Archive | May, 2012

Who Would Have Thought…..

Who would have thought…..

There are several of these this season so far. I think the biggest one is who would have thought the Baltimore Orioles would be this good?

Heading into tonight’s play, the Orioles are atop the AL East with a 27-15 record which is the best in the American League. Not only are they in first but the whole division seems to be turned upside down with the Yankees and Red Sox in 4th and 5th place.

There seems to be a surprise in just about every division.

AL Central

Who would have thought the Detroit Tigers would be under .500 and trailing not only the Cleveland Indians but the Chicago White Sox?

AL West

I think everyone though the Rangers would be at the top of the division, but who would have though the Angels would be bringing up the rear? They are 8 games out of first and 6 games under .500 already this season. Albert Pujols just hasn’t hit yet but they could easily turn it around. Maybe.

NL East

I think we thought the Washington Nationals would be good, but this good? They are trailing the Braves by a half game and have played really well this season. Perhaps the bigger surprise is the fall of the Phillies. So far they are in last place 5 games out and a game under  .500 but they have had a lot of big injuries.

NL Central

Not any huge surprises here. Cincinnati and St. Louis are tied for first, but Pittsburgh and Houston are next in the standings which might be the biggest surprise.

NL West

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best record in baseball. Not sure anyone saw that coming with all the off the field issues they have had. They are hot of late (8-2 in last 10) and are almost unbeatable at home going 19-4.

I think the Orioles are the biggest surprise so far. I hope they can keep it up. It’s nice to see teams that haven’t won in a few years return to the top of the league. It’s time for some new blood in the playoffs.

What do you think is the biggest surprise so far?

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The Good Side of Baseball Fans

I have seen baseball in a lot of places, and have seen good and bad fans. However, the bad ones seem to stand out more than the good. I can understand fans that don’t like another team and/or player for that matter. I have a lot of teams I can’t root for. But the one thing I can’t stand is an ignorant fan.

I’ve seen lots of them, and I don’t think I am the most knowledgeable fan out there. But I have seen a few things in the past few days that has reminded me there are good knowledgeable fans out there.

First of all, Josh Hamilton had an amazing night in Baltimore. He did what only 15 other players before him had done which was hit 4 home runs in a single game. It’s an amazing feat. The thing that stood out the most, even more so than Hamilton’s historic night, was the fan’s reaction in Baltimore. Despite a player tearing up their team with long ball after long ball, the fans recognized the greatness in the feat and gave Hamilton a standing ovation. It was a thing of beauty.

Secondly, what happened next was a little more expected. Chipper Jones is making the rounds one last time having announced his retirement after the season. Each place he goes he is honored in one way or another. However, before the start of the first game Friday night another number 10 was honored as former Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa’s number was retired.

Then as Chipper came to bat in the first inning, he received a standing ovation from the crowd. This isn’t a former Cardinals great making one last trip. It’s a player who has been a foe for many years, yet the fans in St. Louis still acknowledged the fact that this was his last trip through. This wouldn’t be the case for just any player, but they see the Hall of Fame worthiness of Chipper and what he has done for baseball in Atlanta. Some say that the Cardinals’ fans are the best in the game. To me this only reinforced that idea.

My hats off to the fans of Baltimore and St. Louis. It is nice to see there are some great fans out there when all too often all we hear about is the booing of fans.

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Movie Review: The Emerald Diamond

What country won its first international baseball game against a country that no longer exist and the first player to get a hit in international play was born in another country?

Ireland

I have always been fascinated with baseball played in countries other than the USA. Sure it’s the same game, but at the same time it’s not. Awhile back I came across a documentary on baseball in Ireland, and I had to see it.

The Emerald Diamond is a beautiful film. It chronicles the emergence of the Irish National Baseball Team on the European baseball scene. It is an interesting story told by film maker John Fitzgerald.

Up until 1995 there was no Irish National Baseball Team. It basically formed out of the desire of a few softball players who wanted something a little more. They continued the hope and formed a team that would eventually play internationally in 1996.

The European B Pool Championships were being held in England in 1996, so the boys in green got ready and made the trip.

Most of the players on the team had very little or no experience playing baseball growing up. For the most part they were far outmatched by their European counterparts, but they never quit.

After a successful trip to England, for a developing team at least, they received some help from an Irish-American. Peter O’Malley at the time was the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers but was a player in helping develop baseball globally. He helped build the  O’Malley baseball fields in Corcaigh Park in Clondalkin, West Dublin, Ireland which is considered the home of Irish Baseball. It also happened to be the first baseball field in Ireland.

The team continued to play in the European Championships gradually doing a little better each time as they gained more experience. However, it was when the team raised funds and took off on a trip to the USA that things really seemed to turn around.

In 2001, the Irish National Team and an all-star youth team took a two-week trip to the east coast of the States to play exhibition games. They learned a lot on this trip and it eventually helped them improve in the long run. Both the youth team and the National Team quickly learned from seeing other teams practice and play. They also received some help from coaches in the States that they met in the games. It was a great learning experience that helped propel the team to further heights.

However, the highlight of the trip had to be playing an exhibition game at Fenway Park.

Throughout the film you see the want and desire on every players face as they go through a learning curve. But that desire to compete and improve never leaves. It’s an infectious thing that no matter how bad the loss might have been would always creep back into the minds of the players and coaches.

That’s the beauty of the film. It’s great seeing the improvement of the team, and they really did improve but I don’t want to give everything away (you’ll have to watch the film). But the real beauty if seeing the growth of the game on every level. Not only did the adult program expand and improve, but so did the youth programs and that is really where the growth of the game will come from. The first adults to play the game will get old, but if the kids find a love in the game you will have baseball forever.

It’s a great film. Head on over to IrishBaseballMovie.com to read more about it and don’t forget to pick up a copy. You might be surprised how quickly the team went from nothing to winning games internationally.

I have to give this a 5 glove rating. It’s definitely one you’ll want to own.

Stay tuned for more reviews coming soon….

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Today in Baseball History – May 2nd

May 2, 1939 – Lou Gehrig ends his consecutive-game streak at 2,130 when he voluntarily benches himself. His replacement is Babe Dahlgren who hits a home run as the Yankees rout Detroit 22-2.

His record would stand for 56 years until Cal Ripken Jr. would surpass it in 1995.


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Today in Baseball History – April 30

April 30, 1946 – With rumors circling that Bob Feller had lost his fastball after spending four years in the Navy, Feller hurls his second no-hitter. Feller helped the Tribe defeat the New York Yankees 1-0. The long run came on Frankie Hayes’ home run in the ninth inning.

Feller would finish the year 26-15 with a 2.18 ERA.

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There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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