Brooklyn Cyclones Tab Carl Stajduhar with Player of the Week Honors

By Jerry Del Priore


Carl Stajduhar with the Brooklyn Cyclones.

The Brooklyn Cyclones haven’t been hitting much this season, resulting in a 11-22 record through 33 games. But one player, infielder Carl Stajduhar had a very good offensive week earlier in July, slugging .333 (9-27), including going yard twice, ringing up two doubles and driving in five runs.

As result, the Cyclones named him as their player of the week, the team announced on Twitter.

Stajduhar, the New York Mets’ 18th round selection in the 2017 June MLB amateur draft, is currently batting .209 with a .395 slugging percentage through 43 at-bats in 13 games.

The six-foot-two-inch, 215-pounder played ball at the University of New Mexico, where he amassed a .344 average with 44 home runs and 188 RBI in 727 at-bats in 179 contests in three seasons before entering this year’s draft.

The Mets inked Stajduhar on June 19th and shipped him to Brooklyn on the 24th to start his professional baseball career.


Five Borough Wrestling Holds United We Stand in Brooklyn

By Jerry Del Priore


Stand back, it’s Hurricane storming throwing. Well, more like former Cruiserweight Camp Hurricane Gregory Helms during Five Borough Wrestling’s show Thursday night in Brooklyn.

On Thursday, 5 Borough Wrestling held its United We Stand card at the American Legion Hall in Old Mill Basin, Brooklyn, featuring some of the top local indie wrestlers as well as a veteran former WWE fan favorite, Hurricane Gregory Shane Helms.

Here’s how the high-octane action went down in Kings County:

General Manager Chris Beckett pulled the curtain on the show as he introduced his new assistant Ariela Nyx. He also stripped Mike Verna and David Starr of the Tier 1 W (T1W) Tag Team Titles because of lack of a title defense.

During his opening comments, things got worse as Darius Carter—the No. 1 contender for Verna’s FBW Heavyweight Title—interrupted Beckett.

After a bush league shot from behind from Carter’s reputed henchman, Anthony Gangone, on the Man of Steel, Beckett called for a tag match later that night between Carter and Gangone and Verna and partner of his choice.

Logan Black and Bam Sullivan, with Victoria Von Black Vs. Stockade and Matt Tremont for the open Tier 1 Tag Team belts.

The King of Chaos Logan Black teamed with his trusty bother in arms, Bam Sullivan, to take on Stockade and Matt Tremont for the vacant Tier 1 World Tag Team straps.

Von Black performed an impressive Hurricanrana on Cyrus during the match. But after outside inference from him, Stockade and Tremont came out victorious and the new T1W Tag Team Champs.

Matt Macintosh Vs. Talon.

In another highly competitive encounter, Macintosh defeated Talon due to outside interference from Danny DeManto. Talon vowed to seek vengeance on DeManto.

Chris Payne Vs. The Pro Wrestling Manic Joe Gacy in a Wild Card Championship Qualifying bout.

Payne pinned the crazed grappler to qualify him for the Wild Card Title.

Denny Gavin Vs. Orion Dove.

Newcomer Gavin outlasted Dove, but the collective group of MJF, Bear Bronson and AJ Spectre (Force) made him pay for it by mercilessly beating down the youngster.

Fortunately for Gavin, Hurricane and The Elements intervened and saved him from the clutches of Force.

Tag Team match between Darius Carter and Anthony Gangone and Mega Muscle – Mike Verna and the Big O (Adam David Ohriner).  

Carter and Gangone both pinned the Big O after a physical, hard-fought contest by both teams.

Hurricane and the Elements (Pyro and Glacier) took on Force in a trios main event match.

Hurricane and The Elements eroded Force with a stellar wrestling performance that worked the crowd into a frenzy as the three embarrassed their opponents ridiculous fashion time and time again.





Promising Brooklyn Pro Wrestler Chris Velletri Stumbles onto Wrestling Career


Chris Velletri, A.K.A, Talon, at a FBW show in Old Mill Basin, Brooklyn.

Chris Velletri, who wrestles under the moniker of Talon, a wrestling lone wolf savior, didn’t venture into professional wrestling with the typical lifelong dream story.

He was helping out a few wrestling friends at a New Jersey independent show in his twenties by conducting commentary and ring announcing. After the card, Velletri, a longtime wrestling fan, bounced around the ring and felt he was athletic enough to give it a shot.

Not too long thereafter, I passion was ignited. He said he started his sports entertainment training at ACE in New Jersey and later with industry respected trainer Joel Maximo in Brooklyn. After his first match, Velletri said he was hooked.

“I didn’t think I was going to be a wrestler when I was younger,” Velletri, 31, said. “When I was younger I didn’t think people could become wrestlers. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I just thought they were superheroes.

“I spent more time thinking about myself in (Yankee) pinstripes than in trunks,” he continued. “Once I had my first match in 2010, that was it. It was full speed ahead, all systems go. I haven’t looked back since then.”

Over the seven years in the business, Velletri’s Talon wrestling character—which he said is inspired by the two vigilante Catholic brothers, Conner and Murphy MacManus, in the movie Boondock Saints—has developed a loyal following.

“Those two brothers in the movie are vigilantes that take care of the criminals that the cops won’t take care of,” the Manhattan College graduate explained. “To me, in wrestling, a lot of people get away with some stuff. Bad guys do some bad stuff. I’m going to do some bad things, too, but to the bad guys.”  

Velletri, a certified and head personal trainer at Harbor Fitness Center in Marine Park, said the long, black coat-wearing, unlit-cigarette-dangling-from-the-mouth Talon is somewhat of a likeness of himself in the way he goes about his everyday business.

“My persona, the look of it and mannerisms of it, I think, do kind of reflect myself in that I keep to myself, I do my own thing. I do what has to be done, and I go home,” the affable Velletri said. “I’m friendly, I’m sociable. I like to go out and have a good time with my friends. But when I’m at work, when I’m focused on something, I kind of keep to myself.”

Moreover, Velletri, who has wrestled for promotions such as Five Borough Wrestling (FBW), Warriors of Wrestling (WOW) and New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC), is wholeheartedly dedicated to the rough-and-tumble pro wrestling craft, and unequivocally believes in his in-ring abilities.

“I’m not trying to live out some kind of fantasy. I’m doing this because I think I’m good at it, and I think I can make a living doing it,” the Bay Ridge resident said. “And if giving the opportunity, I like to certainly prove that. But If I didn’t think I had a chance to be something in the business, I wouldn’t still put my body at risk to still do it. I do this with the confidence I can do it at the highest level.”

Happenstance or not, Velletri is determine to reach the top of the wrestling chain.

Follow Velletri at

New York Mets’ Prospect Peter Alonso Getting Back on Track

By Jerry Del Priore


Peter Alonso,  New Mets’ second round pick in the 2016 draft. Photo: Brooklyn Cyclones.

After missing the first six weeks of the 2017 season with an injury, St. Lucie Mets first baseman Peter Alonso is now hitting .255 with seven home runs, 29 RBI and 11 doubles in 165 at-bats in 45 games.

The one glaring aspect of his game that seems to plague him, however, other than injuries, is Alonso’s high strike out-to-walk total, which is 40 to 12 this year.
Moreover, baseball insiders believe Alonso, 22, needs to raise his batting average in order to project as an everyday big league first baseman.

It’s something the six-foot-three, 225-pound slugger did last year with the short-season Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones. Alonso batted .321 with five dingers and 21 RBI in 109 at-bats in 30 tilts before a broken right pinky finger ended his first pro baseball season.
Therefore, Alonso, the former 2nd round pick (64th overall) of the New York Mets in the 2016 draft, has shown he can do it.

However, he’ll need to continue to hit for average (raise his current average as well) as he advances through the Mets’ minor league system, while staying healthy, of course.
Alonso is known for solid work ethic and selfness. The Tampa, Florida, native rushed to return early from an injury, just days before the MLB amateur draft, potentially hurting his stock.

Instead of backfiring on him, though, Alonso led the University of Florida to the 2016 NCAA College World Series with an awe-inspiring 16 for 32 performance (.500), with five long balls and 13 RBI, after his stint on the disabled list.

Alonso amassed a .316 average in with 23 round trippers and 124 RBI in 551 at-bats in 157 affairs in three seasons with the Gators.

Alonso played college ball with A.J. Puk, a pitcher in the Oakland A’s farm system, at the University of Florida, and attended Plant and Jesuit High Schools in Florida.



The Stretch Joint Provides Flexibility, Relief in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

By Jerry Del Priore

The Stretch Joint

The Stretch Joint.

One of the most ignored segments of a fitness routine is flexibility. Even when incorporated into an exercise program, there’s a limit to how far someone can stretch themselves, noted James Leonard, a longtime fitness professional and manager and stretch practitioner at The Stretch Joint in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

That’s where Leonard’s flexibility facility and staff come into play, providing pain relief and increasing range of motion for Brooklynites and countless others for the past 11 months.

The flexibility method employed at the Stretch Joint is called Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)—a type of athletic stretching technique, developed by Aaron Mattes (M.S.), that provides effective, dynamic, assisted stretching of major muscle groups. More importantly, it delivers functional and physiological restoration of superficial and deep fascial planes, according to

The key to AIS is that stretches are held no longer than four-five seconds at a time, with each repetition moving a little further, Leonard pointed out. This prevents localized muscle fatigue and lactic acid buildup, plus decreases potential injury.

AIS is better suited for pre-workout or competition performance, Leonard said.

“Whenever somebody comes in, the first thing we do is to find out what’s going on with them,” Leonard, 52, explained. “Then, we teach people the proper way to stretch.”

The Stretch Joint treats clients from all walks of life, including athletes and people with various physical conditions and maladies.

“What we get in here are athletes trying to increase range of motion, and people with injuries and diseases, Leonard said.”

Among some of the injuries and diseases he mentioned were piriformis syndrome (a neuromuscular disorder related to the sciatic nerve), bulging and herniated disks, frozen shoulder syndrome, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and muscular dystrophy (MD).

“We relieve the symptoms thereof. It doesn’t cure it. It relieves symptoms that they’re suffering from, because those are autonomic nervous system diseases, which attack the nervous system,” he said of Parkinson’s, MS and MD. “The muscles are controlled by nervous system, so they get some relief.”

In addition, several clients are benefiting from The Stretch Joint’s flexibility therapy.

“A friend of mine, who knows my chronic neck pain issues, referred me to see James (or Magic Jim as he is often called) at the Stretch Joint,” said Jeanmarie Tari-Blake, a highly skilled Nurse Practitioner from Staten Island. “I have had neck pain for over 20 years and recently developed numbness and tingling down my arm. I have had multiple epidural steroid injections in my neck as well as facet joint injections and radiofrequency ablations (a pain management procedure) over the years, which were ineffective. I have also done physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and acupuncture, with limited relief of my symptoms.


The Stretch Joint’s James Leonard works on a client.

“I went for a free session in April 2017,” she continued. “I then met with James, who is a true professional. I have now been going twice per week. He was very honest with me and made me aware from the first visit that, given the chronicity of my symptoms, this will be a long process. But he would get me better. I’m happy to say that I get improvement with each session. I’m very optimistic about the future now.”

Plus, Leonard said that increased flexibly also improves blood circulation, as taught and tight muscles limit blood flow. He said proper stretching over time leads to muscular healing and improved sleep patterns because of better overall body relaxation.

“When we stretch you, you release endorphins within your body, so it relaxes you,” Leonard expounded. “So, later on that night, you sleep better. I’ve had people I’ve stretched, come back and say, ‘That’s the best night’s sleep I had in years.”’

To book a free half-hour appointment at The Stretch Joint, call 347-578-7108 and/or visit







Five Borough Wrestling Celebrates Three Years in Brooklyn with Superb Local Talent

By Jerry Del Priore


The Man of Steel Mike Verna plays up to the fan in Brooklyn Friday night.

New York City is currently producing some of the top professional wrestling talent on the independent circuit.

And that was evident to the standing room crowd Friday night at Five Borough Wrestling’s, in conjunction with New York Wrestling Connection, third year anniversary ‘A Night to Remember’ show at the American Legion in Old Mill Basin, Brooklyn.

Local grapplers such as Mike Verna, Chris Dickinson, Logan Black and Talon were on hand at the high-octane action event.

Here’s how the combat conflict went down.

Darius Carter (Wrestling’s Richest Prize) vs. Pro Wrestling Maniac Joe Gacy

It was a pick your poison match, with Verna, FBW’s heavyweight title holder, selecting Darius Carter’s, Tier 1’s Champion’s, opponent.

Verna chose Joe Gacy, and he gave Carter a run for his money, in a highly competitive, back-and-forth match. But Carter emerged victorious after using the reverse code breaker to secure the 1-2-3.

The Infamous Bobby Fish vs. Dirty Daddy Chris Dickinson


Chris Dickinson gets ready to peel Bobby Fish out of the corner.

Staten island’s own rough-and-tumble Dickinson took on Fish of Ring of Honor fame.

Fish utilized the ankle lock move to submit Dickinson in another high-quality, physical affair.

Challengers Logan Black (King of Chaos) and Bam Sullivan vs. FBW Tag Champs Fource (AJ Spectre and Bear Bronson), with PJ Stackpole in their corner  

Fource picked up the victory after outside inference from Matt Macintosh, who grabbed Black’s valet, causing the distraction, which led to eventual pin of Sullivan.

Rex Lawless vs. Talon

Talon, a Bay Ridge native and talented wrestler, scored the win, with a roll up of Lawless.

Ethan Page vs. Space Monkey and Caveman in the Governor’s Invitational

After Page mocked and refused to face Space Money, Caveman entered the ring. Page said he would take on both wrestlers, and destroy them without a doubt. the Governors invitational the Governors invitational

Much to Page’s chagrin, Space Monkey and Caveman pinned him in an extremely entertaining match.

The Greek God Papadon vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman in a Career Match

With his career on the line, Papadon make quick work of MJF with a roll up. To say the least, MJF left feeling irate.

The Man of Steel Mike Verna vs. The Rogue and House of Glory Champ Anthony Gangone (Main Event)

It took help from Carter, who picked Gangone to go up against Verna, but The Rouge defeated the Brooklyn superhero with a powerbomb.

In addition, Denny Gavin, an oblivious fan favorite in his debut match in a fatal four-way, fought his way to triumph.








Hearing Impaired Pro Wrestler Christina “C-Bunny” Sarni Shines on the Indy Circuit

By Jerry Del Priore

C-Bunny Leg drop.

Christina C-bunny Sarini uses her leg drop move to stun foe.

Christina Sarni was born with a hearing impairment caused by nerve damage that she says has resulted in complete deafness on high pitch sounds, and makes it difficult when she’s having a conversation in a setting with background noises.

But it pales in comparison to the hearing challenges she faces when in the squared circle.

“Not hearing the spots (moves) being called or when we call an audible,” Sarni said of some of the in-ring challenges she encounters. “It has to be a lot on body language. Also, I rarely ever hear that bell ring. I do wear my hearings aids, but they fallout during matches. So, I’m going to have to do without them.”

Sarni always loved professional wrestling as a youngster. It was one of the things that helped her cope when kids tormented her because of her hearing struggles.

However, the 31-year-old Brooklyn native used her performance ability as a hip-hop dancer (and now as a professional wrestler known as C-Bunny) to bust out of her introverted shell.

“I dealt with bullying and extreme isolations at times,” Sarnie said of being a hard of hearing kid. “I felt like I was invisible. As soon as I started performing, people started seeing me as something more than the hearing-impaired girl. That’s who C-bunny is—my alter ego, and eventually I was outgoing all the time.”

Moved by Michael Jackson’s trademark moonwalk dance stride at five years old, Sarni took up the art of dancing. As a former drummer, Sarni was able to transfer that skill to help her connect to the beat when she was a dancer, and now as she boogies her way into the ring during her entrance music.  

She said the highlights of her dancing career include landing a gig as one of T-Pain’s back up dancers and being a contestant on Live To Dance with Paula Abdul.

“When I was five, as soon as I saw Michael Jackson do the moonwalk, that was my biggest inspiration,” Sarni recalled.

When her hip-hop dancing days dwindled, Sarni decided to pursue pro wrestling. She trained with Create A Pro and Warriors of Wrestling, where she attends for instructing sessions and wrestles for today.

Sarni, who works as a personal trainer, decided to go with her childhood nickname her mother gave her for her foray into pro wrestling.

“My mom named me Christina Bunny when I was a kid,” she remembered. “I was friends with Bugs Bunny at Six Flags for my job, which became my name in sign language because there was another Christina in class. So, I had to come up with something different.”

C-Bunny Chris

Christina C-Bunny Sarni reeling in her match in Brooklyn in May.

Sarni, a former fitness bikini competitor, knew her transition into pro wrestling would present some challenges due to her hearing difficulty. But she has learned to adjust in her year and half into her grappling story.

But, she said, the bumps and bruises, as well as relying on opponents to execute proper movements are other aspects of sports entertainment that are arduous.

“The physicality of it all is tough,” Sarni said. “Hitting the mat and taking moves, and trusting each other as well.”

Fortunately for Sarni, when asked if she ever feels bullied due to her hearing issue, she replied, “In the wrestling business? Never. Thankfully, because this business has so many diverse people.”  

Admittedly green and learning all the time, Sarni is committed to being the best she can be as a pro wrestler. And she relishes every shining moment she gets to showcase her dynamic in-ring skills.

“The best thing about pro wrestling is the adrenaline rush when your music hits or you hit a great move,” the Point Pleasant, New Jersey, resident emphasized.

Yeah, Bunny.

Follow Sarni @




Humphreys, Gonzalez Lead Fireflies’ Pitching Staff

By Jerry Del Priore


Columbia starter Merandy Gonzalez is 6-1 with the Fireflies.

Starting pitchers Merandy Gonzalez and Jordan Humphreys have been enjoying tremendous seasons for the Single-A Columbia Fireflies (New York Mets) of the South Atlantic League thus far.

Gonzalez tossed six innings of two-run ball, surrendering six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in Thursday night’s 3-2 win over the Lexington Legends (Kansas City Royals) at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

The 21-year-old righty and former Brooklyn Cyclone picked up his sixth victory of the year and for the sixth time in eight starts this campaign, he completed six innings. After his sparking performance, Gonzalez (6-1) now sports an impressive 1.75 ERA.

Humphreys (7-1, 1.57 ERA), another ex-Cyclone, went the distance against the Charleston RiverDogs, recording 10 whiffs in Columbia’s 3-0 win in the first of two Wednesday at Spirit Communication Park.

The right-handed soon-to-be 21-year-old helped the Fireflies register their seventh shut-out victory of the year.

Columbia dropped the second game of the day, 10-5, in a five-inning, rain-shorten affair.



Columbia Catcher Ali Sanchez Rides Golden Arm to Success

By Jerry Del Priore

Ali Sanchez

Ali Sanchez has gunned down 55 percent of would-be base stealers this season with the Fireflies.

There’s no denying that Columbia Fireflies’ catcher Ali Sanchez sports a cannon for an arm.

Last season with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Sanchez nailed 48 percent of would-be base stealers. This year so far, the 20-year-old backstop has surpassed last season’s numbers, gunning down 11 runners in 20 attempts (55 percent – second-best percentage in the South Atlantic League). 

In addition to his strong arm, the New York Mets’ brass believe Sanchez is a good pitch caller and adept behind the plate in blocking pitches in the dirt.

Sanchez’s above average defensive skills are rarely seen by a player his age. In fact, many pro baseball insiders feel he possesses the defensive skillset to play at the major-league level someday. The problem is: he hasn’t hit much in his minor league career.

This year, Sanchez is batting .207 in 92 at-bats through 27 games with the Fireflies. Last season, the Venezuelan fared slightly better, hitting .216 in 171 at-bats in 46 contests with the Cyclones.

His saving grace is he’s young, so he has the time to develop into a decent hitter.

Sanchez’s career offensive numbers are: .255 with three home runs and 66 RBI in 611 at-bats in 172 tilts, with most of his offensive production coming early in his career.

He suffered a hand injury last June, so that could be part of the reason for his offensive drop-off.

But the 2013 international free agent Mets’ signee’s defensive abilities are good enough to possibly ride to the majors.

However, make no mistake, Sanchez will need to hit more in order to expedite his major league pursuit, and stick there if he makes it to “The Show.”

Former Brooklyn Cyclone Paul Sewald Gives New York Mets’ Pen Relief

By Jerry Del Priore

Paul Sewald

Pitcher Paul Sewald with Las Vegas.

It’s no secret that the New York Mets’ bullpen has been overworked of late, if not longer.

But right-handed reliever Paul Sewald has provided a proverbial shot in the arm for the Mets’ beleaguered bullpen.

The ex-Cyclone pitcher’s major league debut on April 8th didn’t go so well, as he surrendered three hits and two earned runs in 0.1 innings of work.

Since then, however, the Las Vegas, Nevada, native has only permitted two earned runs over 11.2 frames.

In total, Sewald has posted a solid 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings in nine games with New York.  

With the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s (PCL), the former University of San Diego product posted a 1-0 record with 2.08 ERA and limited batters to a .206 average in 8.2 innings before his call-up.

Sewald, chosen in the tenth round of the 2012 MLB June amateur draft by the Mets, went 0-2 with a 1.88 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 28.2 innings in 16 contests with Brooklyn in 2012.