I lived in Aus for awhile and played ball at university.
The best players would equate to maybe junior college level. Aussies are athletic, but their biggest problem is lack of proper coaching. Ugly mechanics and poor decisions abound. This should get better as players go to the US to play college ball and return to coach after they wash out. MLB has a 2 month camp in Queensland every year where they scout and train prospects. That should help too.
It is hard to care about this league when they haven’t even had a game on television yet (to my knowledge). I read that they had a tv deal done with Fox Sports a while ago, but I searched the tv guide for about 2 weeks and there was nothing.
I played 1st grade for a Melbourne club team two years ago….50% of the 1st grade teams would have beaten the National Title JUCO team I played for in the 90’s (Yavapai Community College) and the bad NCAA D1 team I also played for….so I’d say the local comp is *very good JC* or mediocre NCAA D1.
1) Oxspring actually serves as his team’s pitching coach as well. Thought that was pretty neat.
2) You can watch many of the games online. Their websites share the MLBAM (the AM stands for Advanced Media, if anyone cares) format as MILB teams and many of them stream games. http://web.theabl.com.au/index.jsp for that.
3) I too lived in Oz for a few years (ending in ’05), and the baseball there has improved over the last few seasons. The aforementioned academy in Queensland has helped, but there has been slowly growing interest over the past decade or so, especially in Sydney.
4) and Paul, that’s probably Fox Sports Australia, the main sports TV network down under.
Having been to two of the Bandits game and watching the game results, my observation is that the hitting is more advanced than the pitching. That’s possibly because some of the very good Australians pitchers may not have been released by the MLB teams to play.
That’s not to say that none of them can pitch well – I saw Adam Blackley and Drew Naylor (Phillies AA) were both impressive when I saw them.
The biggest problem with baseball in Australia is that the kids don’t play enough. Here on the Gold Coast, under 16s and below play one game a week over six months, with an eight-week break for summer vacation in between. Sport in Australia is much more organised at the club level (compared to the US, where most of of it is organised at the high school and college level).
Defensively, they still have a high error to double play ratio (one of Bill James’ Peripheral Quality Indices) – last Sunday there were eight errors to two double plays.
Comment by Sean Callahan — January 7, 2011 @ 5:50 pm