The Brooklyn Sports Scene: The New Lords of Flatbush!
We were, are and always will be, A Sports Town.
FLATBUSH AVENUE is Boulevard of the Fans Once Again!
Downtown Brooklyn's own..., The LIU (Long Island University) BLACKBIRDS Men's Basketball team; The Hoops Of Flatbush; - won their conference regular season title. They reaffirmed themselves shortly thereafter by winning the NEC Title - Northeastern Conference Tournament. As reward for their efforts this season, they were awarded an NCAA berth to the tournament we traditionally call March Madness; qualifying with a 27-5 mark. Their travels will take them to Charlotte where they will take on the famed program of the North Carolina Tar Heels to be played this coming Friday night. It will be the Blackbirds first NCAA Tourney appearance since 1997 and the third in their history. The Blackbirds feel as if they could have been shown a little more respect than they received after being seeded 15th in the bracket. But it is what it is Boys. Their first round opponent, North Carolina is ranked #2 in their bracket. The fans in Brooklyn have no doubt these boys will represent the Borough of Kings well. Good luck to them.
This Saturday night, on the opposite end of Flatbush Avenue from where LUI's campus is, Brooklyn's Professional Hockey Team; the The New York Aviators will play Game One of the Federal Hockey League's Inaugural Championship Series in Hangar #5 over in Floyd Bennett Field against the Akwesasne Warriors. The A's stumbled early to start the season but finished their campaign with a consecutive games winning streak that exceeded twenty games before getting it snapped by Danbury just before season's end. In the first round of the Southern Division playoffs, The Aviators exacted a revenge of sorts and dispatched the Danbury Whalers in 5 games to earn a spot in the up-coming Finals. Should the Aviators defeat the Akwesasne Warriors in the Inaugural FHL Finals, it would be the Aviators second consecutive championship in successive Leagues.
Between LIU's campus on Flatbush' north end, and Aviator's Hangar #5 on Flatbush' south end, where Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue intersect, construction of the Barclays Center has just celebrated it's one-year anniversary since Groundbreaking Day. Work on the arena is accompanied by encouraging reports the project is ahead of schedule. This arena will be home for the soon to be relocated New Jersey Nets Basketball Club. For the moment the team plays in nearby Newark, N.J. But the plan is for the Nets to tip-off their first home game in their new Brooklyn arena in time for the 2012-2013 season. It's been a long seven years since Bruce Ratner purchased the New Jersey Nets and announced his intention to move the team to Brooklyn. Mikhail Prokhorov arrived on the Nets scene since then but the point here is finally, a trip past the construction site today leaves little doubt as to the inevitability that a Major Professional Sports Franchise is returning to Brooklyn for the first time since the late 1950's when the Dodgers left the Borough to go play their games in California.
Duke Snider; The Duke of Flatbush; recently passed away. The great Brooklyn Dodger center-fielder during NYC's Golden Era of Baseball was the last living member of the famed batting order that helped win the Dodgers their first title in 1955 and gave the Borough of Brooklyn their only World Series Championship. Fifty-five years have passed since the denizens of Brooklyn danced in the streets in celebration of their Bums winning it all. NEXT YEAR finally became NOW and the victory parade drove down Flatbush Avenue; Brooklyn's Heart. And fortunately, I know enough of the ones who are still around who remember. I'm always available anytime they want to tell me a story.
And as it concerns the game of Baseball, this much is undeniable; - From Dem Bums of yore to our Baby Bums of today; Baseball, since the game's infancy, is uniquely a Brooklyn institution. For it is in Brooklyn, Baseball spent it's childhood in the 1800's and grew to become great. From here, it spread forth throughout the land to capture a Nation's heart. The deeper you dig into Baseball's past and origins, the closer you get to Brooklyn.
Then, a decade ago, Baseball returned to it's roots. It's a minor league brand of baseball, but the passion I have for my hometown team is of major intensity. This last summer, local fans of the Surf Avenue Sluggers celebrated their 10th Anniversary together with Brooklyn's "Newest" Professional Baseball Team; the Brooklyn Cyclones. Our Baby Bums excited sold-out crowds with another thrilling season by the seashore which culminated in the team's fourth Division Title and an appearance in the Championship Finals.
With most of the bad days of Winter behind us, that can only mean my Brooklyn Cyclones' brochure and ticket plans should be arriving in my mailbox any day now. When June rolls around, a new season with our Sluggers by the Sea will kick-off another summer of Coney Island fun. Heading into our 11th season together, Brooklynites will continue to pack the park and set attendance records like we always have.
The same I think can be said for the future of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets of 2012 and beyond. I think the N.Y. Knickerbockers and many in the local Media are underestimating the passion level for a Professional Sports team, not in just what still remains as the 4th largest city in America, but in an only, one of a kind, wholly unique place like Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Nets are setting up shop on Flatbush Avenue where Walter O'Malley once wanted to build a new stadium for the Dodgers. But this isn't about rehashing the past and maddeningly crying over spilt milk. Instead this is a conversation as well as a celebration I'm having with the Brooklyn Sports Fan out there. This may not be the Golden Age of the 1950's, so you'll have to use your imagination a little and stretch reality to conform what I'm saying into something I believe is in it's genesis. If you're like me, a born and bred Brooklynite who refuses to leave because I love it here so much, you must recognize the changes happening all around. And if you're a sports fan, how can you not take notice to the fact that Flatbush Avenue has again become our Borough's Boulevard of the Fan.
On the north end of Flatbush Avenue at DeKalb Avenue, Long Island University, home of the Blackbirds, are the first to greet travelers crossing over the Manhattan Bridge. Travelling south along Flatbush through Downtown Brooklyn, at Atlantic Avenue, the future home of the Nets Basketball Club is being assembled. Then down on the south end of Flatbush Avenue is Floyd Bennett Field, where in Hangar #5, the New York Aviators will begin playing for their League's Championship this weekend.
But no, ultimately, I'm not trying to call Brooklyn a sports town. I'm not talking to anyone not from here because my championing of a pair of minor league outfits; a basketball team that isn't here yet; and a college team I know many won't admit they never heard of before..., is ludicrous.
But to you; my neighbor and fellow Brooklynite; We who care as little about Manhattan as Mayor Bloomberg does about us - Are you a Sports Fan? Are you feeling the heat I'm generating regarding our local teams?
Hockey ~ The New York Aviators; the Coolest Guys in Brooklyn!
Baseball ~ The Brooklyn Cyclones; the Surf Avenue Sluggers; The Coney Island Nine
2011 NCAA Tourney ~ The LIU Blackbirds; Brooklyn's College Cagers; The Hoops Of Flatbush
Basketball ~ The Nets are Coming! 2012-2013 Season
Yea. This IS a Sports Town; our sports town within a sports town. These are the days; for us at least. I wrote somewhere in another post... Don't wait for the Media naysayers to write a book ten years from now and have them say I was there when Brooklyn....blah blah. Forget them because they all cater to each other and to their egos and quite frankly, just don't get it (meaning Bklyn). Just pay attention for yourselves and go to a game or two. We're taking baby steps but Brooklyn never had these options and multitude of teams available to us before. So write the story for yourselves about how Brooklyn is reappearing on the sporting map. We're on the ground floor looking in.
Be there! Be Brooklyn! Go teams!