The work has only just begun for New Yorkers after Hurricane Sandy.
The pain and loss cannot be calculated. The homes destroyed can be rebuilt (hopefully) but memories cannot be replaced. Many are still waiting for basic utilities and normalcy to return. The death toll is an unbearable reality.
While New York City tries to rebuild and restore what they can, a different, smaller kind of work is underway in Coney Island and Staten Island. It isn't life or death. It is just baseball. But baseball has always been a symbol of hope, a touchstone in the midst of sadness.
The Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones, of the Class-A Short Season New York Penn League, will open their season on June 17th at MCU Park, home of the Cyclones.
Richmond County Bank Ballpark and MCU Park were ravaged by the hurricane. The parking lot of MCU actually became a FEMA Disaster Assistance Service Center. Both islands experienced mass destruction and despair. It was unclear at first if either team would have a place to play, but, perhaps the one thing on their side was that the season starts so late. There's time.
In the meantime, it was nice to hear that the local tradition of baseball would continue when schedules were released. People that work in both stadiums or for the teams, still have jobs to go back to. Many of those people live locally, so it's safe to say this was a silver lining.
But for baseball fans that still love a ballgame, and connect with their families through the pastime, this is also a way to escape. Both are New York teams, the Cyclones are a Mets affiliate, and are home to many players that each year have recently been drafted. It's the get-your-feet-wet-show. While attendance has been an issue at times, as it is for many minor league teams, the fans that attend care deeply about tradition and the future of their favorite team. They get to see the raw start of many future major leaguers.
And there is, of course, the historic Coney Island boardwalk itself. A special symbol of what was that has lasted all these years and continues to draw crowds every summer.
Knowing that baseball will continue for both teams come June is something, not a huge something, but it matters to many. And the fact that it's a true New York baseball opener gives the match-up a more special quality.
Get tickets for the Cyclones home-opener and all games here: http://www.brooklyncyclones.com/tickets/individual/
Contribute to 'Staten Island Recovers': https://statenisland.recovers.org/