COUNTY CORK, IRELAND – It’s the middle of March and NCAA Basketball Conference Championships notwithstanding, means two other things; Spring Training baseball and St. Patrick’s Day are here. To commemorate two favorite pastimes of baseball and drinking oneself silly, I’m here to loosely field my own All Irish Team.
Starting Pitcher (because every Irish holiday starts with a pitcher) Denny McClain is forever the Irish rebel and a damn good hurler in his day being the last, and probably forever, thirty game winner (31-6 in ’68). He was an accomplished organ player, pilot, treated Detroit sportswriters with irreverence, a bookmaker, and imprisoned for drug trafficking.
Relief Pitcher… Roger McDowell Outside of the Riverdance ensemble, the Irish aren’t known to be great dancers and who better to get this team’s feet moving during the playing of Cotton-Eyed Joe than this former New York Mets hot-foot artist. His mischief includes being the spitter who hit Kramer and Newman with a loogee in a Seinfeld episode.
1B… Willie McCovey: What? Every team needs a stalwart in their lineup and this San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer is it. A Rookie of the Year and MVP winner along with being a member of the 500 HR club.
2B… Dave McKay: Barkeep, a pint of Labatt’s for our friend from the north. The Vancouver-born second sacker had an opportunity to play for his native Toronto Blue Jays during the late ’70’s.
SS… Joe McEwing: Versatile like the barfly who goes for a beer then some hard stuff and tops things off with Irish coffee. He was a jack-of-all-trades during his major league career and has a union card to prove it like any good Irishman can. This feisty mighty-mite played every position but the battery and despite the fact was ever ready to perform when called upon.
3B… Tom O’Malley: Who? Exactly. I had to research baseball reference’s web site to find a Paddy to play third because I just couldn’t think of one. Played for six teams over a nine-year career that ended in Flushing in 1990. Hopefully he can spin a yarn as the Irish are known to keep us engaged while at the bar.
CF… Andrew McCutcheon: My absolute current favorite player. “Cutch” does it all–gets on base, steals bases, hits for power, drives in runs, a gold glover, yada yada yada. With a name like McCutcheon, who’s to argue his Irish bloodlines and inner-city Dublin upbringing.
RF… Paul O’Neill: A New York mick’s most beloved local ballplayer. Yeah, he played for the Reds but many consider him a Yankee and used the word warrior to describe him. I would opt for cry-baby but this guy was intense, hot-headed, and a damn good player when all was said and done.
Catcher… Paddy O’Connor I could have gone Charlie O’Brien here but a name like Paddy O’Connor couldn’t be passed up. From county Kerry in Ireland he had an uneventful six year, 108 game career but those Irish eyes were smilin’.
Managers… Matt McCarthy and Matt O’Shea, better known as Meet The Matts!
Come back tomorrow for DJ Eberle, who is so excited about his QB-less Bills that he’s spitting/drooling all over.
P.s… Getting back to that LaBatt’s and Buffalo/Canada thing: