Friday, February 29, 2008

The making of the Emerald Diamond - Part 2

'Emerald Diamond' director John Fitzgerald's candid 'making of' series is starting to really take on character and style. His first 'making of' piece set the scene, part two is an excellent read. If you are interested in either Irish baseball or even documentary movie making, his 'making of' series is an entertaining, informative read. Check out part two right here.

What is all the fuss about anyway?

The Emerald Diamond is a 90-minute documentary about the Irish National Baseball Team. The film's budget of $70,000 was financed on credit cards by first-time filmmaker John Fitzgerald.

The film debuted to a sold out crowd in New York on February 25, 2006 and has been seen in over 20 theaters across the country since then. It has been featured by The New York Times, New York Post, FoxNews, National Public Radio and has also been covered extensively by the Irish media. Reuters came to Corcaigh Park, home of Irish Baseball, and reported the story as such.

Frank McNally of the Irish Times wrote this brilliant article after he had seen the Emerald Diamond at the Sugar Club in Dublin.

On November 12, 2006, "The Emerald Diamond" won the Critic's Choice Award at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival in Cooperstown, NY. The award was selected and presented by film critic Jeffrey Lyons.


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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hail to the Chief!

Check out who's running the White House now!




If he ran he would probably take Massachusetts, and maybe Texas too. Pretty funny story about Josh Beckett's first visit to the White House, back in 2003, courtesy of the guys @ 'Surviving Grady'.

Josh Beckett:
"We were the Marlins. I don’t think anyone knew we were in town,” said Beckett, who like every other player on the team had to get to Washington on his own because it was before spring training. “I remember it was a pain . . . because of security. I showed up at the White House with my luggage, and they didn’t really like me arriving with it.”



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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Making the movie: the story behind the making of 'The Emerald Diamond'

If you are a fan at all of either Baseball Ireland or the documentary on same called 'The Emerald Diamond' then this blog post/story by the ED's director John Fitzgerald is a must read.

The Making of "The Emerald Diamond" - Part 1

Who is John Fitzgerald? Glad you asked.

John Fitzgerald is the producer and director of "The Emerald Diamond" - a 90-minute documentary about Ireland's National Baseball Team. "The Emerald Diamond" won the Critic's Choice Award at the 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival. It has been screened in over 30 theaters in the US and Ireland and is currently being aired on the America One Television Network. For more information, visit www.IrishBaseballMovie.com
Media Inquiries: Email John Fitzgerald




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Monday, February 25, 2008

Beckett Version .08

For Red Sox fans, Josh Beckett's fantastic 2007 output amounted to a season for the ages. Incredibly, Beckett is still learning and probably hasn't even approached his peak as yet. The future looks bright. How about the immediate future? It's a fools game to read too much into spring training results, more so into early spring training showings, however one can't be anything but heartened to hear the comments coming out of the Sox camp on the young ace.

Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell said;

"I think it's always impressive to see Josh Beckett go about his work, I think any time we talk about our pitching staff, we always start with him. But he looks as strong and as sharp as he did this time last year.''


Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia had to face Beckett in live batting practice and had this to say about the big Texan;

"He's ready to go, midseason form. He's locating every pitch. That was the first time I'd ever faced him, so it was quite an experience. Man, it was tough. He's got great stuff. His changeup was great, his curveball, he was locating that. He's ready to rock."


You have to be careful not to get ahead of yourself, but, sounds encouraging, no?


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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Those dirty little Yankees

Hey, isn't it kind of funny that somewhere out there is a eight year old kid wondering if the New York Yankees will ever win the World Series in his or her lifetime?

Anyway, I have a question. With the recent propensity of the US sporting media in general to absolutely bludgeon any and every story to death, how on earth has the fact that so many players of the Yankee 'dynasty' of the 90's appeared on the Mitchell report pretty much escaped under the radar?

The New York Yankees won four titles in the 'Joe Torre era', a time when people called them a dynasty and Yankee fans crooned about not only their rings but also the 'character' and the veritable nobility of the team. The Yankees won the title in 96', 98', 99' and 00'. The following players were on all or some of those teams; Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Mike Stanton, Darren Holmes, Roger Clemens, Mike Stanton, Jason Grimsley, Daniel Naulty, David Justice, Jose Canseco, Glenallen Hill, Denny Neagle. All those players also appeared in the Mitchell report.

Noted, celebrated and self-admitted steroid user Jason Giambi actually didn't start swinging his big, steroid beefed-up bat until 2002.

That's twelve players off the Yankee 'dynasty' edition who were named as possible steroid abusers. I guess my question is, with all the talk of this team and that team, or this person and that person, having an asterix put beside their achievements, why not the clearly somewhat drugged up Yankee 'dynasty' of the late nineties?

Twelve players off the squads from that era constitutes more than a footnote. Particularly when you consider some of the actual players. Former Hall of Fame candidate is throwing absolutely everyone under the bus in his pathetic, ugly attempts to stay out of jail for perjury. Even his own wife and former best friend Andy Pettitte aren't safe as he hacks his way to safety.

Poor Pettitte seems to actually be trying to do the right thing, apologising left right and centre to everyone who will listen

Chuck Knoblauch might have wanted to apologise too, however his apology would probably miss, bounce off a pole and hit a woman in the front row.

As Clemens continues his ugly one man war to clear his name and sully everybody else's, my question remains, how on earth has this story pretty much escaped under the radar? Anybody know?



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Monday, February 18, 2008

Willie Gray, stop wasting everbody's time!!

What an incredible, disgusting waste of time.
Former St. Louis Ram sues Pats over Super Bowl taping
A lawsuit filed Friday by a former St. Louis Rams player and others seeks millions of dollars in damages from the alleged taping of Rams practices by the New England Patriots before the 2002 Super Bowl. The Patriots won the game 20-17 in the Superdome. The $100 million suit, filed on behalf of former Rams player Willie Gary in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, names the Patriots, team owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick.
All this is doing is tying up court time that could be used for actual real legal matters. This idiot Willie Gary should be ashamed of himself. The most pathetic aspect is that this clown, Gary, was sitting around and he realised that maybe he could get rich over the asinine, media-inflated storyline that has been doing the rounds. More ridiculously, someone actually agreed to run with it for/with him.

Someone slap Willie Gray upside the head and tell him to get his act together. Sadly he isn't the one to blame. The modern US sporting media has become a frothing, out of control monster that bludgeons stories and non-stories alike to death in an almost obsessive compulsive fashion.

Where is it ever going to end?


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Friday, February 15, 2008

Let Shaq sing you into the weekend break

Tough week at work? 'The man' getting you down? Those pesky Giants fans still sending you Superbowl related jokes?

No problem, Shaq is here to dunk away those blues.

I can't help it. I am a Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal fan. The guy just cheers me up. He is as entertaining as he is skillful, in my book anyway. Check out this fantastic clip from when Shaq won the NBA Championship with the LA Lakers. Oh and have a good weekend.



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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Looking forward

You do indeed have to love this time of year. I have had at least four or five of my baseball-fan friends email me, text me or just good old fashioned say to me, 'I love this time of year!'.

With that in mind, ten things to look forward to with Spring Training just around the corner.

10. Johan and the Mets. Should be very interesting to see how Santana gets on in the NL. Logically, he should be almost unhitable, however Barry Zito's struggles showed you can't just go from the AL to the NL and expect to put up '99 Pedro like numbers straight off the bat. If Santana is 'on' however, the Mets will be an almost AL like, NL powerhouse.

9. The continued rehabilitation of Patriot nation. Even the deepest cuts heal over time. Every day closer to the first Josh Beckett fastball of the summer is a step towards rehabilitation, for those of us who's insides were askew after the not-so-super-bowl.

8. Go Jocoby, go! Just how fast is Jacoby Ellsbury? Let's find out! The human spark plug is going to get playing time in '08 and he should prove to be an absolute nightmare for opposing teams while churning up the base-paths. He could prove one of the most exciting aspects of the '08 Red Sox season.

7. Manny's free agency year. Yes, that's right. Manny is in his free agency year. Does this mean he goes on an unbelievable tear and gets back to his 150/40 potential? Or is he just getting old?

6. The Kansas City Royals. Only kidding. Sorry Rich.

5.The dirty nine. Did you know that NINE members of that late nineties Yankees 'dynasty' were mentioned in the Mitchell report? That's right, nine. Think anyone in the 'established' media talks about this in the coming months? We'll see, although it seems to, so far, be slipping under the radar.

Just say no!

4. A man called Lester. Jon lester is someone who 'benefits' from Curt's spaghetti shoulder. He can now relax and pitch and not worry, at least until the all-star game, about losing his spot in the rotation. Lester pitched well last season including a couple of gutsy playoff showings. If he pitches within himself and get's a little bit of luck along the way, what's stopping the big lefty from posting 12-15 wins?

3. Watching too much baseball on MLBTV.com. This isn't a pitch on MLB's part, it's not like they need it! However MLB TV is the greatest invention since sexual intercourse.

2. The David Ortiz walk-off home run. Coming soon to a baseball park near you.



1. The incredible potential of the 2008 Boston Red Sox.


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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jim Everett v Jim Rome: A classic

I have never, ever been a (ESPN 'shock jock') Jim Rome fan. I find him gaudy, prone to sensationalism and basically, well, cheap and tacky. His ludicrous comments on Soccer, in particular, boil my blood.

Imagine my delight when I found this little doozy, a clip of former NFL QB Jim Everett basically knocking Rome out of his seat after Rome pushed him too far. Superb. Watch. Enjoy. Your welcome!





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Saturday, February 09, 2008

The stomach punch game: a list

It has taken me pretty much a week to put my thoughts together on the Superbowl. Even now they are mixed, troubled and twisted. What on earth were the Patriots doing not taking the three points when offered, instead going for it on fourth and ninety seven or whatever it was? How did they let the Giants complete those long late passes?

The conclusion brought that age old, tried and tested feeling, the 'stomach punch' finish. A game, a result that leaves you feeling as if someone has quite literally punched you in the stomach.

So, on that note, one Irish/American's all time top five sporting 'stomach punch' games. I would say 'enjoy', but...well...


Number five: Ireland 2 Macedonia 3
(World cup qualifier 1997)

Not a heart-breaker, more humiliating than anything. A terrible result for a talented Irish team. The woeful result came with Ireland wearing a horrific, high visibility jersey that, as far as I know, was ditched after the loss. Irish Times journalist Peter Byrne described it (and the game itself) as such;
'Garbed in something approaching fluorescent amber, Ireland often projected the appearance of a gang of council workers . . . but significantly less productive.''

Ireland were awful, and not only gave away two penalties but also had Jason Mcateer sent off late in the game when trying to get back on even terms. Steve Staunton described it as the worst result of his professional career. Zero fun to play in, it was equally dismal to watch.

Number four: New England Patriots 14 New York Giants 17

Come on, seriously, it ends like this?

I was quite literally numb after this one. Walked around in a daze for a while, head spinning. The glorious 2007 NFL season was not meant to end like this. With a whimper, and not a bang. The Patriots beautiful season went up in smoke as the tired defence couldn't stop the Giants driving all the way field to snatch the title right at the end. Certain aspects made for an even worse experience than the defeat itself. The idiots rooting against the Patriots for no reason other than New England's (to that point anyway!) success. The fact that many of the players will no doubt retire unless Bill can talk them into trying one more time. The season ending 18-1, not 19-0. Horrific finalé, no doubt about it.

Number three: Ireland 1 Spain 1 (Spain win 3-2 on penalties)
World Cup 2002 - knockout rounds

Game over, that's it, I am so cycling drunk into the city and falling asleep at 'Attack of the clones'

Picture an entire nation totally swept up in the excitement generated by a huge game like this. Ireland quite literally came to a stand still for this game. With the time difference between Japan and here it was played around noon, and still the bars were jam packed all over the country as people cheered on the boys in green. Ireland had played with great character in the tournament, scoring in the last minute to draw with Germany (I get chills just thinking about Robbie Keane's goal in that one) and played superbly against a vastly superior Spanish side, on paper at least. Amazingly Ireland had several chances to actually win the game, a late missed penalty would have put them through at the expense of a Spanish side full of big name stars.

Alas it wasn't to be and Irish hearts were quite literally broken by a cruel penalty shootout. Some of the Spanish players were too tired and spent to celebrate and flopped to the grass exhausted after the titanic show down.

The bar I was in emptied quietly, people too upset to break the game down amongst each other. Me, I cycled into the city, half drunk, with the intention of seeing the new Star Wars movie (Attack of the Clones!). I forgot to lock my bike and, after buying about $20 worth of cinema junk food, fell asleep only waking up in the last 20 minutes of the movie. I spent about a half hour trying to unlock my already unlocked bike and finally got home only to find out I was locked out. It was a beautiful summers evening and I sat at the door going over the game in my head until my room mate finally kicked me awake and let me in.

In my defence, it was a horrifically tough loss. One the Irish soccer team never fully recovered from, and that game was the highest we have climbed since.

Number two: New England Patriots 10 Chicago Bears 46
Superbowl XX

Why was this one worse than the most recent debacle? I'll tell you why. I cried, that's why. I couldn't have been any more excited about this game, and was completely deflated when Tony Eason and the Patriots simply forgot to turn up. I cried my little heart out actually, only barely able to hold it in until my Dad had finally gone to bed. I actually remember staring into the dying embers of the fire, wondering if any team I rooted for would ever win anything. Now that's a stomach punch game. Right there.

Number one: Boston Red Sox 5 New York Yankees 6
2003 ALCS

You can't top this one. The Red Sox were a bullpen call away from finally beating the hated swine from the Bronx and casting aside thousands of years of angst. I will never ever forget the disgusting sinking feeling that grabbed hold in the pit of my stomach as I watched that pop fly 'home-run' slip over the left field wall and the roided-up pinstripes celebrating as Tim Wakefield dropped to his knees on the mound. My heart would have gone out to the guy had it not been in absolute shreds.

Sure, 2004 more than made up for it, but hey, that's another posting.


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Friday, February 08, 2008

Irish born players in Major League Baseball

In memory of Joe Cleary (December 3, 1918 - June 3, 2004)

There was a time, believe it or not, where Irish born players were actually a mainstay in the Major Leagues. Granted, that time was almost a hundred years ago, but, there was a time!

It is not too far a stretch either to say that baseball was actually 'born' in Ireland, by way of 'Rounders'.

''The consensus of historians is that it evolved from bat-and-ball games, such as rounders, brought to the continent by British and Irish immigrants.'' quote from..

You can find an alphabetical list of baseball players born in Ireland who played in the major leagues from 1871 through 2004 here. The stories of the players are colourful and nostalgic. Take 'Irish McIlveen' for example.

''Henry Cooke McIlveen, commonly nicknamed "Irish" because he was born in Belfast, Ireland, is a former Major League Baseball outfielder. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1906 and the New York Highlanders in 1908-1909''

Imagine coming from Ireland, looking to find a start in the 'new world', and ending up playing professional baseball. Was it a skill that came from hand eye coordination games like Rounders and Hurling? How was it that Irish players took so easily and successfully to the game? Someday someone will research these guys fully and comprehensively, and it will spin itself into a wonderful tale.

For now, Baseball Ireland, the current incarnation, does its own very small bit by naming their annual awards after several of the most popular of the Irish born Major League stars of old.


Patsy Donovan was probably the most successful Irish-born major
leaguer, having played the most games and boasted the best batting average. He was also responsible for bringing a certain Babe Ruth to the attention of the Red Sox. He starred with the Pirates for eight seasons, notching six consecutive .300 seasons and serving as player-manager in 1897 and 1899. In current Irish League Baseball, the player with the highest batting average and enough plate appearances is awarded the 'Patsy Donovan' Batting Champion Award.



The Irish League MVP is awarded the 'Andy Leonard 'League MVP Award. Past winners are Darran O'Connor of the Spartans and Steve Divito of the Hurricanes.

Andy Leonard from Co Cavan, was indeed one of the nine "First Boys of Summer" and the only Irish-born player on the World Champion Cincinnati Red Stockings team of 1869 and the very first in professional baseball. He continued his feats and helped create and sustain the original Boston Red Stockings championship dynasty from 1872 through 1876 and again in 1878, competing all tolled in six world championships.

He had the joint 2nd best career average for an Irish player of .299. He was said to be the finest left fielder of his generation. He took particular delight in returning in 1874 during an exhibition tour of the Red Stockings and the runner-up Philadelphia Athletics. In his diary and press clippings of that year, Andy and his life-long friend Harry Wright were the leading batsmen as the Yanks walloped the then reigning Marybone champions in London at their own game, cricket. Good times.

The best pitcher in Irish League play over the course of a season is awarded the 'Tommy Bond' Best Pitcher Award. Past winners of this award are Chaime Cuevas and Shaun Miskiman. Tommy Bond was born in Granard in Co Longford in 1856. He became the first triple crown pitcher when he led the National League with 40 wins, 170 strikeouts, and a 2.11 ERA for Boston in 1877.

The best offensive players in Irish League play are awarded the `Dirty' Jack Doyle Silver Slugger Award. Pat Nolan is a previous winner of this award. Ireland native `Dirty' Jack Doyle is one of 20 major leaguers to have played 100 games at four different positions. Of all the Irish players he had the most career doubles (315), home runs (26), RBI (968) and highest slugging percentage (.385). He was 2nd behind Patsy Donovan in triples, runs, steals and average. He was also reputedly baseball's first pinch hitter, coming off the bench to single for the Giants in 1892. Doyle was born in Killorglin, Co Kerry.

All told, forty major-leaguers were born in Ireland: 39 were born in the 19th century, and one (so far!) in the 20th. So who was the last Irish Born player to play in the Major Leagues? Joseph Christopher Cleary (December 3, 1918 - June 3, 2004) was a Major League Baseball pitcher during part of the 1945 season. The right-hander was born Tuesday, December 3, 1918, in Cork, Ireland. He was the last native of Ireland to appear in a major league game. Cleary was 26 years old when he broke into the big leagues on August 4, 1945, with the Washington Senators.

In his only major league appearance, Joe Cleary gave up seven runs while getting one out. The one out was a strikeout, as described by Joe himself to the Baltimore Post.

"The man was up to bat for the second time during the inning. He hit two wicked fouls down the third base side. I decided to waste a pitch at that point. I did such a good job of wasting it, that it sailed about two feet to the right of home plate, and by the time the catcher had retrieved it, the runner on first had made it to third. The batter was laughing so hard that he totally missed my next pitch and struck out." - Joe Cleary in The Baltimore Post

He passed away June 3, 2004 at the age of 85 in Yonkers, New York. Joe is buried at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York.

Syrupy as it is, I would love, some day, to visit Joe Cleary in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery and let him know that baseball is growing in Ireland. Let him know maybe some day we can update the record books and Joe can come back to being just one of the Irish lads that played in the majors, not the last one to do so.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The games you make up in your youth

It was 1983

The statistics under the New England Patriots Logo read 0-0. Zero Suprbowl wins and zero Superbowl losses. With my vivid schoolboy imagination I imagined years ahead and pictured the score as reading a magnificent 2-0, or even a perfectly respectable 1-1. Never in my wildest dreams did I see it as an astonishing 3-2, with a chance at 4-4 tonight.

I had this game I used to play in my youth. It involved dice and cut out squares with each NFL teams logo and Superbowl record on them. The squares were cut from a flashy newspaper supplement on the NFL.

I cut them out and taped them to sturdy little pieces of carboard.

I would organise a scheculde on a complicated looking paperbound matrix of games and use the dice (Dungeons and Dragons dice, no less) to produce the scores. Pat the Patriot won many, many Superbowls in those imagined games.

I wish I knew where those squares were now.

Anway, this is what it all means, to me in anyplace. Tonights game gives the team I rooted for as a boy the chance to completely blast away that stagnant 0-0 on that little square I made all those years ago.

Thats the way I have decided to look at it anyway

Enjoy the game.


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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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