Friday, June 20, 2008

First Night at KeySpan & a Strange Delay

The New York-Penn League is back in full swing for 2008, and I went to my first Brooklyn Cyclones game at KeySpan Park last night.

It was the final game of a three-game series with the archrival Staten Island Yankees. The Cyclones opened the season with two wins over Staten Island, 3-1 and 9-4. There was a big crowd on hand at KeySpan (announced at over 8,600, but it was more like 6,000).

I have a partial plan of seven games, and my seat is behind home plate, about 10 rows off the field. I've been going to Cyclones games for eight seasons now, and it's a great atmosphere there in Coney Island. Lots of kids and families on hand, and before the game, they had literally hundreds of Little Leaguers on the field with the players for the National Anthem.

It was a close game most of the way through. Cyclones jumped out 1-0 in the fourth, but Staten Island scored two in the fifth and four in the seventh to put the game on ice.

As the score was 7-2 with two outs and a man on in the bottom of the ninth, I saw something I've never seen at any baseball game. The Cyclones hitter, Ralph Henriquez, stepped into the right side of the batters box, and then moved over into the left one, and then stopped at the plate. Turns out that the Yankees' pitcher, a guy named Pat Venditte, is ambidextrous, and is a "switch pitcher." He has an ambidextrous glove, he can switch easily on the mound. (I had never heard of such a glove.) Henriquez, who is a switch hitter, continued to move from box to box until the managers came out to talk to the umps about what to do.

We had a 5-7 minute delay as the umps talked to both managers. According to baseball rules, a player can switch from one side of the plate to the other, but only once an at-bat. Finally, the umps made Henriquez commit to one side of the plate, which was the right. Venditte pitched to him righthanded (which he did to every hitter that inning) and wound up striking him out on three pitches to end the game.

I've seen some unusual delays at KeySpan (like fireworks, fireworks smoke and fog), but I've never seen a game held up because the hitter and pitcher couldn't decide which way to hit and pitch.

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