If the Brooklyn Cyclones end up winning the New York-Penn League championship this season, they'll have Bob Ojeda to thank.
Ojeda is part of the coaching staff that has helped the Cyclones to the league's best record.
The former major leaguer who is known for his performance in the New York Mets' 1986 World Series title season, Ojeda is the pitching coach for their Class A short-season affiliate.
"Nobody really thinks about that, at least I didn't," said Ojeda, of getting into coaching. "I was like, man, I want to travel, so when I got out of the game, I wanted to get away and travel around the world."
But the game kept calling.
"There came a time when ... maybe getting back in wasn't a bad idea, especially with the Brooklyn thing," he said of baseball's return there. "To be a part of that has been tremendous. I kind of fell into a real good situation."
Ranked at top: In his first season as a coach, Ojeda has Cyclones pitching ranked first in the league with a 2.36 earned-run average. He has done that with a relaxed approach.
"There's guidelines that the club has, which are pretty basic," said Ojeda, whose Cyclones split a four-game series with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers last week. "This isn't real complicated stuff. Just watch them, get to know them, get to learn what they're thinking, what their strength and weakness is.
"I let them have room," he said. "I never hop right in and say, 'Hey, this is how we do this.' I don't believe in absolutes. There are many different ways to get the job done."
In addition to Ojeda, the Brooklyn staff includes manager Edgar Alfonzo and hitting coach Howard Johnson. Alfonzo is the older brother of Mets all-star second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, and Johnson was Ojeda's teammate with the Mets.
"I don't think I could have predicted it being this much fun," Ojeda said. "Working with HoJo has been a nice thing because we played together those years."
Ojeda, 43, pitched for the Mets from 1986-90. Acquired from the Boston Red Sox, the pitcher, with an 18-5 record in '86, became the winningest Mets left-hander since 1976.
Major career: After the 1990 season, Ojeda joined the Los Angeles Dodgers ('91-92), Cleveland Indians ('93) and New York Yankees ('94). He finished with a 115-98 career record.
His '93 season with Cleveland is remembered for his involvement in a boat accident that killed teammate Steve Olin in spring training.
"As fate would have it, I was back in New York in '94, but by then my shoulder was shot," Ojeda said. "I thought I'd pack it in. It was a nice run. I feel very fortunate the years I was able to play."
That's one part of the game that Ojeda continues to pass on to his players.
"Get the most out of yourself," he tells them. "You can control your work habits and your approach. If you're 100 percent prepared, most of the time, good things are going to happen."
XBrian Richesson covers the Scrappers for The Vindicator. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.