Monday, March 31, 2008

Tough crowd..

Oh man. Tough crowd!




I actually almost felt sorry for the chap.

While reading about the game and the incident overall online I came across this well presented, well written blog on the Nationals. Isn't it funny how people see situations differently?
''The most anticipated (action) was The Presidential First Pitch. To most everyone's credit--George W. Bush was not overly booed. In fact--there were far more cheers than jeers.''
I don't know, I mean, you tell me, was that booing, or cheering? Sounded a little like raucous booing. Hey though, that's just me. Maybe Kevin Youkilis popped out of the dugout at the exact moment Bush walked on to the field and maybe, perhaps there were thousands of Sox fans there and they started their 'Youuuuuuuuuk' chant that sounds like 'boo'.


Anyway
Altogether now...
Booooooooooooooooooooo!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Oh, Bartolo!!

If someone sidled up to you and asked you, 'Hey, guess what year Bartolo Colon won the AL Cy Young?' - well, you might look at them a little funny, be that as it may though, would you know what year it was?

2005.

That's right, 2005, that recently. Pretty funky huh? Bartolo, still not speaking English to reporters, still devouring cheeseburgers faster than Jabba the Hutt and Vince Wilfork combined, had a pretty decent outing for the Red Stockings in spring training yesterday, and now the word on the street is he might be the front runner for the fifth starter spot in the Sox pitching rotation.


Let's have a peek at Bartolo's brilliant resumé
  • Win-Loss 146-95
  • Earned run average 4.10
  • Strikeouts 1,542
  • Pitched no-hitter in 1997 as a member of the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
  • 2005 AL Cy Young Award
  • Two-time All-Star (1998, 2005).
  • Won his only start of the 1998 ALCS pitching a four-hit, one-run complete game.
  • Has pitched 31 complete games, ranking 16th among active players as of the end of 2006.
If the chap can stay healthy, keep his fastball around 92mph, let's face it, he could be a superb number five starter, heck, if he managed the above he would be a decent third starter on many AL teams, and practically an ace on the Royals and a bunch of NL teams.



Bartolo in his glory days

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Game two in running

Thank God for ESPN. Without them I would not know that..
  • Manny Ramirez is a good hitter
  • Brandon Moss is a rookie
  • Japan is not the United States
  • Papelbon likes to dance
  • Rich Harden is occasionally injured
Honestly, where would we be without them?!

On to the game

First inning
Boston 0 Oakland 0

10:04 am in Dublin, Ireland. I don't know how I feel about this, whilst it's nice being completely awake for a game, there is something about late night baseball, well, watching it late here in Ireland, I mean. A start this early feels like watching, for example, Manchester United v Arsenal at 12 pm on a Sunday morning, just a bad time to watch sporting drama unfold.

First off, I will go on record as saying I like seeing Crisp getting a chance. It's a balance thing, to me, and great man management by Tito. Crisp is a hard working veteran and deserves a chance to show his stuff this early in the season, whilst Jacoby needs to stay grounded, and this move is the type of move to ensure he keeps his head on his shoulders.

First interesting moment, Rich Harden threw pitch one, and his arm did not fall off.

Pretty cool that Youkilis is just two games away from tying the MLB record for most games at first base without an error, 193 in total. That's pretty excellent, to say the least. Imagine playing 191 (Youk's current mark) games without making a single error? Absolutely incredible.

Harden gets through Dusty and Youk but walks Ortiz, and looks a little like he would prefer to pitch to Manny. I wonder did he see yesterday's game?

Well, as it turns out, maybe he did. Harden strikes out Manny and the half inning is over.

Bottom of the first
Boston 0 Oakland 0

Lester starts off well, breaks the lead off batters bat. Is it just me or does Lester look a little bigger than during the playoffs? Am I right in saying that Lester is clearly tabbed as the third starter, while Schilling is on the DL?

21 minutes into the game and there has already been three shots of Dice-K sitting in the Red Sox dugout. Who is pandering to who there?! ESPN to Japanese viewers maybe?

Daric Barton, eh?

'Darling, what shall we call our son?'
'How about Daric?'

I guess they already knew too many Dereks. Barton walks and Lester denies himself a 1-2-3 inning. If Lester can avoid doing this, he will have a great season, if not, he will struggle. Having watched him pitch a lot, his Achilles heel is a pretty high pitch count.

Fly out to right and Lester gets out of the inning. No score in the first.

Top of the second
Boston 0 Oakland 0

Isn't it great to see Mike Lowell back at third base? Remember all that guff about A-Fraud coming to Boston? Hard to believe people even thought that a realistic possibility. Lowell flies out and ESPN show Brandon Moss's long ball from the morning before again, and yes, I could watch that several times over.

That young man has a healthy cut on him, maybe too much so, as he strikes out wildly.

Varitek is now 0-5 with four K's to start the season. Yeesh. Is it September already?!

Bottom of the second
Boston 0 Oakland 0

Lester hangs a slow curve or something to the second batter and it gets ripped into left for a double, with one out. Again, you have to think, all Lester needs to make the jump to the next level is to up his concentration levels a little. That was just a lazy pitch. To emphasise the point, Lester blazes a beautiful outside-corner fastball by the next batter.


To digress real quickly, ESPN love talking about Manny/Ortiz 'watching' their home runs, how come there was no comment on either Oakland batters 'watching' their bombs yesterday morning? Both stopped, watched, and finally hopped out of the box on their trot. Just call it both ways fellas, that's all I am saying.

Actually, as Lester blows high cheese past Hannahan for the second out, I find myself wondering, why no radar gun? Any particular reason, I wonder?

Kurt Suzuki, the A's catcher, his .151 off lefties last season. That is not good. Lester falls behind him maddeningly 3-0. The guy hit .151 off lefties in '07! Lester, nevertheless, walks him. First strike pitches would improve his game and my sanity ten fold. Suddenly there is two on, with two out, with the immortal Chris Denorfia at the plate. Naturally he smacks a single and the A's take the lead 1-0. Nobody likes to beat a dead horse (has anyone actually ever really beaten a dead horse?! Seems kind of morbid?!) but if Lester had just gone right after the guy who hits .151 off lefties, well, you know what I am getting at here.

Absolutely beautiful inside curve to strike out Buck to end the inning and stop the damage, and as the ball zips in and the batter freezes and the umpire grunts loudly, strike three, you have to wonder, why oh why does Lester make things so hard on himself?! This guy has the potential to win 17 games in '08, with a little self discipline. On to the third, Sox one down.

Top of the third
Boston 0 Oakland 1

Coco! Anyone having Coco Pops, right now? As Crisp bats? As ten million new members of Red Sox nation cry 'Why no Jacoby?!', Crisp does himself no favours by striking out looking.

Shot number four of Dice-K in the dugout, without any reason to close to Dice-K. Suddenly ESPN jump in and explain! It's a 'world-feed' and the shots are coming from Japanese television. That explains pretty much everything.

Harden walks Lugo and the smallest guy with the biggest swing is up, Pedroia at the plate. Dusty gets under one and lifts it to center for the out. Awesome story introduced out of nowhere by ESPN, Canseco coming out and saying that not only did A-Rod approach Jose for steroids, he also hit on his wife! Good lord. I guess this will be the next book from the pen of Jose Canseco?

Jose - author, player, creative-mind

The Red Sox make Harden work, and increase the odds of the oft-injured pitcher's arm simply falling to the ground mid-pitch. Lugo steals second, Youkilis walks and up comes Big Pappi, who promptly pops up. I have to come out and say it, for all Lugo and Youk's hard work getting on base, how does Big Papi feel about just getting up there and hacking wildly at pitches out of the strike zone? It is exactly what just happened, so why doesn't anyone ever mention this? I guess probably because every 13-15 times the ball ends up 5,000 feet away on a street somewhere.

On to the bottom of the inning.

Bottom of the third
Boston 0 Oakland 1

First batter and another full count for Lester. A walk and runner on first. Throw more strikes Jon Lester!

First and third and one out with Emil Brown up to bat, and ESPN says 'maybe' Brown can redeem himself here. Sure enough, he does so, blasting a huge three run shot to left on a lazy pitch from Lester. Suddenly Boston has plenty to do to get out of this 0-4 hole.

I'll tell ya, nothing like a 675 foot Emil Brown blast to take the steam, the zip, out of your early inning baseball buzz.

Varitek makes a nice catch to get Lester out of the inning. Oakland four zip up. Bla.

Top of the fourth
Boston 0 Oakland 4

Tee hee hee. ESPN, talking about good hitters knowing the weight of a bat, '...the feel of their tool in their hand..'. Chuckle chuckle. Please God don't let me be the only one to mention this. I had to say it though, come on. No? Okay. Moving along.

Manny takes a few wild cuts and sits down, while Lowell slices the Red Sox first hit of the ball game to left field.

Brandon Moss needs to stop watching Big Pappi and Manny take BP. He takes three inane cuts and sits down. Harden is now up to 7 strike outss and gets out of the inning without breaking a sweat. That's right ESPN, Rich Harden IS in charge of this ballgame right now.

Bottom of the fourth
Boston 0 Oakland 4

Lester readies his ship with two quick outs, which is naturally, a promising sign. He even adds an exclamation mark with a strike out to end the inning. Nicely done young man. Super quick inning.

Top of the fifth
Boston 0 Oakland 4

I was laughing at ESPN being surprised that they sell Sushi at the ball park in Japan when the inning ended with a double play. That was a quick one. Quicker than the bottom of the fourth even. Moving along.

Bottom of the fifth
Boston 0 Oakland 4

What's the deal? I make a phone call and the inning is over before I am finished. What's going on here?!

On to the sixth.

Top of the sixth
Boston 0 Oakland 4

Right, I have to eat, going to get lunch and when I get back I expect the score to be 4-4!

Top of the seventh
Boston 1 Oakland 4

Well, apart from Manny's bomb, no great change. The Sox batters have to be looking forward to hitting against Oakland's bullpen after Harden struck out nine. Oh hey so ask me what I got for lunch? That's right, sweet chilli noodles and Hanyang Roll Kimbap, with extra seaweed. Let's just say it was 'for the occasion' and all that. I couldn't resist.

Captain Varitek's NINTH consecutive season opening start this year. That's about all you can say as he strikes out again. Yikes.

Coco! Nice double, sliced to right, shame there is two out when he smacks it. Sure enough Lugo grounds out. Hard to see the comeback today, the bats look lifeless.

Bottom of the seventh
Boston 1 Oakland 4


I have high, sky high hopes for Manny Delcarmen for 2008. I like the kids moxy. He fields his position well too, picking up a squibber and throwing the guy out at first. Nice play to start the inning.

He then jams Daric Barton for another ground ball out and appears to be in good shape so far.

Isn't it odd seeing Mike Sweeney playing for the A's? Having played so many years for awful Kansas teams, I wonder how he feels about playing for such a young A's team? He slaps a little single to center, to keep the inning going.

Sweet offspeed pitch to end the inning. Manny Delcarmen, a strong 2008, you heard it here first!

Top of the eighth
Boston 1 Oakland 4


Boston running out of at bats fast.

Did the sky fall anywhere? I only ask as Keith Foulke is pitching for the A's, against Boston, again. Hey, love him or hate him, Foulke looks like Foulke version 2004 right now, doesn't he? Maybe he is back to full health, and maybe the A's got themselves a bargain.


Remember me?

Foulke earns his days pay check by working through Ortiz and Ramirez to get out of the eighth inning. Beautiful strike out pitch on Ramirez.

Bottom of the eighth
Boston 1 Oakland 4


Brian Corey seems like a decent little reliever, no? He throws some good stuff. Interesting to see him pitch again after last night. Could be a nice fit into the bullpen mix.

...and just as I say that, Oakland tag on another run and it's 5-1 and Boston have hit a bit of a wall on day two of the season.

You kow though, you can't really blame the pitching here, not entirely. Five runs is not a deluge of runs, and one run is not going to win you many ball games. That's for sure.

Top of the ninth

Boston 1 Oakland 5


So here we go, Boston has to get four runs off former Sox pitcher Alan Embree to extend this particular game further.

Who better to start the rally than Iron Mike Lowell? Base hit to left. Sean Casey, first at bat for the Boston Red Sox. Oh boy, ground ball double play. What's the sound of deflation?

Oakland wins as Varitek strikes out, yes, again. So there we go, 1-1 to start 2008. So much for 162 wins anyway!

Tip of the cap to Foulke and Embree, think they enjoyed that?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Let's get this started..

So here we go again. Great time of the year, when every MLB team has a record of 0-0. Heck, even the Baltimore Orioles have a gentleman's chance of winning it all. Yes, the Orioles!

The sporting media at large is absolutely chock full of stories on the World Champion Boston Red Sox and their chances of repeating, and taking the 2008 World Series.

Prior to checking out the various articles, how does closer supreme Jon Papelbon feel about Boston's chances?
"We have to go out there and defend the title and try to keep the championship in the city of Boston. It's going to be tough, but there's no reason we can't do that. If we stay healthy and play consistently we can do it."
What is it they say, speak softly and carry a fireballing, nay an inferno-balling closer?

Jayson Stark of ESPN is fast becoming one of the strongest, most readable Baseball writers on the block, for me his work has always been informative but has become more entertaining in the last couple of seasons. His piece on how Boston isn't an underdog anymore, is well worth a read.

The Boston Globe, as you can imagine, is chock full of Red Sox goodies, the night before game one.

What does Yahoo Sports think about Dice-K's chances of pitching a complete game tomorrow? Let's find out!

MLB.com has a good piece on the unique nature of the opener.
''In an opener like none other in the storied history of the club, that is exactly what will happen when the defending World Series champions formally kick off their title defense under the roof of Tokyo Dome against the Oakland Athletics.''
Actually, on the theme of setting your alarm clock, oddly enough living in Ireland is actually beneficial for once in terms of watching the Sox, game time tomorrow? A very respectable ten in the am. Not bad at all.

How about USA Today reporting on Manny saying he is aiming for 600 long bombs?

Finally some quick hits. The always entertaining Eric Wilbur. Those funny fellas at 'Surviving Grady' and last but very much not least, the excellent 'Coffin Corner'.

First pitch tomorrow morning, and I can't wait.



.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Goal! Goal! Goal!

If you ever want to really feel good about a goal, in soccer, just go ahead and root for a team for a couple of decades, a team that never wins any cups or tournaments and basically spends its life trying to cling on in the English Premiership, a team from an honest, working class area with players that mirror their locale, a team with a Cork man at the helm and a smattering of Irish players through the side.

Yikes, long sentence, sorry.

Goal! Goal! Goal!

Sunderland, the team I have supported through thick and thin the last twenty years basically, won a huge game 'on the road' today against Aston Villa. They possibly kept themselves in the Premiership with the win, well, the certainly made it a possibility.

My point, the focal point of this post, is that it is really super to root for the underdog, and for that underdog to occasionally make good on that support and reward you with a big win.

It's an excellent feeling.

This footage of the priceless goal is for my Dad, who is an even bigger Sunderland supporter than me.

Howay the lads!








16 Sunderland 31 -21 30
17 Birmingham 31 -13 27

18 Bolton 31 -17 26
19 Fulham 31 -24 23
20 Derby 31 -51 10

Clinging to life in the Premiership!


Coming soon: American? Into soccer? Coming soon, why YOU should probably be rooting for Fulham in their attempt to stay in the Premiership. (I'll give you a clue, they have loads of Yanks in their squad!)


.

And on the twelfth day, the Lord said, 'Let there be a heck of a lot of sports!'

....and there was

Oh my, what a weekend lineup.
All times Irish, naturally...

Saturday

  • 12:45 Premiership: Tottenham v Portsmouth
  • 15:00 Premiership: Aston Villa v Sunderland
  • 17:15 Premiership: Everton v West Ham
  • 6.00pm Live Duke vs West Virginia - NCAA Tournament Second Round
  • 8.30pm Live Kansas State vs Wisconsin- NCAA Tournament Second Round
  • 10.30pm Live Notre Dame vs Washington - NCAA Tournament Second Round

Sunday

  • 1.00am Live Michigan State vs Pittsburgh - NCAA Tournament Second Round
  • 13:30 Premiership: Man Utd v Liverpool
  • 16:00 Premiership: Chelsea v Arsenal
  • 4.00pm Live Second Round - College Basketball
  • 6.30pm Live Second Round - College Basketball
  • 9.00pm Live Second Round - College Basketball

Great lineup of Premiership football live on TV intermingled with a juicy selection of college basketball games, all for your viewing pleasure.

There's more to life than sports, but hey, I mean, if they are like, shoving it down your throats, it's okay to enjoy it a little, right? I mean, come on! What a lineup!


Come on Sunderland!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Red Sox - more 'red' than we knew!

Well now, how about this? Disgusted that MLB is playing the role of 'lousy cheap bastard' and not paying for coaches, training staff, equipment managers, groupies and roadies on the upcoming Japanese trip, the Boston Red Sox players have voted to refuse to go, unless MLB cowboys up and splashes some cash.



Pretty sensational story, potentially. Here's what the Boston Globe has to say about it.

Here's what Chairman Mao has to say about it.

Chairman Mao - super pissed
''The revolution, and the recognition of class and class struggle, are necessary for peasants and the Chinese people to overcome both domestic and foreign enemy elements. This is not a simple, clean, or quick struggle.''

We think he was talking about the Sox not going to Japan. What is clear is he was pissed. Super pissed actually. And rightly so, it's beyond cheap of MLB to send the Boston and indeed Oakland staff over to Japan and not pay their way, when you consider how many gazillion yen MLB is making out of this potential trip.

More on the story from ESPN.

Good for the Sox. Should be very interesting to see if MLB relents, or if the entire trip is called off.

The low down on Baseball in Ireland.

Baseball in Ireland, really?
The low down on Baseball in Ireland.


Two or three times a week I get emails from folks, generally in the States but sometimes in Europe, asking, 'Hey, had a look through your site, and I can't believe it, there is actually baseball in Ireland?!' Or words to that effect. Well, yes folks, it's true. There is baseball in Ireland, and there has been since 1995.

The game basically began in Ireland the summer of 1995. Softball had been played in Ireland since the early eighties however a couple of the guys who played that yearned for an extra level of challenge and decided to start baseball training sessions with games afterwards. Mike Kindle, Mick Manning and Sean Mitchell were amongst those who got the ball rolling and they chose Corcaigh Park (English spelling - Corkagh Park) in Clondalkin as the venue for the early sessions.

By the end of that summer there were enough numbers and there was enough enthusiasm to start talking about an organised league and even an Irish National Baseball Team. That's (very) basically how it all started. Here's a little more detail on some of the more important aspects of Irish Baseball.

The Irish Baseball League The clubs and playing fields

The O'Malley Fields at Corcaigh Park in Clondalkin, West Dublin are the main home of Irish Baseball. The fields are named after legendary LA Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, who generously funded their construction in 1998. The majority of league games are held at the fields along with Ireland National Team games and practice sessions. Click here for details on how to get to Corcaigh Park.

The O'Malley funding created two fields, an adult level and youth level field. Bill Beglane is one of the leading lights in the development of the youth game in Ireland. Bill is a former Irish National team pitcher who had his number retired in the summer of 2006 after having been a great servant to the Irish team. He runs youth training sessions on Saturday afternoons at Corcaigh Park. More details and information on contacting Bill here.

The Black Sox play at Shanganagh Park which is yet to be developed into a "Real" baseball field. Click here for the Blacksox website. The Greystones Mariners home field is currently under construction and will be completed by August 2007.

For the 2008 season the following teams are participating at the associated venues:
  • The Dublin Hurricanes (Corcaigh Park)
  • The Dublin Spartans (Corcaigh Park)
  • The Dublin Blacksox (Shanganah Park, Shankill)
  • Indios (Corcaigh Park)
  • The Greystones Mariners (Greystones)
  • The Belfast Northstars (Belfast)
The Irish Baseball League
Irish league history

Previous Irish League Champions 1997 - 2007
  • 2007 - Spartans
  • 2006 - Spartans
  • 2005 - Hurricanes
  • 2004 - Spartans
  • 2003 - Hurricanes
  • 2002 - Spartans
  • 2001 - Panthers
  • 2000 - Spartans
  • 1999 - Spartans
  • 1998 - Panthers
  • 1997 - The Dukes *
(* The Dukes are no longer in existence, they were made defunct in 1998 when the league started from scratch with an 'all-players draft' and total reformat of all teams.)

Irish League individual awards and winners

The individual Irish League awards given out annually have an Irish Flavour in an effort to pay homage to the great Irish players who played in the Major Leagues from years gone by. For example, instead of the traditional Cy Young Award being given to the League's Top Pitcher, recipients are presented with the 'Tommy Bond' Best Pitcher Award. Find out more about some of the great Irish Major League players of the past in this piece.

The 'Andy Leonard ' league MVP award

Andy Leonard from County Cavan, was the only Irish-born member of the "First Boys of Summer": the 1869 World Champion Cincinnati Red Stockings - Baseballs First Professional Team. He also helped create and sustain the original Boston Red Stockings championship dynasty from 1872 through 1876 and again in 1878, competing in six world championships.

Previous winners of The 'Andy Leonard 'League MVP Award include:

2006 - Darran O'Connor (Dublin Spartans)
2005 - Steve Divito (Dublin Hurricanes)
2004 - Darragh Jones (Greystones Mariners)
2003 - Tom Kelley (Dublin Hurricanes)
2002 - Chaime Cuevas (Dublin Spartans)
2001 - None given
2000 - None given
1999 - Tom Kelley (Dublin Hurricanes)
1998 - Ken McCarthy (Dublin Panthers) **
1997 - None given

(** Dublin Panthers is now a defunct franchise. Most of their players left to join either the Dublin Blacksox or retire in 2004. )

The 'Tommy Bond' Best Pitcher Award

Tommy Bond was born in Granard in County 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.

Previous winners of The 'Tommy Bond' Best Pitcher Award include:

2006 - Chaime Cuevas (Dublin Spartans)
2005 - Shawn Miskiman (Greystones Mariners)
2004 - Cormac Eklof (Dublin Hurricanes)
2003 - Chaime Cuevas (Dublin Spartans)
2002 - Eoin O'Connor (Dublin Blacksox)
2001 - None given
2000 - None given
1999 - Greg Modaro (Dublin Panthers)
1998 - Noel Mitchell (Dublin Spartans)
1997 - None given

Other awards

Other awards given are the 'Dirty' Jack Doyle Silver Slugger Award and the Patsy Donovan Batting Champion Award. (Other awards are listed on the official Baseball Ireland site).

The Dublin Hurricanes


The Dublin Hurricanes have been playing in the Irish league since its inception. They are the first Irish Club side to have taken part in European Club competitions. They did so in Belgium in 2003, the UK in 2005 and the Czech Republic in 2006 and 2007.

Link: The Dublin Hurricanes in Prague - 2006

For 2007 the Dublin Hurricanes made some key additions. Tommy Hernandez, Alex and Woody 'One pitch' Woodburn come over from the Twins United and there are a couple of other surprise additions from the United States in the pipeline. The core of the Hurricanes is back and ready to play. Steve Divito, Andy Martin, Tom Kelley, Chris Foy and Eric 'Vegas' Valkys will all bring veteran experience to the table for the Hurricanes in '07.

The Hurricanes had often finished second to either the Spartans or Panthers in the Irish League but finally broke their barren spell with a dramatic title win in 2003. They followed this up with another title win in 2005. The Hurricanes trophy cabinet is certainly pretty healthy.
  • 2007 - League Pennant Winners Hurricanes
  • 2005 - League Champions Hurricanes
  • 2005 - Andy Leonard MVP Award Steve DiVito *
  • 2004 - League Pennant Winners Hurricanes
  • 2004 - League Cy Young Award Cormac Eklof
  • 2004 - Silver Slugger Andy Martin **
  • 2004 - M&M Psycho Invitational - Champs Hurricanes
  • 2004 - M&M Psycho Invitational - MVP Steve DeVito
  • 2004 - M&M Psycho Invitational - Cy Young Award Cormac Eklof
  • 2003 - League Champions Hurricanes
  • 2003 - League MVP Tom Kelley
  • 2003 - Silver Slugger Tom Kelley
  • 2003 - Spring Blitz Winners Hurricanes
  • 2003 - Spring Blitz MVP Steve DiVito
  • 2003 - Spring Blitz Pitcher Cormac Eklof
  • 2002 - League Batting Champion Gordon Ireland ***
  • 2002 - League Gold Glove Mick Manning
  • 2002 - Autumn Blitz Winners Northern Hurricanes
  • 2002 - Autumn Blitz MVP Tom Kelley
  • 2001 - Spring Blitz Winners Hurricanes
  • 2001 - End of Season Blitz Winners Hurricanes
  • 2001 - End of Season Blitz MVP Tom Kelley
  • 2000 - End of Season Blitz Winners Hurricanes
Notes
* Steve's game winning home run against the Spartans that season was recently voted the 'Hurricanes greatest hit ever' by a jury of slightly inebriated individuals.

** Check out Andy Martin's simply unbelievable statistics from the 2004 season

Name Team PA AB R H RBI 1B 2B 3B HR BB HBP SO SB CS BA SLG OBP
Martin, Andy Hur 64 50 36 26 19 17 8 1 0 12 2 2 17 0 .520 .720 .625

In 64 plate appearances he struck out twice, whilst batting an unbelievable .520 with 36 runs scored and 19 RBIs.

*** Check out the below sets of stats that Hurricanes legend Gordon Ireland put up in 2002.

AB R H RBI 2B 3B HR BB HBP SO SB CS BA SLG OBP
Gordon Ireland - 43 24 23 26 3 2 2 11 3 5 12 1 .535 .837 .649

Gordy had one of the greatest seasons in baseball Ireland history and sadly was not rewarded with the League MVP.

2007 Season

The 2007 Irish Adult Baseball League started with annual spring blitz, which is basically akin to spring training but held over the course of a single day. Click here for a review of the action from the Hurricanes point of view. The season proper began with the Belfast Northstars defeating the Dublin Twins 12-7 and 13-7. The Dublin Black Sox also defeated the Greystones Mariners 16-7.

The Irish Baseball League has two levels for 2007, A and B. The A level consists of the Spartans, the Hurricanes, the Twins, the Greystones Mariners, the Blacksox and the Belfast Northstars.

The B level is for player and club development and consists of B teams from the Spartans, Hurricanes, Blacksox and Greystones Mariners. Click here for a preview of the 2007 Irish League season, written before the season started.

You can find the full 2007 schedule and results on the Baseball Ireland website.

The Irish National Baseball Team

The Irish National Baseball Team - 2001 version

The Irish National Baseball Team has been in existence since 1996 and has taken part in several major baseball tournaments and tours. These have included:
  • 1996 - European Pool B Championships - Hull, United Kingdom
  • 1998 - European Pool B Championships - Vienna and Stockerau, Austria
  • 2000 - European Pool B Championships - Karlovac, Croatia
  • 2001 - Team tour of Rhode Island and other New England areas
  • 2002 - European Pool B Championships - Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2004 - European Pool B Championships - Regensberg, Germany
  • 2005 - Team tour of Orange County area in LA
  • 2006 - European Pool B Championships - Antwerp, Belgium
Ireland finished fourth in the 2002 tournament, won a bronze in the 2004 tournament and managed a silver medal in the 2006 tournament, losing to tournament favorites Croatia.

Irish National Team Links:

Baseball Ireland - how you can get involved!
Players, coaches, sponsors and general well wishers!


Since I started this blog last year I have had a few people ask how to get involved in Baseball Ireland, on various levels, so here's the lowdown.

First of all, your initial stop should be the Irish Baseball Official website. That should fill in many of your information gaps!

Playing baseball in Ireland.

If you are interested in getting involved at youth level, your contact is Mr Will Beglane, who looks after the current development of Youth Baseball in Ireland. This includes players and coaches too.

At adult level, if you want to play, umpire or coach in the Irish Adult League, a few quick pointers.

  1. The League is entirely volunteer and amateur, players are not paid (sadly!)
  2. The League caters to all levels of players
  3. The League runs from April to September
  4. There are currently teams in Belfast, Greystones, Shankill and Dublin
  5. You should live in or near those areas to join a current team
  6. Baseball Ireland can not at this time help accommodate you or get you a job or indeed a visa I am afraid. Again, the league is entirely volunteer and amateur.

With all that in mind, if you wish to play in the league mail Mike Kindle with the subject field 'Playing baseball in Ireland'. Keep an eye on the website for information regarding the league campaign and other information for example winter training sessions.

If you wish to play on the Irish National Team you should be aware of the following;
  1. You need a current valid Irish Passport to be considered for the Irish Team.
  2. The Irish Team currently has no sponsor - players are expected to fund their own trips.
  3. The Irish team trains in Dublin, Ireland. You would need to be there for at least a few weeks before major tournaments to be considered for the team.
With that in mind, if you still feel like you would be suitable material for the Irish National Baseball Team, send an email here with 'Playing for Team Ireland' in the subject field.

Sponsorship

Baseball is a minority sport in Ireland. For example, the National Team players had to fully fund their own trip to Belgium in '06. That is truly playing for the love of the game! In a country where GAA, Soccer and Rugby are king, to all other sports detriments, Baseball Ireland has to live on a shoe string, as Government funding is basically invisible. The GAA is given 80 million of the tax payers money towards refurbishing a stadium they could pay for themselves 20 times over with the money they make on jersey sales alone, while we get the grand sum of $0. That's €0 for those of you in Europe.

The development of baseball in Ireland is almost completely dependent on sponsorship.

For those living in the States or otherwise outside Ireland the best way to support/sponsor Baseball Ireland is through EMERALD DIAMOND USA. This is a nonprofit organization founded by filmmaker John Fitzgerald. The organization is dedicated to raising funds in America to further the development of baseball in Ireland. Baseball has been played in Ireland since the early 1990s, as seen in the documentary film "The Emerald Diamond." For more information about "The Emerald Diamond" and the history of baseball in Ireland, visit IRISHBASEBALLMOVIE.COM.

If you are a gazillionaire looking to use up some of your cash in a helpful manner, you can directly sponsor Baseball Ireland. You don't even have to be a gazillionaire, any amount would help. It should be noted that much of the money raised for Irish baseball goes directly to youth programs. Kids in Ireland are more likely to try a new sport like baseball when the high costs of buying equipment and uniforms are eliminated.

If you live in Ireland and would like to sponsor/support Baseball Ireland, be it on a personal or business level, contact Chris Foy and put 'Baseball Ireland sponsorship' in the subject field of your email.

For any further questions related to Baseball Ireland feel free to drop me a line

The Emerald Diamond

For those of you new to 'I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland!?', 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.

Emerald Diamond links

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Baseball in Ireland: We do it wetter!

Believe it or not, the 2008 Irish baseball season is almost upon us. For 2008 the league will take the following format;

A League (Division one)
  • The Dublin Hurricanes (based out of Corcaigh Park)
  • The Blacksox (based out of Shanganah park in Shankill)
  • The Greystones Mariners (based in Greystones)
  • The Dublin Spartans (based out of Corcaigh Park)
  • Indios BBC (based out of Corcaigh Park)
  • The Belfast Northstars (based in Belfast, Northern Ireland)
B League (Developmental league, division two)
  • The Dublin Hurricanes B (based out of Corcaigh Park)
  • The Blacksox B (based out of Shanganah park in Shankill)
  • The Greystones Mariners B (based in Greystones)
  • The Dublin Spartans B (based out of Corcaigh Park)
  • The Cork Druids (based in Cork)
Andy 'the hitman' Martin, Lorcan 'statto' Sherlock and me under an umbrella during one of last 'summers' many rain outs that cursed the Irish baseball league

The 'A' league is basically as you were with the one change being the 'Twins United' have changed their name to 'Indios BBC', this being their fourth name change since they started playing in the league!

Here's how the 'A' league finished up in 2007

The 2007 Irish Baseball League Standings
Team
Played
Won
Lost
W/O
Points
A League
Hurricanes
15
11
4
0
48
Spartans
15
12
0
3
45
Black Sox
14
9
5
0
41
Mariners
13
6
7
0
31
Northstars
15
5
7
4
22
Twins
15
0
13
2
11


Baseball Ireland - we do it wetter!

Each 'A' league team will play a healthy 15 games and the 'B' league squads will play 12 games each, making for two nice long league programs.

The first two weeks scheduled games
Week one


Date Time Venue Home Away

5-Apr 11am Corcaigh Park Spartans Black Sox

5-Apr 11am Belfast North Stars Mariners

5-Apr 2pm Belfast North Stars Mariners

Week two

12-Apr 11am Shanganagh Mariners Black Sox

12-Apr 1pm Corcaigh Park Hurricanes Indios BBC

12-Apr 11am Belfast North Stars Spartans

Where is Corcaigh Park? Right here, that's where!

Just another sun soaked afternoon of Irish baseball!!

Links to note:

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, March 14, 2008

Getting psyched for March Madness

Playing catch-up before March Madness? Know who Roy Hibbert is but can't name one single other player on Georgetown's squad? Or, in the dark as to who even Roy Hibbert is?

However, looking forward to the big tournament?

Personally, a relative new-comer to mens college basketball, I love March Madness, and even ranked it seventh in my listing of my favourite tournaments in the world. Like, ever.

7. The NCAA 'March Madness' tournament
I have to admit I have only got into this in the last five or six years, so I am a relative rookie in terms of March Madness history and lore. It is essential viewing, however. The enjoyable early upsets, the dramatic later rounds. A nice element is the simplicity of the tournament, 65 teams in, knockout, you lose you go home. It's enjoyable simple. From over here in Ireland, you can follow it without any big issues bar the time difference. The only draw back is for every good game, there is a poor quality blowout, but without the large field, you wouldn't get dramatic upsets. Already looking forward to later this month.


Anyway, man, sometimes it takes me ages to get to the point, it's a disease, basically. Anyway, here's a super duper little segment from SI.com's Grant Wahl, where he talks to several coaches and what not as to who's the team to beat in March Madness.

Kansas' Bill Self: "From what I've seen the last month, UCLA and North Carolina impress me more than anybody else. There are a lot of teams you could make a case for -- Memphis, Tennessee, Duke -- but over the last month those two have been the most impressive teams. I think it's more wide-open this year than in quite some time."


Interesting and informative. Want to feel like you know something about MCBB before the big tournament? Check it out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The making of the Emerald Diamond - Part III

'Emerald Diamond' director John Fitzgerald's candid and enjoyable 'making of' series moves to part three, and focuses on his interview on Fox Sports News. A very enjoyable, insightful read. 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 three 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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Singing on buses

We used to sing a lot in Irish baseball.

There's no sexy way to segue into this bar to say I was on a bus in the UK today and an Irish guy started singing Irish songs, and it brought back all sorts of memories. Two moments, in particular, jumped to mind.

First off was the time, way back when (summer of 2002 to be exact) when Ireland played in the European Pool B Championships in Stockholm, Sweden. We had played very well and finished the tournament in fourth place after losing the bronze medal game, by the width of a Tome Kelley almost-game-winning foul ball line drive, to Poland. After the initial emotional lull there followed a giddy high and the entire team met in the hotel lobby the evening of our last game. A legendary Irish baseball team social night was to follow, but the lead up was nostalgically enjoyable, if only for it's beautiful simplicity.

It all started with team Captain John Dillon belting out an old Irish song. He would probably admit himself he doesn't have a superb singing voice, but he makes up for that with a encyclopedic back catalog of great Irish songs and plenty of lyrical character. JD got us all started, and for hours we drank, sang and remembered a fantastic couple of weeks together.

Wonderful night that only that group of fellas and that tournament could have elicited.

Another memory on those lines. In 1996 the first Irish baseball team travelled to Hull in the UK for their first appearance in the European Baseball Championships. We had a tough start against the powerful Czech Republic, so much so that after the game we sat, silent in our team bus waiting to go back to the team hotel (well, college dormitories, actually). Former Irish team infielder, he of the golden glove and the platinum wit, Fiachra Stokes, had the cajones to literally break into song, shattering the morbid silence with a powerful, quintessential Irish song.

Nobody said 'shut up', or 'keep it down'. We all listened, a couple of guys even joined in gently. The song, cheesy as it may sound now in cynical 2008, said more than 3,456 words could have said, and helped maintain and even further a sense of unity and friendship and indeed camaraderie on that bus amongst the team.

Really, what if Fiachra hadn't chosen to sing that song? What if the team hadn't gathered around itself and won our final game against Yugoslavia? What if the Irish team had come home winless and had been disbanded in disgrace? Not a chance. Instead we came home with a win under our belt and went on to become one of the best baseball teams in Europe.

Sing, sing, sing...

You can read more about the tournament in Sweden here and the tournament in Hull here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The greatest tournaments in the World

Superb Champions league game last night. Arsenal played wonderful flowing adventurous football in beating the mighty AC Milan on their own patch, becoming the first English team to win in the Champions League holders den. Check the first goal out here, if only for the beautifully wild foreign commentary!

Whatever about the often stale group stages, the knockout stages of the Champions league is right up there in terms of greatest sporting entertainment available right here, right now on this good planet earth.

I was thinking about the tournament this morning, and how beautifully simple the knockout phase is, and it got me thinking, 'What is the best tournament in the world right now?' Let's chop it up! Ground rules. I am going to stick to the sports I know something about. This rules out cricket, sailing, hockey and ten-pin bowling. I suppose I should preface this by saying, this is a list of my own personal favourite tournaments, the ones I invest in emotionally and the ones that interest me.

16. The Ryder Cup
I am only starting to come around to Golf as an enjoyable viewing experience. Sure, it's painfully slow, rather elitist and sometimes just pure boring, however there is some enjoyable elements to it, including the Ryder Cup. It ticks most of the tournament boxes. It's spread out in gaps that make you actually look forward to it, and has the added advantage of being Europe v USA, an interesting showdown to say the least.

15. The NCAA BCS Bowl series
I love College Football. I really do. So why are the Bowl games ranked comparatively low on my list? Because the system is more screwed up than Britney Spears. It really is absolutely pathetic, and resembles a drunken country wedding in terms of organisational intelligence. The ONLY way forward is to completely scrap the current system and introduce something fresh and imaginative, but also fair. Would it be that difficult to come up with a simple end of season knock out tournament? As it is, the early games are often more exciting than the later games. Having said all that, the absolutely sensational Vince Young Rose Bowl of 2005 was about as good as sports gets.

14. The UEFA Cup
The 'other' big European club level soccer knockout tournament. Kind of a Champions League lite, if you will. The starting, group phase is about as turgid as it gets, however the final stages often throw up surprisingly enjoyable matchups. This tournament throws club teams from all over Europe up against each other, and the knockout stages, while lacking the drama of the Champions League, are still plenty colourful.

13. The NBA playoffs

Did anyone actually watch the NBA playoffs last year? Apart from Bill Simmons? I want to love the NBA, and the Celtics current revival has certainly caught my interest, but last years NBA playoffs were about as exciting as Swedish art-house movie making. The whole system is flawed as it is, with too many teams allowed into the knockout stages. There are some truly brutal low seeds making the playoffs the last few seasons. They need to whittle this down, which would lift the standard of play in the first round immensely.

12. The Rugby World Cup
This has nearly everything you could look for in a tournament. It has an abundance of colour in the form of various nations gathering to play the game, with legions of fans from the countries adding flavour to the event. Added bonus? The renditions of each countries national anthem. For whatever reason, the fans never hold back on these at the Rugby World cup. If you ever feel you have lost your lust for life, and need a boost, just check out any of either the French fans belting out the wonderful 'La Marseilles' or the rowdy, earthy and vibrant Scottish fans singing the uplifting 'Flower of Scotland'. The big drawback? The terrible early stage games. Nobody needs to witness New Zealand 106 Japan 3, or Australia 112 Namibia 5. Report card says, 'Good but could do better'.

11. La Liga (The Spanish top league)
If you like your soccer, and I do, and love your drama, and I do, La Liga is the place for you. The games take on an almost cartoon like quality, with great skill, goals and high jinks a plenty. The referees hand out yellow and red cards liks candy, and the players spend half the time dazzling the passionate crowds with their skills, and half the time trying to con the referees with flopping on a scale not seen since, well, since the last time Chelsea played a match (Chelsea have three of the greatest flop artists of all time, Ballack, Drogba and Robben). The top games are fantastic, and every serious sports fans list of 'events to see' should include Real Madrid v Barcelona. Often wild, always entertaining, La Liga's only serious drawback is the ridiculous 'acting', or simulation as FIFA call it.

10. The English FA Cup
One of the purest tournaments in world sports. Every single club football team in England can enter the FA Cup. They start playing regional qualifiers almost the day the tournament ends! Eventually the field is cut to 64, then 32 and so on. The best part if the third round, when the clubs from the higher divisions in English football are added to the field, creating freakish matchups like Yeovil Town against Liverpool, which would be like The New York Yankees playing a semi pro side from Mexico. Lately some of the bigger clubs, Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea, have diluted the respectability of the tournament by fielding weaker reserve or youth sides in order to keep their 'A' team fresh for the more financially important Champions League. Apart from that though, a great tournament with buckets of exciting games.

9. The Cheltenham Festival
Another one of those events that all serious sports fans need to attend once, if only to experience it. The Cheltenham horse racing festival has approached legendary status in Ireland at this stage. Males aged 19-90 get all glassy eyed and giddy if you mention it to them. Days off work are taken, pints are downed and the festival may as well be held in Dublin considering the level of participation over here. The wild roar that lifts up over the massed Cheltenham crowd when the first race takes off on Tuesday afternoon is one of the single greatest moments in sports. Some serious racing enthusiasts complain that the festival is diluted by being so long (four days), while others complain that they are forcing too many low level bad races in amongst the crackers to try and make yet more money. Minor drawbacks really to a very exciting week of sporting action.

8. The English Premiership
The Premiership has been a part of my life for so long now that maybe I take it for granted sometimes. There are very few sporting events that can match a great Premiership matchup, like Arsenal against Manchester United. Each team is steeped in history and has it's own style and calling card, from Liverpools incredibly passionate fans to Arsenal's magnificent, flowing football. The great moments in the last decade alone are stacked higher than Yao Ming. The list of superb players that have come and gone is longer than Randy Moss's legs. The wonderful Thierry Henry, the majestic Patrick Viera, Eric Cantona and many more. The team I root for is Sunderland, and they have had a yo-yo existence in the Premiership, sometimes surviving, sometimes relegated to the backwater known as English lower division football. However, when they are in the Premiership, as they are this year, every game is essential viewing in their battle for survival in the top tier. Drawbacks? That's easy. Greed. The rich (Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal and a couple of others) are getting richer as the poor, smaller clubs, struggle to co-exist. A simple salary cap would solve this in a hurry, but will never be implemented. The Premiership may have become a little stale with only four teams in with a realistic chance of winning it every year, but it has sure given some incredible moments to us in the last decade plus in particular.

Any given Saturday afternoon after 3pm

7. The NCAA 'March Madness' tournament
I have to admit I have only got into this in the last five or six years, so I am a relative rookie in terms of March Madness history and lore. It is essential viewing, however. The enjoyable early upsets, the dramatic later rounds. A nice element is the simplicity of the tournament, 65 teams in, knockout, you lose you go home. It's enjoyable simple. From over here in Ireland, you can follow it without any big issues bar the time difference. The only draw back is for every good game, there is a poor quality blowout, but without the large field, you wouldn't get dramatic upsets. Already looking forward to later this month.

6. The European Championships (Soccer)
The World Cup lite, basically. Same concept, same length of time between games. Almost as good, just lacking that little extra bit of colour provided by teams from the far corners of the globe.

5. The Six Nations tournament (Rugby)
This tournament has taken on a new lease of life with the addition of the Italians in the last few years. Now France, Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales and Italy battle it out by playing each other once to try and win the title of Six Nations Champions. The games are generally exciting, however the most colourful aspect is the support provided by the fans from the Six Nations. Be it Scottish fans in kilts walking down O'Connell street, or Irish fans in their green jerseys strolling down the Champs Elyse, game day has become a truly international affair, with hordes of fans travelling to each game. It has got to the stage where French fans will travel to Ireland to watch the games simply for the atmosphere in Dublin bars on gameday. This, combined with the fact that Ireland are pretty damn good, make it an exciting, entertaining and unique tournament.

4. The MLB playoffs
There is a sense of 'importance' or something about the MLB playoffs, the better games anyway. The history, the deep laying history and drama, is almost overbearing. Personally, I have a stock of memories from MLB playoff games that I will never forget. The Sox amazing ALCS comeback in '04, the Marlins enjoyable run in '03, the Sox tearing it up in '07 and Pedro coming out of the bullpen in '99 against Cleveland. One of the single greatest sporting performances I have ever seen. How on earth is this not number one? Simple. For every enjoyable World Series, there is a brutal one, like the Yankees whipping the Padres or the White Sox destroying Houston. The main event has sadly left little impression in recent times, and the only reason I enjoyed '04 and '07 was the Sox won, however I can see how Boston going 8-0 in the World Series those years wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. We need a run of tight, enjoyable World Series finals for this to be ranked higher.

3. The Champions league - Final knockout phase
The atmosphere in Milan last night got me thinking about this piece in the first place. 70,000 fans singing, cheering, an atmosphere that US sports, for example, simply can not touch. Shivers up the spine stuff. The game itself, Arsenal @ Milan, was another excellent advertisement for the Champions League. A vibrant young Arsenal team took the game to the old masters, regal Milan, and one of the next big superstars in training, the superb Cesc Fabregas, scored a dramatic goal to send Arsenal on their way. The finals are generally superb, be it Liverpool coming back from the dead to beat Milan, or the excellent Barcelona v Arsenal game in 2005. It's all about the incredible atmosphere though. Be it the Liverpool fans singing 'You'll never walk alone', the Barcelona fans incredible, game long participation or those freakish, vibrant and almost scary Turkish fans! Actually, you know what, you want a taste? Check this out. the pre-match atmosphere before Celtic against AC Milan. You may have not seen anything like this before.



The atmosphere at a Champions league game can not be matched, and those 'European nights' down the years have provided some of the best games I have ever seen.



2. The NFL playoffs
As a lifelong Patriots fan, the NFL playoffs used to be an enjoyable diversion from normal life. '85 and '96 provided a peek into the future, as playoff games became vitally dramatic. Then Mo Lewis put Drew Bledsoe in hospital and everything changed. The super charged drama of Patriots v Colts, Patriots v Chargers is hard to match. The enjoyable unpredictable wild card rounds, the winter weather late round showdowns and the dramatic Superbowls all add up to one of the greatest tournaments in the world. I asked myself, how would I view the NFL playoffs if the Patriots hadn't even made them at all the last decade. The answer? The Superbowl is still essential viewing. The playoffs themselves, you become attached to teams and their stars, someone always steps up come playoff time. I can absolutely see how so many unbiased NFL fans became attached to the likable Michael Strahan, for example.
The bottom line is, very few tournaments can provide the drama and excitement that the Superbowl brings, year in, year out. The Tampa win, the Patriots surprise in '01, the incredible Tennessee v St Louis game, the back-and-forth Patriots v Panthers game and yes, the Giants upset win not so long ago. Very few tournaments can touch that level of drama. In fact, only one...

1. The World Cup
You just can't beat it. Held every four years, the time gap between events means that by the time the tournament rolls around, fans are practically frothing at the mouth in anticipation. The concept? So simple. The best soccer teams in the world meet in one country to play for the title of world champion. No BCS rubbish, no wild cards, no inherent greed driving the event or changing it's format to suit it. The group phases are still interesting as you get to know the teams, the hopeless losers, the dark horses, and the regal favourites, or in other words, generally Brazil. The group stages often throw up entertaining upsets that send shock waves around the world, like Senegal beating France, Cameroon beating Argentina, and who could forget the USA beating mighty, mighty England in 1950? After the group games the madness really kicks in during the knockout phase. Ireland have been involved in a couple of the last World Cups and the only way to describe it is that the entire nation comes to a complete standstill when Ireland are playing. This is echoed throughout the world, creating a unique and rare feeling of world-community that no other sporting event, bar perhaps the Olympics, can come close to replicating. The games themselves are truly dramatic events. As the semi finals draw close entire continents take sides and root passionately for their chosen ones to reach the final. The more dramatic games stay etched in your memory forever. The wonderful, exciting French win in '98 or Brazil sweeping everything before them in 2002.

Next World Cup? 2010. And no, I can't wait.

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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