During the 2016 baseball season, I managed to break last season’s record of going to 83 games by attending 88 games this season, with 62 of them being played at MCU Park. Along the way, I also went to 5 ballparks I had never been to before.
So, after going through all my scorecards, reading thru the hundreds of innings of baseball I watched this season, I am listing the top 10 memories of the 2016 season.
We have already done more than half, so we continue this week with #3 & #4: Team Israel comes to MCU Park.
4: Israel Takes Game 1 of the 2016 WBC Qualifier
Thursday, September 22nd brought us back to MCU Park just weeks after the 2016 Brooklyn Cyclones season ended.
Like so many others, I was looking forward to not only the qualifier, but also seeing Team Israel play. I was rooting for them to win the qualifier and made sure to verify that that my Cowbell was permitted in to MCU Park for the Qualifier.
When the tickets were available on pre-sale months ago, I made sure to be at a computer to log in the moment they were available so I could to get my regular seat in Section 16, Row A for the duration of the tournament.
In August, I purchased a Team Israel cap & Kippah from the Brooklyn Cyclones Store to wear during the event. I decided to wear my Brooklyn Cyclones Hebrew jersey, which I acquired during the 2016 season. The jersey had #48 on the back, perfect for a country that was founded in 1948. I also made sure to bring my Israeli Flag & my Jerusalem Flag.
When the day of the game finally arrived, there was excitement all around. My brother, who lives in Israel, was up at 2:00 AM to watch both the Mets & Team Israel from his computer. I kept juggling calls from him & my father about the games.
Justin Tucker-Wells, who was doing a documentary about Team Israel, interviewed me and shot some footage of me.
Even though the Cyclones were not playing, I treated it like a Cyclones game, scoring with the same book, playing the two strike clap on my Cowbell, yelling “HEEEEEEE! STRUCK HIM OUT!” at the right moments, and leading a “YIS-RA-EL!” chants. Only difference was not having my helmet.
During the game, I saw a number of familiar faces from synagogue, school or where I had worked. Someone I knew from synagogue, took a really great photo of me, which is now my Facebook Profile Pic.
I was also asked by the Editor of the Jewish Link of New Jersey to write an article on the tournament, covering Team Israel, as he knew I would be at all the Israel games.
As for the game itself, Britain took a 1-0 lead in the 2nd, but Israel tied it in the bottom of the inning. Britain went ahead again in the 7th, but Ike Davis, who came in to pinch-hit, put Israel up for good. Brad Goldberg closed it out in the 9th, giving Israel a great come-from-behind win to put them two wins away from going to Korea.
3: Israel Wins 1-0 Friday
While the entire World Baseball Classic Qualifier at MCU Park was great, the Friday game is a classic in my book.
It wasn’t the easiest day, as I was operating on very little sleep. I got home late from Thursday’s games as I hung out on the side of MCU Park as I always did. When I got to my computer, there were two post-game reports that needed typing. To make things difficult, I could not copy the play-by-play from the WBC site, the way I can any MiLB game. After over an hour of typing, flipping between documents, switching from one app to the other, verifying that my scoring was accurate for two games, taking a shower, cooking a late night dinner and getting ready for tomorrow, I somehow managed to get to sleep around 3:00 AM and was out the door at 9:45 AM the following morning.
When the game started just after 12:00 PM, I was lucky enough to have my usual 6 seats to myself, something I did not have he night before. I also had some friends right near me to help me cheer, as my voice was worn out from the night before. The students from Magen David Yeshiva were very helpful in joining on some of the chants I led. It was also a gorgeous day out & I managed to get another WBC baseball.
Israel won the game 1-0 in a well-pitched game that is what I love seeing. Israel took advantage in the Bottom of the 4th, as Nate Freiman led off with a double and Ike Davis reached on an error. Cody Decker hit a sac fly to center and Israel went up 1-0.
Both teams had just 3 hits, and despite Israeli pitching allowing runners into scoring positions, they worked out of many jams in a nerve-wracking game. At one point, I was near Gary McDonald, and when the Israel pitching made it interesting, he said to me “Couldn’t ask for a more exciting game.”
I can watch the game over and over, as it was such a great game. However, in an important game like that, I would not have minded that day a few more runs from Israel.
Throughout the game, I spoke with my dad on the phone, as he was following the game at work. He even said it was a great game to watch, as we both like low scoring games with good pitching.
The win did give Israel Saturday night off, which allowed them to reset the pitching rotation for Sunday. After the game, I told people that whoever plays Brazil on Saturday night, better beat them, because I felt we had a better chance against Great Britain.