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Edgardo Alfonzo’s contract not renewed for 2020

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Edgardo Alfonzo will not be returning to Brooklyn in 2020, but from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, the memories of his time there will last a lifetime.

The 2019 New York-Penn League champions

According to the New York Post’s Mike Puma, the Mets will not be renewing Edgardo Alfonzo’s contract as manager with the Brooklyn Cyclones. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo says that he will remain within the organization as a club ambassador.

Alfonzo was hired to much fanfare in 2017, replacing Brooklyn skipper Tom Gamboa, who held the post from 2014 to 2016. His first season as Cyclones manager was one to forget. The team narrowly missed the ignominy of tying or surpassing the 1981 Batavia Trojans for the worst season in New York-Penn League history (16-59), finishing the year with a 24-52 record, by far the worst record in franchise history. Though wins were sporadic and bright spots were far and few in-between, nothing stopped the Brooklyn faithful from coming out to the ballpark, and for the 17th consecutive season, Brooklyn led the New York-Penn League in attendance.

The 2018 season saw the Cyclones end with a winning record for the first time since 2014. Improbably, the Cyclones got off to a hot start, going 10-5 in the month of June, but slowed down in July. They heated up in August, and by the end of the month, were only a handful of games behind the Hudson Valley Renegades for first place and in a virtual tie with the Staten Island Yankees and the Auburn Doubledays for the NYPL wild card spot. Coincidentally, the Cyclones faced those very Renegades and those very Yankees in their last two series’ of the season. They lost two to the Renegades, putting first place out of reach, but were still in the hunt for the wild card. After losing the first game against the Staten Island Yankees, they found themselves in a precarious situation. With a magic number of one, a playoff appearance was still possible, but the stars would have to align: Brooklyn would need to win both of the final two games and Auburn would need to lose both of theirs. Miraculously, Brooklyn won their penultimate game of the year and Auburn lost theirs, setting the stage for drama on the final day of the regular season. Brooklyn won their game in exciting fashion, walking off in the tenth inning, but it was simply not meant to be: while Brooklyn and Staten Island were still playing, the Doubledays beat the Batavia Muckdogs, ending any hopes of playoff baseball in Coney Island in 2018.

With Alfonzo not returning in 2020, he is ending his career there in exciting fashion, as the 2019 season was arguably the best in Brooklyn Cyclones history. Brooklyn was never completely dominant, but they were good enough, posting records above .500 every month of the season, and by the end of August found themselves in the NYPL playoff picture. Going into their very last series of the season- against their interboro rivals, the Staten Island Yankees no less- the Cyclones found themselves tied with the Aberdeen Iron Birds in the wild card standings and two games behind the Hudson Valley Renegades for the division. Any loss would have resulted in the Cyclones narrowly missing the playoffs, but the bats and pitching all came alive and the Cyclones swept the Battle for the Bridge, surging ahead of both Aberdeen and Hudson Valley, taking the division and making it into the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Cyclones faced off against those same Hudson Valley Renegades in the best-of-three New York-Penn League semifinals and it was an exciting one that saw Brooklyn prevail, setting the stage for a championship series against the Lowell Spinners, a team loaded with numerous Red Sox top prospects.

The three-game series was full of tension and nail-biting moments, coming down to the wire. In the deciding game three, Brooklyn took the initial lead in the bottom of the second, but Lowell quickly tied it up at 2-2 in the third. The game remained tied as Matthew Allan and Yusniel Padron-Artilles dominated, but the Spinners finally broke through in the seventh. Finding themselves behind for the first time in the game, the Cyclones came out swinging in the bottom of the inning. Jake Mangum singled with one out in the inning, and Antoine Duplantis followed with an RBI triple to tie the game at 3-3. Duplantis subsequently scored on a single from Yoel Romero to give Brooklyn the lead heading into the eighth. Andrew Edwards, who came into the game in the eighth and managed to get through the inning unscathed despite hitting a batter, came back out for the ninth. Third baseman Nick Northcut led off the inning with a single right back up the middle, putting the tying run on base. After striking out a batter, he then walked pinch hitter Jaxx Groshans, putting the tying run on second. After striking out Stephen Scott, all that stood between Brooklyn and their first solo championship in franchise history was pinch hitter Alex Erro. Batting from the right side against the left-handed Edwards, the southpaw fed him a steady diet of pitches down and in. Jake Ortega blocked a ball in the dirt that Erro went fishing for for strike one. He swung over a second for strike two. With the crowd on their feet, Edwards let loose one more pitch, and Erro swung-and-missed. For the first time since 1955, a championship trophy was lifted in Brooklyn.

In the celebratory scrum after the game, Edgardo Alfonzo was hoisted in acknowledgement. He may not be one the field in 2020 to see his Cyclones take the field for the first time to defend their championship, but the Brooklyn faithful will never forget him.