Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Friday night lights - incredible end to a high school football game

Thank God for the Internet, eh?

Check out this incredible game. If you read around about it, this game is talked about as one of the all time greatest games in the history of Texas High School Football. Trailing by a seemingly unsurmountable four scores in the dying minutes of the game , Plano East mount a furious rally...




It's fun if even only for the amazingly biased announcers!



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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Patriots QB's rankings in Superbowl history

Today ESPN breaks down every starting QB for every Superbowl in a pretty interesting little piece. It's fun reading back through the various Superbowls. There's a few QBs ranked lower than I would have thought and a few ranked way higher than I think they deserve, but it's all relative really, isn't it? The Patriots QB's (Eason. Bledsoe and Brady) are ranked 82, 57, 26, 15 and 10. No prizes whatsoever for matching the QB with the ranking! I would have argued that Bledsoe played better than roughly fifteen guys in front of him on this list but then, it's hard to argue his corner when he threw four interceptions, ruining what could have been a decent outing.

The Patriots on the list, in order of worst (and boy do I mean worst) to first. Well, tenth, actually.
(You can check the full list out here @ ESPN)

82. Tony Eason, Patriots, Super Bowl XX (1986)
Stats: 0-6, 0 yards, 0 TD, 0 interceptions in 46-10 loss to Bears.


''Eason's performance is the worst ever. In addition to his awful passing stats, he lost a fumble and not surprisingly was yanked in the second quarter.''

57. Drew Bledsoe, Patriots, Super Bowl XXXI (1997)
Stats: 25-48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 interceptions in 35-21 loss to Packers.


''Bledsoe threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter to give the Patriots the lead. In the fourth quarter, he was picked off twice, spoiling a comeback attempt.''

26. Tom Brady, Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)
Stats: 16-27, 145 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions in 20-17 win over Rams.

''New England's defense stood out, but Brady orchestrated the drive at the end of the game to set up Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal as time expired for the upset win. Brady completed 5 of 6 passes on the winning 53-yard drive.''

15. Tom Brady, Patriots, Super Bowl XXXIX (2005)
Stats: 23-33, 236 yards, 2 TD, 0 interceptions in 24-21 win over Eagles.

''Brady had another near-flawless performance in the Patriots' most recent Super Bowl crown, but it was wide receiver Deion Branch (11 catches, 133 yards) who was named MVP.''

10. Tom Brady, Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)
Stats: 32-48, 354 yards, 3 TD, 1 interception in 32-29 win over Panthers.


''Brady outdueled Jake Delhomme with a Super Bowl-record 32 completions. He led the drive that set up Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal with four seconds remaining.''

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Did you know Adolf Hitler was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan?

Neither did I.

Apparently he was. Judging by how angry he gets, he had a stack of Deutschmarks on them too.

Hilarious video detailing Hitler's commanders giving him the bad news that the Giants beat his beloved Cowboys. The rant is fantastic, and it's worth watching just for the end. Superb! Word of warning though, Hitler drops a couple of 'F' bombs, so if you are easily offended, maybe give it a miss!




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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Uh oh....

Second time in a week I have started with this line. Not what you want to read first thing in the morning as a Patriots fan;


''Brady wearing cast on foot
Charger hits apparently 'nicked up' quarterback''


Oh boy.

Brady, crocked?

Word on the street is Brady may have hurt his foot/ankle area on the last set of plays. The Boston Globe reports;

''Brady was sacked twice Sunday and appeared to be slightly hobbled after Igor Olshansky and Stephen Cooper tackled him for an 8-yard loss on the final drive of the game.''
You can actually check video footage of Brady hobbling around like Danny Archer at the end of 'Blood Diamond' right here.

Brady's message for New England's fans before they throw themselves into the Charles?

"Ah, you know, there's always bumps and bruises. I'll be ready for the Super Bowl,"



So how does Eli Manning feel about this 'development'? Just groovy, by the looks of it!

A brand new 'Manning face' for us to enjoy



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Monday, January 21, 2008

Today is the most depressing day of 2008 - it's official!

So did you know today is officially the most depressing day of the year? Did you feel it in your bones when you got out of bed this morning? It is, really. The Guardian newspaper told me so (plus I heard people saying it in conversation).

The Guardian's evidence?

''And if you want scientific proof, then Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University has it. He settled on January 24 after using an elaborate formula expressing the delicate interplay of lousy weather, post-Christmas debt, time elapsed since yuletide indulgence, failed new year resolutions, motivation levels, and the desperate need to have something to look forward to''.


I know all about those failed new year resolutions. Oh boy. They really don't last long do they?

So, in the spirit of the day at hand, here is a few people that are more depressed than you. Feel good about yourself, there are people who hate today more than you. Check it out.


1. Brett Favre. All of a sudden the big lovable lug's schedule just got mighty clear. I wonder if he started to think about his favourite golf course the moment that attempted pass left his hands? Having a bad Monday at work? Imagine how Brett Favre feels this morning.

2. Tom Cruise. I am guessing Cruise isn't loving the attention his latest freak-you-out moment is garnering. In his latest outburst Cruise is filmed telling prospective Scientology recruits why they should hop on board the crazy train with lines like this; ''We are the way to happiness. We can bring peace and unite cultures." The video segment (which is mind blowingly insane) is causing a huge stir, and Cruise's overlords in the Scientology headquarters on Mars can't be too happy with the ruckus. Kudos to Nick Denton @ 'The Gawker' for bringing this latest 'Cruise trip out' moment to the people. Having said all that, maybe I am just jealous Cruise won the 'Freedom medal of valour' award, handed out by the good people of the Scientology world, to only the super fabulous best of the best, clearly.

''Woop woop woop!''

3. Al Harris. Built up pre game as a potential super star showdown, the matchup between the Packers all-world corner Al Harris, and the Giants Plaxio Burress, was a gigantic mismatch, with Burress catching about 567 passes for about 5,697 yards. Well, not quite, but I bet it sure feels like that to Harris this morning. Abused. Just, abused.

4. Several million gamblers. Anybody who doubled the Patriots 'tease' (-7.5) with the Packers (-4). Looked good when New England 'covered', looked good when the Pack stormed into the lead. Not so good when Favre had his little, well, brain malfunction.

5. Tom Brady. Just kidding, the Patriots QB is probably feeling pretty decent about himself this morning. Even if it is a Monday.


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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Brick Tamland picks football games

Alright gang! Let's do this thing. A quick checklist for 'The Emerald Diamond' and 'Playing for peanuts' director/creator, John Fitzgerald, who is insisting on picking the San Diego Chargers this weekend in New England, straight up.



I love lamp!

  • Game is in New England - check!
  • Ladanian Tomlinson is hurt and may not play -check!
  • Phillip Rivers is hurt and may not play - check!
  • Billy Volek is a 60% chance to be the QB for the Chargers - check!
  • Antonio Gates is hurt and probably won't play - Check!
  • Tom Brady set several passing records in 2007 - check!
  • Randy Moss and Wes Welker set several receiving records in 2007 - check!
  • The Chargers are coached by Norv Turner - check!
  • There are two former San Diego players on NE's defence with chips on their shoulders - check!
  • The Patriots under Brady and Bilichek have never lost a playoff game in New England - check!

I don't know, am I missing anything here?


Sheesh.


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Friday, January 18, 2008

Chargers @ Patriots - what the pundits are saying

Pretty big game at the Razor on Sunday night. San Diego travel to New England to take on the 17-0 Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Let's find out what the pundits have to say.

SI.com's Peter King picks the Patriots in something of a blow out. His reasoning? Largely the Charger's injury list;

''Wrong place, wrong time for the Chargers. It's going to be about 18 degrees at kickoff, 40 degrees colder than what they practice in before they fly east. No Antonio Gates, unless he visits Lourdes on Saturday. Philip Rivers will try to play without practicing all week. LaDainianTomlinson will play, but how healthy and effective will he be? That's not a recipe for success against New England's changeup defenses.''


He picks New England 30, San Diego 13

Vinnie Iyer of the sporting news picks the Patriots and his overall theme, which makes sense to me anyway, is that the Chargers need a stack of elements to go their way, while the Patriots can afford some slippage and still prevail. He also alludes to the head coaching battle;

''In a defense vs. offense chess match in which Bill Belichick and Norv Turner are moving several talented pieces, it's hard not to go with the Pats' head man, especially since Turner may be restrained by his team's injury issues.''


His pick? Patriots 42, Chargers 17

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today goes for New England. He focuses on the mental aspect of the game and says, interestingly;

''However, the Patriots thrive on playing with everything to lose. They are acutely aware of the stakes and have been for most of the season. That vision and focus is intense and set on one thing: a Super Bowl title. ''


His pick: Patriots 35, Chargers 20


Seven out of eight USA Today sports journalists pick the Patriots.
Six out of six (some hadn't picked yet) ESPN experts pick the Patriots.
Five out of five senior ESPN NFL writers pick the Patriots.

Of course, you just never know. That's the beauty of it, isn't it?

Enjoy the game




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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Getting a little Randy

As a Patriots fan, not exactly the headline you want to see in your email inbox a couple of days prior to the AFC Championship;


Obviously some media entities are treating this as huge news. The Globe also delves into the breaking story in great detail. As Moss's coach would say though, 'it is what it is', for all the bluster, this woman has only requested a restraining order, she hasn't pressed any charges or anything. Violence against women is deplorable in any shape or form, but so is extortion, and right now we have zero evidence to prove either.

Moss's take?

"They're false allegations, something I've been battling for like the last couple of days of threats going public if I didn't pay X amount of dollars, So before people rush quick to judgment, I think you need to find out the facts about, really, what's going on.''


Will this have repercussions on Sunday night's game? Sports Illustrated thinks so, but perhaps not in the way you would expect.

''It is an old football tactic, to circle the wagons tighter in the face of criticism or adversity, and for coaches and players to create motivation from the slightest disrespect. The Patriots have made an art form of this method. Whatever becomes of Randy Moss in the legal system, his travails will only make the Patriots tighter. Stronger. And better.''




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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A veritable garbage dump of links

Pretty interesting piece by ESPN's Len Pasquarelli on how the Patriots spread the field with four or more receivers on 75% of their offensive snaps. That's a heck of allot of offense.

Fox Sports Dayn Perry goes through an interesting list of the best clubs at each vital section of a major league club. He spells it out in black and white for every other AL team trying to make the World Series with his pick as 'best lineup', the Detroit Tigers.

''Put it all together, and you've got a lineup that's potentially above league average at every single spot. You've also got an offense capable of scoring 1,000 or more runs on the season.''

Think Dwayne Wade is enjoying life in Miami right now?

"Sometimes, it's like having a nightmare and never waking up from it,'' Wade told reporters the other day. "It's like game after game, day after day, you can't believe that it's happening to you, but it is.''

Not so much, eh?

Did you know Patriots wide out Donte Stallworth has an imaginary Martian friend?

''Stallworth said that was punishment from his alter ego, Nicco, whom Stallworth has described as an extra terrestrial being that resides on Mars when the receiver is off the field.''


well, he does, it's official.

Quick morality question. Imagine you were troubled and oft in-trouble Titans defender Pacman Jones. Would you be seen within fifty miles of a club called the 'Body Tap Strip Club'? I didn't think so. Whilst in same, would you punch one of the, eh, performers?! I didn't think so.

''Jones has been arrested six times since being drafted sixth overall in 2005, including two arrests in Georgia in 2006 that the Titans did not learn about until 2007. Jones was suspended for the 2007 season by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in April.''

What next for Pacman, random baby punching?

The inevitable Johan Santana update! Doesn't appear much is happening, but I like the patience the Red Sox front office is showing;

''The Red Sox have been very quiet as of late about their interest. A Jon Lester-Coco Crisp-Justin Masterson and possibly Jed Lowrie package could still be in play. But some Sox officials would prefer to keep their young players and not make the deal.''


Finally, a bunch of Texans have been reported as having seen a UFO. Seriously.

''Several dozen people -- including a pilot, county constable and business owners -- say they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.''


It is not reported whether they were in the cinema or not at the time.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bad music

So you know the way someone says to you, 'Hey, I have the worst song playing in my head', and you say 'What is it?' and they tell you and you share a laugh about it and move on?

Well I have reached the Everest of those moments.

I have the single most annoying song ever stuck, nay, wedged in my head. And I have no clue how it got there. Imagine my predicament. Stuck with this in my head all day.



It just doesn't get any worse than this. The song is so bad, the drummer actually died after making it (not kidding, he did, seriously!).

This is what happens when your headphones break and you have no mp3 player to keep your musical integrity intact.



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Friday, January 11, 2008

The bout to knock the other guy out! Jaguars @ Patriots, Saturday night

Who's tougher, those feisty Jags or the Patriots? That seems to be one of the key questions leading up to Saturday night's slug fest at the Razor. It's the question on everyones lips. Wherever you look you can't get away from comments and notes on the Jaguar's 'toughness'.

Be it...

''The Jaguars are known for their physical play''

Or...

''Physicality continues to be a hot topic. The Jaguars have the reputation of being a physical team with a grind-it-out running game''

Tackling this grey area ahead of the game first, one has to ask, when did the Patriots become a finesse team? Seriously? I guess I missed the memo. Everyone is tripping over themselves to write about how big and bad these Jaguars are, how 'tough' they are on both sides of the ball. Apparently the tough, hard fought games the Patriots played against The Eagles, Ravens and Giants meant nothing! The New England Patriots veteran lineup is full of 'tough' characters. You think, deep down, the Jaguars really want anything at all to do with Big Richard Seymor, Vince Wilfork, Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, or Tedy Bruschi?

As a life-long Patriots fan I am absolutely looking forward to the image of the feisty Jaguars strutting out onto the field at the Razor believing the hype that they are the tougher of the two sides, only to be absolutely flattened by the proud, hard nosed Patriots veterans.

Here's the thing. The Patriots can do both. They can play 'finesse' football, or they can punch you in the mouth. The Jaguars? They have to hope they get a lead and cling on to it. If the Patriots build an early lead, this one could get ugly in a hurry.

Now, don't get me wrong, the Jaguars have quietly become one of the superior teams in the AFC, and they are certainly a gritty bunch of characters. The issue at hand is, why has the media been slamming this notion into our heads that the Jaguars are going to waltz into the Razor and start knocking Patriots players around left right and centre? It just isn't going to happen.

In fact, several factors point clearly towards a Patriots win on Saturday.

Home field advantage. When was the last time Tom Brady lost a playoff game at home? Answer? Never. Never ever.

On a finer level, in terms of head to head battles, there is no glaring disparity greater than at the most vital position on the field, the Quarterback. That's the issue of David Garrard vs. Brady and playoff experience. Not even close basically. Not even in the same ballpark? Not even on the same planet.

Head to head play. The Pats have owned the Jags over the years, going 6-1 overall. That's comprehensive.

The actual physical team v team matchup doesn't offer much hope to the Jaguars either. Statistically the Jags can't stop the pass, and quite recently Mr Tom Brady set a league record for touchdowns passing. If Ben Roethlisberger can absolutely shred the Jaguars for over 330 yards, what exactly is Brady and his band of merry receivers going to do?!

Brady is obviously an enormous part of this equation. Recently ESPN listed Brady as having had the fifth greatest individual seasons in sports history.

That's the bottom line. The team that has the QB that had possibly the fifth greatest individual seasons in sports history is at home on Saturday night against an inexperienced team that can't stop the pass.

Were you one of those excited Jaguars cheerleaders before reading this, and are you having second thoughts now? Hey, it's going to be a great game. However, if you are that way inclined, how can you not be betting on the Patriots?

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Roy Keane on yellow cards

Irish soccer legend Roy Keane now manages my favourite club, Sunderland. One of the most enjoyable aspects of his reign to date, other than the fact that he rescued Sunderland from the purgatory known as the Championship and brought them to the promised land, or, Premiership, is the fantastic quotes he comes up with week after week.

Check this out, talking about his combative and often yellow carded (warned) midfielder, Dickson Etuhu;
''Some of Dickson's yellow cards could have been stopped. The only reason Dickson was not booked at Blackburn was because he did not play. He is away for the African Nations Cup, so hopefully he will not be booked for the next few weeks. I guarantee he is going to be booked in the African Nations Cup, but I cannot do anything about that."
Check out the t-shirt on this young Kenyan rioter

Finally, saw this on a Sunderland fan forum I check out daily, thought it was pretty funny.

'' Just seen on the SAFC website that Billy Ocean is coming to the Stadium of Light (Sunderland's home ground) next month....What position does he play????''




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Thursday, January 10, 2008

An open letter to ESPN's Gregg Easterbrook

Recently ESPN's Gregg Easterbrook has taken it upon himself to act as Judge and jury on all things New England Patriots related. His attacks have gone from football related to personal, culminating in this unbelievably pointed and aggressive attack on Patriots QB Tom Brady.

''The team's star, Tom Brady, is a smirking celebrity-chaser who dates actresses and supermodels but whose public charity appearances are infrequent. That constant smirk on Brady's face reminds one of Dick Cheney; people who smirk are fairly broadcasting the message, "I'm hiding something."''


Anybody who knows anything about the Patriots and Brady, and indeed the NFL, knows that Brady is anything but the character Mr Easterbrook attempts to portray. Brady is a 'first in last out' workaholic who's team mates absolutely love him. Public charity appearances? Brady is well known in the entire New England community for his charity work, the difference perhaps between him and Peyton Manning is Brady advertises both himself and his work less.

If you think, like I do, that to attack Tom Brady as personally as Mr Easterbrook chose to, was out of hand, go ahead and let him know by sending him a short message.

Here's mine;

Dear Sir,

I used to read your articles every week, and thoroughly enjoyed your interesting take on the NFL in particular.

I will no longer be reading you though, after your ridiculous, shameless, ugly, inane, asinine, acerbic and idiotic personal attack on Tom Brady.

I can not claim to know the man, however from what I have heard from my friends who do, he is an upstanding member of the community, a charming, gentle and humble character who works hard at his trade and pushes those around him to great sporting heights.

Your attack was poorly judged, poorly executed, and, well, just poor.

Really disappointing for someone as talented as you

Yours,
Cormac
Dublin, Ireland


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

You shouldn't to drugs, Mmmmmkay? - Ammonia sniffing in the NFL

The latest fad on the NFL sidelines? Sniffing ammonia! I am not kidding. NFL players have been seen sniffing from over-the-counter capsules of ammonia in hordes lately. It is apparently an old weight lifters trick to wake the athlete up before a 'big lift' or event.


In the Boston Globe Mike Reiss's article this week featured a reader asked about the recent wave of ammonia sniffing.

Here is the question and Mike's answer;

Q: At the beginning of the Pats/Giants game, there was a camera shot of Brady, Moss and Stallworth on the bench, with Stallworth seemingly giving Moss and Brady some substance out of his hand that they inhaled, like a smelling salts sort of thing. Can you shed light on this? Is this allowed? Paul Spina, Bridgewater

A: Received quite a few questions on this. The players were sniffing ammonia. That has apparently been part of the game for decades. I was unaware of it but it caught my eye while watching the broadcast, as the NFL Network broadcast locked in on Brady and Moss sniffing out of a cup held by receiver Donte' Stallworth.

Upon researching it a little, it is clear that this is not limited to the Patriot's sideline, according to this detailed report the team most 'guilty' of ammonia sniffing is, yes, the Jacksonville Jaguars. What does all this mean? Well, there is going to be a heck of allot of ammonia sniffing going on Saturday night at the Razor, for a start.

If you trawl through weight lifting and other athletics forums looking for answers on the effects ammonia sniffing can have on you, the general consensus is that, used sparingly, it can provide a quick, relatively harmless 'lift' to the athlete.

Where mature, older athletes are concerned, this shouldn't be an issue, however the problem is that these NFL stars in particular are sniffing ammonia very openly in front of massive television audiences, in other words, millions and millions of young, impressionable kids.



These kids are seeing their heroes take the substance and we all know how that works, 'If he does it I am doing it'. How long before the first ammonia sniffing fatality amongst young children? One thing was clear in my reading on the subject, in the hands of young children, ammonia can be a deadly substance.

Medical research has shown some pretty drastic side effects including paralysis and coma.

Who wants some 12 year old to take too much and end up in a coma? Time for the NFL to step in and tell their players to cop on, be mature about this and act like the role models they are. If they have to blast ammonia up their noses, do it in the locker room, out of sight of impressionable youngsters.

What's next? Jaguars players sniffing glue before heading in to the huddle?

I just don't know anymore!






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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Roger Clemens ducking, diving and dancing...

Ali at his finest didn't duck, dive and weave as well as Roger Clemens is doing right now.

My first question is, why on earth did Team Clemens release this tape? A taped phone conversation between him and his former trainer Brian McNamee. Check it out.



Even on a staged phone call, Clemens lied to the trainer Brian McNamee. During the call he said
''I don't know who is on the line'', even though he was taping the call with the intention of exposing 'lies'.

You know, to me, listening to the tape, and having read about Brian McNamee, it sounds like a guy who totally idolizes Clemens reaching out to him, almost desperate to help. Listening to the taped phone call, it sounds like McNamee is distraught at having caused Clemens's problems by causing the truth.


''What, me, do roids?!''

Interestingly a key moment comes when McNamee says 'You tell me what to do, let me know what to do''. To this, Clemens says nothing, he has no answer at all. Why didn't he just say here, 'Why did you lie to the inquest?'

After that McNamee repeatedly says over and over 'Tell me what you want me to do' and Clemens has no answer at all to that.

Gene Wojciechowski's piece on ESPN really takes Clemens's story to pieces. One line in particular really exposes Clemens.

''Maybe Pettitte didn't confide in Clemens about HGH. But Clemens still can't adequately answer a central question: Why would McNamee tell the truth about Pettitte's HGH use (Pettitte confirmed the Mitchell report allegation) but lie about injecting Clemens with PEDs?''



If you listen to the end of the conversation it gets particularly poignant, as McNamee breaks into tears describing how his wife has left him and he has run out of money. He doesn't sound like a liar at all, he sounds like a man who supported an idol and could possibly lose absolutely everything for doing so.

Read a bit about McNamee, once you do, you might agree there is alot more to this than a poor, bullied Major League pitcher being accused of taking steroids.


This whole story is getting more and more tangled.




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Big Fish, Little Pond -Let's talk about syndromes

First of all, my little brother gave me a cool little Christmas present, it's a little desk calender, flip style, with a collection of the best quotes by George W. Bush. Needless to say, it is hilarious. So, first up, the quote for January 8th 2008.

''We ended the rule of one of history's worst tyrants, and in doing so, we not only freed the American people, we made our own people more secure.''

So, who exactly does Bush preside over?!

Anyway. Onwards and upwards.

Have you ever witnessed the 'Big Fish, Little Pond' syndrome? It occurs where you are playing in a minority sport, for example, soccer in the States, or, baseball in Ireland. It's simply the funniest thing. Some guys within the sport in question act like they are the Pope of Chilli Town, sashaying around like royalty and trash talking incessantly.

It happens a good bit in Ireland, and I assume the UK too, amongst the major American sports groups. In Ireland, for example, there is a thriving basketball league, the growing baseball league and a competitive American football league also. Sometimes people in those leagues get a little ahead of themselves, be it on the field of play or at social events or in online forums.

A great example in Ireland is in the Softball community. Softball is played competitively in Ireland, as opposed to the States where it is generally treated as a recreational game, played at parties and often involving large quantities of beer. In Ireland however, the games often get very involved and serious.

Years ago I played for a fun, crazy bunch of folk called 'The Troops'. They played for a laugh and to get out with friends. They definitely played with tongue in cheek. One hilarious situation arose that describes beautifully the 'Big Fish, Little Pond' phenomenon.

One lovely sunny Monday evening the Troops played a knock out cup game against the B team of the Marlay Martyrs, ostensibly filled with 'B' level players from the 'powerful' Marlay 'A' side. There were a few 'A' level players watching though, bear that in mind. The game started and the underdog Troops (Marlay 'B' actually played in a higher division!) jumped out to a lead. Softball games in Ireland are 7 innings and in the 5th the Troops held a 10-8 lead. Marlay started to fear their 'B' team was going to be knocked out of the Cup. I noticed one of their 'A' team players, a fella who played for the Irish softball team, started to get ready to play.

I don't think the Troops would have complained at all however Marlay must have thought we would, if they brought in an 'A' level player. Why do I say that? Amazingly, one of their players, in between plays, feigned injury. He keeled over and pretended his ankle was hurt. I guess Marlay thought that was how they would sneak the 'A' level player in.

Sure enough, the big batter won the game in the 7th driving in 3 runs to lead Marlay 'B' past the Troops.

As is the custom, both teams went to a local bar afterwards. A few of the Troops started to playfully tease the young Marlay 'B' player about his 'injury' when he replied that he was told to fake it by his Captain. That's right. The team captain told a younger, 'B' level player to fake an injury so the 'A' level player could come in and rescue them from losing to an underdog.

Best part of the story? I was at the bar waiting for a couple of pints when I overheard the 'A' level player/hero telling one of his friends what sort of pitch he hit for the winning runs.

So, a ringer, who entered a pretty meaningless Irish slow-pitch softball cup game by way of one of the 'B' level players faking injury was standing at a bar gloating about driving in runs to win the game and describing the slow-pitch softball pitch, the actual type of pitch, that he hit to do so.

Unbelievable. How do you describe a slow-pitch softball pitch as anything other than 'Loopy and, well, slow'?

Now THAT is classic 'Big Fish, Little Pond' syndrome. I have buckets of them, and will regurgitate them slowly over the next few weeks. Aren't you excited?!


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Monday, January 07, 2008

Back to back to back to back...the best sporting moment of 2007

Way back in the heart of the 2007 baseball season Boston hosted New York in a game at Fenway park. Early on the Yankees held a 3-0 lead, however, the 2007 Red Sox served notice they might be something special in one incredible inning, blasting an incredible four home runs back to back to take a 4-3 lead over the hapless Yankees.

I actually happened to blog that game live. Here's what I wrote at the time.

Bottom of the third
0-3 Yanks

Nice grab by Abreu to start the third off a fly ball by Youkilis. Big Papi pops out to left and so far have only one hit against Chase 'Underwhelming' Wright. Morgan and Miller are busy telling us how much of a slump Manny is in when he blasts one over the Monster. 91mph fastball down the co...down the centre of the plate. May as well have been batting practice. Manny absolutely abused that pitch. That ball may need counselling.

JD Drew ladies and gentlemen. Back to back. Drew drives one to right field into the bleachers. Just like the that the Sox are back in it. Hanging 79mph breaking ball. Really sweet swing off the bat of Drew.

WOAH. I Like Mike! Back to back to back. Mike Lowell almost falls over he swings so hard at a change up, sending it five miles over the Monster into the night. Not often you see that. Back to back to back. Just like that, budda bing budda boom, 3-3 Sox. ESPN catches Manny celebrating in the dugout.

Okay now this is just mental. Back to back to back to back. Seriously!! I have never, ever seen anything like this. Four home runs in a row! The Captain! Jason Varitek absolutely blasts the ball over the Monster and the Sox take the lead. This is amazing. Four home runs in a row. Manny, Drew, Lowell and Varitek. Bang, bang, bang, bang. ESPN tell us this is the first time in Red Sox history they have hit four bombs in a row.

Wily Mo ends the little long ball bash party with a weak strike out. Never mind, suddenly my Heineken tastes a little bit sweeter. 'Oh my God' Jon Miller says, after watching a replay of all fours bombs. Indeed.


Absolutely amazing stuff. It's hard to find video of the incredible event thanks to MLB keeping it to themselves. I thought this was pretty super sweet though, some fella with way too much time on his hands used the actual audio from the game and a video game to show what happened. Check it out, pretty neat.



Nice, eh?

Ireland v Serbia Montenegro - European Pool B Championships 2004


The Top ten games in Baseball Ireland History (number 5)

Game Number 5
Ireland v Serbia Montenegro
Fuerth, Germany
European Pool B Championships 2004

Game files
Game: Ireland v Serbia Montenegro
Tournament: European Pool B Championships
Game type: Group game
Venue: Fuerth, Germany

Ireland travelled to Germany in 2004 for their fifth showing at the Pool B European Championships. The team was well coached, trained hard and had high expectations of getting in amongst the medals this time round, in only the organisations eight year of existence. To get to the playoff round they had to first handle Serbia Montenegro in the group games. This excerpt from my book on Irish Baseball breaks the game down for you like a fraction.

From 'Pitching in - ten years on the Irish baseball team'


''Crunch time followed. The game against the Serbian team took place a two hour drive away in Feurth, back where had started the trip with the friendly victory over the home town club side the Pirates. Taking the mound for the Irish, David Callaghan. Rooming with David for the tour I knew he was focused and ready for this game from the moment he woke up.

He just had ‘that’ look to him on the day. A certain focus. He looked like Tiger Woods before a big shot, a look that says ‘I am going to do this.’ He looked like Tom Brady, Derek Jeter or Dwayne Wade before a big game. Same look. Kind of clutch.

He was poised, threw his fastball hard and his curve ball had a wicked bite to it. There have been some amazing performances from pitchers in the Irish Jersey. Bill Beglane over Portugal in ’98. Bergerson against the Finns at the start of this tournament. Brian Morris against the Lithuanians in Sweden ’02. For me though, this was the most commanding, assured and confident performance ever. David was simply in control for the whole game. He threw a complete game, scattering six hits over nine innings striking out eight and inducing an amazing twelve ground ball outs, showing how in command he was over the Serbian batters.

He never looked in any trouble at all as he led the Irish team into the semi finals. David led us through the door that Kevin Corrigan kicked open. The game was tied in the eight at 3-3 with Tom Kelley on first base when K-Co blasted a two run shot, providing the final margin of 5-3 to the Irish.''


The games listed so far:

5. Ireland v Serbia Montenegro European Championships 2004
6. Ireland v Slocum Fenway Park 2001 (pictures here)
7. Ireland v Finland European Championships 2004
8. Ireland v Slocum RI tour 2001
9. Ireland v Lithuania Sweden 2002
10. Ireland v Serbia Montenegro European Championships 2004 3rd


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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Soccer football - it's just super fab, and ESPN knows all about it.

When you are looking for information on MLB, the NFL or the NBA, well you pretty much can find it on the internet without breaking into any kind of a sweat.

You want Doug Flutie's career statistics? Not a problem. You want an update on the Lakers v Orlando? Not an issue, plenty of sites available for that. US sports coverage on the internet has reached incredible levels of depth and indeed speed of availability.

Soccer?

Not so much really. Sure, you can go to BBC sports or Sky sports on the web, and generally get relatively up to date information, just not up to the same level as US sports are covered on their respective sites.

showdown between Well wasn't I just in for a whopper of a shock when, looking for a preview on tonight's La LigaMallorca and Barcelona match I tried ESPN and it's 'Soccernet' section. I have to say, I was well impressed. Check out the Barcelona preview, for example. It's excellent. Up to date, informative and full of statistics and trends.

I will definitely be using ESPN soccernet in future, well worth a look if you are into your soccer in any way shape or form.

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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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