Almanac Baseball: ABL Playoffs

 

Just like its ritzier, cashed-up cousin, the BBL, the nation’s premier baseball league, the ABL, is ready to party with the postseason extravaganza that is the playoffs. The pre-loading for the party occurred in Canberra on Tuesday night where the Cavalry put up 9 frames of solid ball to see off the Perth Heat in the wildcard game. I believe the BBL should have gone with that old chestnut – the wildcard – for the first game of the finals on Thursday. The Eliminator sounds a bit too much like a bad Marvel film.

 

The two semi finals this weekend have a lot to recommend them. The Melbourne Aces take on the postseason debutantes from across the ditch. In just their second season, the Auckland Tuatara topped their conference in a stunning form reversal from an exceedingly lacklustre performance last season. In the other series, the Adelaide Giants take on the Cavs. Adelaide and Auckland topped their conferences so they host Games 2 and 3 (if needed) of their respective series. The other two teams kick proceedings off at home.

 

I believe the Aces have a real leg up in their series. After hosting the Tuatara on Thursday they will be allowed a day’s travelling time to get to Auckland for games on Saturday and Sunday. With an experienced lineup, including 5 blokes who have played in the majors, and some good form of late they should be able to see off the inexperienced visitors. I am also hoping the Kiwis have some psychological scars from their Round 2 visit to Melbourne Ballpark when they were swept in a 4 game series. The Aces’ hitting has been good all season with Young, Willis, Hughes and Robinson all posting great numbers. Pitching was an issue early in the season but has tightened up in recent times with Darin Downs posting the best stats of the ABL in January. Hopefully, he’ll start in Game 1 and get that vital win.

 

The Tuatara should not be underestimated. Hitters like Walker and Morgan have been great at getting on base. Won-Seok Kim is one of only three batters to hit double digit homers this season. Lucky for the Aces, that the leader of the pack is the main man Delmon Young. Collmenter and Johnstone are good starting pitchers and will be a handful.

 

In the others semi, the Cavs have built up a head of steam in recent weeks but the Giants have been the best team all year. With two home games, they should be able to reach the Championship Series where I would expect them to meet the Aces.

 

Both the Aces and Giants have been to the ABLCS on multiple occasions but neither able to lift the trophy. This year feels like the one where the two traditional flag-bearers of Australian baseball square off, as happened so many times in the glory days of the Claxton Shield.

 

I look forward to bringing you all an update after this weekend. If either the Tuatara or Cavs progress there will be plenty of wonderful stories to tell. They can write their own piece of history. I would just like to point out that, however, we never had teams from Auckland or Canberra in the Claxton era so they can bloody well wait their turn I say.

 

 

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About

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.

Comments

  1. Brian, thanks for setting the scene for this weekend’s games. What do you make of the poor season by the defencing champs, the Brisbane Bandits? They just never seemed to get rolling at any stage of the season.

  2. Over here in good old SA, it’s fantastic to see the Adelaide Giants competing in the finals. It’s way back in Claxton Shield days when SA was the champion state. We had produced such champion players as Neil “Supee” Page, Greg Elkson, Kevin Greatrex 9when of the greatest long ball hitters of all time) and the outstanding utility player, Dave Mundy. Here’s hoping the Giants bring home the bacon. PS, I should have also mentioned the famous Alexander brothers, Phil and Cole.

  3. I too would be interested in what happened to the Bandits – have missed going to at least one home game per series in the Brisbane humidity. They seemed to have the same pitching staff just didn’t seem to get their mojo form from looking occasionally at the ABL website.
    Would be good to see the new team from across the ditch take it all – its not the Claxton shield any more even though they still win it.

    Still in the afterglow of seeing the mighty Blue Jays at the sky dome sorry Rogers centre back in August for a couple of games whilst up here in the Canadian arctic -( check out my blog at richardmarlow.info) looking forward to the build up of opening day in MLB.

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