This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
The 2009-2010 Claxton Shield tournament came to a close on Saturday, and there was nary a mention by any of the major sports news outlets in the United States. Though Major League Baseball is partnered with the Australian Baseball League, the MLB Network is broadcasting the entire Caribbean Series which features several current MLB players, prospects and even a few retired ballplayers while ignoring the baseball league of Australia.
As mentioned previously on BaseballDigest.com, there are many players within the Claxton Shield that currently play within MLB organizations, or have spent some of their professional careers in the US with minor league teams or in the independent leagues. As the 2009-2010 Claxton Shield was the inaugural season of the revitalized Australian Baseball League, the guess here is there might be more mainstream coverage in the future. The 2010-2011 Claxton Shield will include a 6th team and more likely resemble the Australian Baseball League that disbanded following the 1999 season.
You can read full recaps of the series on the Victoria Aces website, as well as the South Australian team website. Despite a valiant effort on the part of the South Australian baseball club, the Victoria Aces emerged victorious in Claxton Shield Grand Finals on Sunday night. The Aces defeated the South Australians in two straight games in a best of three series to secure their 17th championship title, and their first since 2007. The South Australians attempted to secure their first title in three decades, but could not contain the offensive juggernaut of the Aces, which lost just seven games during the tournament.
The semi-finals and grand finals of the tournament drew crowds of over a thousand per game, and featured great mid-inning entertainment such as the ‘Keg Toss’, where the winner received a free large pizza. The single camera live feeds provided a view of the college ballpark with small bleacher areas and fans sitting in folding chairs behind home plate, while the talent on the field arguably rivaled that of any Triple A team of Minor League Baseball.
It’s unclear whether the future of the Australian Baseball League will include future MLB talent as the previous incarnation did. The previous incarnation featured MLB players such as former Phillie Kevin Jordan(ABL batting champ and MVP in ’93), former Yankee Homer Bush(ABL MVP in ’94) in addition to one of the most famous Australian players to play in MLB, former Brewer Dave Nilsson. If the talent of the inaugural season of the revitalized league is any indication, the future of baseball down under has great potential to showcase rising stars in a country where baseball continues to seed its roots within the culture and may some day rival off-season leagues around the world.