Sunday, November 30, 2008

The single greatest game in Irish baseball history 1996-2006

So here we are.

We have gone over the other top nine games in the Irish National baseball team's history and arrived at this single finest moment, this single greatest game.


The Top ten games in Baseball Ireland History (number 1)

Game Number 1
Ireland v Belgium
Antwerp, Belgium
European Pool B Championships 2006

Game files
  • Game: Ireland v Belgium
  • Tournament: European Pool B Championships
  • Game type: Group game
  • Venue: Antwerp, Belgium

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'

Ireland v Belgium
Antwerp, Belgium
Summer of 2006

Ireland have realised part of their dream and reached the final of the Qualifying section of the European Championships. In the early game at 10 am they showed they can play ball with the big boys losing out narrowly to Croatia and in the afternoon semi final they stunned the home town Belgian side with a superb 4-1 victory on the back of West Virginia College star Brendan Bergerson and some excellent defence, including an outstanding double play turn started by Irish Team veteran Darran O'Connor.

Against Belgium in the semi final it was all about Brendan Bergerson. He absolutely overpowered the Belgian lineup with strikeout after strikeout and when he started to finally get a little tired in the 8th inning, his defence pulled a rabbit out of its hat in the form of Darran O'Connor, the wonderful servant to the game in Ireland and 10 year veteran of the team stopped a hard hit ball up the middle and flipped it to Kevin Corrigan who turned the double play getting Ireland out of a serious jam.

As a side note, I was out in the right field bullpen again for this game. I spent about five hours in total during the Belgium trip ‘warming up’, at least that’s how it felt! From my vantage point I had a perfect view of Darran’s play, and I firmly believe it was Ireland’s greatest defensive play ever.

If I had to rank a top three from memory they would be;

  1. Darran’s double play against Belgium ‘06
  2. TK’s diving catch v Austria ‘04
  3. Darran’s ground ball out to end the game v Hungary in ‘00

All Brendan needed was a massive two run home run in the first inning by Boston College's own Joe Kealty, and a couple of late, small ball runs built on the back of some clutch hitting and base running.

It's Croatia again in the final now for Ireland. On the 10th anniversary of the Irish National team's inception the boys in green get a chance at the Gold Medal for the first time, and a chance to spend next summer playing the best teams in Europe.



The games listed so far:

1. Ireland v Belgium:
European Pool B Championships 2006
2. Ireland v Austria: European Pool B Championships 2004
3. Ireland v Hungary: European Pool B Championships 2000
4. Ireland v Yugoslavia: European Pool B Championships 1996

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

Ireland v Austria: Regensberg, Germany: European Pool B Championships 2004


The Top ten games in Baseball Ireland History (number 2)

Game Number 2
Ireland v Austria
Regensberg, Germany
European Pool B Championships 2004

Game files
  • Game: Ireland v Austria
  • Tournament: European Pool B Championships
  • Game type: Group game
  • Venue: Regensberg, Germany

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'


''The next day we had a tough encounter ahead of us. A night game under the lights at the Armin-Wolf-Arena against Austria, who we had faced twice before and never beaten. They had killed us in 1998 and beaten us 8-4 in Sweden behind their ace. Austria were experienced, well coached, had a big pitching staff and several big bats. They had been surprisingly beaten 10-5 on day one by Serbia-Montenegro and knew they had to beat us to stay competitive in the tournament. We knew we faced a talented and also hungry opponent.

We had a good workout on the adjacent field, everyone was focussed and seemed ready to play. My parents arrived about an hour before game time. Seeing them there made me feel very proud, having anyone travel so far to support you is very flattering and makes you feel very humble. We have always had good support abroad, and Germany was no exception. Rory Murphy’s whole family was there, his little brother became the team’s batboy, and did a fine job at it too. Joe Kealty’s mother and David Callaghan’s parents made it all the way from the States, quite a journey to see their sons play baseball for Ireland.

Chris Gannon got the ball for Ireland. His much anticipated start began horribly. Chris hit three batters in a row in the first, but pitched well enough to work around one hit and give up just the two runs. Austria would rue that missed chance later as Chris knuckled down and shut the Austrians out the rest of the way.

Werner Harraser pitched for Austria and pitched magnificently, keeping us off the scoreboard until the fifth inning when Joe Kealty doubled, drove in a run and then scored the tying run. Then both teams shut up shop, trading great pitching and super defensive plays. It was turning into a nail biter that neither team wanted to or indeed could afford to lose. Chris really turned it around after that first inning, and threw everything he had into one of the best pitching performances by an Irish pitcher. In eight solid innings he struck out eight while only giving up two runs, keeping Ireland in the game. In the middle of the seventh Sean sent me down to the bullpen in right field to warm up. I watched from there as Chris continued to dominate. The Austrians kept us off the board though, and rather than wear his ace out Sean decided to ask me to keep us in the game

I went to the mound under the lights to start the ninth inning, in a tied European Championships game, with my parents watching in the centre field stands. No pressure at all.

As I threw my warm up pitches I felt my stomach twist around a few times but that was it. I actually was able to keep the ball down and throw relatively hard. Nervousness is a very odd feeling. The worst part was wondering how those first few pitches were going to look. After having watched Chris pitch so masterfully I didn’t want to let the guys down. Didn’t want to let Sean down, did not want to let my Father down. I knew we needed this game too, we had worked very hard to get to 2-2 so to blow it would be a real moral sapper.

I have been doing this a long time now though and have such confidence in wonderful defensive players like John Dillon and Darran O’Connor that you know if you throw strikes you have a chance. The first pitch felt like I moved my arm but nothing happened. Thankfully the second felt more normal, and I stuck to throwing a low sinker, hoping it would confuse the bat speed of the Austrians who had been trying to catch up to Gannon’s 90mph fireballs the previous innings.

The first batter reached on a soft single, but I managed to field a bunt cleanly and make the out on the next play. One out. I hit the next batter, but then got a guy to ground a low sinker to second. To end the inning I managed to get a guy to lift a soft fly out to John Dillon in centre field. As I saw the ball flying out towards John I walked off the mound, that’s the kind of confidence I have in his defensive ability.

We managed nothing in the tenth so back out I went. Through singles and walks the Austrians loaded the bases with one out. All they needed was a little bloop hit and the game was over. The crowd was really buzzing, the adrenaline was flowing. The batter, Rauch Lutz, already had a couple of hits that day so probably felt pretty good about himself coming up knowing all he needed was to lift the ball into the outfield to win the game. The trick, for me, to a good sinker, is to get your controlling finger in a good position and drive the ball down, and when I threw the first pitch to Lutz I knew it was a good one. As it came out of my hand his eyes lit up. I assume he saw a medium speed fastball floating towards the plate, started drooling and began his swing. I saw his face turn into a Homeresque expression of ‘Doh!’ as he drove his bat topside of the ball and mashed it into the ground as the sinker did it’s thing and dove down just enough to make him ground it weakly to Pat Nolan at third. Pat threw home for the out and we had two outs with runners at first and second.

I felt the pressure lift off my shoulders. All we needed was one more out. The next batter lifted a soft fly to left field, made tricky by the bright lights, it disappeared into the total pitch black night above the light towers. Tom Kelley called Kevin Corrigan off the ball, and ended up having to go into a dive to catch it as he almost misjudged it. He grabbed it and clutched it to him as K-Co shouted relieved profanities at him. A narrow, narrow escape. We literally bounded off the field and the Irish fans in the big crowd went wild.

The momentum was ours and we went out and absolutely blew the game open in the eleventh inning. John Dillon led us off with a triple and suddenly we felt the game was ours for the taking. The atmosphere on the bench was electric. Joe Kealty was up next and lined a vicious triple into the outfield. Back to back triples. Sensational clutch hitting first from the Captain and then from our new stud. Three errors, four hits and six runs later we had blown the game open. The Austrians were stunned. The Irish supporters in the crowd and our bench were going crazy. Brian Morris loped in from the bullpen to close it out, striking out their last chance batter to seal the deal. We had beaten Austria for the first time. We were 2-0 in the tournament. We were legitimate.

It took us a while to get going, we ate in the canteen/tent, kind of hung around getting our stuff together even though it was quite late. I was standing at the fence looking out onto the floodlight field and I realised about four or five of the guys were doing the same, just savouring the moment. I thought to myself, this is it, this is the pinnacle of Irish baseball right now and this is as high as we have ever been. Finally, after everything that had come beforehand, we meant something on the map of European baseball.

We didn’t drive home as much as float home. The supporters were all in the lobby drinking and joking around. I went up to shower and change and then went back down for a victory beer. I heard clapping while in the lift, when I got out there was a big cheer, all the supporters were still there and every time a player got out of the lift or came in from the front door they got a huge round of applause. Very, very humbling, flattering and rewarding. As I sat down to sip on a cold German beer the feeling of satisfaction, fulfilment and reward was enormous, listening to the applause as each player joined us in the lobby. Quite a night.''



The games listed so far:

2. Ireland v Austria: European Pool B Championships 2004
3. Ireland v Hungary: European Pool B Championships 2000
4. Ireland v Yugoslavia: European Pool B Championships 1996

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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Friday, November 28, 2008

Weekend hot NFL picks

Fresh off the back of last night's stunning, all-world 4/4 (kidding, kidding, a learning disabled chimp could have gone 4/4 last night with those matchups) time to tackles some weekend NFL propositions. Five games in particular.

San Francisco @ Buffalo
Back to that old West Coast teams travelling to the East Coast, through three times zones. After the Cardinals, not exactly a horrific team, got pasted last night in Philadelphia, the score stands at West Coast 0 East Coast 14. To add to that, the 0-15 West Coast teams are averaging 15.8 points per game and allowing 26.9 points in those games. To add to that, the niners only win in their last eight was against the awful Rams. Meanwhile Buffalo appear back on track after a 54-31 pasting of Kansas. This one isn't going to be close.

Stone cold solid pick: Buffalo -7

New Orleans @ Tampa
Last three games Tampa have professionally put away the likes of Detroit, Minnesota and Kansas, while in their last four, New Orleans have beaten Green Bay, San Diego and Kansas, while losing a close one to those crazy kids on the Falcons. What does this tell you? Not much, nothing you didn't know already when you saw 'New Orleans +4' and said 'What the ****?!'

New Orleans, with one of the best offences in the NFL, are firing on all cylinders right now, having scores almost 130 points in their last four games, averaging 32.5 a game in that span. Right now, Drew Brees is in the zone.

Ride Brees's hot hand and take the four points in a game that New Orleans simply have to take if they are to make the playoffs.

Stone cold solid pick: New Orleans +4

Carolina @ Green Bay
This game comes at precisely the wrong time for the Panthers. Over the past four games, they have scored only seven first-quarter points and gained only 76 yard. Green Bay, meanwhile, will be chomping at the bit to show their destruction at the hands of the Saints was an aberration. This game is a 'must have' for the Packers, if they lose their season is basically over. Their 37-3 obliteration of Chicago two weeks ago showed they are a dangerous team at home. Carolina's recent scoring problems and Green Bay's home field advantage, tangible desperation and wounded pride all point to a big Pack win.

Stone cold solid pick: Green Bay -3

Atlanta @ San Diego
Even though the Falcons are 7-4, they are traveling across the country to face a desperate team. San Diego are giving 4.5 points only down to two factors, desperation and home field advantage. The problem is, you could see the feisty, young Falcons hanging around and even possibly poaching this one right at the end. The better play might be the over, which stands at 49 points as we speak. Both teams can put up points in a hurry. San Diego will be desperate to start fast, and the Falcons will have no problem keeping up if this turns into a shoot-out. There is no way you can trust the '08 Chargers giving up 4.5 points, go for the points, sit back and enjoy.

Stone cold solid pick: The 'over' @ 49 points

Pittsburgh @ New England
Wants and needs, wants and needs. Pittsburgh, reeling from serious injury issues, do not 'need' this game. New England do. The Steelers could be without as many as five starters. Willie Parker. Brett Keisel, Marvel Smith, Bryant McFadden and Deshea Townsend will all probably not play. That's basically half of the Steelers preferred starting squad. The Patriots can not drop this home game, their season is basically over for all intents and purposes if they do. The bet here is they focus on taking away the Steelers passing game and forcing them to run without Parker. Meanwhile The Patriots offence has dropped 100 points in just 3 games, as it clicks into gear for the home stretch.

Stone cold solid pick: New England Patriots -1




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Not for nothing, just saying...

Someone sent a comment on a post last night saying 'what's your point?'
Well, here's my point...

...or, my points...from yesterday's posts

From Dallas 36 Seattle 9
Prediction: Take Dallas -12 as the score is going to be something like 35-17 (Dallas -12 safer than the over as Seattle may struggle to score once they go behind)

From Eagles 48 - Arizona 20
Prediction one: Philadelphia -3. It's the logical thing to do. Arizona aren't likely to challenge that 0-14 for West Coast teams on the East Coast swing, particularly when added to the Eagles desperation.

From Eagles 48 - Arizona 20
Prediction two: The over has been at 47.5 or less in six games for the Cards this season, and has been beaten 'over' on five occasions. The over is 47.5 tonight, and should be taken on.

From Tennessee 47 Detroit 10
Prediction: Take the over at 43.5 and enjoy the turkey (and I don't mean Daunte Culpepper)

Hopefully somebody out there listened. This Stormtrooper did, which is why he is dancing his victory dance outside a bookie in, oh, I don't know, Tokyo?!




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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey picks part 2 and 3

Turkey picks Seattle @ Dallas

So let's see, we have the leagues 31st-ranked pass defense up against one of the most dynamic passing attacks in the NFL. Goodness gracious. At 2-9 Seattle really have absolutely nothing to play for, whilst Dallas are poised at 7-4 to make a push into the playoffs. The urgency Dallas has should propel them into an early lead at which stage they can sit back and pick off Seattle's rusty QB Hasselbeck at will.

This looks distinctly like..
Prediction: Take Dallas -12 as the score is going to be something like 35-17 (Dallas -12 safer than the over as Seattle may struggle to score once they go behind)

Turkey picks Arizona @ Philadelphia

With the way the Eagles are playing, with Westbrook's banged up knees and with the fact McNabb appears to be playing stoned, the +3 Arizona are getting looks tasty. Don't even think about falling for this though, it is an old fashioned trap.

Part of it comes down to wants and needs. Arizona want this game, sure, but they don't need it in the broader sense. The Eagles absolutely desperately need this game. Add to that the fact Arizona are travelling a long way to play, and are doing so on a short week also. Sure, the Eagles are on the same short week but don't have a cross-country trip to deal with like the Cards.

An Eagles loss would be quite literally the end of an era in Philadelphia, with whole sale changes probably resulting from what would be basically a season ending loss.

Arizona are so-so on the road at 3-3 whilst the Eagles are definitely better at home than their travelling version.

It all comes back to that cross country journey the Cards have to take.

''Teams that have taken cross-country flights for games on the East Coast -- including to Pittsburgh and Buffalo -- are 0-14 this year. The long trip makes it an even shorter week for the Cardinals, who have lost nine consecutive games on the East Coast since winning at Miami on Nov. 7, 2004.''


0-14, that pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

Two predictions here:

Prediction one: Philadelphia -3. It's the logical thing to do. Arizona aren't likely to challenge that 0-14 for West Coast teams on the East Coast swing, particularly when added to the Eagles desperation.

Prediction two: The over has been at 47.5 or less in six games for the Cards this season, and has been beaten 'over' on five occasions. The over is 47.5 tonight, and should be taken on.




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The Turkey picks:1 Tennessee @ Detroit

The Turkey picks
Tennessee @ Detroit

It doesn't seem fair, does it? 0-11 plays 1-10. Not to mention the fact that Tennessee will be frothing at the mouth for a win after losing for the first time in 2008 to the bizzaro Jets (seriously, do you see them getting far in the playoffs, really?). Poor Detroit could be in line for a serious backlash.

The line is reasonably elongated, standing currently at Tennessee -11 however there might be more value to be had in the 'over', which is currently only 43.5. Detroit have scored points against good teams, their problem is they simply can't stop the opposition scoring. Take last week for example. Detroit raced to a 17-0 lead over Tampa only to fall 38-20. Tennessee aren't a wildly flashy team and would be happy to grind out a win here, meaning they could win 27-20, for example, and not cover the 11 point spread. Take 28-19 for another example. Or even 27-17. Either way, Tennessee don't cover but the over is beaten.

One final note, the 'over' is 8-3 in the Lions games in '08.

Prediction: Take the over at 43.5 and enjoy the turkey (and I don't mean Daunte Culpepper)




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Imagine, on thanksgiving day...

So, imagine you are this particular guy.

Imagine you are a strong, beautiful, fast, proud, clever young man, called, for the sake of argument, Jacoby.

Imagine you have this beautiful new apartment, in a really nice location downtown. The apartment has everything you could need in it, and is really spacious too. It has great views, it's really clean and is actually one of those new fangled environmentally sound joints. It practically does all your recycling for you. It is ridiculously large, has a couple of spare bedrooms even and every morning you get up you thank whoever you believe in for this ridiculously perfect pad.

You fit the apartment perfectly and the apartment fits you. You almost have a tangible relationship with it. You have it done up really nice too. The place looks great.

You live peacefully and happily in this apartment for years.

Through a series of events you end up with a lodger. Someone staying in the smaller room of the big apartment. They are relatively unintrusive at first, you notice them come and go but in general they stick to their small room. One day you run into the guy downtown. He seems like a nice enough guy, bit different, but nice enough. The two of you sit down in a bar for a pint and talk over things. He tells you since he arrived in town nothing has gone right for him, he has been sick, he hates the weather, doesn't know what to eat and can't find a job. You offer to help. In fact, you go way above and beyond. Not only do you show the new lodger, Doug, we shall call him, all the good places in town, you get him a job, hook him up with a good pharmacy and basically help him adapt to his now environment. So much so that Doug's life improves exponentially.

As things improve for Doug he suggest the two of you go out an celebrate, as his way of thanking you. You go out to eat first, you can't help noticing not only do you end up arranging the meal you also end up paying for it. You go for a few drinks, and end up having a great time, so much so that from then on both you and Doug refer to it as 'that night'.

Time passes by, and as Doug settles in, your relationship gets stretched and starts to fray at the edges. Doug basically expands slowly across the apartment. He starts leaving his stuff in other rooms, and shouts back at you when you dare say anything. In a funny twist, once a year you still celebrate 'that night' together, by having a meal and a few drinks. On those few and far between nights you are able to co-exist peacefully, and you crack open beers together and eat without arguing, celebrating 'that night'.

The situation gets worse and worse though, so much so that's fights start to break out between the two of you. One day you come home and to your shock Doug has moved a friend in to one of the other spare rooms. Bob, the new guy, is even worse than Doug, and treats the apartment like it was his from day one. The two guys encroach heavily on your space and you can see the apartment changing before your own eyes. It starts to get dirty, the guys are terrible at cleaning up after themselves. They basically don't seem to give a damn about the apartment, something that totally shocks you.

The time of year comes around where you used to celebrate 'that night' with him, but now he closes the dining room door to keep you out and Doug and Bob have a huge, elaborate and rich meal without you, while watching football and boozing.

One night you get home, crack open a beer and sit back to watch something on TV. Doug and Bob walk in and change the channel, and push you out of your seat. Furious, you fight back, and punches are thrown. You hold your own, however the two big, dumb men manage to subdue you through weight of numbers. You go back to your room with a cut lip and broken nose. Last thing you remember about the night is Doug shouting at you 'You stick to your room from now on, you aren't allowed anywhere else in the apartment!'

Your apartment rights are ripped away from you. You can't use anything except what's in your room. It gets even worse. You come home one day and Bob is moving his stuff into your room. When you argue a fight breaks out again. You easily have the measure of him however Doug arrives and again you end up overpowered, bloodied, bruised yet still with your pride intact. Bob tells you he just prefers your room, and from now on you are to stay in a tiny, almost empty, useless little spare room.

This change in the apartment has a detrimental and speedy knock on effect.

You lose your job, your health deteriorates, you sometimes slip sadly into alcholism. Nobody around town respects you anymore, and absolutely no one cares about your plight.

The worst part is, once a year, Bob and Doug have people over to celebrate 'that night', leaving you in your little room. Your glory days where you and the apartment had a beautiful relationship are long gone and forgotten, replaced by a nagging, constant pain in your heart. Never once do you lose your pride or dignity, your two strongest features, however from now on you will always have a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach, particularly that once a year.

Doesn't seem fair does it?



In the 1910, the total population of North American Indians was about 400,000, down from about 18 -19 million in 1492.
(David Stannard in his 'American Holocaust', 1992, pp. 74-75, p.151)

Happy Thanksgiving.



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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ireland v Hungary: Karlovac, Croatia: European Pool B Championships 2000


The Top ten games in Baseball Ireland History (number 3)

Game Number 3
Ireland v Hungary
Karlovac, Croatia
European Pool B Championships 2000

Game files
  • Game: Ireland v Croatia
  • Tournament: European Pool B Championships
  • Game type: Group game
  • Venue: Karlovac, Croatia

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'

''
I woke up at 7 am. Nervous, excited and hungover. I paced around the hotel on my own for a while, stopped to eat a very basic breakfast and listened to my walkman for a while sitting on the steps in front of the hotel, watching Karlovac wake up slowly. We walked to the field almost in silence, meeting up with the rest of the team on the way.

There was a different feeling in the air amongst the team before our last game. Our backs were against the wall, we had lost everything and basically, at that stage, had nothing left to lose. For the first time in the tournament we were focussed, it seemed like the lads were saying ‘were not getting humiliated today.’

Behind our dugout the lads started to put their gear on, in relative silence. John Dillon waited until coaches, friends and onlookers were out of site and gathered us together. We huddled close and listened to one of the most inspirational pre game speeches I have ever heard, real or fictional. JD challenged us to stand tall like proud Irish men and leave everything on the field that day. There was total silence when he was done, as to a man his speech sunk in. We were suitably inspired.

Hungary was due to play Croatia in the final the next day but had their best team out against us. The game started and our emotions and determination took over. We started cranking out big hits and doing the little things, Darran O’Connor scoring from second on a single, driving himself into the dusty ground to score sliding home. Sean had caught four games in blistering sunshine but coaxed me forward on the mound, refusing to let me lose my concentration.


The game swung back and forth, the neutrals got into it. The Hungarians got into it. While pitching I could hear them sing on the bench, a kind of Hungarian chant, with the words ‘Cormac Eklof’ every now and then, I could only imagine what it meant, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t complimentary.

The seventh and eighth innings were hard. My arm was aching, literally throbbing. The guys could probably see it and were trying to keep me going, Darran constantly saying my name trying to urge me on. They backed me up defensively too, JD chasing fly balls down like his life depended on it.

We made it to the ninth inning with a 10-9 lead over the tournament finalists. I got the first two batters and we were almost home and dry. I got a little excited though and walked two guys to put men on first and second with two outs. Coach Steen had no choice. I will never forget the confidence he showed in me leaving me in there for 8 2/3 innings, but it was time for me to leave.

Sean came out to talk to me, basically giving Bill Beglane some more time to warm up. He took of his catchers mask and started asking me how I was, we both heard a huge ‘clank’ and looked around to see the dugout all standing up. Bill Beglane had just thrown a warm up pitch through a tiny gap in the back right into the dugout itself.

I watched Coach Steen ambling out towards the mound slowly, shaking his head. He didn’t say much, just kind of looked at me and put his hand out for the ball. I think I mumbled ‘sorry’, sorry for getting us into this ninth inning jam. I think coach said ‘Don’t be silly, good job’ or something. Then I turned and left the mound.

As I walked off the Hungarian third base coach and manager shook my hand, again something I will never forget. Bill Beglane trotted in from the bullpen to try and save the game.

Bill got ahead of the batter in the count, on the third pitch he drove a ground ball towards Darran at short with the runners off. Darran fielded it, briefly looked at second and then, after giving everyone a heart attack by delaying that second, threw to first, making the out with less than a step to spare. Game over. Ireland wins 10-9.

Somehow we had managed to beat the tournament finalists.''



The games listed so far:

3. Ireland v Hungary: European Pool B Championships 2000
4. Ireland v Yugoslavia: European Pool B Championships 1996
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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BASEBALL IRELAND POKER TOURNAMENT

BASEBALL IRELAND POKER TOURNAMENT
  • WHEN: November 29 (following Baseball Ireland AGM) from 13:30 to 17:30
  • WHERE: Royal Dublin Hotel (Georgian Room), O'Connell Street
  • WHAT: Open event - all welcome. Places limited to maximum 40 players.
No Limit Hold-em Tournament
€30 entry fee, €20 rebuy (once) before 15:30
Cash prizes guaranteed for top 6 places at least
Proceeds to Baseball Ireland
Spectators welcome
Additional poker tables may be running alongside the tournament and in the evening.
WHO: To pre-book contact Noel Mitchell on noelmitchell@iol.ie

Baseball Ireland official site

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tonight Arsenal face Dynamo Kiev in a crucial Champions League clash

The Racing Post continues to be stupid.

Yet another reason the Racing post, while useful for statistics, should be laughed at for it's sporting selections. Tonight Arsenal face Dynamo Kiev in a crucial Champions League clash, in London.

The Racing Post, in it's infinite wisdom, is suggesting punters throw their hard earned money at the Russians, in what would seem to be at best 'curious' advice, at worst, kind of suspicious.

Their sole piece of actual evidence? There appears to be large amounts of cash being reported by the bookmakers going on the Russians.


Just because a bunch of Tottenham, Man Utd and Liverpool fans are lumping in against Arsenal doesn't mean the average user should join in on that action! Not to mention the Eastern European factor. There are millions of Euros flooding the Irish/English betting markets from Russia and other Eastern European areas. Does this mean that because some Russian oil billionaire puts a stupid 'heart' bet on Dynamo at 9/1 to beat Arsenal IN London, the general betting populace should do same?

That's superb analysis, Racing Post, please keep up the sterling work.

The Post also refers to Arsenal's 'recent implosion' - did that implosion include the 2-1 win over Manchester United? Or is that simply forgotten now?

Consider the simple facts. Dynamo are in this tournament after scraping by Ireland's feisty, gutsy yet semi-professional club, Drogheda. The 'Drogs' came very close to knocking them out. Arsenal are one of the finest clubs in Europe, or the World, and are at home, playing for the place at the top of their Champions League group.

There is only one logical way to look at tonight, Arsenal 2-0 or maybe 3-1, something along those lines.

Also, the newly appointed captain Cesc Fabregas to score the first goal looks a bit tasty too.

Come along!



Fabreclass.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ireland v Yugoslavia: European Pool B Championships 1996


The Top ten games in Baseball Ireland History (number 4)

Game Number 4
Ireland v Yugoslavia
Hull, the UK
European Pool B Championships 1996

Game files
  • Game: Ireland v Yugoslavia
  • Tournament: European Pool B Championships
  • Game type: Group game
  • Venue: Hull, the UK

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'

''
The Yugoslavians had also lost all their games coming into the bottom of the table clash with us, but had more experience, better equipment, a bigger squad and were probably favourites for the game. As would become custom for the Irish team in the next decade though, we saved our best for last. Starting pitcher Bill Beglane showed us what he could do, keeping the opposition off balance with a fastball and a huge sweeping curve. The defence played above expectations and we created runs on the base paths. We won. We beat them 10-9. After getting beaten up for a week we had beaten someone. We ran out of the dugouts on the final out and celebrated like we had just won the World Series. There were, of course, a couple of soft drinks downed that night in celebration.''



The games listed so far:


4. Ireland v Yugoslavia: European Pool B Championships 1996
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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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Damn you Peyton, damn you...

Never thought I would say this, ever. Peyton Manning is growing on me. First, a gritty recovery from a bad injury. Now this disarming advert.





Damn you and your charming wit, Peyton Manning!




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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The 66 million dollar swing.

Always fun to kick a post off with a little 'I know a guy who knows a fella'. In this case, I know a guy who knows someone in Vegas and this guy tells me that after the crazy Steelers v Chargers game on the weekend, with the Steelers having a late, late touchdown called back incorrectly, there was a borderline riot in the sports books, with people throwing chairs and tables and acting a little crazy in general.

Why so angry?

Bear in mind the line for this game as Steelers -4.5

Now put yourself in the shoes of Joe Punter, the honest, hard working guy who has put a couple of dollars on the Steelers -4.5. Maybe more than a couple. Maybe our hero, Joe Punter, felt good about the Steelers chances and, as they say in the gambling world, 'Lumped in'.

Imagine you are Joe Punter watching a game where the team you have put your hard earned money on, the Steelers, are called for thirteen, count 'em, thirteen penalties. The opposition, the Chargers? Uno. One. A single penalty. 115 yards of penalty markers as opposed to 5. That's a little lopsided. However, these things happen, right?

Continue to put yourselves in the shoes of our focal protagonist, our Joe Punter, as you watch the same game, your eager, sweaty palms clutching a ticket for a big Steelers -4.5 win over a team you know they have the better of. There's one minute left and 'Fast' Willie Parker steams in for a seemingly clinching touchdown.

Not so fast fellas;

3-4-SD 4 (:21) 39-W.Parker left tackle for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN NULLIFIED by Penalty. PENALTY on PIT-49-S.McHugh, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SD 4 - No Play.

The play gets called back and San Diego force a turnover on downs regaining the rock at their own one yard line.

Then this happens. Put yourself in our guys shoes, and imagine his elation as this play unfolds. Watch this play and see if you can find anything wrong with it. Touchdown, right?



Wrong. Play called back. Touchdown nullified. Steelers win by one. Imagine our guy for a second, twice in the final minute you have been denied a clinching touchdown, after having been put through a game where your team lost the penalty battle 13-1.

Now pick up a chair and throw it, turn a table over. Go a little crazy. Judging by all the above, it looks like you have every right to do so.

100 million in legal bets were placed on this game in Vegas. Two thirds of those were on the Steelers. That's 66 millions dollars as opposed to 33 million on the chargers. Legal bookmakers went from minus 33 million dollars to plus 33 million dollars in the blink of a bad call. That is a 66 million dollar swing. That's what they should call this game, 'the 66 million dollar swing'.

Hey, nobody wants to imagine the NFL is fixed, but take all the above into account, and the situation certainly needs some explaining, no?

Dustin v Mauer. Rob Neyer, put the bottle of scotch down!

Naturally, with awards, there is always someone that doesn't like how it went down. There is always someone that thinks somebody else deserved it way more than the actual recipient.

Take ESPNs Rob Neyer, who thinks the Twins catcher Joe Mauer should have taken the AL MVP award over Dustin Pedroia. He puts across a case that seems to have been written with a bottle of Scotch in one hand, a torn betting slip that reads 'Joe Mauer AL MVP' in the other.

Two points grate in particular.

The first is completely erroneous. Neyer claims;
''Clutch hitting? Pedroia's career numbers in the clutch are nothing special.''


You have to wonder what Neyer is smoking, with that statement. Pedroia's career 'clutch' type stats are nothing short of sensational. Remember, the below are Pedroia's career numbers, that Neyer says are 'nothing special'.

  • With the bases loaded, Pedroia is batting a Ted Williamsesque .419
  • In situations deemed 'close and late', he is batting a Derek Jeter like .328
  • How about with a runner on third and two out? The kid is only batting .458

Those numbers above are the very definition of clutch. Neyer's statement is at best totally inaccurate, at worst, well, mind numbingly awful. How can a well paid journalist miss so terribly with a crucial comment in a supposedly sober discussion on a statistics based award?

It gets worse.

Secondly there is his 'blow you away' paragraph, the part of a story a writer is building up to as he drags you through his article. Rob goes with the following;

''And for as long as I've been doing this, every time the MVP voters have a choice between the guy with the power stats and the guy who does the little things, they pick the guy with the big numbers.''


The problem here is, that is exactly Dustin Pedroia's 'modus operandus', he is that guy, the guy who does the little things, he just happens to bat for a high average and hit the occasional long ball also.

To say the above just swings the entire discussion in Pedroia's favour.

Little things? You want little things?

  • How about 20/21 in stolen base attempts? (Mauer went 1/2)
  • How about 118 runs scored? (Mauer crossed the plate 98 times)
  • How about leading the league in doubles with 54? (Mauer had 31)
  • How about leading the league with 213 hits? (Mauer had 176)
  • How about slugging to the tune of .493? (Mauer slugged .476)



I like Joe Mauer. He is a fine catcher and a superb batter, with one of the best eyes in the majors. One thing he isn't, however, is AL MVP. That's Dustin Pedroia, and there isn't one player in the AL who deserves it more. To argue against that is, naturally, fine. The whole point of journalism, writing, blogging or whatever it is people are doing in baseball forums world wide, is communication and the exchange of ideas.

Passionately arguing that Mauer should have got the MVP is all well and good, but come on, don't use a lack of clutch hitting and 'the little things' in an argument against Pedroia. That just indicates either a high level of alcohol in your blood stream, or you didn't watch the kid in 2008. He was simply amazing.

Hence the AL MVP award.




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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

AL v NL - let's chop it up

One would appear to have incensed a few NL fans in the last few days, if the acerbic, angry emails flooding the old inbox are anything to go by. Fans of MLBs National League are a passionate bunch, and never like to hear that 'their' league is any way inferior to those big bullies in the AL.

Personally I am totally open minded when it comes to NL v AL, I love watching NL baseball too, it has it's own quirks and style that make it totally different and yet just as enjoyable to watch as their AL equivalent. I would even go as far as saying a well pitched, crisp, two hour NL game is often more enjoyable to watch than a four hour slug-fest between, for example, Texas and Oakland.

The stone cold fact of the matter though is that the AL is the superior league to the NL. How can one say that so confidently? It's all in the content, the teams in this case. Sure, the Phillies won the World Series, and I tip my cap to them, however in the last few years the AL has been the vastly superior league to the NL.

Shall we back this up with heaps of flashy statistics? Yes, let's.

Looking at the overall total of win/losses in Interleague play since it began in 1997 the final total would not seem to reflect any wild disparity.

Wins by League:
YEAR AL NL
199797117
1998114110
1999116135
2000136115
2001132120
2002123129
2003115137
2004126125
2005136116
200615498
2007137115
2008149103
Totals1,5361,420


That disparity however is instantly recognisable when you instead take it from 2004 onwards, basically the period where the AL has really come to the fore, and the NL has pretty much become the weaker league.

2004126125
2005136116
200615498
2007137115
2008149103
TotalsAL - 702
NL - 557

So since 2004 in interleague play the AL has gone 702-557, including a season where they went 149-103 and the insane 2006 season where the AL pummelled the NL to the tune of 154-98

Looking deeper into interleague play, since it began in 1997, only five NL teams have a winning percentage of any shape or form, anything over .500. The AL bullies have nine teams that can boast a winning interleague play record. The Yankees and A's are hammering NL teams to the tune of almost .600!

Interleague play is just one measure of the domination the AL has experienced over the weaker NL in the last few years. How about the World Series and the All Star Game?

The AL has won seven of the last 11 World Series, and 11 All Star Games in a row (plus one tie).

Not even close, on either count. You can argue all you want really, but the facts are right there staring right at you. World Series domination, All Star game total domination and interleague domination all add up to the fact that the AL is the vastly superior league.

The only consolation really for fervent NL fans is the cyclical nature of sports. Sure, the AL is totally dominating the NL now, however who knows, maybe from 2015 to 2025 the NL will rule the roost over the AL. You just never know, and that's the inherent beauty of sports.

Just not so much as we speak though.


154-98. Wow.





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Thank you, Joey...

Nice one, Mr Porter! Just in case the Patriots were short of any bulletin board material for their crucial AFC East clash coming up this Sunday, Porter provided same in spades with his latest inane outburst.

“Now they’ve got to come into our yard. All the little antics they had before the game and stuff like that, they’re not going to try that in our house.''


You sure about that, Joey? The Patriots team the Dolphins beat earlier in the season was struggling on many levels. With Cassell now looking like a real NFL QB, with Sammy Morris back and with the Patriots starting to gel in their last few games, Porter couldn't have chosen a worse time to start this rubbish.

You might remember he sent a few verbal barbs the Patriots way before the last game, and got away with it, you would have to wonder though if the Gods of Sports Karma will let the fool away with it twice in one season.

This observers vote goes towards Sports Karma taking umbrage at Porter and his enormous mouth trying to get away with pre game trash talking twice in a season.


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Manny finishes fourth in NL MVP voting: Apocalypse nears.

If you needed any clearer indication that the Apocalypse was imminent, look no further than the NL MVP award announced today.

Albert Pujols took the award, which will be fine with everyone bar Ryan Howard and his crew, however the real story was who finished fourth in the voting;

''Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramírez, acquired from the Red Sox at the trading deadline July 31, finished fourth.''


The question here is, does this mean a player who took part in only 53 of his teams games is more worthy than the majority of players who slogged through 162 games for theirs? Foolish NL voters apparently seem to think so.

How did Manny dupe so many voters into giving such a high level finish? There are so many worthy NL players who hit more than 17 home runs or batted in more than Manny's 50, so it can't be statistical, right?

How about the fact that Manny seemed to galvanise the Dodgers into a playoff push that seemed, at best, 50/50 before his arrival?

That doesn't work either, as the guy who won the award Pujols, didn't even make the playoffs with his squad.

The worst part of all this is you can imagine the evil Scott Boras (yes, pure evil) being almost sexually aroused when he found out that Manny had snuck into fourth in the NL MVP voting, as this will allow him to pry even more dollars out of Manny's next deal, whoever is stupid enough to deal for the clown. Sexually aroused? That's a bit erroneous I guess, due to the fact that Satan doesn't have sexual organs. We will leave it 'delighted' so. Boras we 'delighted' when he heard the news.

For your average baseball fan, any time 'Boras' and 'delighted' are in the same sentence is not a good time.

''Manny finished fourth in the NL MVP voting? KACHING!''


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Monday, November 17, 2008

Equations that don't really add up

So here's an abstract equation for you

28 years old + 253 innings pitched + 300lbs in weight / 140 million over six years

Break that down and you get the following; The New York Yankees are offering a 28 year old who weighs close to 300lbs, and has just finished a season in which he pitched an incredible 253 innings, 140million over six years.

Break it down further, and you get the simple fact they will, in future, be paying a guy in his mid thirties and over 300lb, close to 25 million a year to pitch for them.

Did I mention his outstanding statistics were put together in the DH-less National League, where pitchers go to pad stats?

A few outings against the Red Sox, Rangers, Angels and Blue Jays and suddenly those statistics wouldn't look so good.

I have to admit, I am all about CC, I think he is fun to watch, a true entertainer, and at the end of the day isn't that what organised sporting ventures are all about, entertainment? There is a little tiny bit of Schadenfreude, buried deep down inside, that would love to see the Yankees bury an enormous wad of their cash into a potential, 300lb disaster. The kid just pitched 253 innings, surely that has to have a detrimental effect on his ample body?

Put it this way, say the Yankees do sign him to something like that deal. CC is averaging almost 210 innings pitched per season. By the age of 32, CC will have pitched an incredible 2,500 innings. That's simply an awful amount of miles on the odometer, any which way you look at it. To hammer it home, CC would still have another 50 million left on his guaranteed Yankee contract at that stage.

25 million a year. That's an awful lot of cheeseburgers, isn't it?




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Odd and confusing signals.

Unusual story in the Globe today.

Basically a no holds barred sycophantic love story to a returned US Marine who now plays soccer (well, actually, he's a bench guy) for U Mass. The story in itself revolves around how many 'insurgents' the Marine has killed in Iraq. Super duper. It's always good having your morning coffee reading about how some chap knocked off 50 other human beings and is now reaping in the accolades for same.

The section that was most unusual comes right at the end. Bear in mind, this piece was in the Globes sports section.

"It's good for the team to see I have their back," said Piekos. "In our game against Vermont, our midfielder Ben Arikian got tackled dirty. I was the first one off the bench. I'm trained that it takes 32 pounds of torque to snap a human's neck. But that was never in my mind. I never planned on laying a finger on him. I just pointed towards my jugular [vein] and carotid [artery] in the neck and then towards them. They saw that and they got intimidated. I don't start fights.''

Excellent, I don't start fights, I just make signs/gestures that suggest I am going to snap my opponents neck. Nice work, very commendable. Okay first thing that jumps to mind is, the Globe appears to be glorifying a pretty horrific gesture. Isn't that motion banned in the NFL? Haven't they gone out of their way to get rid of that kind of thing?

It doesn't really matter if this glorified Rambo type was giving the sign to a cowering 'terrorist', Adolf Hitler or Ghengis Khan, what is unsettling is the Globe's apparent slathering, sycophantic adoration of him for doing so. When kids start using the 'neck break' on high school sports fields, will the Globe perhaps rethink their adulation of this gesture?

You would love to know what the referee made of the 'I am going to break your neck' gesture during the game? Yellow card? Quick word on the side, something along the lines of 'Eh, son, you can't motion that you are going to break an opponents neck!'. Or, did he allow this? I imagine it would be some sort of offence against the Patriot act to give the kid a yellow card for this? I wonder what would happen if this occurred in MLS? I know what would happen in the Premiership, La Liga or the Bundesliga. The player would be banned for at least 5-8 games.

It's not exactly what you would call a proportionate response either. A bad tackle leads to a broken neck? How does that work?

At the end of the day, thanks to the Globe, at least we all now know that it takes 32lbs of torque to snap the human neck. You just don't know when that might come in handy!

One final thought, think Paul Pierce has read this story as yet? Can he ask for his money back on the basis that the Globe seems to think menacing gestures are okay now?



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Friday, November 14, 2008

Coming out of the Derek Jeter closet

I feel bad.

I have been very harsh on Derek Jeter in the past, or to the casual observer it may certainly seem that way. I have mocked his fielding ability, and seemingly rejoiced at the fact he did not win a Gold Glove in '08. I feel I should clarify things a little.

Derek Jeter is pretty super awesome.

I know, I know, I am a Red Sox fan, I am probably one of the biggest Red Sox 'homers' in the entire universe, and that's simply not behaviour fitting a man of such alleged ilk. That's how it is though, hey, he will never be a great defensive short-stop, but there are many, many things the kid does better than most.

So much so, he is going to the Hall of Fame, no questions asked.


I say this entirely lucid, Jeter is a class act. Jeter has spent his entire career with the Yankees, starting in 1995 when he was 20 years old. You just don't get that anymore, in this age of disgusting contracts, disgusting Scott Boras and disgusting, money fuelled player decisions. Jeter has an entirely non-disgusting loyalty that has glued him to the one team for his whole career. That's almost non-existent in the here and now.

Statistically, his achievements speak for themselves. Jeter has won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, a Silver Slugger Award, and three Gold Glove Awards. In 2000, he became the only player to win both the All-Star Game MVP Award and the World Series MVP Award in the same year. His .317 career batting average through the 2007 season ranks him with the 5th-highest lifetime batting average of all active baseball players. He has been in the top seven in the American League in both hits and runs scored for nine of the past ten years. The kid can rake. Fact.

Everyone remembers Jeter diving into the stands at Fenway, the night that Nomar sulked, but perhaps his memorable play took place in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS vs. the Oakland Athletics. With Jeremy Giambi on first base, Oakland right fielder Terrence Long hit a double off Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina into the right-field corner. Giambi should have scored. Instead, Jeter came out of nowhere to grab the ball and flip it to Posada, who tagged Giambi on the leg just before he crossed home plate for the out. Facing elimination, the Yankees went on to win the game, as well as the series.

Even the way that Jeter responds to the inane postings, bleatings and drivel on his defensive frailties (like mine, for example) oozes class like Lindsay Lohan oozes the crazy gene. When asked what Jeter thought about everyone and their mother saying he was not a good fielder, his response was;

"I play in New York, man. Criticism is part of the game, you take criticism as a challenge."


Touché, mon frere, touché.

Just to quantify the whole 'Jeter can't field' slant, it's not that he can't pick a baseball off the ground and throw to first, of course he can. Jeter is, at the end of the day, probably an above average but not spectacular fielder. The thing is, he did not deserve those Gold Gloves that came his way the last few years, end of story. There were many less high profile shortstops that should have got it before him. When most people talk about Jeter being a poor fielder, what they actually mean is, he's not as good as some people hold him up to be.

As a Red Sox fan, of course I hope Jeter strikes out a billion and ten times in his next billion and eleven at bats against the Red Sox, however apart from that, keep on truckin Jeter, one of the easiest players to root for in Major League baseball. The crazy thing is, even Red Sox fans the world over will miss him when he is gone. It simply won't be the same without the Yankee Captain.

Seriously though, he still can't field a scratch.

Just saying.


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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Domination.

Anyway there’s this guy right, and I have played baseball against the chap for something like a decade, and we have occasionally bought each other a beer and, you know what, I actually have been to his house a few times. He was a participant in my stag party, now that I think of it. Genuinely nice guy, all my friends get on well with him. Here’s the thing, I think he hates my guts.

It has been brewing for years, you know when you just get the ‘vibe’, as they say? Of course there were emails, slanderous emails, and plenty of ‘he said/she said’ Chinese whisper like 'hear-say', and the ‘vibe’, added to everything else, leads me to believe the guy actually kind of dislikes me.

Always disappointing, naturally. In this case I did find myself wondering, why? Whilst occasionally a bit of a clown, I do try to be relatively nice to people, particularly people I consider friends. So, the question remained, why?

Well, as of today, thanks to a calculator, I think I have the answer.

That answer is numeric.
360 - 218

Or, to be it in better context.
New England - 360
New York - 218

See, the lad in question, he's a pretty big Jets fan. Allah be praised, it is all clear to me now. Everything makes sense. I can see clearly now, the rain has gone. I added up the scores from the Patriots v Jets scores since 2001 and I got my answer. Really, no wonder the kid hates me. 360-218! That's severe domination. That's Ali over everybody like domination. That's Manchester United over the Premier League like domination. That's USC over the NCAA the last few years domination.

I'll buy the guy a beer next time I see him, see if I can make up for seven years of the Patriots absolutely dismantling his favourite team.

360 - 218.
Wow.



HEAD TO HEAD MATCHUPS (SINCE 2001)
New England leads 13-3
Sep 14, 2008NYJ 10, @NWE 19
Dec 16, 2007NYJ 10, NWE 20
Sep 9, 2007NYJ 14, @NWE 38
Jan 7, 2007NYJ 16, NWE 37
Nov 12, 2006NYJ 17, NWE 14
Sep 17, 2006NYJ 17, @NWE 24
Dec 26, 2005NYJ 21, @NWE 31
Dec 4, 2005NYJ 3, NWE 16
Dec 26, 2004NYJ 7, @NWE 23
Oct 24, 2004NYJ 7, NWE 13
Dec 20, 2003NYJ 16, @NWE 21
Sep 21, 2003NYJ 16, NWE 23
Dec 22, 2002NYJ 30, NWE 17
Sep 15, 2002NYJ 7, @NWE 44
Dec 2, 2001NYJ 16, @NWE 17
Sep 23, 2001NYJ 10, NWE 3


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Racing Post - Not awesome when it comes to picking US sports results

Right, well, you know the way you can walk into a shop in the USA and buy a gun but you can't walk into a shop and place a bet, right? Well, in Ireland it’s the other way round. You can not walk into a shop and buy a weapon; however, you can walk into a shop and place a bet, not a problem.

In the town I work in, there are four such shops (to put that in perspective, that’s about 40% of the shops on the main street). Betting/gambling is kind of a big deal in Ireland, and indeed England.

To feed the hunger of those who partake in this, well, hobby, there is a broadsheet newspaper called the ‘Racing Post’ printed daily on these shores. It’s the Irish/English equivalent of ‘Guns and Ammo’, at least in the realms of the slant of this piece anyway.

The Post is an always entertaining read for the sporting enthusiast. Those who follow horse racing absolutely swear by it, in fact one would imagine it was essential to all horse-gamblers on these shores, with its in depth reporting and statistics.

The area that it might be a little bit hit-and-or-miss would be in general sports gambling, as opposed to the horsies. The Post often seems unable to make up its mind. Take for example last night's Carling Cup clash between Sunderland and Blackburn. In Tuesday’s Post the pundits had Sunderland as a good price to see off recently-poor Blackburn. Wednesday? Naturally the headline reads; ‘Blackburn can return victorious’. Okay so, not much in the line of ‘direction’ there. The post is generally good though for pure statistics, and as a basic form guide, particularly for soccer betting.

However (surely you knew deep down inside there was a whopper of a ‘however’ coming?!) when it comes to US sports in particular, the Post is a little ‘off’ in general. Actually, in lay mans terms, the Racing Post completely sucks when it comes to predicting US sporting results. It blows. It is wildly erroneous. Yes, wildly.

A particularly productive day in the office @ the Racing Post, US Sports department

Someone should start keep statistics on their American Football predictions, for example. Their weekly tips are absolutely horrible. Last week one of their finest suggestions was that the Giants @ Philadelphia would be a 'low scoring dog fight' - of course this finished up at almost 70 total points. Their weekly NFl write up is actually pretty amusing it is that bad. Sometimes you end up wondering if the people that write them are actually watching the games.

It doesn't stop at Football. For two years running they have picked the Chicago White Sox as the World Series champion. Clearly this is some Monkey who saw the 2005 World Series and has been enamoured with Chicago's ageing, big-bopper lineup ever since. Racing Post, it's time to let go of the Chicago White Sox!

Basketball? Oh they can screw that up too! During the NBA finals last season they suggested punters lump-in on the Lakers, hop on Kobe and watch the cash roll in. That worked out pretty well for them. Twice this season already they have suggested punters take on the 8-1 Celtics.

Let's just say neither pick worked out very well.

Possible Racing Post future US Sports picks:

  • Superbowl 2008: The New England Patriots - that Tom Brady guy is nails!
  • NBA 2009: The Seattle Supersonics!
  • NHL 2009: The LA Thundersticks (Saw it on a t-shirt somewhere)
  • NCAA Football 2008/2009: Harvard, really good school
  • World Series 2009: The New York Yankees - Babe Ruth too good to ignore
How is it so hard, in this day and age, to get someone on board who actually knows something about US Sports, as opposed to churning out endless, stat happy, thought-light, losing picks?


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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lincecum takes NL CY Young, 'Boston Irish' completely vindicated!

Good for little Timmy Lincecum!


I had been hoping for this since October first;

NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum Big CC takes the MVP and little Timmy takes the CY Young. Why doesn't CC take the Cy along with the MVP? Tim Lincecum's pure pitching numbers are actually even better! Why haven't I even mentioned Brandon Webb and his incredible 22-7 record? Tim Lincecum's pure pitching numbers are actually even better!


Sure enough, the eligible voters felt the same way;
Tim Lincecum, just 24 years old, went 18-5 and led all of baseball in strikeouts. On Tuesday, he was rewarded for his efforts with the NL Cy Young Award.


Tip of the cap to little Timmy, a thoroughly entertaining pitcher to watch. Of course, as always, not everyone agrees with Timmy's coronation. Then again, some agree more than others!

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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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