How I spent my summer vacation: Clones get first day off in nearly a month

Making their way downtown: Cyclones players Nabil Crismatt, Ali Sanchez, Hengelbert Rojas, and Joel Huertas took in the sights during their day off on July 7, including a stop at the National September 11 Memorial.
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They needed a day off.

The Cyclones opened the 2016 season with 20 games in 20 days. Eleven of the first 17 games of the summer went to extra innings, including a 20-inning marathon to open the season. The entire squad was desperate for a day off, and that day finally came on July 7.

For the first time since the season started — and for many of the players since the college season started — the Cyclones had an afternoon away from the ball park.

It would have been easy for the team to sleep away the 24-hour baseball shore leave, but the Clones didn’t want to waste the day — instead, the squad used the opportunity to explore the city that is its summer home.

“I went over to Coney Island and checked it out,” third baseman Blake Tiberi said. “I came over to the Boardwalk and kicked it for a little bit with some of the guys. I just wanted to relax and try and recover a little bit.”

Tiberi didn’t get on any rides — he wants to wait for a perfectly sunny day before he braves a ride on the Thunderbolt — but he relished the chance to just get away from the field, even if it was only a 10-minute stroll down the Boardwalk.

A handful of other players took the subway into Manhattan, braving the nearly hour-long ride on the F train to check out the sights.

“I tried to see the city where we are. It’s the first time I’ve been able to go out,” pitcher Nabil Crismatt said. “Guys here are always talking about the city and it’s so nice and I wanted to get to see. It was crazy.”

It was a memorable day for Crismatt, who grew up in Colombia and never expected to find himself in the United States, let alone New York City.

He and teammates Ali Sanchez, Joel Huertas and Hengelbert Rojas saw everything they could while walking from Times Square to Battery Park. The quartet took in the sights and sounds of the city, wandering from block to block and, they’ll admit, getting a bit lost.

“We had to stop and ask for directions a couple of times,” Crismatt said. “It was all like ‘Take the train and then go to this part and when you get there, go to this street.’ We were definitely lost.”

Catcher Dan Rizzie also spent the day in Manhattan — joined by several of his high-school friends from Chicago — and the group enjoyed the chance to play tourist for a day.

“It was the first time I’ve been to Ground Zero,” he said. “I’ve been to a couple of those other places before, but not in the last few years, so it was cool to see it all again.”

The players weren’t the only ones who put their day off to good use. Manager Tom Gamboa spent the day with his daughter in Central Park and, later, took in the Broadway show “Waitress.”

The Cyclones needed the break, but the squad was anxious to get back to the field. The day off was nice, but as soon as those 24 hours were up, it was time to get back to work.

“You’re spending a lot of time thinking about baseball, and it’s tough — even on your day off — not to,” Crismatt said. “I love this game, so sometimes even during the day off you start thinking about baseball and how you can be better.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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