Monday, June 28, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
- Perth HEAT (this must surely be a no-brainer)
- Adelaide BITE
- Melbourne ACES
- Sydney STING
- Canberra (I have nothing)
- Brisbane BANDITS (heard 1st hand from a few sources)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
- The Defensive Specialist is assuming that each player is available for 100% of the ABL season. Often professional pitchers will be shut down for part of the off-season. For this exercise, we are assuming that all players are free to play the entire season.
- The likes of Ryan Rowland-Smith, Grant Balfour and Peter Moylan will not commit to a full season (if at all).
- The Defensive Specialist is only going to count down from 10 (although would be more than happy to open this up to building a full team if 4 other suitably knowledgeable pseudo General Managers would be interested and available to sit at the Deep in the Hole conference table and bang out a full draft) since the project could take about 3 weeks if the Defensive Specialist tried to assemble an entire squad.
- The Defensive Specialist is evaluating overall value to the team based on past performance and projected output in the coming season.
- Players do not have to be professionals.
So that’s the Defensive Specialist’s top 10 list and lets be honest, it’s a dandy. Of course it’s extremely subjective and the Defensive Specialist is more than happy to hear from the readers with their opinions. Hit up the inbox or the comments section with your take on the most franchise building worthy candidates. Lets just hope that something starts to happen on the ABL front so that the Defensive Specialist can stop amusing himself with these activities.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
In order to get a clear picture of how summer baseball breaks down, the Defensive Specialist has turned to US correspondent Brandon Harmon for an in-depth look into American summer leagues:
Summer collegiate baseball is a bit of an unknown to the average baseball fan, yet could be the most exciting amateur baseball being played. An opportunity for the best college level players, who aren’t eligible for professional baseball to play baseball the way it is supposed to be played; with a wood bat. Most people associate college baseball with high runs, colder spring weather, and the unmistakable “PING!” that a metal bat produces. Summer baseball though is more of what the traditional baseball fan has come to expect, baseball played in warm weather with a wood bat.
Summer ball is a great opportunity for college players to showcase their talents and to experience a new part of the country with players from different schools. Summer teams have a large pool of players to choose from since student-athletes who play at a 4 year level college are not eligible to sign professionally until after their 3rd year of school is completed. Summer teams are allowed a maximum of four players from one school, so each team usually has a very diverse roster with upwards of 15-20 schools represented on one team. Teams assemble their rosters by reaching agreements with college programs, basically it’s a first come - first serve process of obtaining players for the summer. It is not uncommon for rosters to have 2-3 players from traditional powers like Arizona St. and Texas, teamed up with players from small Division 3 schools. So not only is it great for the fans to see top level talent but provides an opportunity for lower level college players to prove they can play with the supposed best players in the country.
Within the last ten years more and more collegiate summer leagues have popped up around the country. The Cape Cod League and Alaska Baseball League were the traditional powers but similar leagues across the country have followed their model and tried to emulate their success. Some of the more successful leagues that have become prominent in recent years are the Northwood’s Baseball League in the upper Midwest in the states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, and one team in Canada, the West Coast League in the Northwest in the states of Washington, Oregon, and one team in Canada, the New England Collegiate League in the upper Northeast in the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, other popular leagues are the Coastal Plains league which is in the two Carolina’s and the Texas Collegiate League located in Texas. Along with the popular leagues there are numerous smaller leagues and also independent summer teams that play different competition throughout the summer.
The Cape Cod League continues to be the premier league in the country, located in Massachusetts on the Cape Cod which is a popular vacation destination. Traditionally the Alaska Baseball League would challenge the Cape Cod for the top position but has slipped in the last few years and is now one of 2nd or 3rd best leagues. Both leagues continue to have the most recognition among fans of amateur baseball in the states. The Cape Cod League continues to produce future big leaguers year in and year out, in the 2009 season 217 Cape Cod alumni were on Major League rosters including stars like Lance Berkman, Ryan Braun, Jacoby Ellsbury, Todd Helton, Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, Mark Teixeira, Chase Utley, and Barry Zito. When watching any of the 10 Cape Cod League teams, a spectator can expect to be watching some of the best amateur talent in the country and most likely see 4-5 future big leaguers in each game. The Alaska Baseball League is comprised of 6 teams and is another league with Major League pedigree with alumni like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Randy Johnson and Tom Seaver. Current big leaguers like Jason Giambi, Michael Young, and JD Drew all called the Alaska League home for a summer. The Alaska League is also home to what many would consider the most famous summer team of all time in the Alaska Goldpanners located in the city of Fairbanks. The Goldpanners just celebrated their 50th anniversary and are a traditional summer power with 192 MLB alumni to the team’s credit. The Goldpanners are also home to one of the most unique baseball experiences that any fan can have in the “Midnight Sun Game”, since Alaska has on average of 20 hours of daylight a day due to the summer solstice season, the Goldpanners play their annual game which starts at 10:30 at night and is played without the benefit of artificial light. ESPN recently came out with their “Baseball Top-10 must see events”, and summer collegiate baseball was well represented with the Cape Cod Baseball League opener being #1 on the list, and the “Midnight Sun Game” ranking #4 on the list. (Link: http://sports.espn.go.com/travel/news/story?id=5151663)
Compared to the regular collegiate season, summer collegiate baseball is a more fan friendly experience. Many teams run regular promotions and try to emulate a minor league experience for both their fans and players. One of the biggest draws for fans in the summer is that teams can serve beer at games, unlike colleges which are restricted by NCAA rules. The Northwood’s League which plays a grueling 70 game season in 76 days (which is about 20 games more than most summer leagues), is probably the most fan friendly experience with 12 of the 16 teams drawing an average of at least 1,000 fans a game. The Madison (WI) Mallards of the league regularly draw over 5,000 fans per game. Players in most leagues are very accessible for fan interaction and readily sign autographs after games.
For the players the chance to get a new experience is something they most likely will never forget. Most summer teams provide host families for the players to live with for the 2-3 months that they are with the team. These relationships with new teammates and host families are usually lasting friendships that extend past the 3 month season. Most teams also do their best to provide opportunities for players to experience new things that their region has to offer on the teams off days. Those activities could include a whitewater rafting trip, sky diving, trip to Fenway Park, or a simple one day getaway to a host families lake cabin, all things that make the experience that much more enjoyable.
Many people would consider the summer collegiate baseball circuit to be the perfect mix of great baseball and fun times. Players who aren’t playing under the pressure of living up to a contract, but also playing hard to prove that they one day can earn that spot in professional baseball. For fan’s it’s an opportunity to see some of the future stars of tomorrow when they are still in a position to meet them, and interact with them. Nothing beats baseball being played under the lights on a hot a summer night, with wood bats the way the game was supposed to be played. So in towns across the country like Wenatchee (WA), Newport (RI), Green Bay (WI), and Bend (OR) great baseball is being played in the summers, and a great opportunity to enjoy the great game of baseball.
Many thanks to Brandon for taking the time to lay it out in great detail. The Defensive Specialist has been a big fan of the Cape Cod league for a number of years now as it has been a breeding ground for Major League talent. Lets hope we can get a few more of our Aussie college players working on their game over the summer in this hot bed.