forsythe solo homer, when they broke out for six runs in the eighth.
Jeff Flagg led off with a homer before Joe Bonfe singled and Justin Schafer, James Schroeder, Darrell Ceciliani and Cory Vaughn all had RBI hits.
Two more runs scored on Ceciliani’s 11th triple of the year in the ninth.
Starter Yohan Almonte was even better than the Clones’ offense, going all the way for a rare complete game, yielding just six hits and striking out five. The shutout lowered his ERA to 2.00.
Ceciliani’s 2-for-5 raised his average to .351.
The regular season continues through Sunday, and the playoffs begin two days later. Here’s how it works:
Four teams make the post-season: the three division leaders and one wildcard team.
The Cyclones, by dint of their record, will almost certainly the season as the top seed, and will face the wildcard team, which will be Jamestown, Williamsport or Batavia, depending how the pesky Pinckney Division winds up. Game 1 of the semi-final round, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, will be on the road, with Game 2 (and Game 3, if necessary) at MCU Park in Coney Island on Wednesday, Sept. 8 (and Thursday, Sept. 9).
When the Cyclones win that series, they’ll start the finals on the road on either Friday, Sept. 10 or Saturday, Sept. 11 (depending on the length of the semi-final series). Under this Cyclone-friendly scenario, Game 2 (and, if necessary, Game 3) will be at MCU Park on Sept. 11 or Sept. 12 (with Game 3 the next night).
Cyclone fans should put their Champagne on ice, as it will likely be needed for celebratory purposes next week.