Thursday, January 15, 2009

World Baseball Rankings released.

The first International World Rankings ever for baseball have been released by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). First shock? The United States is not top. That honour goes to Cuba, who are a major power-house in International play (while the States can't even make the finals of the tournaments it plays in and it would appear many of the high profile US players aren't even bothered showing up).

The Irish baseball team - group shot from 2001

Sadly, the IBAF only printed the top 45, out of their 126 strong International affiliation. Naturally from an Irish perspective it would have been interesting to see where we rank! Before you snigger, consider this. There are actually three teams on the list that the Irish baseball team has beaten in the past, plus others the Irish team has had close games against in European play. The teams Ireland has beaten and their current ranking;

  • 23. Great Britain
  • 39. Austria
  • 40. Lithuania

Ireland beat 40th ranked Lithuania 8-7 in the 2002 European Pool B Championships held in Stockholm, Sweden.

Ireland scored seven runs in the first inning and, thanks to the determined pitching of Brian Morris, held on to win 8-7, over a team that had won 22-1 the day before!

Ireland beat 39th ranked Austria in a memorable extra innings game in the 2004 European Pool B Championships held in Regensburg, Germany. Chris Gannon, who plays in the German league, pitched the Irish past the strong Austrian lineup, Ireland scoring the winning runs in an exciting 8-2 win in the 10th inning.

Finally, Ireland defeated 23rd ranked Great Britain on their own home field in London, two games to three in a three game series in 2006, held in preparation for the 2006 European Championships. In the Friday evening series opener, West Virginia’s Brendan Bergerson was the dominant starter as Ireland spanked Great Britain 14-6. In the first game of a double header on the following Saturday the English won a tight one 6-5 to tie the series. However, in the final game, Nat Anglin pitched Ireland past their hosts 6-5 and Ireland took the first ever series between the two neighbours 2-1.

Although Ireland does not appear on the shortened list of the top teams, clearly the foundation is there for the ‘Boys in green’ to appear higher on the list in future, considering they have beaten several teams in the top echelons. Considering how recent those games were, particularly the Great Britain series, you could make a case that Ireland deserves to be placed in the top 40, at least. Perhaps a few friendly series against the likes of Cuba, Australia or Spain might bump the Irish up the list. Of course, it might prove tricky to convince players to travel to such far away, non exotic places. Wait a second…baseball in Havana, anyone?

Sean Finn - one of Ireland's young rising stars


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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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