Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Call It A Split

Teammate Jamie Lethborg
Looks Exactly Like
Napoleon Dynaminte
Someone told me a saying about Canberra.  They said the the most beautiful thing about Canberra is the road leading out of town.  While the road was indeed beautiful I thought the city had more to offer than I was able to see.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see Parliament house or the famed War Memorial.  The weather didn’t really cooperate with us during the trip.  It was rainy and really cold for the first three days.  In fact we got rained out of the second game and ended up playing a double header on Sunday.  The rain on Friday was hard, off and on at times but consistent throughout the day.  If I was going to see the sights that Canberra has to offer that would have been the day to do it.  Saturday morning it rained until we left for the field around 3:45pm so Saturday was a wash too.  Oh well maybe next time Ill get to see the sights more up close than this time around. 

Medina Outside
I did enjoy our accommodations however.  The outside of the building wad definitely dumpy looking and I think we all wondered what we were going to get.  The courtyard was over landscaped and over grown and the décor on the building was reminiscent of something from the 70’s.  Boy was I was surprised when I opened the door and walked into your suite.  To my left was our bedroom; two single bed with a  nightstand and a small closet.  To my right was a kitchenette with stove, range, fridge, sink and dishwasher.  The main living area had a couch, love seat, flat screen tv, coffee table and dining table with chairs.  Just beyond my bedroom was the bathroom complete with shower and washer and dryer.  Just past that another bedroom, slightly bigger than my room; also with 2 single beds but a bigger built in closet.  Out the back door was a patio and gate with easy access to the street.  A very modern

Medina Bedrooms
The ballpark was a short drive from the hotel which was accomplished in 3 large vans.  We pulled in through the back gate and unloaded our gear.  The field was a proper baseball field.  All grass, dirt infield, large spacious dugouts and deep fences.  A pitchers park for sure, except when the wind blows out.  From information I gathered from various sources, the Canberra ball club received a massive 3 million dollar grant from the government to redo their park.  That figure dwarfs the alleged 60k the Aces received.  Not sure why there was such a differential but this park definitely felt like a real minor league stadium.  The Canberra Cavalry are orange and black and have a similar color scheme to the Baltimore Orioles.  The team is mainly composed of imports similar to myself from America and Asia.  They do have a small contingent of Australian players however they don’t play a major role with the team.  There is no rule in the ABL that states you must have X amount of player from Australia on your team so I was curious as to why this team had so few.  The answer was simple.  Canberra is part of the ACT or Australian Captial Territory.  A small town with an equally small population and very few club teams to draw players from.  For example Canberra may have 6 club ball teams where a city like Sydney or Melbourne may have 30-40 club teams to draw players from.  The Cavalry matched up well with Aces.  Both teams had good pitching and good hitting.  Both teams lacked power but played station to station and manufactured runs.  We lost the first game of the series on a walk off homerun in the bottom of the ninth.  A heartbreaker to say the least as we had that final hitter in a 1-2 count and just hung a fastball in the wrong spot.  The next day was a washout as I previously stated, it rained all day and night.  Friday was a circus.  We started the game under ominous skies and ended up taking an hour and half rain to delay before continuing the game.  During that rain delay they only covered the mound and home plate because they thought the rain was subside quickly.  As the rain picked up in force they decided it would be a good time to pull the field tarp (A rarity in this league).  Almost as soon as the field tarp was drawn tight over the field the rain ceased.  Then both teams stood outside their dugouts waiting for an hour and half while no rain fell.  No real explanation as to why we continued to wait so we ended up having a little fun with practical jokes and foolish games with the other team.  We stuck gummy worms in the fingers of one of the Japanese players gloves then asked if we could play catch.  When he stuck his hand in his glove his smiling face soon turned to concern and everyone got a good laugh.  We were exchanging stories and trash talking with the other team by writing on baseballs and throwing them across the diamond.  The other team would respond and throw the ball back with their own talk.  Its amazing what baseball players can think of when they are bored.  After the rain delay the field crew pulled the tarp.  Almost immediately after they pulled the tarp and started the game back up it started raining again.  Ironic? Annoying? Yes.  The game was close with both teams scoring runs in the top and bottom half of the first few innings.  The ninth inning came and went and we were tied.  A fitting way for this game to go I guess.  It took until the 12th inning to determine a winner and it was the Melbourne Aces who managed to manufacture  2 runs in the top half of the 12th and hold off a late charge by the Cavalry to win the game by a run.  It was definitely a win we needed to have especially after playing so many close 1 run games and ending up on the losing side.  We ended up leaving the field around twelve midnight and arriving back at our hotel after a short stop for some food.  We had a double header in 10 hours and I was starting game 1.

Aussie Parking Job
The next morning my 7:30am alarm came too soon.  I stirred around before making some breakfast and coffee.  The rest of my roomates dressed as I did, in our uniforms and headed to the ballpark to play 2.  The first game was all Aces.  I pitched 5 strong innings, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits while striking out 4 and walking 1.  I did give up a homerun but in reality it was a flyball to right that was aided by the wind.  I threw 80 pitches in that 5 inning span upping my previous total by 16.  My arm felt strong all day and my command was the best it had been since I arrived.  I left the game with a 5-3 lead.  After I came out the offense turned up the heat and pounded out something like 20 hits and 14 runs.  The second game was a lot closer.  Their starter put up zeros for 7 innings while our starter kept the game close.  We tried to  mount a late inning comeback but fell short 4-1 thus splitting the series.  It was definitely a fun series for us.  We got to play in a true baseball field with true dimensions and we were able to get the offense going with lots of hits.  We played decent defense (don’t get me wrong, we had some issues with simple things like flyballs) and pitched well.  Even though it was a split I think it was a win for the Aces.

After the game everyone showered and changed into their travel clothes.  We had some time to kill so we drove back into town to grab some non-airport food and to wind down from the long day we just endured.  Fellow American Nic Ungs and I ate at a little café in town where we both ordered the wagyu beef burger which came at the recommendation of the staff.  We both enjoyed it immensely and ate every last crumb.   It was the perfect wind down to the long day and the perfect precursor to the short flight we were about to embark on.  Overall I would say Canberra needs a second look, and not just by me.  I think it gets a bad wrap because of where it is, the business that happens there.  I thought the scenery was great, the fans were better and the baseball perfect.

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