Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Relax: Red Sox Have Zero Motivation To Trade Mookie Betts

Relax Red Sox Nation. Markus Lynn "Mookie" Betts isn’t going anywhere.

Mookie Betts

The simple fact of the matter is the Sox have basically zero motivation to trade Betts. Someone else of a lower value, sure, but Betts, not a chance. He has been in the Sox system for 4 years now and a lot of time and effort has gone into his development. He has adjusted to each level along the way and has been an impact player at every stop. It is positively scary how quickly the young man has adjusted to the Major Leagues and his start at the plate and in the field in 2015 has been absolutely seismic.  He is a rare, relatively cheap, very young, durable and seemingly super-coachable, 5-tool player.

It would not make any sense for the Red Sox to trade Betts. Much of the noise around this suggestion is coming from rabid social media types and blogs basing their ideas on whimsical, flimsy speculation.

The sporting media will do anything to sell papers get hits and that’s why they were trying to sell us a 'controversy’ around Victorino and Betts, however Betts himself has been hugely complimentary of the hobbled veteran, saying he has been extremely friendly and helpful, giving Hanley Ramirez and Betts plenty of advice on playing the outfield and other elements.

From Betts;

“Since Day 1, he’s been helping me and the first time I met him in Triple-A, I’ve been asking him questions and ever since then I ask him some questions,”

At the end of the day, the Red Sox Front Office would need to be motivated to trade Betts. However, no matter how hard you dig it’s impossible to find that motivation. Betts is just too young, too cheap, too valuable and simply too damn good to trade as things stand.

Besides, there’s plenty of other pieces available to Boston to trade in for a pitcher down the road.

Just not Mookie, he isn’t going anywhere. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Baseball Ireland And The Rain

We pride ourselves in Ireland on playing through rain, wind and other types of inclement conditions. Some days, however, we just can't get the games going. Last Sunday was one of those days. Check out the pictures below, the first base shot is pretty funny!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

What Did Those First Few Baseball Ireland Practices In 1995 Give Birth To?

Baseball Ireland started in Corcaigh Park, Newlands Cross, in 1995. It has come a long way since then. This is the 20th year baseball has been played in Ireland. That's kind of a big deal. Over the next few weeks I'm going to look at some of the elements in and around the first days of baseball in Ireland. The  below is a look at what those first few practice sessions led to.

Baseball Ireland - we do it wetter.

It's hard to believe, to some extent, how far Baseball Ireland has come since the first practice sessions way back in 1995.  It has been played for 20 years straight here in Ireland now, and Irish baseball has exported itself literally around the globe, making so many friends along the way.

It all started with a few practice sessions among a small group of guys who were just really into the game of baseball, wanted to toss the rock around on weekends, swing a few bats and run the bases, even if they were used, shoddy, throw-down bases borrowed from softball teams.

What came of it all? What came of those first sessions?

Those first fun, shabby, ramshackle and enthusiastic sessions gave birth to the Irish National Baseball team, which went to Hull in 1996 to participate in the European Baseball Pool B Championships. That team grew up to travel to (deep breath) London, Austria, Croatia, The USA, Sweden, Germany, The States (again!) and Belgium. After the Antwerp championships in '06 the national team started to transition into its current, youthful incarnation and they have continued to play in European competition right up to the here and now. The National team is actually a little bit older than the league. We like to do things differently here.

The Irish National Baseball Team - Croatia 2000

Those first few sessions, played out often in early weekend mornings as the damp foggy haze struggled to clear around the park in Newlands Cross, gave birth to the Irish Baseball League, which first started playing proper, organised games in 1997, and has since grown to a two tier league with teams from all over Ireland, North and South. The league has had many wonderful, competitive and fun seasons, and has given the chance to hundreds to play baseball in Ireland.

The Dublin Hurricanes of the Irish Baseball League

The first few sessions were played in the back field at Corcaigh Park, which is now a lake for recreational fishing. It was sloped and imperfect but contextually perfect for what we were doing. And, it gave birth to the O'Malley Baseball Fields, where we play baseball in Ireland now. Without those first few sessions there would be no O'Malley Field.

The first sessions gave birth to thousands of experiences and hundreds of friendships being born in the framework of baseball in Ireland. Hundreds of people have met, played ball and built enduring friendships through baseball in Ireland. The Baseball Ireland family has grown around the World too, including a great friendship with the Slocum baseball club of Rhode Island.

We're only touching the highlights above, there are of course so many elements that would never have happened without those early sessions. I think that's amazing. Imagine, without a handful of practice sessions played out in a previously obscure part of West Dublin, so much good that came from baseball in Ireland, and is still happening now, today, would never have happened.

Irish team players at Fenway park for a game against Slocum in 2001

Monday, March 30, 2015

About Last Night: Long's Late Goal Rocks The House

Ireland grabbed a late, late, late equaliser against Poland last night and very few could deny they deserved that, and perhaps more. Ireland were superb in the second half, constantly pining the Poles back in their own half, creating a number of chances and definitely playing the better football. Poland seemed to content to waste time and work on their diving game, which is pretty sharp as it is.

Thankfully Shane Long came to the rescue as the game slipped into added time. Here's some great footage of the big goal.

First, some great fan footage

Love the 'F**k sake' as the corner came across, initially looking a little long, and then the 'Alright Long!' just before Shane slotted it home.

I'm guessing this particular commentary team was Polish.

That's about as deadpan as you can get after a goal.

Here's some great footage of the cool-finish itself

Looking at it again (and again, and again) Long's first touch was sublime, he absolutely killed it stone dead, and his delicate finish was nothing short of beautiful. Unless of course you happen to be Polish.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Red Sox Rotation Issues Will Hurt, But Not Until Playoffs

The Red Sox rotation is a cause for much concern, however the cracks won't really appear until when and if Boston makes the playoffs

Probable Sox rotation
The Boston Red Sox made things interesting this off-season by opening up their wallets and bringing in some serious heavy lumber in the form of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. The Sox look set to score runs aplenty in 2015. Pitching? Boston went for a very interesting group of free-agent hurlers to back up proposed ‘ace’ Clay Buchholz. Joining the Sox veteran will be Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, and Joe Kelly. That group is not without its talents however is not what you would call exciting.

They have also been underwhelming this spring.

Frankly however, Spring Training pitching stats are not worth the paper they are printed on. It’s hot, the pitcher are not conditioned as yet and perhaps most importantly, arms aren’t stretched out as yet. I don’t care if Wade Miley gives up 10 runs in an inning, or Joe Kelly gives up back-to-back-to-back dingers, Spring is the time to get arms stretched out more so than getting actual ‘outs’.

Spring, for pitching, is basically like starting a car. It won’t cruise straight away, you have to let it get on the road and get some miles under it before you are cruising.

The regular season itself isn’t that much of a concern for Red Sox pitching either. Even if this rotation crumbles, they will find guys to plug in and take up the required starters-innings. The Sox lineup looks so ferocious that pitching just isn’t going to be an issue, during the regular season. My guess is the Sox will win a lot of games 10-6 and 9-5. Scores like that. Further to that, the AL East looks like a very winnable division right now. It’s there for the taking. Every single team has issues, and compared to the rest, the Sox look relatively settled, again particularly when it comes to the big bats. The Sox are going to mash.

That’s the end of the ‘good’ news.

Getting to the playoffs is something the Sox shouldn’t find too much issue with (barring an unforeseen injury crisis). Doing anything positive at all, progressing in any shape or form during said playoffs would be a much, much tougher proposition with this proposed pitching rotation.

You are not going to make it through the minefield that is the MLB playoffs without at least one but preferably two stud starters. You have to have a guy who the opposition feel beaten by before the first pitch is even thrown. Look at the Sox rotations from their recent World Series wins. The ’04 rotation has a Hall of Fame starter in it, and the other guys weren’t too shabby either.

Good things happen when you gather good pitchers together

Josh Beckett was as-advertised in ’07 and Jon Lester was superb in ’13.  The recurring theme is, there’s always a couple of guys who are almost unhittable come October. Can you honestly see that from anyone in this current Sox rotation? God bless you if you can, ‘cause I can’t see Joe Kelly mowing down the best bats in all of baseball on a frigid October night in Fenway. I WANT to see it, but I can’t really see it.

This Red Sox team is built to win, look at the expensive acquisitions of Sandoval and Ramirez for starters. Winning is great, but winning is also pointless if you are not somewhat built to succeed when the playoffs start.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about this forthcoming ’15 season for Boston, it’s looking to be an enjoyable ride. I simply don’t see them winning the World Series unless Wade Miley discovers some kind of talent level he didn’t know about before, or unless Clay Bucholz unearths some Iron Man like physical stability to go with his undoubted talent. Both of those things could happen, of course, a far safer bet would be bringing in ‘that’ guy, that guy that rounds the whole rotation out, lets everyone pitch to their level comfortably and puts the fear of God in opponents before the game even starts.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Des Bryant Video Reportedly 'Worse Than Rice' Recording

Rumours have been swirling for days and now the first meatier morsels are falling, things are about to get very, very complicated for Dallas star Dez Bryant.

For years the NFL neglected to tackle the thorny issue of domestic abuse and violent behaviour amidst its ranks. The Ray Rice situation exploded on them and the NFL front office scrambled to put process in place, years too late of course. The fall-out continues to land in their laps, however.  Now it appears Dallas star Dez Bryant is about to become a major headache for the Cowboys and indeed the NFL.

Rumours have been circulating for days about a very serious video existing, purporting to show Bryant doing something naughty. Finally some noted reporters are confirming that the tape does indeed exist, and more details are emerging as to what’s going on in same.

It appears that some nefarious dark characters from Bryant’s past have video footage of him punching a woman, and they are offering that video around to the highest bidder. Essentially Bryant appears to be caught in the middle of an extortion sting. This does not make him a victim, we should remember. If Bryant did punch someone, this is all on him. People need to remember that as they rush to defend the Dallas star.

Back to the video.

As per Terez Owens, a sports rumor blog, allegedly there’s video surveillance footage of Bryant punching a woman at a Dallas-area Wal-Mart. While Bryant’s former friends (and current extortionists) shop the video around, several screen grabs have been sent to sports media outlets. Many of those have confirmed they exist, and they show exactly what they are reported to show. Adam Schefter of ESPN has been working on this story since last September and although he won’t confirm the video exists, he is telling people to 'check back later' with him on the story. He certainly isn't denying the story outright.

One of those media outlets who have been sent the screen grabs has said;
“it’s five times worse than the Ray Rice video.”

So far the NFL and Dallas have denied they know about the video. That tactic didn't work out so well for the NFL during the Ray Rice situation, so you can bet that if anything does turn up they will change their tune faster than you can say 'Life time suspension'

Naturally Cowboy Nation is up in arms defending its star player, attacking anyone online who even suggests there might be a video about to come out. To those star-crossed Bryant lovers we would ask, if there is no video, then why all the smoke? If there is no video, why have Dallas withdrawn rather visibly from contract negotiations with Bryant? If there is no video why doesn’t Bryant come out and defend himself, instead of posting cryptic social media messages such as the below (a couple of days ago as rumours of the video began to swirl).

If Bryant is being shaken-down, that's bad, sure. However, it's still not as bad as a grown man punching a woman, whatever the circumstances. Bryant would be doing himself a huge favour if he were to come out and deny the accusations.

The fact he won't leave the situation wide open to interpretation, and leaves Bryant very exposed. As Adam Schefter suggested, stay tuned to this one, it's about to explode.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Bill Belickick Baited Pete Carroll Into 'That' Play

The focus on the amazing finish to the Superbowl has been on how poor a play call Seattle chose. Perhaps we should be looking more closely at the other sideline, and a possible reason as to why the Seahawks ended up choosing that final, fateful play

He didn’t, did he? Or, did he?

Is it possible Bill Belichick baited Pete Carroll into selecting that pass play, and thus securing the win in the most unusual of fashions? It may sound crazy but, it’s really not that big a mental stretch if you think about it. As my friends and I watched, standing, barely able to contain ourselves, Seattle’s second to last play was a run that the Patriots D is not getting enough credit for stopping.

Immediately as the play ended, my friend Lorcan started preaching ‘Let them score’ like a religious mantra. He, and many others, thought the Patriots should just let Seattle walk the ball in, thus preserving a minute to play with and try and mount one more seemingly impossible comeback for the ages.

Grantland’s Bill Barnwell goes into this in great detail in this excellent post Superbowl article. In the same piece he mentions the following in regards Belichick and the time-out that never was.

If Belichick had really wanted to let Seattle score and conserve as much time as possible, he would have also used one of his final two timeouts after the first-down run. It was downright baffling that he chose not to do so. Given that Seattle had the ball inside New England’s 1-yard line with a minute left, extending the clock mattered far more to New England than it did to Seattle; that’s why the Seahawks were milking as much clock as possible.

Here’s the thing, I believe firmly that Belichick stood firm and didn’t call a time-out because he wanted Seattle to try and pass in that situation. Watch the tape. Belichick doesn’t flinch. As my friends and I stood, jumped and generally acted like bemused chimpanzees, Belichick stands, almost impassive, like a stone-faced poker player. He. Doesn’t. Flinch.

Take a second and imagine you are Pete Carroll, looking over from the opposite sideline. Your are fully expecting New England to take a time-out, at which stage you can setup your nice little running play and basically walk the ball in, potentially against a defence that wants you to do just that (had the Patriots chosen that route). Imagine Carroll’s bemusement as the clock ticked.

50 seconds.

40 second.

Think about it, as New England didn’t call a time-out, Seattle must have thought all their Christmases had come at once. They could afford to try something different and they still had a time-out in the bank. Carroll and his coaching staff must have thought ‘Great, he won’t call a time out, fine, we will pass, if it’s dropped (the most likely worst-case scenario) the clock stops, we still have plenty of time to run the ball twice after that on third-down and indeed fouth down if it comes to it’.

I put it to you firmly, Bill Belichick knew exactly what he was doing as he stood, stone-faced, on the Patriots’ sideline. He deliberately didn’t take a time-out. He wanted the potential chaos of a passing play, and boy did he get exactly what he wanted.

The Patriots rolled the dice as they have done so often under this head coach.

Bill Belichick baited Pete Carroll, and, it worked beautifully.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Have You Heard The One About The Two Irish Lads That Snuck Into The Superbowl?

This sounds like the start of a bad joke, but, did you hear the one about the two Irish lads that snuck into the Superbowl? It’s true, and it’s as simple as it sounds, at first sight anyway. Two young Irish lads basically snuck into the Superbowl on the weekend. They enjoyed the game from various VIP areas, met a few interesting people (including Patriots legend Lawyer Milloy) and even got a VIP bus back to their hotel after. 

''Hey did you hear the one about the two Irish guys...?''

All 100% free. No tickets. No nothing.

Lovely, good for them.

There are a couple of problems with this, however. First of all, they might be enjoying their 15 minutes of fame and having a great laugh about this, however there will be ramifications with their actions. Not just for them (more on that shortly) but for the people they are busy showing up on the talk show and other interview circuits.

In their quotes, which I’m not going to give air-time to but you can read here, they are very detailed as to how and who they slipped by to gain entry. Hilarious, sure, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the people that have been referred to in great detail by these two ‘lads’ are going to pay for their fun-time with their jobs. You can bet the NFL security heads will sack everyone and anyone who allowed these idiots entry into the game.

Idiots? Yes, idiots. By all means, go for it, you want to have a great time, for free, at the Superbowl, and you are willing to take the extensive risks these clowns took, go for it. However, for the love of God, don’t spout on about it after the event, don’t go showing people up and causing problems for them after you have gone and had your good time.

Further to this, you think the NFL are going to take this lying down? Let’s just say, it will be interesting to see what happens the next time these two clowns try to board a flight to the USA. The NFL is a powerful and sometimes vindictive organisation. They have friends in high places.

It’s great these two guys had such a blast, and everyone’s having a good giggle about it today.

It’s just a shame they have to mouth off about it now, and endanger people’s livelihoods in the process.

Ireland Croatia

Ireland Croatia
The Irish Team in Croatia 2000

Heroes and villains on Fox Sports

Heroes and villains on Fox Sports

'I didn't know..' gets a mention on Fox Sports


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