The Irish influence on 19th century baseball can’t be overstated. Indeed, in his “Historical Baseball Abstract,” Bill James wrote this:
“Baseball in the 1890s was dominated by Irish players to such an extent that many people, in the same way that people today believe that blacks are born athletes, thought that the Irish were born baseball players.”
Insert a century and an ocean and the idea of specifically-Irish baseball players seems kind of odd. Descendants of Irish-Americans of that era have been assimilated, so we tend not to think of them as Irish in the same way they used to be thought of (for better and for worse). No one back in Ireland plays it of course. Or at least that’s what I thought before I read this:
Baseball may be America’s National Pastime, but the Irish have been playing baseball for over a decade. “The Emerald Diamond” is an award-winning documentary that tells the story of Ireland’s new found obsession with the game. Originally released in 2006, “The Emerald Diamond” is being re-released in March 2011 as part of a national screening tour to raise funds for non-profit groups and youth baseball leagues in Ireland and America.
Apparently there are youth and adult leagues all over Ireland now. Got their own website and everything. File that under stuff that (a) I did not know before this morning; and (b) makes me happy.
Fans, and even some writers, tend to jump on umpires when they make bad calls, but rarely if ever point out when they make good calls on tough plays. Angel Hernandez is one of those umpires who gets a lot of flack — and I may suggest even deservedly so — but in the interest of giving credit where credit is due, he made a great call on a very tough play during Thursday afternoon’s game between the Phillies and Marlins.
With a runner on first base and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Phillies leading 2-1, first baseman Brock Stassi laced an Edison Volquez pitch down the first base line. Michael Saunders, who was on first base, came around third base and attempted to score. The relay throw from second baseman Dee Gordon beat Saunders, but Saunders slid expertly to the back of home plate, avoiding the tag from catcher J.T. Realmuto just long enough to slip his hand in and touch the plate. Hernandez ruled Stassi safe with no hesitation because he was in a great position to get a look at the play. In real time, it was a bang-bang play. The Marlins didn’t challenge the call.
The MLB.com video doesn’t have the best angle, but still shows what a close call it was in real time. This .gif from Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal provides the best angle:
Hernandez also made this nonchalant grab of Andrew Knapp‘s face mask when the catcher tossed it attempting to catch a foul pop-up:
The Mets and Braves are playing today and it’s not a great day for the Mets in the injury department.
First they scratched Noah Syndergaard with a “tired arm.” Now they’ve lost Yoenis Cespedes, who pulled up limping at second base following a double in the bottom of the fourth:
The team has announced that he has pulled his left hamstring.
Cespedes, of course, missed three games over the weekend due to hamstring issues. That was merely tightness, however, and following an off day and a rainout, Cespedes played last night without incident. But it now looks as though he’s going to miss some serious time.