Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekend Irish League roundup
April 28th - April 29th

A couple of big games in the Irish Baseball League this weekend and one very unsatisfactory postponement.

Blacksox @ Belfast

The Blacksox travelled to Belfast to play the Belfast Northstars and won the game 26-7. The Blacksox bats were working well and the defence was tight until the last inning when Belfast got a few runs back.

Sal, Jose and Brendam were the offensive heroes for the Blacksox who are off to a great start.

Greystones @ Spartans

Meanwhile, the Spartans took on the Greystones Mariners Here is an exclusive game report from Irish National team legend Darran O'Connor.

Spartans beat the visiting Greystones in this weekend's A fixture 9 to 2. Jonathan Lerner from Albany NY via Cork made his Spartan Debut on the mound throwing 4 dominant innings allowing only a couple of hits and no runs. Andrei closed it out allowing only two consolation runs. Spartans jumped on Greystones ace Shaun Michelas early knocking in five in the first inning. While Shaun settled down in the latter innings, the Mariners continued to bleed runs with a number of errors in the field. Highlight of the day was a battle between Mariners Catcher and Irish international Gareth Donnelly and Romanian Juniors Star Andrei. The count went full before Gareth hit a ball to the fence that was inches foul. The next pitch was a teasing change up that caught Donnelly off guard and 'put him in the book' as a strike out. In the same game a line drive to the shortstop with runners on first and second nearly turned into a triple play with the runner just making it safely back to first.

Meanwhile in the B fixture, the Mariners took advantage of a rookie Spartan infield which failed to support a decent performance by Romanian pitcher Marious. After 5 innings Philip Keeney came in as middle relief and made his Pitching debut for the Spartans. Unfortunately the bats never fired fully for the Spartans and with some running errors (including 2 runners hit by batted ball) the Mariners cruised to a 17-8 victory.

So the Spartans A win while the Mariners B take the B level game.

The Irish league suffered it's first hiccup of the season when the Hurricanes v Twins clash had to be postponed due to the fact that there was no umpire available. The Hurricanes and Twins were unable to play their game even though the Spartans and Mariners were off (played Sunday). Perhaps there was an outstanding reason myself, the Hurricanes and Twins clubs don't know about, however it is very unsatisfactory when your game is called off on the weekend itself because there is no umpire.

This has happened in previous seasons though, and is part and parcel of playing baseball in an amateur league that relies on volunteer help to fulfil it's functions. It has its positives and it has its negatives. I suppose you have to take the good with the bad!

The Hurricanes travel to Belfast this coming Saturday for a crucial fixture for both sides. Hopefully this good weather continues for the Hurricanes first road trip of the season!

Other links of interest -
The 2007 Irish League preview
The opening weekend review

If you would like to get involved with Baseball Ireland at any level, Adult or Youth, or would like to support the game in Ireland, please refer to this link.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Let's get a lil Randy
Patriots pick up Randy Moss

So, can I say I called this one? (back on March sixth too!)

''Back to Randy, I say, let's get the guy on board, stick his locker in between Tom Brady and Richard Seymor and let's let the fella go catch a few deep balls. The potential rewards far outweigh any potential issues.''

The bookies like the move by the Patriots grabbing Randy Moss of the Raiders anyway! New England have been made hot 7/2 faves by several bookmakers here in Europe.

Fascinating development. Think Brady is happy? Sheesh.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I have some questions
An open letter to Yankee fans

So how is this season working out for you guys so far? I have a few questions, things I thought about while watching last night's game. I'll jump right in!

Is the sky falling Jorge?

First of all, who was that fella your guys brought in to pitch the ninth? I couldn't tell, his number was hidden by the enormous fork sticking out of his back. Seriously though, what's it like watching your hall of fame closer being taken out in the 9th after basically throwing a can of gasoline on the fire? Very strange moment, I thought anyway. I respect Mariano, great pitcher and he has put up some unbelievable statistics. However, watching Joe Torre pat him on the back wistfully as he took him out, you have to wonder, is he done? Cooked? Finito?

Who's next so, Scott Proctor? I can hear Julio Lugo now, 'Oh no! Not Scott Proctor!!'

When you watch Matsuzaka pitch, do you think to yourself, 'He could have been ours, if George had paid enough.' Does that make you angry? Okay he wasn't completely lights out but he might still fit into that Yankee rotation eh? Slot him in there somewhere, although hey, Jeff Kaarstens, eh?

If Johnny Damon and nine random fans lined up to throw a ball as far as they could, where do you think Damon would rank, ninth or tenth?

With all those bloopers and bloppers in the bottom of the fourth you must have thought you were on to something huh? What is it now though, twice this season Matsuzaka has basically handed you a few runs and the Yanks couldn't hold the lead? How does that feel? Think he will walk three in a row next time he pitches to you guys?

What exactly is Mariano's era now? Have NASA figured it out yet?

If your first baseman and nine random fans took ten hacks each in a batting cage, where would his average be, ninth or tenth?

How's that bullpen working out for you? What's Mike Myers, the 'designated-come-in-give-up-a-hit-and-leave' guy? When the bullpen door swings open and you see Vizcaino come in, how does that feel? Fun?

Finally, just a quick one to finish. How's the view from the bottom of the AL East?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Adventitious blog entries 6

''associated with something by chance rather than as an integral part; extrinsic.''

In today's 'adventitious' entry - Japanese Ads, Bloodgate, Pictures from Fenway, Hughes beaten up, Sports Guy on the Sox and 'the 5,000'

Matsuzaka - them's fightin' words
Great snap of an advertisement on the Tokyo subway system.

''Reports detail a number of fights breaking out on the Japanese subway system''

Many thanks to Dr. Michael Crowley for allowing me to use the picture. Who knows what the ad is getting at, but it sure angried up my blood for this weekends series in New York!

How's your Papelboner?
A little update on Jonathon Papelbon's current record when pitching as a closer;
75.2 innings, 88 K's, 17 walks, 41 saves, six blown saves, seven earned runs, 0.85 ERA

Yikes. Seven runs in almost 76 innings? Sheesh.

If you are just back from white water rafting in South America, you will have missed that the clowns who commentate on the Orioles games have called into question the blood on Schilling's sock in his amazing ALCS win over New York, days after having his ankle operated on.

Amazingly this non-story has become a nationwide topic, with ESPN and others picking it up. Meanwhile several media types and bloggers have taken the chance to have another pop at Schilling.

I like that Schilling expresses his opinion, as it is often more necessary than allot of the rubbish the media comes out with, the perfect example being this insane inquisition to the 'sock'. Personally I would rather read Schilling's blog and thoughts on actual game play than this inane and pointless crap.

Back to the sock, just to show how idiotic the comments made on air were, the individual who made them, said this yesterday;

"It was one of those 'before the game' things in the clubhouse. I remember asking him about something, it wasn't even about the sock we were talking about. It was something else, like one of those 'last question' things."

Well then doesn't sound like the kind of thing one should be speculating about on air during a game, does it? Not exactly 'sound evidence.'

On a side note, kudos to Alan Wood (author of 'The Joy of Sox' blog), who was the first Sox fan I exchanged Red Sox related links with. This in today's Globe:

''Allan Wood, a Red Sox fan who lives in Ontario and has his own blog (Joy of Sox), was watching the Orioles' feed Tuesday night, and e-mailed a Globe reporter with Thorne's comments. ''

Nice to see Sox 'Fan-boys' (us bloggers as Shaughnessy calls us) being spoken of kindly in the Globe for a change, rather than being slated by the Curly Haired Boyfriend for having the temerity to have an opinion. Alan's 'Joy of Sox' blog broke this story to the Globe, not the other way round.

Tim Kealy's Fenway pictures
Loyal reader and friend Tim Kealy from Connecticut took some great snaps at the Red Sox v Yankees game on the weekend. Check them out here. The below is my favourite though, for obvious reasons!

Check out what the guy on stilts is holding?! Isn't that cool?

Hughes beaten up in debut
This Yanks can't catch a break eh? Their shining pitching prospect Philip Hughes had a rough first start last night against the Blue Jays. Possibly more of note, kind of scary to see AJ Burnett pitch so well!

Sports Guy on the Sox
Bill Simmons chat transcript from last week was pretty interesting. One question in particular brought out his thoughts on how the Sox were so far in '07.

Brodie, St. Paul: Best team in the AL? Twins? Yanks? D-Rays? Thoughts.
Bill Simmons: Boston has the most talented team (and they should, it cost $160 million)

I liked his reaction to this question too.

Shahan (New York, NY): I know it's early, but with Dice-K's lack of run support already a theme, are we seeing shades of Pedro's 2003 campaign? (187 IP, 29 GS, 2.22 ERA, 3 CG, 14-4 record due to lack of runs and bullpen featuring Scott "I guess I'm the closer" Williamson.)

Bill Simmons: I'm not worried -- Manny always starts out slow if it's cold out, once he starts hitting, the whole offense will take off. Although Coco Crisp is almost a Section 8 at this point. I was talking to Hench yesterday and Hench said, "Coco had two bunt singles and a sac fly, maybe that will get him going" and I said, "Wait, do you realize how pathetic that just sounded? We're hoping two bunt singles and a sac fly will get our center fielder going?" What a disaster.

..wonder how he feels about the center fielders output last night? That was some drive, into the wind, by Big Wily Mo Pena.

5,000th visitor
Should get my 5,000th unique visitor today. Thanks to everyone who drops by to read. If you stop by and see that you are the 5000th viewer (little counter just above the blog archive top right there) drop me a line and let me know!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ESPN: Curious coverage
ESPN's coverage of Sunday nights Red Sox v Yankees game

I had been thinking about this for a couple of days. Have also received a couple of emails and comments from readers about same. Then today I read Eric Wilbur's snippet on the subject and I simply have to discuss it. ESPN's coverage of the series finale, Sunday night, between the Sox and Yanks was, at best, curious, and at worst, manipulative.

ESPN's crack commentary team prepare for another night of incisive, intelligent commentary

Two aspects in particular jumped out at me. First of all, whatever about Jon Miller, why do ESPN persist with Joe Morgan? Secondly, ESPN's handling of the hit batter incidents was very worrying.

Starting with Joe Morgan, the man with a website dedicated to having him fired ( Morgan isn't a horrific commentator, like the guys who masquerade as analysts for the White Sox (ever had the pleasure? They are borderline insane). He isn't offensive, not that I can see anyway, and is almost entertaining in his self assured yet often erroneous style. I would never lobby to have someone lose their job when their worst crime is that they are entertainingly-bad. He is, however, not exactly the cream of the crop. Take his meandering, lazy commentary on Sunday evening.

My own favourite came in the top of the fourth inning, right after the Sox had launched four consecutive rockets off Chase 'Wasdin' Wright. Describing the pitches that led to the home runs, Morgan said; 'the one thing they all had in common is they were all high pitches except the one to Lowell which was down...'

Another nice touch from Morgan came with the announcement that although Matsuzaka has eight pitches 'He doesn't throw all eight to the same batter'. Thank goodness for that. Daisuke would be throwing about 340 pitches a game if he did that, Joe!

When he wasn't coming up with beauties like that, he was simply making it up as he went along.

Top of the first he described Matsuzaka as having eight pitches. Come the top of the fifth and Morgan was telling us Matsuzaka has 'six pitches he likes to use'. Amazingly, in the seventh, Morgan announced Matsuzaka has 'over six pitches' and started trying to name them all, slowly. Very slowly. As I suggested at the time, maybe he found one or two of the ones he lost in the fifth inning. Who knows.

What I do know, is this is how I imagine a 93 year old man would 'call' a baseball game. Constantly forgetting their own points and basically throwing up hail marys every few comments. Is this honestly as good as it gets? This is what ESPN thinks baseball fans deserve in terms of commentary?

Whatever about having the equivalent of a fireside chat with two really old dudes going on for commentary, ESPN's handling of the two hit batter incidents was very curious indeed.

In the first inning Matsuzaka hit Mr April with a 96mph fastball, right on the 30lbs of protective equipment he is wearing on his elbow/arm. ESPN immediately cut to footage they had ready to go where Matsuzaka and his translator were deep in conversation with Julian Tavarez on the railing of the Red Sox dugout. Tavarez, ESPN told us authoritatively, was telling Matsuzaka he would have to pitch inside (I guess ESPN has a lip-reading division?).

In effect, ESPN was telling us that this short clip was evidence that Matsuzaka had just hit a Yankee batter because Julian Tavarez told him to pitch inside more aggressively.

In the top of the third inning Daisuke hit Jeter with a hard pitch. ESPN then waited until Matsuzaka struck Abreu out to start flashing up spliced images of Matsuzaka talking to Tavarez mixed with shots of him hitting A-Rod earlier, all as Mr April started his walk up to the batters box. This, to me, was manipulation and sensationalised television of a level that Fox would be proud of.

How on earth did ESPN know, without doubt, that Tavarez was telling Matsuzaka to pitch inside? How crass was it of them to start flashing those images, inter spliced with the 'hit by pitch' from the first inning, as Mr April came up to bat. What exactly was ESPN getting at here, did they want Matsuzaka to hit Mr April again just for the controversy of it all?

It was a Sunday night and most of us were trying to just watch a baseball game. Instead we had to listen to Joe Morgan rambling on and constantly tripping himself up on how many pitches Matsuzaka has. If that wasn't bad enough, we had to suffer through ESPN's WWF like coverage of some very innocuous hit batter incidents.

Is this as good as baseball coverage gets? Really? Give me NESN and the Rem Dawg any day of the week over the rubbish ESPN is selling. They may not be as flashy and glamorous but at least they do what good commentators should, discuss the game in front of them, without resorting to shabby, cheap tricks.

Now, how many pitches does Matsuzaka have?! Colour me confused.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Youth Baseball Sessions with Irish Baseball

Kids learning how to play baseball at Corcaigh Park - Photo taken from Emerald Diamond website

Baseball Ireland is running Baseball sessions for kids aged 9-15 Saturday's at Corcaigh park. The sessions are run by Irish National Team legend Bill Beglane, one of the few Irish players to have had his number retired. Bill has learnt from the best in great American coaches like Jim Reach, Pat Doyle, Rick Steen and John Houston.

The sessions run from 12-2pm Saturday afternoons.

For more information on the sessions contact Bill
Click here for details on how to get to Corcaigh Park

Monday, April 23, 2007

Weekend Irish League roundup
April 21st - April 22nd

A couple of big 'A' League games took place this weekend in the Irish League. The Blacksox beat the Twins 18-0 with Irish National team star Niall Rowen giving up just the one hit in a seven inning complete game. The Blacksox move to an impressive 2-0 start and will travel up north to play the Belfast Northstars next weekend. The Northstars v Spartans showdown was postponed for a later date.

The Hurricanes met the Mariners Saturday at Corcaigh park for an 'A' and 'B' level 'double' header.

Hurricanes 'A' 5 Greystones Mariners 'A' 6

It's early days as yet but this will probably be looked back on as one of the if not the most exciting game of the season, for the Mariners anyway. Both teams had lost their openers and were thus trying hard to get their respective seasons kick started. The Mariners started brightly in the first scoring a run however the Hurricanes hit right back and tied the score up.

The Mariners hung tough and took a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh (remember, we only play seven in Ireland). The 'Canes went to work and a clutch single by Rich Meade plated a run. With two outs Tom Kelley got up and ripped a ball to left that would have scored two and won the game had it not been for the Mariners left fielder positioning himself perfectly to make the catch on the line drive.

The Hurricanes now have the Twins and Northstars in that order before a break on the weekend of May 12th. They badly need to win both of those to get back in contention.

Other links of interest -
The 2007 Irish League preview
The opening weekend review

If you would like to get involved with Baseball Ireland at any level, Adult or Youth, or would like to support the game in Ireland, please refer to this link.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Boston Green Sox

I've been asked a few times now why Boston wore those spiffy looking green jerseys last night. Simple, they wore them in memory of the great Red Auerbach, the former head coach and front office guru for the Boston Celtics. 'Red' won an amazing nine titles while coaching the Celtics, and passed away in October 2006.

More on the Red Sox green jerseys

Considering just how lucky those jerseys were last night, I wonder will we see them again before the end of the season?
Mr April

Let's do it. Let's give the guy the kudos and the award he deserves. For those of you reading in Europe, the Yanks used to have a guy called Reggie Jackson. A good player, he would turn into an absolute animal come the playoffs, come October.

A-Rod's last three playoff averages? .071, .133 and .258. Just saying, that's all..

One of the most fearsome and clutch hitters in the baseball history, Reggie Jackson hit a whopping 563 home runs and won the AL MVP award in 1973. Jackson saved his best for the postseason, hitting 10 home runs in 27 World Series games, including three in a row in a legendary 1977 Game Six performance against the Los Angeles Dodgers. His postseason success earned him the nickname "Mr. October."

Red Sox fans more recently have, admittedly somewhat goofily, dubbed Big Papi, David Ortiz, 'Senor October', in honour of his terrific post-season heroics.

So now we come to Alex Rodriguez, who is absolutely killing the ball right now. He is off to a terrific start and last night against Boston did what he does best, bashed a couple of home runs and then lined out with Abreu on second to basically kill any chance of a Yankee rally.

This, April, is A-Rod's 'time to shine'. No one puts up better April numbers than A-Fraud. So let's hear it for the boy, who shall from now on, in this blog, be known by his proper title. Alex 'Mr April' Rodriguez.

Keep doing what you do best, Mr April.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's a Red Sox v Yankee weekend
Let's get it on

Big weekend ahead. The two power-houses of the AL East go head to head for the first time this year. That's New York and Boston, by the by. As I said before, if any upstart Blue Jay fan gets all 'up in your face' about the Blue Jays chances, just giggle and mutter 'Tomo Ohka' and that should end any discussion on the matter.

If this was a heavyweight boxing match then this weekends showdown between the Sox and Yanks would be the first few seconds of the first round. The two opponents would be jabbing at each other trying to figure out the others game plan. The 'card' for the weekend?

Friday night 7:05 US time 12:05 am Irish time
NYY: Pettitte (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
BOS: Schilling (2-1, 2.84 ERA)

Saturday 3:35pm US time 8:35 in the evening Irish time
NYY: Karstens (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
BOS: Beckett (3-0, 1.50 ERA)

Sunday 8:05 US time - 1:05 am Irish time (ouch!)
NYY: Wright (1-0, 5.40 ERA)
BOS: Matsuzaka (1-2, 2.70 ERA)

Again, it is early days yet, but it will be very interesting to see how the games pan-out. You have to think the Red Sox have the advantage with the way the pitching will work out for the weekend. Pettite and Schilling are a wash but Beckett and Matsuzaka are streets ahead of their respective rivals. Karstens is coming off injury whilst Wright is a rookie with a 5.40 era going into hostile Fenway park to pitch to Big Pappi and Manny. And yet still the major US sports media outlets all have the Yankees as the team to beat in the AL East.

On that note, I would love to know who compiles the odds for Paddy Powers, the biggest Irish bookmakers. Taking a step back for a second, if you are reading this in the States, yes, there are walk in shops, or 'bookies' that you can stroll into in Dublin and place a bet on pretty much any sporting event in the universe. Admittedly, we can't buy guns in Ireland, however, we can place a considered wager as an adult in a regulated, controlled environment, for entertainment. I believe it's the other way round in the States?

I digress. So, who on earth is working in Paddy Power and placing the Red Sox at, wait for it, NINE to one to win the World Series? This would not be as glaring a transgression if it were not for where they have some of the other teams. Take Anaheim for example. Are Paddy Powers actually watching any of the games? Anaheim are experiencing an offensive drought that would make the Kansas Royals of last season shudder. They have scored five runs in their last three games!! Five runs in three games! Yet, the rocket scientist who compiles Paddy Powers odds actually moved them in from 12-1 to 9-1. Amazing.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are still favourites, even though their rotation is an absolute shambles. Admittedly they are still scoring runs, however it is pitching, pitching and more pitching that gets you through the playoffs, everyone knows that.

This could all change on the weekend naturally. Maybe the Yanks will take 2 out of 3 to justify their tag as early favourites. Maybe Boston will take 2 or 3 and that guy in Paddy Powers will wake up to the sound of alarms blaring as punters lump in heavily on the ridiculous value that is 9-1.

The latter part of this piece was all relevant only because you can place a wager in a bookmaker and sit back and enjoy the game as an adult. We can do that here in Ireland, did I mention that?

Someone needs to explain to me why you can buy an automatic weapon over the counter in the States but you can't place a bet on a professional sporting event. I am sitting here shaking my head and I need clarification.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

snap, snap
a couple of snaps from Sunday's games
(click on them for larger, snazzy versions)

'B' team captain Lorcan Sherlock discusses tactics with Irish League rookie Jim Purcell. Lorcan looks stressed.

Eric 'Vegas' Valkys checks the line on the Hurricanes game before calling the boys at Paddy power

If you would like to get involved with Baseball Ireland at any level, Adult or Youth, or would like to support the game in Ireland, please refer to this link.

Another link of interest - the 2007 Irish League preview

Monday, April 16, 2007

Opening weekend of the Irish Baseball League Season

It is amazing how diverse the Irish League has become in terms of the number of varied nationalities that play every weekend in the home of Irish baseball, Corcaigh Park. The Hurricanes and Spartan A and B games that took place Sunday are a case in point. The two teams consisted of players from Ireland, the USA, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Romania, Italy, Cuba and Venezuela. The Irish league is really becoming a colourful little collection of nationalities, cultures and indeed interpretations of the game that is baseball. It is extremely enjoyable playing the game amongst that vibrant collection of people, and who would have though that it would be baseball that would bring that diverse a collection of nationalities and people together in, of all places, Ireland.

Anyway, I digress! Back to the business at hang. The Irish Baseball season started in earnest this weekend past with a full program of games played. The early success story were the Belfast Northstars who took both games of a double header against the Twins, meaning they are the early pace setters. The Northstars have been around for a long time and have as yet to win the league so it's nice to see them set the early pace.

The Blacksox beat the Greystones Mariners with Eoin O'Connor getting the win. Eoin is a completely self taught pitcher who has really blossomed into a solid starter. It's amazing to think he is only 24 and if he keeps his good start up and turns it into a good season he may be in line to become the only Irish born pitcher with two 'Tommy Bond - Best pitcher' awards in Irish league history to date.

Hurricanes v Spartans ('A' Level)

Meanwhile my Dublin Hurricanes took on the Spartans at A and B level The Spartans and Hurricanes have, between them, won the last five Irish League Championships consecutively.
  • 2006 - League Champions Spartans
  • 2005 - League Champions Hurricanes
  • 2004 - League Champions Spartans
  • 2003 - League Champions Hurricanes
  • 2002 - League Champions Spartans
Looks like the Hurricanes have their work cut out for them in order to keep that 'your turn, our turn' thing going for another year. The two teams met in their season opener and the Spartans ran out winners behind a strong performance from their Romanian starter 'Andrei'. He kept the Hurricanes off balance all day and managed to strike out a whopping twelve Canes featuring a fastball, curve and wicked slider. The Hurricanes scored one in the first and loaded the bases but Andrei wiggled out of the jam and that was it for the Hurricanes in terms of runs scored.

Meanwhile the Spartans scored four in the first and that was all they needed. The game tightened up after that, featuring some nice plays by both sides, including a couple of great catches by Woody Woodburn in left field for the Hurricanes. Personally, I have to hold my hand up and take the blame for this one. My 'Canes gave me a one run lead that I couldn't protect. The big problem was putting the Spartans batters away. I had a ridiculous seven batters on two strikes that I wasn't able to put away. Several times this came back to hurt us. Darran O'Connor in particular managed to get a piece of a fastball and flip it just over second base scoring two runs with some nice two strike hitting. It's tremendously disappointing to look forward to a game all week and then preform so poorly however I know I can do better and I know the Hurricanes, particularly with Steve Divito and Chris Foy back, are going to score a bunch of runs this season.

I guess we can take it as a wake up call, to kick start our season with.

There was, apart from the beautiful weather, plenty to take from the game. Tommy Hernandez and Woody made their debuts for the Hurricanes, both Irish National Team players, they will obviously bring allot to the Hurricanes in '07. Alex, their big Venezuelan former team mate from the Twins also brings plenty to the table. With fourteen games left to sort ourselves out and click into gear the season is only getting started. Nevertheless next Saturday's game against the Greystones Mariners is suddenly a huge game as both sides will want to avoid starting the season 0-2 and putting themselves in a big hole in regards making the playoffs.

A League
Black Sox

Hurricanes B v Spartans B

This is the first year the Dublin Hurricanes have entered a 'B' side. The team is captained by lorcan Sherlock, who took to his role like a veteran skipper on Sunday, making timely substitutions and keeping everyone involved in the game.

Sadly in the post game press conference Lorcan let his emotions get the better of himself and he let all the frustrations of the days double-loss to the Spartans come hurtling out verbally.

Hurricanes veteran and another Irish born, self taught pitcher Garett Pearse took the hill for the Hurricanes and got off to a fine start before falling victim to a little 'in game stress'. Lorcan sent me out to chat with him in the third innings, see how he was doing and ask him if he was okay. He replied that he was just over throwing, trying to do too much. That's Garett for you. There is a few of us sad bastards in the league who worry/think about the games a week in advance. I know I am one, and I bet Garrett would hold his hand up and admit he is one too.

He just wanted to pitch well too badly, if that's possible, and the stress got in the way of his naturally excellent stuff. It's a long season and he will be fine. Meanwhile the 'B' side acquit ed themselves very well. New, free agency signings Sean Russell and Jim Purcell looked like a good fit in the outfield while the 'B' side also fielded four, count them, four Japanese players, all part of 'A' Team skipper Tom Kelley's international scouting mission. Toshi, Daisuke, Shota and Kaz all played great and seemed to really enjoy themselves. A friendly bunch of lads, they will bring allot of colour and energy to the Hurricanes at both A and B level this season.

For the Red Sox fans on the Hurricanes (Myself, Garett and Steve Divito) it is an absolute riot to have a Japanese pitcher called Daisuke. Apart from the name, he was equally spectacular on the mound, throwing three and a bit fantastic innings absolutely dominating the Spartans B team. They couldn't touch his stuff at all. he is definitely one to watch for the coming season.

The Spartans 'B' showcased a couple of new Romanian players to add to the several they have on the 'A' team. Their pitcher, 'Mario' pitched a good complete game and would not be out of place in the 'A' league, giving the Spartans a healthy bullpen for the coming season.


B League
Black Sox

Next week's schedule looks like this

April 21 11:00 Corkagh Park
A Level Hurricanes v Mariners

April 21 14:00 Corkagh Park
B Level Hurricanes v Mariners

April 21 11:00 Belfast
A Level North Stars v Spartans

April 22 11:00 Corkagh Park
A Level Twins v Black Sox

If you would like to get involved with Baseball Ireland at any level, Adult or Youth, or would like to support the game in Ireland, please refer to this link.

Another link of interest - the 2007 Irish League preview

Friday, April 13, 2007

Imus and racism

The Imus affair isn't restricted to the States I can assure you. The rest of the world is watching in too, and most would applaud the fact that Imus was fired by CBS for his unbelievably disgusting comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team, calling them "nappy-headed hos."

Normally I wouldn't touch a topic like this. I could write for seven years and not come close to summing up the whole affair as eloquently and in such a dignified manner as Michael Wilbon. However I recently was the victim of a little, light racial slurring, and was then absolutely stunned at an ESPN poll I saw today.

In a report on the subject ESPN asked, was CBS right to fire Don Imus? I clicked on the 'yes' button (I couldn't find 'Hell yes, fire his wrinkly old ass') and watched as the current poll results came back. I was stunned. An amazing 56% thought CBS was wrong to fire Imus.

As I adjusted to the fact that over half of those who took the time to answer said 'No, it's okay for someone on the radio to cough up reprehensible rubbish', I got an email from a friend on the Red Sox '.406 Club' forum telling me that someone had called me an 'Irish *****' in a public posting.

I logged in and checked it out, and there it was. A young 23 year old poster had taken the time to call me an 'Irish *****' in response to a simple thread about the forums fantasy baseball league. He had actually called me something similar a week earlier.

So, what leads a young man who used to be in the Marines and now works in real estate, to take the time to single me out for the fact that I am Irish and call me an 'Irish *****' on a forum that is supposed to be about sports? Well, who knows really? Obviously it is still a major, and most of all worrying, social issue though. I say that considering over 55% of people who read ESPN online think it's ok for Don Imus to make absolutely disgraceful, racially fuelled, comments on the radio.

Why should some old guy who made a poorly thought out remark lose his job? I'll tell you why. So that people who previously thought it was okay to use racially charged language when addressing someone realise that it is far from okay, it's wrong.

I did find a way to quell my anger over Imus and the neanderthal that decided to throw a little racial slur my way. I put on my headphones and listened to 'the power of equality' by the Chili Peppers, and then googled Nelson Mandella and read about a great man for a while.

See, the world isn't such a bad place. For every idiot like Imus and that clown who posts on the .406 forum, there are people like Mandella and the Chili Peppers. Just put Imus and his ilk on mute, and funk on down to the Peppers..

'' Right or wrong
My song is strong
You don't like it
Get along
Say what I want
Do what I can
Death to the message
Of the Klu Klux Klan''

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thanks, Drew

Well, I can't say I am massively surprised. Turns out Drew Bledsoe, aged 35, retired from pro-football last night. Bledsoe said, simply;

"I feel so fortunate, so honored, to have played this game that I love for so long, with so many great players, and in front of so many wonderful fans,"

And with that, one of the major catalysts in the rejuvenation of a stagnant franchise, leaves the game. Make no mistake, without Drew Bledsoe, it is doubtful the Patriots would be where they stand today. He dragged the Patriots kicking and screaming from a little more than a joke to a perennial Superbowl possibility. He even pushed New England those last few yards into the Superbowl, throwing two vital TD passes in relief of an injured Brady in 2001 against Pittsburgh.

Check out his wonderful '96 and '97 seasons in particular below.

Drew Bledsoe's New England passing stats
Year Com Att Yds TD Int
1993 214 429 2494 15 15
1994 400 691 4555 25 27
1995 323 636 3507 13 16
1996 373 623 4086 27 15
1997 314 522 3706 28 15
1998 263 481 3633 20 14
1999 305 539 3985 19 21
2000 312 531 3291 17 13

Drew Bledsoe leaves the game having amassed a terrific 44,611 passing yards and 251 touchdowns with the Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and, finally, the Dallas Cowboys. Bledsoe was always a class act with New England, and Patriots fans should never forget how he almost single handedly (hopefully Ben Coates never reads this!) changed the direction of Patriots football for good.

Are you ready for some football?
No, seriously, are you?

The Patriots 2007 schedule is out. Have to say, first impression is that if the Patriots are going to make the playoffs they are really going to have to earn it. There are hardly any 'easy' games on there.

ESPN lists ten stand out games and the Patriots are part of three of those. The games against the Colts, the Jets and the Ravens are all noted as being stand out games.

Brady in the heee-ouse

''Pats QB Tom Brady was also rumored to be at the game in Bob Kraft's box, no less but we couldn't see Gisele Bundchen's boyfriend from our vantage.''

Both the Globe and the Herald are reporting that Tom Brady was at Tuesday night's game between the Sox and the Mariners. I for one think the way Brady supports the Red Sox is pretty cool. In this day and age of free agency, mercenary like behaviour and 'me first' clowns like T.O. and Randy Moss, it's refreshing to see a player who just 'gets' what it means to New England fans that he say, wears a Red Sox hat at training.

This, though, coming from the guy that once wrote a huge email to EA Sports with a detailed suggestion for a new playstation game. One where you are a billionaire who runs the NFL, NBA and MLB franchises of a certain city/region. For example if you were a New York fan you would own the Mets, Jets and Nets, or whatever. Point is, I wanted a game where I could run the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics. Features of the game would include two-way players. I always had Willie McGinnest tabbed as a pretty decent home run hitter. Derek Lowe would star for the Celtics while pitching for the Sox, and you are telling me Al Jefferson wouldn't be an awesome tight end? Needless to say, I never heard back from EA Sports.

You could run a pretty decent caption-competition with this picture!

Maybe it's nothing, but, to me, there's something cool about the Patriots QB showing such an interest in the Red Sox.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jose Guillen - Not a genius

Jose 'Hold me back guys' Guillen

Oh Jose, when will you ever learn? Banished from the Angels in '04 for bad mouthing his team mates and manager, Jose Guillen is at it again in Seattle. In last nights ugly loss to Boston, Guillen struck out feebly on three pitches to Sox pitcher Brendan Donnelly.

Then Guillen took exception to, well, even he doesn't know what he took exception to

"When I was walking to the dugout, I saw him staring at me and I just don't like that. I know he was saying something. He was staring at me. I don't like whatever he's saying.''

Okay, so 'he was saying something' and that caused you to start wagging your bat in inane fashion? Guillen, agged twelve, also had this to say.

"If he wants to take care of this problem, our clubhouses are pretty close, so he can have one of the batboys come get me outside and we can take care of this as men. That's it. That's all I have to say."

Well, Jose, I have met Brendan Donnelly, and he is a big kid. Put it this way, he's about two or three divisions ahead of you Chief, so if you do one smart thing today let it be sending a six pack and an apology to the Sox clubhouse. Completely out of your league, champ.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Commentary faux pas watch - John Motson

I was inspired to mention this after reading this little comment by the Sports Guy

''First, the Pirates had a starter named Paul Maholm; one of his strengths in the thumbnail scouting report for him was, "He comes right after hitters." I love that.''

In English Soccer there is a consistently bland commentator called John Motson, who would have been proud of the above comment. Motson has established a sort of 'criticism free' zone through sheer perseverance. I think he started commentating sometime during the Eemian interglacial Period. Think Joe Morgan but with a fur lined, beige coat.

He has always provided frequent quotable moments, such as ''The World Cup is a truly International event.'' and an old favourite of mine; ''Brazil - they're so good it's like they are running round the pitch playing with themselves.''

My all time favourite occurred during an otherwise mundane English premiership match in the late nineties. All you need to know to enjoy this is that Manchester United had two players once called Roy Keane and Nicky Butt. While describing a move where Keane gave the ball to Butt on the wing and then moved back infield towards the centre, Motson said, and I quote..

''Keane, comes inside Butt.''

You can't make stuff like that up.
Adventitious blog entries 5
''associated with something by chance rather than as an integral part; extrinsic.''

In today's 'adventitious' entry - ambidextrous pitchers, exploding fastballs, Joe Morgan, Curt Schilling and the Dirt Dogs site.

Good friend Charlie Ayer passed this super little story on Pat Venditte, Creighton University’s ambidextrous pitcher. A couple of years ago team-mate Eoin O'Connor and I were playing catch before a game for Ireland and we were jokingly trying to throw left handed to each other. The results were not pretty. It is incredible to think anyone could throw, and do so effectively, with both hands. Venditte is apparently the only ambidextrous pitcher in N.C.A.A. Division I college baseball and has at time of writing a very good 3.29 earned run average in 18 appearances this season.

ESPN and the exploding fastballOn Sunday ESPN's front line commentary team described Jon Papelbon as having an 'explosive fastball'. Fair enough, except they used this phrase three times in the space of three minutes.

Got this email this morning from good friend and Hurricane team-mate Garrett Pearse;
''Did you see that Paplebon lost his right hand yesterday when one of his exploding fastballs went off in his hand during a bullpen session?''

Kenny Lofton knows baseball

Speaking of ESPN, analyst Joe Morgan has his own fan site, kind of. They picked up on something I actually heard on the weekend while watching the Sox take on the Rangers. At the time I thought to myself, 'well, that was pretty silly'. Here's what Joe Morgan said about Kenny Lofton;

''He is Ron Washington's kind of player. He has a lot of confidence. He's a winner. And he knows how to play the game.''

That's not exactly incisive. has even more to say about it.

I find Curt Schilling's blog pretty enjoyable. How often do you get to read the thoughts of an established Major League superstar? Curt sums up the weekend that was;

''All things considered this trip could have been worse. Offensively we aren’t even close to clicking yet we still managed to break even on the road. Jon Papelbon was incredible last night.''

The Joy of Sox has a nice little 'after six games' summary

''Drew is 7th in the league in batting and tied for 3rd in hits. He has hit in all six games (the only Sock to do so). Lowell's 3 doubles is tied for the lead league with several other players, including Cleveland's Trot Nixon.''

Flip flop, flop flip

Dirt Dogs continues to change his slant on various Red Sox related issues faster than I change my socks. The Dirt Dogs site, which is actually linked to by the Boston Globe, is famous for verbally assaulting players one day and then sycophantically adoring them the next.

In the last few days, Dirt Dogs chastised the Red Sox heavily for moving Papelbon back to the closer role, taking the slant that his value would be best used over the course of a number of innings. Some quotes from his page;

Papelbon Can't Save a Game That His Replacement Lets Get Away
While Jonathan Threw to Three Batters - The Sox Throw One Away with Tavarez

So after one start by Tavarez Dirt Dogs was ready to do his usual hatchet job. Amazingly, just two days later, his view flip-flopped dramatically. More quotes from his page;

... That Really Closed It Out. Now, That's a Save.
Paps Really Saved the Day Last Night - Those Were Five Outs That Count

So which is it, are 'five outs' important, or not? I am only surprised he didn't somehow manage to work in Keith Foulke being part of the problem, and print some inane, poorly photo shopped picture illustrating same.

Thank God for people like Eric Wilbur, Bill Simmons (Sports Guy) and great Red Sox blogs like ''The Mighty Quinn' 'The Red Sox Times'' and ''The Joy of Sox'' . Thanks to them we have a positive and upbeat forum for Red Sox reading. If all we had were the negative Dirt Dog and the acerbic Shaughnessy, well, lord knows what we would do. Is the NHL interesting at all?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Game six thoughts - 6 down 156 to go
Just a few random thoughts on last nights invigorating win over the Rangers.

Boston 3 Texas 2

Papelbon points the way home

So, Schilling pitched well overall, I can think of a few people that owe the big starter an apology. His strong start just showed that it is way too early to form a solid opinion on anything, good or bad, in the majors as yet. The body of work just isn't great enough.

Having said that, super night for the Big Schill. With just that cheap little home run for Cattalanatto, Curt gave the Sox 7 very strong innings. He was throwing his splitter aggressively on the outside corner and getting ugly looking swings. One small minus is that he doesn't look too confident in his curve as yet.

So, hey, JD Drew is fast, eh? Blalock looked stunned to see Drew beat out a hard hit ball to third. JD absolutely flew down the line to easily beat the throw on what should have been a bang-bang play. I had heard he had wheels but didn't realise he had that level of pure speed.

Not very happy to see Papelbon having to come in early - I thought this wasn't supposed to happen? However, what a dominating effort by the closer. ESPN's crack team of commentators used the phrase 'Exploding fastball' three times. It was a pretty explosive fastball though, in their defence.

Great to see Big Pappi get 'on the board' in a big way. His two home runs were absolutely crushed. Poor Manny though, he hit the ball hard three times following Ortiz and got nothing for his efforts. He had a hit taken away from him in the first by a nice running catch and then slammed the ball twice to the warning track only to have Kenny Lofton (what age is that guy, 73?) track them down for nice catches both times.

Eventually, those will start to drop in for hits. This team is still gelling, finding its feet and shaping itself into a potential monster. 3-3 is fine with me, watching this team grow into itself. Beckett then the rookie next, in what should be two great games to open business at Fenway for 2007.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Game Five thoughts - 5 down 157 to go
Just a few random thoughts on last nights lazy loss to the Rangers.

The 'No look' pitch? Okaji can't even bear to watch. (Having said that, he certainly wasn't part of the problem)

Someone needs to go slow Tavarez down, be it Farrell (pitching coach) or Captain Varitek. Just a quick chat, tell him to slow himself down just a notch. It's not his delivery or anything, it's his approach to each pitch.The game sped up on him in a big way in the third inning. All he needed to do was slow himself down and trust his stuff.

I still believe Tavarez can give the Sox 5-6 quality innings each start, all he needs to do is take his time and let his pitches do the talking. Here's the thing though, the way Jon Lester is mounting his ferocious come-back, Tavarez really is just keeping his spot warm.

The walks speak for themselves. Throw strikes pitchers! Six walks in the first five innings isn't going to cut it. Then of course there was JC Romero. Someone guiltyof throwing too many strikes. Gentlemen, there's a happy-medium! Naturally, that's easy to say, and on top of that it's early days yet.

Back to Schilling tonight, where it all began. Hopefully he can straighten a few things out and give the Sox a stronger start. Let's get this show back on the road.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Comeback Kid

''It was quite possibly the most important start by a Red Sox pitcher so far this season.''

No, Eric Wilbur isn't writing about Matsuzaka. He's writing about Jon Lester's rehab start with the Single-A Greenville Drive. Sounds like Lester is really rounding into pretty good form in his slightly extended spring.

'' Lester hit 96 mph at one point, according to Charleston's scoreboard, and kept the young Yankees off stride.''

Eric's article is the single best piece I have read so far in '07 regarding the Sox. Good to hear how Lester is getting on for sure, but the rest of the article is even better. Definitely check it out.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

MLB Awards night in Dublin, Ireland
Predictions by the bucket

Sorry, Dad, (Ireland's biggest Detroit Tigers fan by a long distance) Detroit aren't repeating. Not in my book anyway. They did well to get as far as the World Series but then basically evaporated into thin air in the face of the worst NL entrant in living memory (before I get angry Cards fans responding to this, I mean their record, which was horrendously mediocre).

If gambling was legal in the States (which *nudge* of course *wink* it's not *nudge*), honestly, would you actually risk real money on that team after that performance in the World Series? What happens if they manage to fight their way through the AL only to find a better-than-.500 opponent in the World Series with, imagine this, superior pitchers than Jeff Weaver? Detroit? No thanks. I'll pass.

So, who is going to win what in 2007? Glad you asked! Should be fun looking back on this at the All Star break and then in October and gasping, 'I picked them? really?'

  • AL MVP: 'Big Bad' Vlad Guerrero, Angels (Greatest nickname in sports right now?)
  • NL MVP: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies (Love watching this kid hit)
  • AL Cy Young: Josh Beckett, Red Sox (Red Sox Nation unhappy with 16 wins; how does 21 sound?)
  • NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy, San Diego (Ready to shine)
  • AL Rookie of the Year: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox (There's no opposition if he is 40% as good as advertised)
  • NL Rookie of the Year: Troy Tulowitski, Rockies (Won the starting job unexpectedly and ready to be a big star)
  • Division winners: Red Sox, Indians, Angels, NY Mets, Brewers, Dodgers
  • AL Wild Card: Detroit Tigers
  • NL Wild Card: Florida Marlins (Yes, those Florida Marlins!)
  • Division series: Red Sox over Indians; Angels over Tigers
  • Marlins over Mets; Dodgers over Brewers
  • LCS: Red Sox over Angels; Dodgers over Marlins
  • World Series: Boston Red Sox over Dodgers (Grady Little leaves Derek Lowe in an inning too long in a pivotal game five matchup..)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Bard out West

Eric Wilbur of the Boston Globe is wondering aloud if the Ramirez/Sanchez for Beckett trade will ever turn out ugly for the Red Sox.

''Hanley Ramirez on Opening Day: 4 for 6, 1 run scored, 1 run batted in, 4 runs scored, and 2 stolen bases. Anibal Sanchez goes for the Marlins tomorrow, while Josh Beckett hits the hill for the Red Sox. As sparkling as Ramirez has proven to be so far in the big leagues, you just know that his and Beckett's names are going to be linked together for a long time. Let's just hope it's not in a Bagwellian-Anderson sort of way.''

Well first of all, no, because Beckett is a very young, power pitcher with fantastic stuff and has shown a willingness to continue to learn and adapt to the AL. He won 16 last year, everyone forgets in a hurry, and if spring training means anything, he could easily win 17-19 in 2007. So, Bagwellian-Anderson sort of way? No.

Secondly, I believe we already have the modern day Bagwellian-Anderson type trade going on right under our collective noses. Remember this fella?

''Josh Bard had a career-best four hits for San Diego. He also had an RBI and scored twice. ''
(In San Diego's opening day win)

Yeah but he couldn't catch a knuckle ball so he was driven out of town and Doug 'Weeble Wobble' Mirabelli was given a police escort to Fenway. Don't get me wrong. I like Mirabelli. He has a little bit of power, seems to be slightly clutch and even strikes the average onlooker as a pretty decent sort of chap. However, he hasn't got a third of the offence that Bard brings to the plate and I haven't even got into the Cla Meredith section of that one sided trade. Boy oh boy did the Padres catch Theo with his pants down on that one.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Opening day panic
Red Sox lose opener - probably won't win World Series!

For the love of God. Perusing the news headlines across the land known as Red Sox Nation, you would imagine the end of the world is just around the corner. In this current, ugly atmosphere of instant-gratification style reporting, scribes across New England and the USA in general are already writing off the Red Sox.

The Simpsons captures this 'unruly mob', panic mentality perfectly at least once an episode. Lenny, Karl, Moe or someone shouts 'Get 'em!' and the mob descends on the unfortunate victim.

'They aint gonna win the freakin World Series! Get 'em!'

Take a deep breath everyone. I know Shaughnessy, ESPN, the Globe to some extent, 90% of the online media you read and that negative, jaundiced clown that runs 'Dirt Dogs' is screaming blue-murder with last nights loss to the Royals, however, believe it or not, 0-1 does not a season make. Have a peek at three very recent and consecutive Red Sox season opening scorelines.
  • 04-01-2002 vs Toronto Blue Jays 11-12 L
  • 04-12-2003 vs Baltimore Orioles 6-13 L
  • 04-09-2004 vs Toronto Blue Jays 5-10 L
Well now. To review, they lost three in a row from 2002 to 2004. What's that you say, '..but they won the world series in 2004! It can't be that bad?' That's exactly it. 2004 was particularly bad. Pedro got mashed and people were marching single file in orderly fashion to throw themselves into the Charles. Have we learnt anything from that, at all? Anything?

Sadly, apparently not.

I have one more question. Does the negative, aggressive and self important slant of 'Boston Dirt Dogs' (link available on the Globe, I refuse to print it here) remind you of anyone? Shaughnessy anyone? While Shaughnessy does sometimes attempt to simply write ( and write eloquently) about Sports without serving some grudge or another in his articles, he often does slip into a little 'hatred zone' where he comes out with utter rubbish like his recent little tirades against Curt Schilling. The guy on Dirt Dogs absolutely lives in that zone.

A 'headline' of his from a couple of days ago;
Red Sox Internet Ace Will Bring His Long-Winded Analysis to a Japanese Audience

Come on, your telling me Shaughnessy had nothing to do with that headline? I feel another 'separated at birth' blog entry coming.

Here's the thing though. The self-righteous individual that runs Dirt Dogs has zero problem playing the sycophant to Shaughnessy's Calvinist, acerbic style of writing, but at the same time he uses Schilling's blog as a news source that he quotes extensively from (extensively today, for example, again, you won't ever find a link to his rubbish here).

I have to ask, which is it Chief? You going to spend the entire season ripping the guy down, or are you going to be using his blog as an interesting, unique source of information?

Make your mind up, oh and while you are doing that, cheer up buddy, it may never happen.

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports


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