Boasting both country and continent recognition, Australia is, essentially, a developing country in the category of sports.
The national sports, Australian Rules Football and cricket, receive the most attention; while American football and basketball are gaining momentum with the natives, one sport with roots in American history is as non-existent as an oasis in the Uluru Mountains — baseball (of which 75 percent of the Australian Baseball League is owned by the MLB).
Despite a recent call-off in college football’s match-up of Baylor and California, baseball lent a hand to Australia in 2014 by hosting the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. This marked the first Major League Baseball game since 1914, when the White Stockings faced the New York Giants in front of 10,000 fans at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground.
In 2004, Australia’s national baseball team put itself on the radar by acquiring a silver medal in baseball play at the Olympics in Athens, Greece. The Aussies would post an overall Olympics win-loss record of 4-3 (scored 22 runs against the Netherlands) after losing in the finals to its second biggest rival, Cuba.
Australia 1 Japan 0
Gold Medal Game
Australia 2 Cuba 6
Australia was also represented in three World Baseball Classics, of which each performance, they failed to reach the second round. They would, however, briefly smell redemption in 2009 when offensive run support clocked in 17 runs versus Mexico.
2006 World Baseball Classic
Pool D (Cracker Jack Stadium at Walt Disney Resorts)
(L) vs. Italy 0-10
(L) vs. Venezuela 0-2
(L) vs. the Dominican Republic 4-6
2009 World Baseball Classic
Pool B (Mexico City)
(W) vs. Mexico 17-7
(L) vs. Cuba 4-5
(L) vs. Mexico 1-16
2013 World Baseball Classic
Pool B (Taiwan)
(L) vs. Chinese Taipei 1-4
(L) vs. Korea 0-6
(L) vs. the Netherlands 1-4
While baseball hasn’t even cracked the top 10 in “sports in Australia,” it’s been in a slight uphill revolution in producing 28 Australian-born major leaguers, most notably Grant Balfour.
P Grant Balfour (New South Wales, 2001-present)
30-23 (W-L), 3.49 ERA, 539.2 IP, 571 K
C Dave Nilsson (Queensland, 1992-98)
789 H, 105 HR, 470 RBI, .284 BA, .461 SLG
P Peter Moylan (Western Australia, 2006-13)
21-9 (W-L), 2.80 ERA, 276 IP, 213 K
Australian Baseball Lingo for Dummies (via ESPN)
“Umpies” are the umpires
“Wooshta” is for a player who strikes out swinging
“Inshoot” refers to a curve ball that’s coming inside on a batter
“Two dead” or “two missing” can refer to two outs
“Bird dogs” are MLB scouts
“Leave the rubbish” reminds a teammate not to swing at bad pitches
“Down his throat” is a long, lazy fly ball to an outfielder who easily makes the catch
“Hard on you!” refers to a close ball or strike call from the umpire
At the conclusion of the Australian Baseball League’s 2014 season, the Adelaide Bite collected 32 wins and completed its season in first place out of six teams.
2014-15 ABL Final Standings
1. Adelaide Bite (32-16)
2. Perth Heat (28-20)
3. Sydney Blue Sox (22-24))
4. Canberra Cavalry (22-24)
5. Brisbane Bandits (21-25)
6. Melbourne Aces (15-31)
And being as its currently the winter solstice in Australia, baseball won’t resume until December.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports