Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ready for some Irish League Baseball?
Season preview for the 2007 Irish Baseball League
Plus a look back at previous seasons in Baseball Ireland League History


Things are starting to take shape in terms of the 2007 Irish Adult Baseball League. This year there are going to be six teams in the 'A' division, with the Spartans attempting to defend their hard won crown from 2006. The Spartans, Hurricanes and Twins United will be playing out of Corcaigh Park near Newlands Cross. The Greystones Mariner's home ground in Greystones is unavailable for the first part of the season so they will take to the road for the first month in search of their first title ever. The Belfast Northstars will be taking part in the league as will the Blacksox, who are based in Shanganah Park, out near Shankill.

Each team brings its own style of play to the competition, and each team is in with a chance to win the 2007 season.

The schedule has not been released as yet but the Irish Baseball Committee are working around the clock to come up with something that suits everyone whilst also being fair to all. umours indicate the 'A' league teams can expect as many as twenty games each, which is the most the league has attempted to date.

All Time Irish Baseball Championship winners
  • 2006 - League Champions Spartans
  • 2005 - League Champions Hurricanes
  • 2004 - League Champions Spartans
  • 2003 - League Champions Hurricanes
  • 2002 - League Champions Spartans
  • 2001 - League Champions Panthers
  • 2000 - League Champions Spartans
  • 1999 - League Champions Spartans
  • 1998 - League Champions Panthers
  • 1997 - League Champions The Dukes *
* The Dukes are no more, they were made defunct in 1998 when the league started from scratch with an all-players draft and total reformat of all teams. Perhaps the Dukes will be seen again when someone makes a playstation game for European Baseball and you can select 'Historic' teams like the 1997 Dublin Dukes!

The Dublin Spartans

The Spartans are built around a solid base of Darran O'Connor, Sean Mitchell, Chaime Cuevas, Bill Beglane, John Dillon and Noel Mitchell. They won the league last season and that brought their league title hall to an amazing five trophies. To put that in perspective, there have been nine trophies handed out to the winners of the Irish Baseball League since 1997 and five of those have gone to the Spartans.

They have a history of scooping up the individual awards too when it comes to trophy time. Last year the Spartans picked up two coveted personal awards. Chaime Cuevas won the 2006 Tommy Bond Best Pitcher Award and Darran O'Connor won the 2006 Andy Leonard MVP Award

Chaime has basically dominated Irish Baseball for as long as he has been playing. He has won the best pitcher award in 2006 and 2003 and also took home the 2002 League MVP award. The Spartans boast Darran O'Connor, Will Beglane, John Dillon, Sean Mitchell and Noel Mitchell, all current or former Irish National Team players.

The one thing that might play against them is their age. At this stage the average age of their starting lineup has to be about 37, possibly even more!

The Dublin Hurricanes


Naturally, I am a little biased seeing as I am a Hurricane, but it's hard not to be excited about the Hurricane's chances in 2007 considering some key additions. Tommy Hernandez, Alex and Woody 'One pitch' Woodburn come over from the Twins United and there are a couple of other suprise 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.
  • 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 inebraited 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 and guess which player won the League MVP in 2002.

AB R H RBI 2B 3B HR BB HBP SO SB CS BA SLG OBP
Player 1 - 43 24 23 26 3 2 2 11 3 5 12 1 .535 .837 .649
Player 2 - 47 14 22 15 3 0 1 6 0 0 6 1 .468 .596 .519


Amazingly Player 2 won the League MVP, even though Gordy, player 1, had more hits, RBIs, triples, home runs, walks, steals, a higher batting average and almost double the second players slugging and also a higher .OBP. Gordy had one of the greatest seasons in baseball Ireland history and sadly was not rewarded with the Leage MVP.

Myself and TK (Tom Kelley) have been on the Hurricanes squad since its inception in 1997, and I can honestly say I have never been as excited about thestart of a season or about our chances to take the title since those first few league games in the late nineties. We have a fabulous collection of talent available to us and most of all a great bunch of team mates to take the field with.

The Twins United

The Twins are an interesting story. They have lost a bunch of high quality players to free agency and emigration. They are however entering a team in the 2007 league with JJ Zulaga leading the way. They could be the leagues dark horses for the season.

The Greystones Mariners

Greystones have always been one of the hardest teams to beat in the Irish League. Although the Mariners have never won the league title they have not been short on individual awards and have always preformed well in the annual Spring Blitz tournaments. Shawn Miskiman started 2005 8-0 and although he (and the Mariners) ran out of gas a little in the home stretch he still deservedly took home the 2005 - Tommy Bond Best Pitcher Award. The Mariners also won the 2005 Spring Invitational tournament.

Greystones finished second place to the Hurricanes in the 2004 M&M Psycho Invitational Bitz. They would take home an even loftier award with Darragh Jones winning the 2004 League MVP award. The first award the Mariners ever collected was also an individual award, with Hugh Cahill being crowned the 2003 Irish League Batting Champion.

There is no doubt the talent is there, but can the Mariners put it alltogether and make a serious run at the title in 2007? We shall see.

The Blacksox

The Blacksox have been one of the best teams in Irish League Baseball the last several years, however that team ability has not translated into a packed trophy cabinet. The Blacksox have never won the Irish League although they have always had no problem picking up wins. Their big problem has always been the Spartans, who, when push comes to shove, they simply can not beat.

Their 2007 squad is packed with talent however a big issue for the Blacksox is going to be trying to replace Pat Nolan's superior batting stats in their order. Pat has relocated to the States with his wife Erika and child Bianca. Check out his stats for the last two years.

Year Name Team PA AB R H RBI 2B 3B HR BB HBP SO SB CS BA SLG OBP GIDP
2005 Nolan, Pat BSx 32 31 11 17 12 7 0 1 1 0 5 8 1 .548 .871 .563 0
2004 Nolan, Pat BSx 48 36 21 16 14 3 0 1 9 1 3 9 0 .444 .611 .542 1

They are not going to easily replace his 33 hits over the last years and whopping .548 batting average too easily.

Pat has also been prominent in the Blacksox trophy cabinet over the years

2005 - 'Dirty' Jack Doyle Silver Slugger Award Pat Nolan
2004 - Dublin International Tournament - Cy Young Award Mike Kindle
2003 - League Gold Glove Pat Nolan
2002 - League Cy Young Award Eoin O'Connor *
2002 - Spring Blitz Pitcher Patrick Baerner

* Eoin O'Connor had a fantastic 2002 season on the mound for the Blacksox but has largely switched to playing in the field while Glen Poor and Niall Rowen have taken the pitching mound for the Sox. Check out Eoin's stellar if short 2002 season pitching stats.

Name Team IP H R ER BB SO SO/BB HB W L Sv ERA OBA
O'Connor, Eoin Bsx 27.0 20 21 8 19 41 2.158 2 4 0 0 2.07 .196

The Northstars

The Northstars decided in the offseason to re-merge with the Wolves, forming one team under the 'Belfast Northstars' famous name. This should hopefully give them a stronger base of players to help challenge for the 2007 season. They certainly have plenty of bats in the order. Check out some of their top players statistics in 2005. Neil Anderson batted .571 while Steve Van Houten smacked the ball to a tune of a .481 average. David McCullagh batter .412 and stole 12 bases. Sean Shackley hit .360 and Gordon Cuthbert hit .360.

The Northstars are clearly not going to have a problem scoring runs in 2007, and they will prove once again to be a tricky team to beat, particularly on their home turf up in Belfast.

The season is shaping up to be one of the best in Irish baseball's ten years of league play. To find out more about getting involved in Irish Baseball at any level at all click here.


1 comment:

Mitch said...

Wow, this is pretty neat. Although the fields don't look as bad as the comments go. Try Puyallup Washington, USA, with the standing water you also get some rain blowing sideways, too much fun

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