Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ooooh baby..

So, for the rest of the 2007 season, if the Boston Red Sox have a lead in a game, they can go Okajima, Gagne and Papelbon. Holy mackrel. Delcarmen and Timlin, who could setup/close for the Royals (Sorry Rich!), are now basically mop up men. That's incredible.

Unbelievable pick up for Boston while managing to hold on to basically all their prized prospects. ESPN are reporting that Boston have landed (Hall of fame?) former Dodgers and Rangers closer Eric Gagne.

Okajima, Gagne, Papelbon, goodnight..

Boston are sending pitcher Kason Gabbard and minor leaguers Engel Beltre and David Murphy to the Rangers. Gabbard is a tough loss, but one with a silver lining, Jon Lester is now here to stay and here to develop a shining potential. David Murphy was expendable because of the super duper rising star that is Jacob Ellsbury.

The Boston Globe has it all summed up pretty well, with their current headline, ''What a day for Boston sports''. Check out the 'joy of Sox's nifty pitcher stats comparison of Boston's suddenly super-duper-level elite bullpen. Oh vey!

First thing I thought when I saw the deal was real, what an incredible pitching staff, starters and 'Pen, come September. That's a spicy meatball.




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Trade deadline drama - T-Minus about, oh, 2.5 hrs

Say this in a really high pitched, annoying voice to yourself...

'Oh no! Not Wilson Betemit!!'

That team that is eight (e-i-g-h-t) games back of Boston in the AL East has started the trading deadline day drama by trading one of their setup guys, Scott Proctor, for the great, all powerful Wilson Betemit.

Fun fact on Wilson, no one really knows what age he is. There are several possible dates that have been attributed to him as a birthday. Nice. Have fun with that, Joe Torre. You possibly just traded one of your favourite relief guys for a 47 year old back up infielder. Neat.

Quick question for Yankee fans, in trading a pretty decent setup type guy for, well, muck, are New York giving up on 2007?

Mull that one over and get back to me.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The search for the 17th banner

Maybe I am going to have to start a 'Celtics' label on this lark.

Pretty exciting news with the Herald amongst others reporting that the Boston Celtics have managed to pry gigantic all star Kevin Garnett from Minnesota for Al Jefferson and several other players and draft picks. The Herald in particular seem pretty confident that the deal is done.

The Globe is covering the breaking news heavily also. It's a shame to lose the promising Al Jefferson however this gives the Celtics an incredible all star trio of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. That is more than enough to take the East, although its questionable if the Celtics would have enough overall depth to take the NBA off the big teams from the West.

What's certain is the Celtics just got a whole lot more interesting for 2007/2008.

Kevin Garnett - excited to be joining Boston!

2004 ALCS Nike/Red Sox commercial

This is pretty neato. Hadn't seen this before, just fell upon it recently. Apparently it aired during the 2004 ALCS as Boston tried to come back (successfully, I might add) from that 0-3 deficit against the other New York team that isn't the Mets.

Check it out, pretty classy

Weekend Irish 'A' league report - 28/07/07

'A' league fixture
Dublin Hurricanes v Greystones Mariners

Saturday 28th July 2007

Hurricanes 7 Greystones 6

With 5 games left in the regular season the Hurricanes put themselves in a great position to make the 2007 playoffs with an exciting 7-6 win over the Greystones Mariners at the O'Malley baseball fields in Corcaigh park last Saturday.

The Hurricanes now stand at 6-4 and hold the head to head tie breaker over the Blacksox who currently sit on 7-4 just ahead of them in second place. For the 2007 season the top 4 teams make the playoffs. 1 plays 2 and the winner goes to the final while 3 plays 4 and the winner of that plays the loser of 1 v 2 with the winner of that making the final also.

However, things looked rather grim at the end of the first inning. The Mariners used a string of walks, errors and a base hit to put together a 4 run first, leaving the Hurricanes in a 0-4 hole early on. The 'Canes hit back though in the top of the second using their own small ball attack, they scored 6 runs to take a 6-4 lead. Chris Foy kick started the inning with a line drive to right field. Little did the 'Canes know that would be one of only two hits on the day.

Greystones starter Dennis Donnelly kept the Hurricanes largely off balance bar that one crazy inning. Meanwhile the Hurricanes managed to do same until the Mariners got two in the 5th to tie it. The 'Canes came right back and got what would be the winning run in the sixth inning. In the bottom of the seventh Tommy Hernandez made a nice catch for the first out and then left fielder made Emmett O'Shaughnessy made a superb diving catch for the second out. The last Mariner struck out and the 'Canes moved to 6-4 with the 7-6 win.

On the day, Chris Foy got things going with that single to start the six run uprising in the second, Rafael Diaz played a key part getting on base constantly with three walks and the defence was very solid, Steve Divito making a nice catch to go with Emmet's super diving grab in the seventh.

After starting the season 1-3 the 'Canes have kicked it into another gear and are starting to play up to their capabilities. Next up, the Twins followed by the veteran Northstars squad, buoyed by having been given a double walkover by the Spartans this weekend past. The league is getting very interesting as we approach playoff time.

Links:

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, July 29, 2007

I surrender

Oh for the love of God. I give up. You know, I have defended JD Drew to the hilt up to this point. My feeling was he would come around and give the Sox some value in the second half of the season. Now? Well, often a picture tells the story best.


After tonight's pathetic strike out with a runner on first in the ninth against Tampa just sealed the deal for me. Why is this news? Frequent readers of this blog will know I generally never, ever player bash, for better or for worse if they are playing for Boston I try to root for them. For example, I can see Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp putting in 100% effort to get to a point where they are delivering on those big contracts. JD Drew? Not so much.


JD Drew - not so much

Honestly. How many different ways to strike out are we going to witness from Drew? You know, Emerald Diamond director John Fitzgerald told me, before the season started, that Drew was going to drive me crazy, and John, this is the part of the movie where you tell me, with conviction, 'I told you so'.

Bloomin' eck. Drew is an unmitigated disaster.


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Simpsonize yourself! Do it!

I liked the Boston Globe's 'Simpson's/Red Sox' crossover. They used the 'Simpsonizer' software available here and went through the Red Sox lineup making some pretty funny snapshots.

Julio Lugo's hot streak earns him a Simpson's character

I liked them so much I decided to get all narcissistic and try it out myself. The results were, well, awkwardly interesting.

Anyway, moving along swiftly, check it out yourself at the Simpsonizer website, it's easy to use and absolutely buckets of fun.

Are you ready for some football?

If you are a fan of either the Patriots and or the seven receiver set the Patriots might run in 2007 with their wealth of receivers and this snap doesn't get your blood going, well, you just might be dead inside.

Brady: ''So you know we're running the hail mary deep left side first play of the season, right''?
Moss: ''I would have been insulted if it was anything less.''

The potential between Brady and Moss is sky high. I was on board with this move before it happened, and I can say that with head held high because, well, it was documented on the internet!

''
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.''





Friday, July 27, 2007

How to shut Barry Bonds up, in style

Recently Bob Costas made the mistake of interviewing a chemist regarding the whole Barry Bonds circus. The experienced broadcaster interviewed Patrick Arnold for his HBO show. When asked about the show by other reporters, Barry Bonds, he of the gigantic head, cut loose a pretty acerbic, aggressive tirade.

"You mean that little midget man who absolutely knows [expletive] about baseball?"

Wow, I wonder did Costas touch a nerve maybe? What I absolutely love most about this story is the response made by Costas himself. This really has to go down in the 'Comeback hall of fame'.

"As anyone can plainly see, I'm 5-6½ and a strapping 150, and unlike some people, I came by all of it naturally,''

Stick that in your needle, Barry, and inject it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ireland v USA - Round Three - Rolling the dice

The vast majority of my readers are Irish-American and a question that often pops up over email is 'So what's it like living in Ireland?'. Well, I am here to serve you, and having spent time in both Ireland and the States I feel qualified to play the two off each other in a series of pieces on exactly where is it better to live, Ireland or the States.

Round three, gambling - Let's chop it up.

True story this. I was in the bookies..oh, back up a step. I better explain that one, right? The 'bookies' is a abbreviation of 'bookmakers' which is a colloquial term used to describe a betting shop in Ireland. Ireland, the UK and the rest of the world bar the United States basically, has betting shops where an adult can walk in and place a bet on a sporting event of their choosing.

Right so, get this. The other day I was in the bookie and perusing the sports pages on my lunch break. The usual crowd were there, business men, construction workers, students. The front door opened and two very stern looking Gardaí (The Irish police force) strolled in. The assembled punters went quiet. People peeked up over their betting slips, papers and coffees to watch as the two Gardaí approached the counter. While one officer stood, arms folded surveying the customers, the other took off his cap and asked the girl at the counter...

'Have you got a price for 'Rare Ouzel' in the 3:40 at Haydock?'

The ability for an adult to decide to place a bet on a sporting event is something that is taken completely for granted in Ireland, along with the UK and, as I said, most of the civilized world. To me, it is one of the great ironies that in the United States you can purchase a semi automatic weapon but you can't put $10 on Boston to win the World series. That's just asinine.

Of course, if you know the right people, nudge nudge, wink wink, you can physically place a bet in the States, but it is illegal and thus, an underground entity that has become 'shady' as a result of being forced under ground by, largely, Republican groups who fall over themselves to protect the average American's right to buy a automatic machine gun.

Take for example US Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist. He once stole cats from animal shelters in order to conduct experiments on them in medical school (seriously!). Frist is a real piece of work. He condones torture as a method of interrogation. He is strongly opposed to womens and gay rights, and he supports the death penalty too.

The one thing he will not abide is gambling, and he managed to sneak a bill banning Internet gambling through by attaching it to a defense related bill, which meant it was not open to debate or discussion. Must be really super great having that individual deciding you can not put $50 on The Patriots to beat the Jets the first week of the NFL this season, eh?

It's funny, for all the freedom that Bush and his cronies tell you that they are sending underprivileged 18 year old high school drop outs to die in Iraq for, an adult US citizen is not allowed the freedom to place a considered wager on a sporting event. Unless he goes to Vegas.

Personally, I like being able to take a stroll into Boyle Sports, Paddy Power, Joe Byrne's or any other bookie, place $20 on Matsuzaka to beat CC Sabathia, and then enjoy walking back in to collect $50 after the Sox squeak home 1-0. It's one of the little pleasures in life.

Give me Ireland over the USA any day on this one.

Running scoreline; Ireland 2 USA 1

Previous head-to-heads
Round one: The Weather
Round two: who plays harder for their country?


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A good night in Cleveland

So much to be enthused about last night's 6-2 win over the Tribe in Cleveland, if you are a Red Sox fan. Let's dive right in.
  • Jon Lester
  • The bats waking up
  • Bullish about the bullpen
  • Coco and Lugo's resurgence
  • The 'other' Manny
Jon Lester
First and foremost, what a wonderful night for the Lester family. In front of his Mum and Dad, Jon Lester made in incredible 2007 debut for the Red Sox. He looked strong, composed and pitched his way out of his only jam in the fourth inning by blowing a 93mph heater past the dangerous Grady Sizemore. To me, Lester's fastball, consistently between 90-93, actually 'looked' faster, it looked like it picked up some extra life as it approached the plate.


That's what you look for in a pitcher, that extra zip or life. Take Kyle Farnsworth. He can throw 100mph, but many Major Leaguers say it is the flattest 90+ fastball they have ever seen. Radar guns really mean nothing, a ball has life out of pitchers arm, or it doesn't. Last night the ball was positively dancing out of Jon Lester's hand.

I am a bit shocked at some of the established sports writers take on the current 'sitch' with Schilling coming back soon and the fact there is going to be an odd man out between Lester and Gabbard. Take Eric Wilbur for example, saying ''Lester himself is being showcased.'' Say what now? Wilbur was on holidays all last week so maybe the sun got to him.

Why on earth would the Red Sox even think about trading Jon Lester? A 23 year old power lefty with a proven ability to pitch out of trouble in the big leagues? With Schilling possibly walking next year as a free agent? Not to mention the strong emotional aspect to the story. Trading Lester would lead to a riot in both Red Sox Nation and the clubhouse.

If Gabbard or Lester need to go back to AAA when Schilling comes back, so be it. The Sox won't trade away either, why should they? There's simply no need. Imagine the 2008 rotation if Schilling walks, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Gabbard and old man Wakefield. I'd buy that for a dollar.

The bats waking up
The Sox seem to have found their offensive mojo again. They broke a three-game losing streak Friday night with a 10-run outburst against the White Sox and that was followed by 11 runs Saturday, eight Sunday, and another six last night. The shocking part of that? Three of those games were without the injured David Ortiz (who's back tomorrow probably, by the by).

Bullish about the bullpen
With another three scoreless innings last night, the Sox bullpen has a 1.42 ERA over its last 19 innings. For those of you keeping score at home, that is impressive. The 'Pen now looks pretty set, with Delcarmen/Timlin working the seventh, Okajima the eigth and Papelbon the ninth. To understate wildly for a moment, the Red Sox are going to win more games than they lose with that setup in place.

Coco and Lugo's resurgence
Last night Crisp went 4 for 5 with three runs. Lugo was 1 for 4, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. The two are slapping the ball all over the place, getting on base at a crazy clip, and continuing to show more speed on the base paths than the Sox have had since Otis Nixon was in town.

The 'other' Manny
How about the kid from Hyde Park? Big Manny Delcarmen continued to show signs he 'gets it' with another strong outing. Delcarmen entered to get the last out of the eighth inning, striking out Ryan Garko with Casey Blake on first base. He even picked up his first major league save.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog

My friend Paul introduced me to Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog a couple of years ago and, quite frankly, I have no clue why I haven't mentioned him here as yet. Who is Triumph?

Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog

Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, to give him his full name, is a puppet created and performed by Robert Smigel. The puppet premiered in 1997 on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Apparently Triumph is a Yugoslavian Mountain Hound. Triumph often puffs a cigar, which usually falls out of his mouth when he begins speaking. You have to wonder why he keeps puffing. But hey, that's part of the appeal. The absolute crudeness of the 'puppetry' behind Triumph (Smigel's arm is often clearly visible in the shot) adds to the character's popularity.

There are a couple of cracking clips involving Triumph doing the rounds on the Internet. Naturally, my favourite involves Star Wars, and Triumph 'reporting' from the premiere of 'Attack of the clones'. Give it a few minutes, let yourself go and just enjoy Triumph's unusual style of reporting. My God this is funny.






..if you liked that, you'll love the others. His appearance outside 'Neverland' during the Wacko Jacko trial is almost painful to watch it's so funny.

Many, many more Triumph excerpts here.

Altogether now, 'I....am a huge nerd!'



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What can you say...

What can you say about Jon Lester's return tonight really that hasn't been said already? It is going to be tough going against the Indians, one of the best hitting teams in the majors.

So, when all is said and done, what can you say, except..

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lester, up.

The Boston Globe are reporting that Jon Lester is going to be called up to the majors;

''Terry Francona just announced that Jon Lester has been recalled from Pawtucket and will start tomorrow night in Cleveland. Julian Tavarez is going to the bullpen.''

Jon Lester - me please!

This is not the end of this story obviously as another roster move is pending. Should be interesting to see what happens. For now, it is wonderful to see Lester back in the majors after his corageous battle against cancer. Whatever about his minor league stats, his major league statistics are solid at 7-2 in his early career. Hopefully Lester can find a solid foothold in the 'bigs'.

He certainly deserves it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Baseball Ireland - we do it wetter


A rain delay, Irish baseball league style

Assorted Dublin Hurricanes players shelter from the rain during the recent Hurricanes v Blacksox Irish baseball league encounter.

Three into two does go

So we have a developing 'sitch' where the Red Sox rotation has hit a little bump in the road. It isn't exactly 'Beckett, Matsuzaka and pray for rain', yet, but it is gently heading in that direction. Three elements to the solution. Pay attention. Schilling, Gabbard and Tavarez.

This big lugs return will have a beneficial knock on effect to Boston's pitching staff

Curt Schilling is progressing well through rehab and expects to be back in two more turns of the rotation. When that happens, if the Red Sox slide Schilling back into his slot, move Tavarez into the right-hand-setup-man role (along with feisty young buck Manny Delcarmen) and pop Kason Gabbard into the 5th spot in the rotation, well, hey presto.

That's Schilling, Matsuzaka, Backett, Wakefield and Gabbard. Not bad. It actually strengthens the Boston bullpen too. 'How so?' I hear you ask. Easy. Tavarez has pitched well for the Sox, what is most noticeable is that he steamrolls through a few innings before hitting a wall. He is right on the cusp of being a good starter but just runs out of gas in the 4th or 5th innings, generally. So, an effective 1-2 inning right hander out of the pen, there you go, no trade needed.

It's all so logical and yet all so simple. Three into two does go.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kason who?

The Red Sox haven't had a complete game shutout from a rookie for a long, long time. The last one? Paul Quantrill July 4, 1993 at Seattle. Put that calculator down! That's fourteen years ago. Last night against the hardly regal Royals, Red Sox rookie Kason Gabbard threw an economic three hit shutout in just under 2 hours 20 minutes. Now that's nifty.

Kason Gabbard

So the big question of course is, who in blazes is Kason Gabbard? I must admit when Schilling went on the disabled list I immediately thought it would be cool if the Sox brought Jon Lester up to take his place. Dave from 'The coffin corner' suggested, correctly, that Gabbard not only deserved the call up, but was the best fit. How right he was with last nights win running Kason's record to a fancy 3-0.

So what is Gabbard all about? A 29th-round draft pick in 2000 (that's not early), Gabbard started the 2006 season with Double-A Portland and posted an excellent 9-2 record with a spiffy 2.57 ERA in 13 starts. Promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on June 23, he went a more pedestrian 1-3 with a 4.97 ERA in five starts. Nevertheless the Sox brought him up on July 21 to replace Tim Wakefield, who was on the disabled list. In his Major League debut on July 22, he allowed two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings to the Seattle Mariners and was charged with what can be described as a hard-luck loss. Gabbard's first major league win was on September 5th against the Chicago White Sox. Gabbard was superb, going 7 shutout innings, surrendering three hits and striking out six in a 1-0 Red Sox win.

For 2007, Gabbard was called up from Triple A Pawtucket to pitch on May 20 against Atlanta in place of Josh Beckett. He had pitched well allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits over 5 innings and got the win. He was however then immediately optioned back to Pawtucket after the game.

Gabbard's current stint with the big league club started on June 26, 2007 against Seattle in place of Curt Schilling. Gabbard isn't overpowering in the traditional sense, but his offspeed stuff is excellent, and he seems to pick the right spots to use it.

Let's face it, when Schilling comes back, unless Tavarez implodes, Gabbard will be back to Pawtucket, but he has definitely made the Sox think twice. More importantly, with Lester, Gabbard and Bucholz in Rhode Island, that gives the Red Sox some serious fall back options should anything go wrong in the second half.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Saltmaltachia-cha-cha

You have to wonder sometimes where people come up with these 'trade rumours', seriously. The latest ridiculous 'possibility' I have seen is the 'potential' of the Red Sox landing Braves first base/catching prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia. What a waste of journalistic energy.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a guy the Braves have brought up through their system who has hit at every stop along the way. He is ostensibly a catcher but with the excellent Brian McCann already in place the Braves have played Saltalamacchia at first base in order to get him some at bats.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Even trying to understand this 'rumour' is a waste of valuable time and energy. If the Sox pay bank to get this much coveted player (the Braves would require 3 or 4 top prospects, say bye bye to Bucholz for example) what on earth do they do with him then? Send Varitek back to AAA? Put Youkilis in left and trade Manny?

Two things really, much as the Sox would love to have a young, solid catcher to fall back on, he is ready to play right now but the Sox don't really have anywhere to put him. Secondly, why on earth would the Braves let this guy go?!

Honestly, what a load of rubbish. Funniest part is, where did the rumour come from? None other than your Boston Globe.

I am going to start reading the National Enquirer.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weekend Irish 'A' league report - 14/07/07

'A' league fixture
Dublin Hurricanes v Blacksox
Saturday 14th July 2007

Hurricanes 3 Blacksox 2

The Blacksox and Hurricanes met for the second week running in another crucial Irish Baseball league 'A' league fixture. Both teams needed the win in the chase for second place behind the Spartans.

Shanganah Park provided the pretty, if slightly unusual, backdrop for the game. The 50 days straight rain that has afflicted Ireland the last while took a temporary break and it was a fine, sunny morning.

Niall Rowen and Cormac Eklof faced off again for the second week running for the Sox and the 'Canes respectively. The Hurricanes were missing Tom Kelley (ankle), Chris Foy (back) and Richard Meade (wallet). The 'Canes were first off the mark, taking a 1-0 lead they protected for several innings. Eklof managed to get the leadoff batter in all but one inning and the defence was excellent behind him. The Blacksox mounted a minor assault in the third but with Eoin O'Connor on base Brian Connolly hit into a inning ending double play turned niftily by Steve Divito and Andy Martin.

The Hurricanes added another run late and took a 2-0 lead into the seventh when the Blacksox bats finally woke up. They pushed across two runs and the Hurricanes escaped the inning with the winning run poised on third when Eklof struck out Johnny Bohan to send the teams into extra innings tied at 2-2.

In the 8th inning Steve Divito drove in Chris McIsaac to push the Canes ahead 3-2. It was the Blacksox turn to escape out of further danger with Alex Bettancourt caught attempting to steal home. The terrified Blacksox catcher managed to apply the tag with big Alex rumbling home just a step late.

This time the Hurricanes made no mistake sealing the deal as Eklof brought his strikeout total to 13 on the day, striking out the side in the bottom of the extra inning to end the exciting, well played game.

After a slow start the Hurricanes are now neck and neck with the Blacksox vying for second place in the run in to the 2007 Irish League playoffs.



The 2007 Irish Baseball League 'A' league Standings
Team
Played
Won
Lost
W/O
Points
A League
Spartans
10
10
0
0
40
Black Sox
10
6
4
0
28
Hurricanes
9
5
4
0
24
Mariners
8
3
5
0
17
Northstars
5
2
3
0
11
Twins
10
0
10
0
10

'B' League encounter
Hurricanes 13 Blacksox 6

Woody Woodburne led the 'B' squad to their fifth straight win 13-6 over the Blacksox 'B' on Saturday afternoon in Shanganah. After starting the season 0-2 the 'Baby Canes' are now top of the 'B' division.

B League
Hurricanes
7
5
2
0
22
Mariners
6
4
1
0
21
Spartans
5
1
4
0
8
Black Sox
6
1
5
0
9



Links:

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

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Radar guns are bad

This is just something I never considered but, from a pitchers point of view, what an interesting point of view. Jonathon Papelbon, the Sox ace closer, is suggesting MLB should do away with radar guns at games. He makes the point that it gives the hitters a huge advantage over pitchers.

“It’s a total advantage to a hitter - If I’m throwing 98 [mph] pitch after pitch, a batter can get set for what’s coming. If I’m throwing 93, they might know I’m not feeling as well. Why don’t we just tell guys what’s coming? It’s terrible. They’ll know what range your fastball is and what your offspeed stuff is. I have no idea why they started doing this.”
From the Buffalo news online

I completely agree with Papelbon, it is unfair, now that I think about it. Why should the hitters get such information on a pitcher? Should pitchers be shown a little stat of the upcoming batters bat speed on the day? Of course not. So, if the batter was out all last night knocking back shots in a underground bar with Tara Reid and Derek Lowe, should it be announced to all at the game that his bat speed is lagging at 40mph? Of course not.

I can tell you the guys on the Irish National Baseball team aren't huge radar gun fans either. Perhaps for slightly different reasons. In 2001 the Irish National team had the honour of playing an exhibition game at Fenway Park. During the game, we were fascinated with the radar gun readings which were being shown near the scoreboard. Former Irish team player Brian Connolly giddily shouted out almost every pitches speed.

Radar guns are bad!
Irish baseball team v Slocum, RI - Fenway Aug 2001

The Rhode Island club we played, Slocum Baseball Club, had one kid throwing ninety. The Irish pitching on the day was either mid seventies or lower. At one stage, with former Irish team pitcher Ken Murphy on the hill, Brian roared out excitedly 'He hit 78! He hit 78!'.

Bill Beglane, who was the winning pitcher for Ireland first ever win, a 10-9 decision over Yugoslavia in 1996, came back to the dugout laughing to himself after one inning. I asked what was up with him and he replied, 'Did you see that changeup I threw? It was 53 mph!'

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Prague 2007 - Game three

OKI PRAGUE INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL CUP


The Dublin Hurricanes played in the Tempo Titans club invitational in Prague the weekend of June 30th/July 1st. The following posts detail how the trip went.


Previous posts:

Third place playoff
Sunday July 1st
Dublin Hurricanes 13 Tempo Titans 12 (after extra innings)

On the Sunday of their Prague baseball cup competition experience, the Dublin Hurricanes found themselves drawn against the home town Tempo Titans for the honour of playing to the third place trophy and the bronze medal.

The Tempo Titans, on top of being the tournament hosts, are led by former Hurricane Radek, a fearsome hitter and lunatic base runner who drove the Hurricanes to many wins in his time in Ireland. His cousin, Jan, a big slugger who basically runs Prague's social scene, is also a major part of their team. Jan is a super catcher who has a fearsome swing. Plus, apart from all that, they are Czech! The Czech's don't fool around when it comes to baseball.

With Luke Barkmeyer pretty much on life support after catching consecutive games on the Saturday, it fell to Eoin O'Connor to catch. Apart from that the Hurricanes lineup mirrored those of the day before. The strong lineup got out of the gate fast and hit the Titans for several runs early, on route to a healthy 8-3 lead. Dave DeLucia and Chris McIssac continued to set the table for the big boys, getting on base all game long. Meanwhile, the big bats kept driving them in. Carlos, Pat, Tommy and Woody kept up their weekend barrage of hits.

Eoin O'Connor called a superb game behind the plate and even threw a runner out, with a great throw to second. The heat and the toll of pitching 14 innings in two days however, caught up on old man Eklof and the home town Titans began to chip away at the lead in the late innings.

Piling on the pressure, the Titans managed to tie the game at 8-8 in the 7th inning. The tournament organiser approached Hurricanes supremo for the weekend Chris Foy and announced a new rule, whereby a tie breaker would take the form of each inning starting with a runner on second. This, as opposed to the more traditional 'count back' rule employed at most 'timed game' tournaments. That rule would have seen the Hurricanes win though, and they weren't going to give it to us that easily.

Instead the eight inning started with a Titan on second. They promptly scored two runs and threatened more, loading the bases with two outs. Eklof reached back for a little bit more to strike the batter out and the Canes escaped further damage. The Hurricanes half of the inning started disastrously as the first two batters were out on two pitches. Screaming blue murder, Captain for the weekend Chris Foy led by example, taking pitches and working a great at bat to get on base. Following his lead the Canes managed to tie the score and force another extra inning.

Once again the Titans struck for two, loading the bases yet again and shaping as if to run the score up there and then. Once again the battery of O'Connor and Eklof wiggled out of it without completely losing their shirts.

Facing another two run deficit, at the end of a long tournament the Hurricanes answered the bell one final time. Dave Delucia got on yet again. Eric Valkys moved him over to third and he scored on Tommy Hernandez's single. Woody Woodburn drove Tommy in for the tie and then, with two outs, catcher Eoin O'Connor hit a ground ball to third.

With Woody heading home with the potential game winning run it was up to Eoin to beat out the throw to first, which he did by a half a step. The Hurricanes had won, 13-12 in what was the most exciting game of the tournament (the final itself was a blow out sadly, with Praha disposing of the touring American side with relative ease).

The Dublin Hurricanes had travelled to Prague and gone 2-1 against quality Czech teams. Player of the tournament for the 'Canes? A tie. Dave DeLucia got on base all weekend and drove in some vital runs too. He gets a half a share of the MVP award. Would have been a full share if it hadn't been for the power in Rafael Diaz's big bat. Man that was some home run.

The Hurricanes relax over a good Schnitzel after taking third place in the tournament

Previous posts:

Take it easy, A-Rod

There's a great scene in Anchorman where, after a disturbing, sycophantic monologue by Champ Kind, Brian Fantana says 'Take it easy, Champ. Why don't you stop talking for a while?' and Ron Bergundy adds 'Yeah, maybe sit the next few plays out?'.

Well, someone, somewhere, needs to sit young Alex Rodriguez down and do same.

You might have missed this little nugget from the all star weekend, never fear though, there was no way I was letting this one slip past you.

Alex was quoted as saying, when describing his all star memories;.

"When we were here to play the Giants, Willie Mays took off his jersey and gave it to Joe Torre to give to me. It meant so much, I cried. I tried to put it on a wall in our master bedroom, but my wife said no. So it's in my office."

So, to summarise, Joe Torre, who probably had five already, gave him a jersey Willie Mays gave to Torre. This made A-Rod cry. After that, he went home (for a change, foregoing any extra curricular trips to hotel rooms accompanied by mysterious busty blondes) and threw the jersey in his play room, because his wife told him to. Super.
''LOVE me! Love me! Whay don't you adore me?!''

Honestly, does A-Rod think that people will forget the self-serving, ignorant comments he's made in the past, where he has thrown teammates and indeed entire teams he has played on under the bus, if he bombards us with a deluge of meaningless drivel? A-Rod, we don't care if you cry when Joe Torre gives you a present! We don't care if you see a therapist! To quote the great Brian Fantana, take it easy, Champ. Why don't you stop talking for a while?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Boston Red Sox half term player report

Strange feeling after that Detroit sweep, no? Kind of empty, if that's possible after posting the Majors best record in the first half. This coming from a guy who is notoriously of the 'Glass half full' camp, I might add.

Having said that, it was a half of ups and downs, and you really get a picture of exactly that when you take a look at the Sox lineup player by player and how they preformed (or in some cases, underperformed) in the seasons first half.

You know what, let's chop it up right now.

Player: Jason Varitek
Excels at: Has kept the pitching staff ticking over and has also kept a disparate, eclectic relief staff pitching to a high degree of efficiency. Some facile commentary teams knock his stolen-base-against percentage however they aren't taking into account the fact the Sox do not allow their pitchers to slide step. Francona is on record saying he doesn't care about stolen bases against. Varitek is a premium defensive shortstop who blocks home plate as well as any catcher in the game.
Needs to improve at: How do you knock a pretty decent batting average when the guy has an enormous workload on his shoulders? Maybe a couple more home runs would help.
Second half outlook: If Varitek finished the 07 season at .270 with 20 home runs and 80 rbis the Sox will be delirious considering the high degree to which he plays the other half of the game.
If his first half was a movie it would be: The Godfather. A class act, almost beyond reproach.
Half term grade: B+

íl Capitano

Player: Mike Lowell
Excels at: Probably no one saw this first half coming. Amongst the AL leaders in all the big offensive categories, Lowell is also right up there with Manny and Ortiz as the Sox leader in all categories of note. He has provided remarkable consistency in the middle of the order.
Needs to improve at: Unbelievably, needs to improve his defence. A superior glove man the last few years Lowell has experienced an odd '07 with more errors this season alone than in '05 and '06 combined. Probably needs to just accept he is going to make around 20 errors and move on, deliver the kind of leather work he is known for in the second half.
Second half outlook: Lowell has given the Sox a real headache. Before his offensive outburst the Sox front office probably wouldn't have dreamt of extending his 9 million salary another year - now they might be talking to him about a two year extension. A vital part of the Sox lineup for the second half.
If his first half was a movie it would be: The Godfather II. Even better than the first one. A sleeper of sorts that did everything right.
Half term grade: A

Player: Julio Lugo
Excels at: Oh boy. Stealing bases? I guess he has that going for him. Everything else aside, Lugo provides the Sox with superb speed and above average base running ability.
Needs to improve at: Lugo simply needs to start hitting. He has shown a little spark in recent days including a decent series in Detroit however he needs to start hitting, and fast, or the Sox will be looking at a new face at short yet again.
Second half outlook: Lugo needs a strong first few weeks after the All Star break or the Sox will be forced into drastic action.
If his first half was a movie it would be: Die Hard 4.0. The most expensive bag of garbage ever.
Half term grade: D- (would be an E+ if it weren't for his blazing speed and impressive stolen base stats)

This kid can just flat out play

Player: Dustin Pedroia
Excels at: Pedroia has been one of the Sox success stories from part one of the season. Most interesting is that opposition team commentary teams are absolutely drooling over him right now. The Detroit team, for example, lauded his every move. His defence has been possibly some of the best glove work seen around second since Pokey Reese and he swings a big stick for such a little fella.
Needs to improve at: Needs to grow a inch or two, I dunno?
Second half outlook: The future looks bright, both short and long term.
If his first half was a movie it would be: The Bourne Identity. Came out of nowhere and blew the opposition away.
Half term grade: A+ (think about it, what else could Dustin possibly have done?!)

Player: Kevin Youkilis
Excels at: Youkilis has blossomed in 2007 into the player the Sox front office imagined, a patient hitter with a wonderful eye for and understanding of the strike zone.
Needs to improve at: Would possibly lose a race to Kevin Millar.
Second half outlook: Youkilis's maturation is a joy to behold for Sox fans, personally I would slot him in the two hole and sit back and enjoy, he is an on base machine.
If his first half was a movie it would be: The Bourne Supremacy. Destined to succeed, as steady as they come.
Half term grade: A+ (think about it, what else could Youk possibly have done?!)

Player: Manny Ramirez
Excels at: Manny is showing Boston he can turn up every day and hustle his way down the line on a nightly basis.
Needs to improve at: Um, not for nothin', but where's the power gone?
Second half outlook: Who can predict exactly which way the good ship Manny is going? A huge power surge? An extended slump? Flip a coin? What you can do is look back at his previous post all star outputs, and history shows the real Manny will stand up.
If his first half was a movie it would be: 'The Godfather Part III' - historically brilliant, flashes of class, excellent form, but stretches where you wonder, what on earth is going on?
Half term grade: B-

Player: David Ortiz
Excels at: With opposing pitchers starting to give Ortiz the 'Barry Bonds' treatment (nothing to hit, most pitches at his ankles or over his head) it is completely inane to expect him to hit 60 home runs. What Ortiz has done is hit for average, even with that ridiculous shift that teams employ against him.
Needs to improve at: Just needs to relax and take it easy, the Sox don't need him to be '04 Pappi, just keep hitting.
Second half outlook: Pappi had a strong second half last season and as he hamstring strengthens the bombs will fly.
If his first half was a movie it would be: The Simpsons movie. Doesn't really matter if it is 'on it's game' or not, you'll still go to see it, and anyway, it probably will deliver.
Half term grade:B+

Game. Over.

Player: Coco Crisp
Excels at: Has Fenway park ever seen this incredible level of defensive play in centre field before? Crisp has delivered several stunning, often game changing, full-out catches that other outfielders can only dream about. He has made defense sexy again with his incredible natural ability to track down fly balls.
Needs to improve at: Hey, it's obvious, Crisp needs to hit with more authority, but he is starting to do just that.
Second half outlook: Coco's 2007 stock is clearly on the rise.
If his first half was a movie it would be: 'The prestige' - starts off a little slow and muddled but turns into a fantastic little movie.
Half term grade: B- (I can't give any lower to player who makes those catches on such a regular basis, do you have any clue how uplifting it is to a pitching staff to have that behind them every night?)

Player: JD Drew
Excels at: Everyone says he has a sweet swing. He just hasn't put it to much use.
Needs to improve at: Right now, it appears Drew couldn't punch his way out of a paper bag.
Second half outlook: Well, anything is better than this, right?
If his first half was a movie it would be: Pirates of the Caribbean III - big, expensive, glossy, and about as rewarding as a bad toothache.
Half term grade: E+

Player: Josh Beckett
Excels at: Now this is more like it. This looks like the 2003 World Series MVP Boston were hoping they would get when they gave up Hanley Ramirez. Beckett looks poised, in control and comfortable. A 20 win season is on the cards.
Needs to improve at: Really just needs to stay healthy, fingers crossed.
Second half outlook: If he pitches anywhere close to his first half output, 22 wins? How does that sound?
If his first half was a movie it would be: 'The Empire strikes back' - the second episode was much better than the first. Exciting, dramatic and just a better movie.
Half term grade: A+ (When all is said and done, at the end of the day, Beckett just went out and grabbed the position of 'Boston's Ace'.

Player: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Excels at: His stuff is like Tara Reid after two bottle of rum on a Friday night, just nasty.
Needs to improve at: All he needs to do is find his own comfort zone.
Second half outlook: The sky is the limit for Matsuzaka, he has the stuff to do something special.
If his first half was a movie it would be: 'Babel' - Sometimes a little confusing, but rewarding, richly created and ultimately very classy.
Half term grade: B (only this low because he has an A+ in him, he just needs to find his 'happy place' and deliver consistently.

Player: Curt Schilling
Excels at: Has that near-no hitter to be proud of, but at what cost?
Needs to improve at: Anyone figured out the secret to going back in time yet?
Second half outlook: If Schilling comes back at anything like his usual self it will provide the Red Sox with a major spark. Using 'if' in a sentence does not, however, promote confidence.
If his first half was a movie it would be: 'The road to perdition' - Absolutely brilliant in parts, slow and laborious in others, with a slightly unsatisfying ending.
Half term grade: C+

Player: Tim Wakefield
Excels at: Eating up innings like Vincent Wilfork does cheeseburgers.
Needs to improve at: He needs to get all Indiana Jones and find his own personal holy grail, consistency.
Second half outlook: More of the same please, Timmy. If he replicates his first half the Sox will be perfectly sated.
If his first half was a movie it would be: 'The Wizard of Oz' - it's old but every time you go back to watch it again, it gets the job done.
Half term grade: B+

Player: Hideki Okajima
Excels at: Getting batters out. Okajima could arguably be the Sox first half MVP
Needs to improve at: What is with that gaudy necklace?!
Second half outlook: What could he possibly do for an encore?
If his first half was a movie it would be: 'Tora! Tora! Tora!' - Exciting, classy older version of an inferior, bigger budget remake ('Pearl Harbour').
Half term grade: A+

Player: Jonathon Papelbon
Excels at: Slamming the door with authority
Needs to improve at: Maybe just a few more offspeed pitches for a greater overall balance
Second half outlook: Keep slamming that door!
If his first half was a movie it would be: 'Sin City' - New, loud, brash and exciting.
Half term grade: A+ (imagine, this is just his second year on the job!)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Weekend Irish 'A' league report - 07/07/07

'A' league fixture
Dublin Hurricanes v Blacksox
Saturday 7th July 2007

The Hurricane's, fresh off their trip to and third place finish in Prague, took on the Blacksox in an important Irish baseball league game at O'Malley field in Corcaigh Park, Dublin.

The Hurricanes were looking to get back to .500 whilst the Blacksox were looking to continue their good season to date. Irish international pitchers Cormac Eklof and Niall Rowen took the mound for the 'Canes and the Sox respectively. The Hurricanes were missing all time Irish league home run king Tom Kelley (ankle injury) and Chris Foy (back injury), however apart from that they were at relatively full strength.

The 'Canes jumped out to an early lead only to have that all disappear in a horrendous top of the third inning. The Sox scored a ridiculous eight runs in what may have been the worst half inning ever in Hurricanes history. A combination of errors, hits, walks and hit batters literally handed the Sox a hefty 8-6 lead. Ironically, a third inning collapse is what led to the Canes loss to the Sox earlier in the season.

Luckily for the Hurricanes, they are learning on the job in 2007 and came right back in the bottom of the inning to tie the score up at 8-8. The competitive, dramatic game tilted back and forth as the Sox took a 10-8 lead only for the Canes to come right back and tie it all up again at 10-10.

Special mention for the Blacksox centre fielder who made a sensational, all out, diving catch in centre field to rob Steve Divito of a two run double late in the game. Amazing catch. Coco Crisp would have been proud of it.

The tight, exciting game reached a climax in the sixth inning. With two runners on Dave DeLucia smashed a double past the drawn in infield giving the Hurricanes a 15-13 lead which they managed to defend with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the seventh. The 'Canes, with this dramatic, team-effort win, push their record to 4-4 and possibly announced their arrival for real to the 2007 Irish baseball season.

B league fixture
Dublin Hurricanes v Blacksox


The Dublin Hurricanes 'B' side took a big step towards 'B' league domination with this great 13-12 victory in what was a tight, well played encounter.

New 'Cane Emmit OShaughnessy, announced his arrival on the Irish baseball scene in style. Emmit's first trick was to throw not one but two runners out at home plate as they tried to score, he did so from his centre field position. Emmit also drove in what were the tying and winning runs with a two run double in the sixth before coming in and pitching a clean seventh for the save.

There were other heroes too. Captain Lorcan Sherlock called Eric 'Vegas' Valkys diving stop up the middle 'one of the greatest defensive plays' he had seen in Irish baseball. The win pushes the 'Baby Canes' to a superb 4-2 record, with the Cans on a nice four game winning streak.

Next weeks Hurricanes fixtures

A League
July 14 11:00 Shanganagh Park
Black Sox v Hurricanes
B League
July 14 14:00 Shanganagh Park
Black Sox v Hurricanes


Links:

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

Friday, July 06, 2007

Prague 2007 - Game 2

OKI PRAGUE INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL CUP


The Dublin Hurricanes played in the Tempo Titans club invitational in Prague the weekend of June 30th/July 1st. The following posts detail how the trip went.

Previous posts:


Game 2 (Saturday afternoon)-
The Dublin Hurricanes v Sabaat Praha


After taking game one the Hurricanes had a chance to make the final of the Tempo Titans tournament with a win over strong Czech side Sabaat Praha. Woody 'one pitch' Woodburne took the hill with Luke Barkmeyer once again forming the second part of the Hurricanes battery.

In the first inning the powerhouse Hurricane lineup struck hard. Dave 'Ichiro' DeLucia got on with a walk (one of about twenty over the course of the weekend) and the guys started hitting. Run after run scored, Carlos and Chris getting big hits. Up stepped Rafael Diaz in the nine spot. Rafael worked the count against the hard throwing Czech pitcher to 1-1, and then swung at a high fastball.

The ball flew off his bat and started to arrow high towards right field. Amazingly it just kept going, all the way for a huge three run home run. Rafael giggled his way around the bases and the Hurricanes were sitting pretty on a 6-0 lead.

Woody Woodburn ran a tight ship for the next few innings, giving up just one run and keeping the Czech's off balance with his combinations of tricky pitches. Sabaat Praha had several former Czech national team players in a big lineup, and also had the current Czech national team catcher batting in the clean up spot. This guy was a total monster. Woody kept the Czechs in check until he offered the monster catcher a knuckle ball with two men on base.

The home run took about 2 seconds to clear the park. Suddenly it was game on. With the pressure mounting as both teams strove to make the final, the home field umpire started to make some unusual calls. Woody's strike zone shrunk to the size of a small letterbox while the Czech pitcher was awarded strikeouts for pitches that were up at Chris Foy and, laughably so, Eric Valky's necks. Valkys is (and I am being generous here!) about 5'6'', the pitch he struck out looking on was about 5'5'' high.

Worse was to follow. Tommy Hernandez seemed to have a single beat out late in the game, beating the infielder's throw by at least a step, maybe a step and a half. As everyone broke down and prepared for the next play the umpire amazingly called Tommy out.

The worst and also the funniest call came when Woody threw a slow offspeed inside pitch to a batter. The rule in baseball is, if you see a pitch going to hit you, you have to be seen to make an attempt to get out of the way.

This joker of a batter actually moved towards the pitch. Unbelievably the umpire, who wasn't even trying to not look biased at this stage, gave the batter first base. We argued the call. I said to the umpire 'He stepped right into that pitch!' to which he replied, 'I know.'

It's hard to play against such ignorant arrogance. To Woody's credit he battled on but the tide was turning. Sabaat Praha played their game and took advantage of the Czech umpires generosity to force the winning run home late on, with both teams exhausted from a long days baseball. Praha played well however in all honesty the Hurricanes did not deserve to lose that game.

Baseball can be a cruel mistress at times, and the Hurricanes had to grin and bear it, consoled only by the fact that they had made the third place playoff and that meant a relatively decent starting time of 12pm, as opposed to the poor beggars who had to play the 5th place playoff at 10am! It's the little things in life that get you through.

Final score - Hurricanes 8 Sabaat Praha 9

Prague 2007 - the pictures

OKI PRAGUE INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL CUP


The Dublin Hurricanes played in the Tempo Titans club invitational in Prague the weekend of June 30th/July 1st. The following posts detail how the trip went.

Previous posts:

Picture time


Check out the following gallery for some pictures from the Hurricanes trip to Prague!

Picture Gallery

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Prague 2007 - The City itself

OKI PRAGUE INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL CUP

The Dublin Hurricanes played in the Tempo Titans club invitational in Prague the weekend of June 30th/July 1st. The following posts detail how the trip went.

Previous posts:

Prague

The cover of one of my most cherished CD's, 'Angel Dust' by Faith No More, has a beautiful, regal white Herron on the front, and a gorey snap of hanging meat carcasses on the back. Faith No More's attempt to describe their own paradoxical nature describes Prague perfectly.

Prague, whichever way you look at it, is either a beautiful, historically rich and cultured city or a cess pool of seediness and vice.

The Hurricanes stayed in two places, a hostel and a 'Holiday Inn' hotel. The hostel suited the younger guys perfectly, $10 a night and right beside a dark little underground bar that sold beer for about 80 cents a jar. That's about, oh, €5 cheaper than Dublin on a Friday night. The Holiday Inn was great, another situation where a basic enough three star hotel in Europe would probably rank as a four or even five star hotel in Dublin, the land of the mediocre hotels.

Even in the hotel beer and food were pretty cheap, basically €4 for a big jar of tasty Czech beer. Those Czech's know their beer. Budvar is delicious. The great thing about it is, since most European countries don't put chemicals in their beer, you basically do not get a hangover. Try drinking ten pints of horrible Budweiser, which tastes like pig swill compared to Budvar, and you will be pumping Advil like the second coming of Brett Favre to avoid the inevitable hangover.

Ten pints of Budvar? You might experience a little sluggishness, but no throbbing headache. Plus, it goes down easier than Tara Reid on a Friday night, and tastes better than any American beer I have tried with the possible exception of Sam Adams.

Whatever you say about Prague, it is great for socialising in. As a team we could sit around, catch up with each other and shoot the breeze for hours knocking back tasty Czech beers without worrying about being robbed (as would be the case in Dublin, for example). Most bars allow you to run a tab so you just pay when your ready to go. In the bar we nicknamed 'HQ', right beside the hostel, I paid €8 for a delicious plate of Schnitzel, seven beautiful Budvars and some snacks. Now that's value.

The historic, beautiful centre of Prague is as aesthetic as it is interesting. Beautiful old buildings give the city a really regal feel to it. The architecture is fascinating and the history deep and omnipresent. However, you might be enjoying the view in the old town square when a piece of the seedier side of Prague might hit you right in the face. Check this guy out. He is basically advertising an adult entertainment centre, the likes of which are there, right in your face, all over Prague. Some of his terminology is a little 'spicy' so maybe give it a skip if that kind of thing offends you.



That's Hurricanes slugger and home run hitting hero of the weekend Rafael Diaz trying to enjoy a cold beer in the town square, and ending up laughing hysterically at the 'Hand massage guy' as we came to know him lovingly. The funny, or sad, depending which way you look at it, thing is that his ilk are all over the city. It's unavoidable. 'Come to Prague and see our beautiful city, and get solicited all weekend!'

Another drawbacks is that the city is absolutely plagued with roaming packs of English stag parties. The skittles (as my old friend Mark Connolly used to call them, red shirt, yellow shirt, pink shirt, blue shirt, skittles!) wander from bar to bar getting progressively more drunk and rowdy. If you actually enjoy this backdrop when travelling, a cheaper alternative would just be to go hang out around Anfield on match day.

Also, we all agreed, the nightlife isn't really that great. The beer is cheap, but the nightclubs are reasonable at best. Perhaps we chose poorly however and I have to say the bar staff, beer and cocktails were all super fab wherever we went. In Dublin, you are made feel grateful for being 'allowed' spend €6 on a bad pint of beer, in the Czech capital you get a friendly barman serving you a tasty, smooth beer for a sixth that price.

Prague is a fascinating and paradoxical city. The perfect spot for hanging out with friends during a tournament, however possibly not the best spot for bringing the kids on a family holiday.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Prague 2007 - Game one - Dublin Hurricanes v Aligátoři Znojmo

OKI PRAGUE INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL CUP

The Dublin Hurricanes played in the Tempo Titans club invitational in Prague the weekend of June 30th/July 1st. The following posts detail how the trip went.

Previous posts:
Tournament overview and background


Game one - Saturday morning June 30th
Dublin Hurricanes v Aligátoři Znojmo

Game one for the 'Canes came on Saturday morning, with the weather improving vastly in Prague from Friday's rain. As the 'Canes arrived at the Tempo Titans ground the sun was starting to peak out from behind the clouds. The teams began to warm up and Aligátoři Znojmo looked exactly like what you would expect from a Czech side, big, athletic players who looked like they knew the game of baseball.

Ever since our first game in the '96 European Championships, Irish baseball has been somewhat in awe of it's Czech equivalent. Back then, they annihilated us and showed us how baseball should be played. Could the student finally become the master?

The Hurricanes started the OKI PRAGUE INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL CUP in fine style against this Czech side. They played well in every aspect of the game on route to a 15-3 win to kick start their tournament. Captain for the weekend Chris Foy had the luxury of fielding several Irish National team players in his lineup, including a 'murderers row' that went, Tommy Hernandez, Pat Nolan, Chris Foy and Woody Woodburne, all experienced Irish team veterans.

Carlos Melesecca signalled his return to the 'Canes lineup with some big hits and Dave Delucia was a constant pain in the oppositions side playing his 'Ichiro' style of small ball, constantly on base, stealing and scoring runs. The battery of Aussie catcher Luke Barkemeyer and Irish pitcher Cormac Eklof were rarely in trouble although the Czech club side did get a couple of late runs in the fifth and final inning, with Eklof tiring a little in the heat after a 5 inning, 3 run and 8 strikeout performance.

Game one final score:
Dublin Hurricanes 15 Aligátoři Znojmo 3

Previous posts:
Tournament overview and background

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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