More pictures from this trip and others: HERE
I was fortunate enough to selected for the first ever ABL All-Star game held in Perth this year. I was chosen to be on the World team and we were to face the Australian All-Stars. The game was perfect timing for the Aces players because we just played in Perth so no one had to fly in from Melbourne.
The day of the All-Star game everyone dropped off their uniforms at the front desk so they could be taken to the game for us. I suppose this was to make sure no one forgot anything. In hindsight it turned out to be a big mess because all the uniforms got chucked in a van and mixed together so we ended up spending more time piecing our gear back together than was intended. Everyone piled into the customary vans and headed for the field. On the way I got to meet several players I didn’t know and a few that I only knew by reputation, whether good or bad. Its funny how people can be perceived on the field as such villains but be nice guys off the field. It goes a long way in showing how body language affects how people see you and form opinons about you. As soon as we arrived at the stadium everyone dressed in their game uniform so we could take a team picture. Next we changed back into our batting practice top and took team BP. Batting practice was fairly short and the whole time I stood in right field talking with a few other All-Stars I didn’t know.
Our team had representation from America, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, India and Italy so there plenty of fresh faces to meet and language barriers to break. There was a lull of a few hours before game time and many players took this time to eat some lunch, play cards, chit chat, play with their Iphone or Ipad and listen to music. A typical scene from any pregame clubhouse in America. I had already informed the manager that I was unavailable to pitch in the game due to my leg injury but that wasn’t going to be a problem as we had plenty of guys to cover the game.
|Teammate Dominic Ramo|
The stadium filled nicely before the start of the game and the Stadium looked great with flags flying and tons of advertising. Before the first pitch two Aborigine representatives accompanied by a didgeridoo-ist (not sure if that’s right, forgive me if its wrong) gave a blessing to use the land and the field for the game. Following that was the customary first pitch and then the start of the game. The world team were the visitors so we batted first against the Australian starter and fellow Ace, Shane Lindsay. The game started with a line drive single up the middle and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the game. The World team pushed 8 runs across the plate to Australia’s 5 to win the inaugural game. The World team pitched superbly, not allowing a run until the sixth inning. I had a great time chatting it up with fellow pitchers Mike McGuire and Ryan Beckman. It was like any All-Star game I had ever been to where players took it serious enough to play properly but were not afraid to let their hair down and have some fun. For a short time I talked to Indian pitcher Rinku Singh who won the “Million Dollar Arm” contest in India. His prize was not a million dollars however, instead he got a professional baseball contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates and has been pitching very well for them. Everyone had a great time and more importantly the fans got a great show. Talking with Justin Huber after the game, he said he thought it was the largest crowd he’d every played in front of in Australia. That’s pretty impressive considering the kind of weight he carries in this league and the experience hes had. At the conclusion of the game the MVP award was handed to World player Tyler Collins who hit a critical 3 run homerun to put the game out of reach. Then everyone from both sides grabbed a sharpie and went around the stadium signing autographs for the fans and saying hello and thanks for coming out to the game. It was a great gesture by the league and I think the fans really enjoyed it as well.
That night everyone went out to enjoy the Perth nightlife. We had an early 4am bus to the airport to make our 530am flight so we decided to pull an all-nighter. It’s safe to say we all had a great time and Perth showed us a great time. We gathered in the lobby, recovering from our long night out and awaiting our bus to the airport. I think I dozed off for about a half hour only to wake to everyone getting ready to leave. This is where the ABL needed some extra help. There was one guy (Who handled everything beautifully I might add) running the show and trying to organize flights, people and equipment. We didn’t leave the hotel until about 430am and didn’t get to the airport until 40 minutes before our flight was scheduled to leave. We pulled into the terminal and had to hop out to get over to a parking lot where our gear was sitting in an open van, the driver nowhere to be found. It was now the responsibility of 4 people to empty the van and check all the bags through to Melbourne. Me and my fellow teammates grabbed every available trolley and pushed everything into the terminal. 30 minutes to take off we still didn’t have our boarding passes. I got to the front of the line and told the gate agent who I was and that I had lots of bags to get though. I knew we would have to pay and I didn’t care all I wanted to do was get everything checked, and paid for and to our gate. I would pass along the bill the the appropriate person for reimbursement later. Again, no one from the ABL was helping at this point, at least no one I could see. Somehow the four of us managed to get our boarding passes and check 16 bags (including massage table, water coolers, equipment bags, mascot costume and more) without paying a cent. No way that would have happened in the States. We breezed though security (America take note please), only having to remove our laptops and liquids from our bags. No removing shoes, belts, wallets watches etc. A short trip up and escalator and boom we were at our gate just as the boarding process was underway. I couldn’t believe we made it!
|World Team on the Rail|
Overall the All-Star game was a blast. I had lots of fun meeting new people, seeing the enjoyment from the fans and being part of such a historical day. There was definitely more to be desired from the ABL in terms of how it was run but they also did a lot of things right. Id say for a first time they did a pretty good job. Im sure in coming years this game will gain popularity and fans and the ABL will fix all the glitches they had.
Side Note: Just for reference, in my personal opinion this game should have been called a showcase and not an All-Star game and here is my reasoning. I was selected to the team not based on my current ABL numbers but on my past experiences in MLB. Im sure there were some guys on that team that were in the same situation. The ABL wanted to make sure there were some popular names on the roster to “enhance” the game for TV purposes. My teammate Nic Ungs has much better numbers than I do and is near the top of every pitching category in the league and he wasn’t selected. In my opinion this was a mistake. Nic has pitched in the States for MLB and Independent teams and had tremendous success. Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to make it to the majors and that is why he wasn’t selected for the team. If the ABL is going to make this a yearly tradition they need to include the players that deserve to go to this game and not the players who have a name. I wont say anymore and just leave it at that.