Almanac Baseball: ABL Ain’t No BBL

In my last post I ruminated on the trajectory of the two great summer Shield competitions – the Sheffield and the Claxton. What has slowly dawned on me over that time is that trying to compare our (or more precisly my) respective affinities for cricket and baseball is not so much a hankering for the glory days of old but the brutal reality of sport in the modern world. The BBL is a behemoth that is offering Australian fans what Americans have taken for granted for decades – when the days are long and languid people like to watch games that kick off about 7pm and finish around 10pm pretty much any old night of the week. The ABL has got no hope of filling that gap even if it had the backing of one of the major TV stations.


The BBL has cleverly repackaged our national summer fixation and served it up as a nightly staple of fast food entertainment. Imploring us to relish in the notion of being a ‘buckethead’ is a not too subtle reminder of Cricket Australia’s intent. I am rapidly developing a love-hate relationship with this phenomenon which I dare say would be a common response by many sport fans. The simplicity of allowing oneself to be transfixed each night to a display that can be equal parts magisterial and pugilistic is enticing. I will probably happily stay in that low level stupor for the rest of the summer just as the mandarins at CA so desire no doubt.


The back office at the Australian Baseball League is not resourced to the same extent as their rivals in Jolimont so they will have to come up with novel ways to engage with their much smaller fan base. The standard of the games this season has been patchy. Journeymen of the competition like Allan deSan Miguel and Luke Hughes have stepped up again the way Cameron White and Shane Watson have done in the BBL. The cream is rising to the top with Brisbane and Perth looking the goods in the same way a Scorchers – Heat BBL final is certainly on the cards. So for the rest of the season the games will unfold and the denouement will be one team raising the Claxton. Unfortunately, most fans will be anticipating the BBL champions with buckets on their head rather than being too fussed what happens when hostitlities resume in the Sheffield Shield. Yes the ABL ain’t no BBL, but then again nor is the ‘Shield’ – more’s the pity.




Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.


  1. If CA don’t give a fat rat’s clacker about the Shield, as appears to be the case, then its not surprising that the media & cricket fans in general treat it with such disdain, which is a tragedy really but it has been the case for years now.

  2. Spot on ruminations Brian. 2-3 hours of action is the ideal sporting package. AFL, baseball, NFL, soccer, Springsteen concerts etc etc. Enough time to build drama and a contest, but anything over 3 hours is opera not entertainment. In 20-20 cricket has found its monolith to crowd out other summer sports. Tennis for me on the box in January. I like an unfolding narrative with multiple threads that I can dip in and out of.

  3. I watched my first games of televised 20-20 only last week: I was struck by what appeared to be the boredom of the crowd and the vulgarity of the advertisements, uniforms etc. I had it mostly on mute, but when I had the sound on the commentary seemed to consist mainly of blokey chit-chat.
    As much as the MLB (the Dodgers in particular) is the model for how to Disney-fy a sporting contest, I would still prefer watching a replay of a MLB game from a few years back to a live 20-20 game. MLB somehow manages to maintain some (many?) of its charms, despite its almost overwhelming commercialisation. (Such as the uniforms sans advertising, and the on-field etiquette.)
    Brian: as for the local baseball league – do you think its future lies in providing a platform for future Major League players, or, a league to which they retire? I’m also curious if viewing numbers, and crowds, are up on last year’s figures.

Leave a Comment