California, here we come

Yes, I know, a lot of the readers come here for the mind control stuff, but equally, the California stuff seems pretty popular, and given I love the state, I’m happy to provide some stuff about it too.

So fine, tonight, lets do a couple of California sports items, one of which many people will know about, the other, far less so.

Lets be wicked and start with the less popular one. Today, in my news feed, this piece came up

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_29766643/fremont-first-synthetic-turf-cricket-field-u-s

To be fair, to some degree, cricket has been played for over 100 years in California, though I suspect numbers, other than ex-pats from cricket loving countries, may be a bit limited? But yes, there appear to be a few teams in the Bay area, a few more in the Los Angeles area, and maybe a few more around the state? But yes, its great to see a floodlit ground, with hopefully a decent synthetic turf wicket being created, I must say. No, I dont envision the sport suddenly becoming amazingly popular in California, but things like this can only help?

The other, better known recent news about sport in the LA area, is the return of the NFL, to the city. Not that I’m sure how good the Rams will be, on their return, though their draft gamble this week shows signs of positive attitude for the future, more so for when they move to Inglewood, hopefully in 3 years time. But yes, why they took my eye this week, was because of the announcement on Thursday, of the schedule for the forthcoming season. To be honest, before Wednesday, I hadnt realized they were playing my team, the Buffalo Bills this season, at home. Hey, I hadnt even realized they were playing the Bills until then!

Oh, the funny point, the date of that game? October 9, a date that last year saw me in LA. Put it this way, if I was there on that date this year, I know where I’d like to be! Thats right, the Coliseum, watching that game. What better way than that to break my NFL virginity, other than maybe a home game in Buffalo! Ironically, the week before, they are away to the team my dear friend Kate supports, and most Bills fan hate, the Patriots! Me, I’m not infatuated in anybody enough to hate other teams, especially ones supported by my wonderful friend.

But yes, the chance of me getting there, short of a generous benefactor, or a fluke lottery win at present, seems to be zero. Still, I guess I can dream for a bit, at least?

Right, the video. I found this song, and was surprised how much I liked it. I know nothing about the group, other than what I can find on Wikipedia at least, just found it on a random search on You Tube. Yes, what I’d like to be able to say in October, if not sooner.

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A little bit of discipline needed…Who, me?

Well, fine, I might enjoy a little bit of disciplining way too much, but thats not the true issue here, unless someone is offering? And then… 😉 more of that later, maybe?

No, what I’m talking about here, is highly paid professional sportsmen, who cant keep their behaviour under control when they need to. For those in cricket following countries (not many here, from past experience), I just have to mention the awful behavior of Chris Gayle, a highly paid, professional cricketer from the West Indies, while being interviewed by a pretty woman after an innings in the Big Bash League (The Australian 20 over cricket tournament), and proceeding to not answer her questions, but to chat her up, and ask for a date instead. Supposedly, he has since been fined heavily, and its been made clear that he wont be welcomed back next year, but fame talks, so I wouldnt bank on the latter happening somehow. Sadly, too many Aussie men were busily defending him, and saying the woman should be ready for this sort of thing. Yes, that wonderfully misogynistic behavior we can come to love…not!

But the lack of discipline I’m talking about now, comes from the US, and it didnt just hurt the players, it hit their team too, though I wonder nowadays how many sportsmen are only concerned with themselves, and not their team? Judging by some soccer players over here, they are the more important, but anyway…

On Saturday night, in the NFL play offs, Cincinnati were beating Pittsburgh, and when the Pittsburgh QB threw an interception, that should have been it, they should have won. As history shows, they didnt. To be fair (of sorts), the running back who fumbled the ball, handing possession back to Pittsburgh was at fault, but even so, it neednt prove critical. But just as the last Pittsburgh opportunity was failing, a catch was missed, but a defensive player decided to take him out with his helmet all the same. 15 yard penalty, just about putting them in field goal range, but still very missable. Then while the Pittsburgh sideline were trying to check on their knocked out player, another Cincinnati defender couldnt stay out of the way, and threw abuse, a punch, or both. This led to another 15 yard penalty, and now the kick is an easy one. Pittsburgh make it, and win the game.

If those 2 (or 3) players had kept their heads, Cincinnati would have won the game! Seriously, these players are paid millions of dollars a year, and they cant act intelligently. Really? I know, its a very macho game, but even so…

For that much money, in a situation like that, you play by the rules!

Oh, fine, lastly, I havent misbehaved, but if a Master, or Mistress wants to discipline me a little…? 😉 Full time submissive somewhere, wouldnt say no!

The video, a song related to discipline, of another kind. No, not Britney, but a Latvian Britney lookalike, having fun!

Irish cricket strikes again!

Yes, as regular readers will know, there are 3 sports I have plenty of time for, Baseball, American Football (both NFL and College), and the one that baffles most American folk, cricket! To be fair, I should point out that in fact its currently far from the number 1 sport in Ireland, but anyway…

World Cups in the past
2007 Both Pakistan, and Bangladesh were beaten down by the mighty Irish, and Zimbabwe escaped with a tie.
2011 Not so many good results, but by beating England, most didnt care!

And here we are, at the start of the 2015 World Cup, and we’ve already beaten one of the supposed ‘big names’, the West Indies.

The match started at 10.00 Sunday evening, my time, taking place in New Zealand. Conveniently, or otherwise, I was working until 10.00, so by the time the taxi got me home, the game was well under way. Ireland had made a good start, and it got better. Soon the West Indies were struggling at 87-5, and I was already beginning to celebrate. However, by the time I went to bed, about 12.30, they were 198-5, and things werent looking so good. And though I didnt know it, things got no better, and they scored over 300 in the end.

Too many for Ireland? You might have thought so, but no! In fact they won the game with over 4 overs to spare, a really impressive performance.

In the past, beating the West Indies would have been a cause for big celebration, but now, not so much. This is because we know how good we are, how far the once mighty West Indies have fallen, so all in all, we enjoyed the moment, but no more.

But yes, the Irish are back, to strike fear into the big cricket nations!

The video, a group who were born in England, but like me, have plenty of Irish ancestry, singing about how many fans felt after the game

Oh, and another feelgood moment. Who said chivalry is dead? This afternoon, I was the third person to the bus stop, behind 2 men. Me, happy to wait my turn, and all that. Oh no, both insist I get on the bus first, when it turned up. Really lovely of them, I must say. Somehow I dont expect the same at the railway station tomorrow!

Thanks, guys, though I guess you’ll never see this

Derek Jeter, thanks for everything. Even if you are a New York Yankee

Yes, we’ve come to that time of year when summer sports come to an end. The last rites of the cricket season are being played out over here, and in the US, the last week of the regular baseball season is doing the same thing. And yes, this blog is more related to the latter, shall we say.

Tonight, for the last time in Yankees Stadium, Derek Jeter will play for the New York Yankees at home. Seriously, in these days of free agency, and transfers, he has played for the Yankees, his only team, since 1995, quite a record. Ironically, given the rivalry between the 2 teams, its ironic that his career will end with 3 games at Fenway Park, against the Boston Red Sox. Even more remarkably, given the history of the 2 teams, they are likely to be 3 meaningless games, unless the Yankees win both their last 2 games at home, and Kansas lose both of theirs!

Yes, to a degree myself (I follow Boston), and my friend Kate (passionate fan) hate the Yankees for all the obvious reasons. But one person, the thoroughly likeable Derek Jeter almost transcends all this.

My biggest Jeter memory, would be his 3,000th hit for the Yankees. I knew he’d been creeping up to the landmark, and by sheer luck, the magical moment occurred on a game being carried by ESPN over here. Within a few minutes of getting home from work, and switching on the TV, Jeter came to bat, and proceeded to hit the ball out of the park, and make a mark on history. Thats right, not just a hit, but a home run!

I’ve never seen him play live, only on TV, so I was denied that pleasure. But all in all, I’m delighted to have seen him play many times, and even more delighted when the Yankees lost, sorry, Derek. To say he’s a Hall of Fame certainty, is to put it mildly, the only talk seems to be whether he will get the highest percentage of votes ever, quite likely, I suspect. Lets just say that next season, it will be funny watching the Yankees play, and not seeing Jeter there, ever again.

Thanks for many memories, all the same

The video, a very late Monkees number

A different way to end a cricket match!

Yes, over the years, there have been a few ways to end cricket matches, and not just the obvious ones of a team winning a match, or a draw, where time is batted out.

Over the years, rain stopped play is a very popular one, especially here in England, or indeed there have been a good number of games where play has been abandoned without a ball even being bowled. In England, early in the season, snow stopping play has occurred a few times too! But yes, weather and cricket, like baseball, can play a major part.

In the good old days (not as far back as you think with cricket), all matches were played during the day, and if the light wasnt good enough to be safe, it would be stopped. But then grounds got floodlights, and teams played under lights, and night matches began. As yet, no test matches have been played at night (though floodlights have been used, when the light is poor), but I’m sure it will come. Experiments with a pink (as opposed to red) ball have been carried out, to see how easy it is to see, so in the future, it will happen.

I actually remember one 20 over match in this country on Sky, at Canterbury, where the floodlight towers wouldnt switch on. Despite knowing that they wouldnt get through the game without them, they made a start. No, no attempt was made to shorten the game accordingly, so a full match could be played, the first side batted for a full 20 overs. Therefore, after about 3 overs of the second innings, it got too dark, and the match was abandoned! Now, if knowing events, they had played 10 overs a side (well above minimum), they would have got a result. But no, we’re British, we must carry on as if it wont happen, and…ah well!

Today, in Sylhet, in Bangladesh, Ireland were playing against UAE in a 20 over match in the World Cup. After 14 overs of the Irish innings (the second innings of the match), all the lights went out. A little while later, they came back on, 2 more balls were bowled, and…all the lights went out again, this time not to return! Fine, the result was what I wanted, Ireland were awarded the win (on a very complex formula I am not going to explain), and now, with a win on Friday, they qualify for the main part of the tournament. In theory, they could lose narrowly, and still qualify, but lets not go down that road!

Thankfully both matches on Friday are day matches, so the floodlights shouldnt be needed! Just as well?

The video, could just be OMD, with a very apt song title for Sylhet, other than their lights all went out at once!

A world championship?

Ah, a thorny subject, sporting events, and world championships!

There are some sports, like football, which genuinely have a world cup. Everyone gets the chance to qualify, even if some nations have about as much chance of qualifying for their World Cup, as I have of visiting Pluto! But, the point is, they have the chance. In fact, in the next European Championships, Gibraltar are attempting to qualify for the first time. See the above comment for their chances of doing so. In a friendly, they lost at home, to the might of Estonia (not a football powerhouse!) so the omens arent good, for when they meet stronger teams.

Ironically, they were drawn to be in the same group as Spain, but things were rapidly changed. If you need to know why, just type in Spain/Gibraltar dispute (or similar) into your search engine, and… ah, thats why!

Then we go to the other end of the scale, and one of my favourite sports, baseball. Yes, they have a ‘World Series’ to decide the title, but beyond 1 team from Canada, every team is from the US! Not all the players are, but the teams… and yes, the sport is played in many other nations, who probably couldnt win a genuine world series anyway, but never get the chance to find out! In fact, every couple of years or so (I think?) baseball has a sort of World Cup, and the US doesnt win it every time! Most of the players are in Major League Baseball, but…

Somewhere in the middle, are the 2 sports I’m featuring tonight. Rugby Union, and Cricket, if you must know.

Lets start with rugby, especially given that Ireland won the 6 nations title today (pretty much European championship) when narrowly beating France today. Yes, the 6 nations involved probably are the best in European rugby, but no matter what others do, there is no promotion or relegation involved. Equally, in the southern hemisphere, its basically 4 teams, that are spread around the globe that play off. And no, no matter how good, Samoa, Fiji or Tonga get, there is no route in. They do get to go in the World Cup, but because of their lack of really tough matches, they dont get a true chance to compete.
Not bad, but not perfect.

Then we get to cricket! There are in fact over 100 cricket playing nations in the world, of various abilities, though you would never know it! Officially 10, realistically 8 countries dominate the scene totally. Below which, comes the like of Ireland and Afghanistan. But at least some of the lesser nations do get the chance to play off to be at the World Cup, the 20 over version of which starts tomorrow.

But no, entry isnt equal, far from it. The 6 associate nations not only had to qualify through one tournament, to get to Bangladesh, they then have to qualify again, against the 2 weakest test nations, Zimbabwe and the hosts, to get to play the big boys! And yet the commentators will claim its a world cup! Seriously?

Yes, fine, its better than baseball’s world series, but all the same…bit of a joke! But this is what you get, when you virtually allow 1 country (India) to set down the rules for playing cricket, I guess? I hope Ireland can rub a few big team noses in the dirt, but they dont make it easy any more, maybe because we’ve made them look silly before!

The video, a cynical comment on matters mentioned above, as just the opposite rules in cricket

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Well, partly at least, after today’s sporting events.

Firstly, the good news, today, for the 7th consecutive tournament, Ireland have qualified for the next World Cup cricket event, the 20 over slog fest in Bangladesh next March. To be honest, the only point they dropped in qualifying was down to a no result, because it rained in Abu Dhabi. Yes, seriously, rained hard in the desert! Given that was the game against Italy, all it probably did was rob us of the 100% record, ah well…

But in fact, that’s only stage 1. Seriously, if the best associate cricket nation couldn’t make the 10 qualifiers for the next stage, I would have been concerned. But we won the group, and that means automatic qualification for the World Cup. Not that that was the Irish aim, we want to win the tournament, and that involves 2 more games to do that.

But yes, I’m very proud, as will be another member at the Garden, thats for sure!

Alright, the bad news for Irish sports fans today. Our rugby team were playing New Zealand, who hadnt lost a game all year. Oh, and at one point, Ireland were 19-0 up! And in fact, strictly, when the 80 minutes were up, we were still winning 22-17. But, and its a big but, at that point, they carry on playing, until the ball goes out of play, or there is a stoppage of some kind. So yes, you’ve guessed it, a piece of New Zealand magic, they score a try, and the scores are level. Kick the conversion, they win, otherwise, its a draw.

So, he kicks the ball, and misses. Great you think, wrong! At least half a dozen Irish players have wandered off the goal line, towards the kicker, and thats not allowed! So he retakes it, adjusts his target, and kicks the goal, and Ireland lose! Seriously, I know the jokes about the Irish being thick, but really…

Ah well, its the cricket that really matters to me!

The video, well its the first part of this. Well, the first part of the singing bit at least. Apologies, but finding a live performance of this was a challenge