From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
SYRACUSE — Last Saturday night, I connected with my past, previously spending many years in a minor league baseball press box. I was a guest of the Syracuse Mets, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, at NBT Stadium, not far from Destiny USA Mall, courtesy of radio broadcaster and PR guru Michael Tricarico.
For about five years, I had attended about five home games per season, sitting in the stands. My connection to the Mets was that current GM Jason Smorol previously worked with Watertown’s NY-P team in the 1990s.
A long time ago, I was an official scorer and/or reporter in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League, attending home games in Geneva, nearby Newark and Troy.
Scenarios have changed greatly over nearly 15 years ago when I last covered a minor league game in Troy. The print paper no longer covers the Mets on a regular basis; the video room consisted of about eight people, a far cry of the two to three in the Tri-City (Troy) ValleyCats’ room; and the press row lineup was myself, a videographer for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Mets’ foe that night, a digital photographer for the Mets’ AM radio home and a Syracuse University video journalist.
I had my old-fashioned two-sided scorecard, utilizing three different colored pens. Everyone else in was digital mode, with videos and photos and the like. But that was OK.
I was old enough to be a father of each, but once the game progressed, my cohorts were all very knowledgable about today’s baseball landscape, and conversation picked up in a spirited way. It also helped that we were engaged in a compelling game between the Mets (0-4) and RailRiders (4-0), whose roster resembled a 31st MLB team, with no less than 14 players with some type of big league experience.
Considering the game-time temperature was 46 degrees with a brisk wind blowing from left to right, I thought during pregame, “This wind is going to cause problems and thankful I’m upstairs.”
Syracuse led 3-2 entering the ninth inning, but S/W-B tied it with an unearned run that was set up by Mets second baseman Travis Blankenhorn, who dropped a one-out, fly ball to short right field. The wind played tricks with the ball.
Baseball is a game where redemption occurs. In the bottom half of the 10th, Blankenhorn’s swirling fly ball to left was dropped by a diving RailRaiders outfielder Ryan LaMarre, who had entered the game in the top half. On a brisk night, the Mets earned their first win, 4-3, in a game that lasted 191 minutes. It was probably the most entertaining game I attended in a long time.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org