It is hard for me to draw comparisons with the Cyclones players now that I have left Brooklyn and returned to my mountainous home in Utah. The subway has been replaced with my car. The hard carpets and dorm-like atmosphere of my apartment has given way to the comfortable setting of my familiar home. And my one-track mind of focusing on the Cyclones has evolved into many other responsibilities clamoring for my attention.
But the Cyclones have some similar issues, believe it or not.
The conclusion of the season is just around the corner, and new things are beginning to divert their attention from playing a baseball game to higher planes such as winning a division title, making the playoffs and that coveted New York-Penn League championship.
Other players start to hear or read their own names come up in award races such as the league batting champion and stolen bases leader. But the players have little to no control over these loftier goals.
Although the achievement would be fulfilling and would add a huge bullet point to their professional resumes, Cyclones’ manager Rich Donnelly said the focus is still on one thing only — the improvement of the players, whether they win or lose.
“Our guys don’t even know who we’re playing sometimes, let alone what our record is,” Donnelly said. “All they do is go out and play and try to get better. If you start worrying about what your record is, you’re going to be in trouble in sports.”
The temptation to think about the end-of-season accolades and possible championships is getting stronger as the season nears its end. The Cyclones were half a game back from the division lead on Wednesday and had been winning more consistently. L.J. “Mini-Maz” Mazzilli is in contention for the league batting title, with 72 hits, 32 RBIs and a .299 batting average, all of which lead the team. But the players have said they don’t need to change their philosophy or their outlook to reach the goals they have.
“We just got to keep hitting and picking up some wins and playing some good defense and picking up some wins,” first baseman Matt “Bright Eyes” Oberste said. “We just need to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Even though I have added responsibilities to my list, my focus remains the same as it did when I arrived in Brooklyn in June. I cover the Cyclones throughout the season without getting caught up in the many other distractions that will vie for my attention, and as Donnelly would say, that’s how I keep myself out of trouble.
Scott Hansen, an intern from Brigham Young University, will be comparing his life to those of the Cyclones all season long.