Saturday, September 1, 2018

Australian Baseball League 2018-19 Expansion

There are some big changes happening with the ABL this year. The foremost being the expansion of the league from 6 to 8 teams. The two new teams are the Auckland Tuatara and Geelong-Korea.

The Auckland team is designed to give exposure for New Zealand players to semi-professional baseball and includes a number of players from their national team. Their nickname – Tuatara – is a lizard-like reptile native to New Zealand. (FYI, Tuatara is both singular and plural, so they aren’t the “tuataras”.) The team was called Auckland rather than New Zealand as they hope to have a second team in New Zealand in the future. For the 2018-19 season they will only play three series in New Zealand, with several “home” series to be played in Australia, possibly in regional locations. They will have a normal home and away schedule in future seasons once their permanent home ground is ready. They’ve confirmed that similar to the existing ABL team that they will be seeking to host MLB affiliated players to supplement their local players.

Auckland Tuatara Image from the Australian Baseball League's Facebook Page

The Geelong-Korea team will be a team comprising of up and coming South Korean players aiming to progress onto  KBO team rosters. The aim is to give the fringe KBO players more game time during their off-season, much in the same way the MLB affiliated players come down to Australia. Not a lot of additional information has been given around the team yet such as whether there's a nickname or colors except that they will be based in the city of Geelong here in Australia, thus giving Geelong a team in the ABL. I haven’t seen anything as to whether there will be any non-Korean players on the team.

Geelong-Korea logo from the Geelong-Korea Baseball Facebook page

The two new teams has resulted in the league splitting into two 4 team divisions:

The South West Division, consisting of:

  • Adelaide Bite
  • Geelong-Korea
  • Melbourne Aces
  • Perth Heat

The North East Divison

  • Auckland Tuatara
  • Brisbane Bandits
  • Canberra Cavalry
  • Sydney Blue Sox

This is actually a bit frustrating for me as there isn’t full home and away cross-divisional play, meaning I will only get to see 6 of the 8 teams play locally each season. My goal of photographing players from each team for this blog each year is now pretty much unobtainable. Add to that that due to interstate travel this year, I’ll actually miss out on one of the series and will therefore only get to see 5 teams play. I may have to try and invest in a baseball related road trip at some point during the summer, but I’m not sure how my wife or wallet will appreciate that 

Another change to the ABL is that the teams have moved to private ownership models and various benefactors have taken on responsibility with the various teams.  It will be interesting to see how this pans out and what changes willt ake place. I've already noticed one difference, but I'll talk about that in my next post.

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