Playing Ball at Sydney’s Field of Dreams #openingseries

The biggest weekend in Sydney’s baseball history is currently underway.

Since the announcement in June 2013 that the MLB was heading Downunder, Australia’s baseball fandom has eagerly awaited the arrival of the LA Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks to its shores and it’s finally time to play ball. The hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground has been transformed for the weekend into a baseball pitch, with 250 tonnes of San Diego clay being flown in for the occasion. Our very own field of dreams.

field of dreams

Sydney Cricket Ground tuned into a baseball field for #openingseries

It’s no secret I am a baseball tragic. How fortuitous then that the MLB chose to open its 2014 season away from North America in my hometown. As this is only the sixth time this has happened in  MLB history and the first time for Australia, there is a tremendous amount of anticipation for the event.

Each of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers play Team Australia (sometimes also known as Southern Thunder, but not by many) in a warm up clash and then it’s on to the main game Saturday night to be followed by a game on Sunday. That’s at least 36 innings of prime time A grade baseball.

Last night saw the first of the four games with Team Australia taking on the Dodgers. The above photo shows our view of the game. The Dodgers managed to win 4-2, but it was less about the score and more about the spectacle. The national anthems, the US flag flying alongside the Australian flag, a home run, the seventh inning stretch and classic baseball food. Like the nutritious meal below:

Pulled pork on lattice chips 'n' sides

Pulled pork on lattice chips ‘n’ sides

Scrumptious in a baseball helmet kind of way and almost resembling real food. None of that matters though, this is the MLB.

We sat behind the Dodgers dugout trying to spot baseball celebs like Clayton Kershaw and Don Mattingly. How close does an Aussie usually come to a $253million sports contract?  There were plenty of Dodgers fans in da house along with plenty of others dressed in their baseball kit. I am proud to say that the Boston Red Sox were proudly represented by more than a few fans in the fashion stakes (including moi) and it seemed like one big fancy dress party. As you can imagine there are usually not a whole lot of places in Australia an adult can wear their baseball kit.

It was a great night and a terrific lead in to the real deal tomorrow.

The whole event has been a long time coming for us Australian baseball fans. And when it’s all over the memories will linger and we will regale each other with stories from the great MLB opening series of 2014.

So a big thank you to the MLB, ABL (Australian Baseball League and owned by MLB), the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks for bringing the spectacle to our town. For at last Australian baseball fans can shout:


The Boston Red Sox, Victory and Drawers #NaBloPoMo

It’s been forever since I’ve blogged about baseball. Some might say that’s a good thing.

Boston emblemAs a diehard Boston Red Sox fan living Downunder, I can’t let the year end without acknowledging the humongous achievement that was the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. From bottom of the ladder in 2012 to top of the totem pole in 2013, we Red Sox fans rode the roller coaster with our team. Clinching their first World Series since 1918 at Fenway Park and their third this decade, it was six games of riveting, hairy baseball. The hair came from the lengthening beards of several Red Sox players who in a sign of solidarity and strength grew their whiskers as the play offs progressed and looked more like pirates than ball players.

Boston and Red Sox fans will be talking about the 2013 season for decades. In a year where the city was left reeling in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and the Red Sox’s dismal performance in 2012, this World Series win represents tenacity, focus and kinmanship. Something that we won’t tire telling any Yankees fan. Apart from the win itself, there were many amazing moments – from Big Papi’s grand slam in Game 2, Victorino’s three run double in Game 6 and Kuji Uehara’s closing dominance – all will be remembered, all were uplifting.

Being so far from the action and on the other side of the world, I found out the result from my good friend, Cricket who is also a passionate baseball fan and American citizen transplant to our fair shores. She sent me a text at about 2.30pm our time, which I managed to peek at between work meetings. And this is what is so great about the Boston Red Sox win, because it is more than just baseball, more than just a game, it is a bonding experience. Cricket, a fellow blogger who blogs at Cricket’s Corner of Australia, is a huge Chicago White Sox fan. So huge that she also live blogs most White Sox games for an audience through And that’s quite a commitment from our Australia time zone! Cricket’s technical knowledge of baseball is vast and puts me to shame, but I definitely regard her as my own Cricketpedia on the topic. So during the course of the year, we have been swapping baseball stories, sharing the victories and the defeats in what we have termed our own Battle of the Sox Drawer. She of the white, I of the red and with a cross over pitcher in the form of Jake Peavy who was traded from white to red mid-season, we have shared in the fortunes of our respective teams. Cricket of course donned the red sox in the post season in what became the year of the drawer.

Apart from this little bonding experience the win gave me an opportunity to contact a friend in Boston, also a big Red Sox fan, to share in the spoils. We had lost touch for a couple of years, red sox victorybut thanks for the Sox we have now renewed contact. That opportunity itself is worth its weight in gold. And finally, there was the play by play post mortem with my eldest son and husband and watching the games on delay after our work days. It brought us together and made us reminisce about our trip to Fenway, about hearing the crack of the bats and roar of the fans.

The big news for Aussie baseball fans is that the Arizona Diamondbacks and the LA Dodgers are heading to Sydney for their 2014 season opener next March. Our whole family will be there for both games and we will be hosting Cricket and her hubby for game two. We will be decked out in all of our Sox gear and will make the very most of this unique opportunity. I will be adopting the Diamonbacks as my team for those games as I take in an MLB baseball game on Australian soil.There was an MLB photo teaser this week with representatives of the teams standing before the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is about to get real!

So thank you Boston and thank you Red Sox. You have brought me more this year than just a world series win, you have brought me friendship and connection. And that’s a home run right there.

This is the last of my NaBloPoMo posts. I didn’t quite achieve the Challenge, but I posted more often that not.

Thanks for joining me on the journey.

H is for Home Run: What It Means To Be An Australian Baseball Fan (#atozchallenge)

photo from flikr -mag3737's photostream

Have you ever felt like a square peg in a round hole?  I often feel that way with my love of baseball.

Living in Australia, I am surrounded by a sport’s mad culture. Relative to its population (currently just under 23 million), Australia packs a mighty punch on the world sport scene, particularly in relation to non-winter sports. We are one of only two countries that have competed in every summer games of the modern Olympiad, having won a total of 444 medals.

Our national games are Australian Rules football/ rugby league in winter and cricket in summer. In some parts of the country it is almost mandatory to introduce yourself by which footy team you follow… “Hello my name is Joe and I am a Sydney Swans supporter. It has been three weeks since I last entered a football ground”  and to speak “footy tongue” so you can converse with shop keepers and cab drivers.  For years Australia dominated world cricket – all forms: test cricket, the one day game, the world cup, we were the force! The force at the moment is “consolidating”  – the wonderful euphemism used by cricket lovers who are in denial and refuse to use the “s” word, or “slump”.

Me, I’m a baseball lover. That good old square peg in a country that dotes on cricket.

I am not sure how much you know about cricket, but the long form or test cricket is a game that is played over five days… as in five whole days!  The usual result is a draw, pushing keys into the grass to test the pitch is considered normal, commentators count the number of seagulls present on the pitch to stay awake  and players stop the game and take tea in the afternoon. All I can say is please point me in the direction of the national paint drying championships right now!

Baseball has a small following in this country and is played if you know where to find it. But you have to look!  Kids as young as five can sign up for the sport and there are clubs scattered throughout the country, although nothing as comprehensive as America’s Little League. We have a Major League baseball nursery on the Gold Coast and talented players are scouted and signed to Major League baseball teams at the age of seventeen. There have been about thirty Australians who have played in the Major League, about a dozen of whom are currently active. Our highest profile player is probably Grant Balfour, currently with the Oakland Athletics.

The Major League baseball season has just started in the States and all is right with the world again. I am always slightly conflicted this time of year as it means winter is headed our way, but thankfully we have the baseball to warm up and bless our little cotton socks. Baseball is generally played in the States in the evenings so it means we get the coverage during our morning – usually when school or work gets in the way. The best thing that has happened for us starving Australian baseball fans is the internet. We can now stream live baseball games and get the play-by-play in real-time, complete with American radio ads.

So this is how to spot an Australian baseball fan:

    • they desperately scour the internet for snipets of major league baseball news and happenings
    • they have lots of American friends
    • they know what a walk off homer is
    • they linger at social venues with ESPN just to catch a glimpse of play at lunchtime
    • they know that any cricketer who wants to know how to throw a ball needs to train with a baseball player
    • they pine for Autumn because that’s when opening day comes around and know that winter is baseball season
    • the will pay a scalper a bomb when they are in America to get tickets to a baseball game
    • they stand up to stretch in their lounge rooms after the end of the sixth inning
    • they spend summer and winter watching their children play baseball and have an all year around baseball tan

We are knee-deep in our football season at the moment and I have my head buried in the Boston Red Sox (when not blogging, of course). Thankfully, my blog has had a better start to the season than the Red Sox, but I live in hope.

And my ultimate home run? My family visit to Cooperstown and Fenway Park last year. Da da da datta daaaaa…… charge!