Thursday, November 17, 2016

Play Ball - Start of the 2016-17 ABL Season

Tonight is the start of the 2016-17 Australian Baseball League season, however I have struggled to get excited for this season. I've put this down to several reasons:

1. Real World Priorities: I've been struggling to finish off my card set of the 2015-16 ABL season. Due to a combination of competing real life priorities, health issues, etc, I only finished doing the front of last season's cards yesterday. Doing the backs is usually the larger time consuming part, so there's still a lot of work to be done to have them print ready. Normally I have the designs done and started printing before the start of the next season. It'll still be a long time before I have my 2015-16 ABL set in hand, and the 2015-16 designs will still be appearing on this blog for a while. I haven't even contemplated a design for the 2016-17 cards yet.

2. The Loss of MLB Backing: Major League Baseball has been helping to fund the revamped Australian Baseball League during its first six seasons. Well, that funding source was cut off during 2016, with the expectation that the ABL now needs to stand financially on its own 2 feet. The problem is, the ABL is still struggling in the key markets of Sydney and Melbourne. To be able to be self-funding, those 2 markets need to take off, and take off big, as they cover over 2/3rds of the Australian audience. The continuing non-success of these 2 teams means that they struggle to gain media support and their lack of penetration must be a financial thorn in the side of the self funding ABL model. This has resulted in the contraction of the ABL season from 56 games back to 40 games in 2016-17, and notable commentary already from teams that money is tight.

3. Missing 2016-17 Photo Opportunities: For the last 6 years I've been making my personal ABL cards, with only the initial 2010-11 season (when I was only trying out the idea for cards), being when I didn't have photo coverage of every team. A family holiday this year, combined with the contracted season length means that I won't get to photograph every ABL team this season. I'll be missing out on shooting Perth, the ABL team I support. That's disappointing and the OCD in me is frustrated at the idea of starting a set that only contains five of the six ABL teams, and of missing my favourite team.

The first games won't be played locally until next week. I still then have to come up with a 2016-17 card design, so it will still probably be a while until my 2016-17 card images start appearing here.

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