A friend called Dave told me all about the concept of the bunt in baseball on a trip to Killarney in Ireland last weekend. I have bet on baseball from the UK for several years so was intrigued when I saw that Dave was wearing a Chicago White Sox sweatshirt. It transpires that when the MLB took an exhibition match to England the crowd were arbitrarily split and Dave found himself in the White Sox section of the ground. On the basis of fate Dave is now one of the keenest followers of the MLB Chicago franchise outside of the United States.
Killarney in the County of Kerry
Killarney is in the county of Kerry on the south west coast of Ireland. It is a popular tourist destination for visitors from America and most of the hotels have a Stars and Stripes in their grounds. Ireland has its own sports such as Gaelic football and hurling but the most popular sporting attraction is the English Premier League. The vast majority of football fans support Manchester United so the locals were not happy when their team lost 3-0 to Everton away from home on Sunday.
Kerry is the 5th largest of the 32 counties in the Republic of Ireland and uniquely it is bordered by just two other counties: Limerick and Cork. The county town is Tralee and the diocesan is Killarney which is one of Ireland’s most famous tourist destinations for visitors from the United States. It is an area of natural beauty with a proliferation of golf courses, racecourses and pubs, selling Guineas and playing traditional Irish diddly diddly music.
The most popular sports in Kerry are Gaelic football, cricket and soccer but anyone noticing Dave’s shirt will now follow the Chicago White Sox in Major League Baseball. Hurling is also a popular although the county has won only one All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship and that was in 1891. The White Sox have won the World Series just three times so could be described as the Kerry of Major League Baseball. They have retired ten numbers and have 33 Hall of Famers.
Irishmen in US Sports
There are 46 Irishmen who have played baseball in MLB. It is not known if anyone born in the United States has played hurling for Kerry. The two nations are linked by history and emigration and apparently more Irish people live in New York than Dublin. Soccer player Robbie Keane is one sportsman affiliated to Ireland and America. He is the Republic of Ireland’s record goal scorer and he current plays Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy.
Between a full Irish breakfast and ordering the first pint of Guineas of the day my mate Dave explained the nuances of the bunt in the context of baseball. The main objective of a bunt is to land the ball away from the fielders but within the boundaries of play. The skill calls upon dexterity and concentration and an understanding of fielders positions. The batter will steady the bat by moving his hand up the barrel. This is called squaring up as the batter will turn sideways before the pitch.
The White Sox This Season
According to Dave the White Sox were looking like contenders this season. They had a good draft and there was optimism of a first World Series since 2005 when they beat the Houston Astros 4-0 in the final after a regular season record of 99 wins and 63 defeats. In each of their World Series play-off wins a seventh match was not required. Chicago have won the American League six times so are 3 for 6 when they reach the World Series final. Four White Sox players have been voted the most valuable player of the season in the history of MLB.
Chicago and Minnesota Stats
Chicago play in the Central Division of the American League. They have won 8 of 18 matches this season to date but only 2 of 9 on the road. Every other side in the AL has won more road matches so clearly that is an area of weakness. Their next match on Friday is at Minnesota on the back of losing 8-2 at Baltimore on Thursday evening. Chris Sale will be pitching for the White Sox while his opposite number for the Twins is Trevor May.
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May has an Earned Run Average (ERA) of 4.91 in 2015 while his career average is 7.16 though he has only played 11 times in MLB. He has given up 15 hits in his last three matches and 13 runs in total. May only made his last September so is one of the most inexperienced pitchers in the league. Sale’s first MLB match was in June 2010 and he has a career win/loss record of 46 to 29. His 2015 ERA is 2.37 and he has conceded 18 hits and 5 runs over two matches in the current season.
The White Sox and the Twins have met 275 times since the start of the millennium and the White Sox have won 129 of those matches. On the road Chicago have won in 60 of 137 fixtures. They have scored 1285 runs over this period and conceded 1327. The White Sox have won the last two matches by a combined score of 11 runs to 6. Chicago have recorded 25 hits in the three meetings this season and are the favourites.
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