Upon winning the Presidential election, Barack Obama proclaimed that "change has come to America."
The nature and extent of this promised "change" has yet to be determined, but it will certainly be felt at KeySpan Park, home of the Mets' Class A Short-Season affiliate, on June 23. On what is sure to be one of the most talked-about promotions in the Minor Leagues this season, the New York-Penn League's Brooklyn Cyclones will take the field as the "Baracklyn Cyclones."
It may be a somewhat awkward play on words, but the Cyclones' enthusiasm and attention to detail more than makes up for the initial groan factor. On this special evening, the Cyclones will wear red, white, and blue "Baracklyn" uniforms, complete with stars and stripes on the shoulders. These unique duds will be auctioned off throughout the game, with the proceeds going to charity.
Additionally, the first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive one-of-a-kind Obama bobbleheads, featuring our soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief decked out in a No. 44 "Baracklyn" jersey.
While Presidential bobbleheads are not new to the Minor League promotional scene (several clubs memorably staged Obama vs. McCain "bobblections" last summer), this marks the first time that a team has temporarily changed its name in response to a national election.
"During the campaign, our general manager, Steve Cohen, would joke that 'If Obama wins, we're going to turn this city into Baracklyn,'" said Cyclones Director of Communications Dave Campanaro. "But the more we thought about it, the more we came to the realization that it would make a great promotion. So we came up with a bunch of ideas in case he won, and when he did we put it into action."
Indeed they did. While the name change and bobblehead giveaway will be the undisputed highlights of the evening, the club has already announced a wide range of other innovations. The first 1,000 fans will receive "Universal Health Care" in the form of a complimentary Band-Aid, and -- as part of the team's "Clear-Cut Exit Strategy" -- American flags will be handed out to fans as they leave the ballpark.
Additionally, a "Bi-Partisan Consolation Prize" insures that anyone named "McCain" or "Palin" gets in free, and plumbers with the first name of Joe will receive two free tickets thanks to a "spread-the-wealth special."
Ballparks are generally regarded as a safe haven from partisan politics, and the Cyclones are aware that this promotion could ruffle a few feathers. Campanaro insists that this is all being done in the name of unity -- not to mention an irresistible play on words.
"If Barack Obama was the same person, but his name was John Smith, then we wouldn't be doing this. But, as it is, this is too good an idea to pass up" he said. "It doesn't mean that we're all democrats, or all Obama fans. But the election is over, he won, and now its time to support him and to support our country. We want this to be a fun and unique night at the ballpark, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican."
And, of course, what would make it most unique would be an appearance from Barack Obama himself.
"We're holding front row seats for the first family," said Campanaro. "After Inauguration Day, once he's settled in, we're going to extend the invitation. It'd be great to see him there."