Hello? Is anyone there? There’s professional baseball in Australia! And not enough people seem to care!
OK, so it’s not major league level, but there are a few former big leaguers in action, and there are a few who could one day appear in the Show. But for now, can we not appreciate professional baseball, televised for free no less (free on YouTube outside of Australia and New Zealand) during the MLB offseason? It’s Australia, guys! While we’re freezing our asses off just watching for the next big trade or scandal in baseball to hit the headlines, it’s summer there, and they are playing, not talking contracts.
Right now the Australian Baseball Leagues’ playoffs are happening. The finals are coming up soon. The Brisbane Bandits, winners of the last four championships, are out, beaten by a Josh Collmenter complete game shutout. Also out are my team, the Perth Heat, knocked out of the wild card game while looking to regain the Claxton Shield. But I’m a Mariners fan, and I should be grateful for that one extra game after the regular season.
So, there’s a professional baseball league in Australia. It might be minor league scale, but they’re professional, they’re passionate. And it’s playoff time.
And this is in Australia, right? They’re arguably more sports-mad than the UK, up there with the US. They’re already mad on Aussie-rules football. And rugby, both codes. And, of course, cricket. Baseball? Yes!
Admittedly, the wild card game in Canberra had an attendance of 1,486. That’s about the average of a Class A team in the US minor leagues. But that’s still more than watch their local baseball team in the UK (even watching for free!). It’s what you could call burgeoning. It might not be as big or established as other non-US leagues in Asia, but I still think we should watch and care about it as much as those, and maybe hope that one day we’ll have the same situation in the UK.
They’re playing, but outside of Australia, I don’t think enough people are paying attention!
And in the UK, I think we should. Not just to try and take a leaf out of their book, but to watch and enjoy the sport during a time when we think it’s dormant. Most of their games are in the evening, so for us, this is the morning! Imagine that … toast, Coco Pops, pancakes, Pop Tarts, whatever … but with baseball, too. Give it a go.
Editor’s note: Ben Lindbergh recently spoke about the Australian Baseball League (ABL) on the Effectively Wild podcast (episode 1493). He mentioned former first overall pick from the 2003 draft, Delmon Young, who is thriving with the Melbourne Aces having hit 13 homers with 1.056 OPS.
Photos courtesy of SMP Images/Baseball Australia
Damien Tuffnell is a guest writer. Follow him on Twitter @ExtraBaseBrit
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