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|Australian Baseball League|
|2016–17 Australian Baseball League season|
|No. of teams||6|
|Current champions||Brisbane Bandits (2015-16)|
|Official website||Official Homepage|
Australian Baseball League (ABL) is a professional baseball league in Australia. The league is governed by the Australian Baseball Federation (ABF), and is jointly funded by the ABF, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Australian Federal Government. It uses the same name as a now defunct competition held during the 1990s, and though it shares some history of the original league with the Claxton Shield awarded to winners of both competitions, it is considered to be a separate competition. The current champions are the Perth Heat, having won the 2010–11 season by defeating the Adelaide Bite two games to one in the championship series, after defeating the Sydney Blue Sox in the major semi-final series. Though the inaugural season of the league, it was the fifth time a team named "Perth Heat" had won the Claxton Shield; Perth were national champions twice in the original ABL and twice in Claxton Shield tournaments, after the Western Australia state baseball team renamed themselves in anticipation of the return of the ABL.
The original Australian Baseball League commenced in 1989. At the time it replaced the Claxton Shield as the top baseball competition in the country, with eight teams from Adelaide, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Over the course of the league's life, teams were also based in Canberra and Newcastle, with the number of teams competing in any one season varying from six to nine. Only four teams contested each of the ten seasons, with the others folding due to financial problems, or due to a lack of a suitable venue for home games. The financial difficulties were not restricted to the clubs, as the league was forced to close after the summer of 1999. Running at a loss of A$2 million a season, the rights to the league were sold to Dave Nilsson—an Australian Major League Baseball player with the Milwaukee Brewers at the time—for a reported A$5 million.
On 1 July 2009, a joint press-conference was held by the ABF, MLB and Australian Federal Government at the Palm Meadows Baseball Complex on the Gold Coast in Queensland, the site of the Major League Baseball Australian Academy Program (MLBAAP). During the conference the intention to resurrect a national baseball league for Australia was announced, with the Government announcing A$400,000 towards the new league. Though some sources reported that the new league could be running as early as October 2010, there had been no official timeframe released for the new league to commence. Initial reports suggested the competition would likely include between eight and ten teams from around Australia. Discussions were held between the ABF and Baseball New Zealand about the possibility of a team based in New Zeal and being included in the competition. The offer, however, was declined on the basis that there was not sufficient infrastructure, specifically citing the need for a suitable stadium and a major sponsor for the team. The possibility of a New Zealand team joining the competition at some point in the future has not been ruled out though. There were additional concerns about the viability of a team based in South Australia, primarily based on the lack of a suitable stadium with lights to be able to play night games. This, along with playing on baseball-specific grounds — as opposed to playing on temporarily converted rugby league grounds as had been the case in the old ABL — was seen as a necessary requirement to insure the long-term profitability of the competition. In August 2009, a bid process was launched by the Australian Capital Territory Baseball Association (ACTBA) for a team to be based in Canberra with the name and motto of "Let's Do It Canberra". The bid was not in competition with any other bids, but was required to meet certain minimum standards, such as fan and sponsorship support, to be successful and join the other five teams from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney that were at the time confirmed. On 18 November 2009, it was announced by the ABF that the Canberra bid was successful, confirming that the inaugural season would include six teams. In December 2009, a competition was launched for fans to decide the names of the foundation franchises, called "Name Your ABL Team". For each franchise, four team-name options were available to choose from, in addition to being able to enter another name created by the entrant. In August 2010, the names of the teams were announced, along with team logos and colours: Adelaide Bite, Brisbane Bandits, Canberra Cavalry, Melbourne Aces, Perth Heat, and Sydney Blue Sox.
List of Champions Edit
|Season||Final Host||Chammpions||Runners-Up||3rd Place||4th Place|
|2010-11||Perth||Perth Heat||Adelaide Bite||Sydney Blue Sox||Melbourne Aces|
|2011-12||Perth||Perth Heat||Melbourne Aces||Sydney Blue Sox||Adelaide Bite|
The regular season was played from November through to January over ten weeks, similarly to the 2010 season of the Claxton Shield. With the expansion from five to six teams, each team will play every week as opposed to the two bye weeks the teams had previously. In addition, rather than a three-game series each week, the series will be four games each, resulting in each team playing 40 games over the season. As had been the case in 2010, the majority of games will be played on Fridays and Saturdays though some games will be played midweek or on Sundays. At the conclusion of the regular season, the playoffs will involve the top four teams in a three-round structure following the Page playoff system. Each round will consist of a best–of–three game series between the respective teams. The first- and second-place teams play each other in the major semi-final, with the winner proceeding directly to the grand final and the loser to the preliminary final. The winner of the minor semi-final between the third- and fourth-place teams also goes to the preliminary final, while the loser is eliminated. Likewise, the winner of the preliminary final qualifies for the grand final, the loser being eliminated. Likewise, the winner of the preliminary final qualifies for the grand final, the loser being eliminated. The winner of the grand final is named the ABL Champion for that season, and will be awarded the Claxton Shield; the prize given to the top Australian baseball team since 1934.
For the inaugural season, there has been no television coverage of regular season games, either live, delayed or in a regular highlights package review format, despite having been in negotiations with Fox Sports and One HD. After completing negotiations for live television coverage of the finals, the championship series will be broadcast live on Fox Sports. On 1 November 2010, Sydney community radio station Triple H FM announced it would provide live broadcasts of Sydney Blue Sox home matches as well as Canberra Cavalry's home series against the Blue Sox, Melbourne Aces and Perth Heat - the weeks Sydney was away from home. Perth Now's radio station SportFM announced it would cover the Perth Heat spring training games as well as the opening game of every Heat home series. The Adelaide Bite, Brisbane Bandits and Perth Heat provided free audio and video streaming through internet website Ustream.
Though the locations for the six teams had been known for some time previously, it was not until 5 August 2010 that the names of the teams were announced. Websites were also launched on the same day for each of the teams with the exception of the Perth Heat, which had been the name of the Western Australian team playing in the Claxton Shield since 2006, as well as being one of the franchises from the original ABL, contesting all ten seasons. The Brisbane Bandits is also a reintroduction of a team name from the original ABL that participated in all but the final season. The Adelaide Bite uses a name that the South Australia state baseball team has previously used at various times in the Claxton Shield, which in turn refers both to the great white shark common to South Australian waters as well as the geographic feature, the Great Australian Bight. Likewise, the Melbourne Aces uses the Victoria state baseball team's moniker from Claxton Shield competitions past. The Canberra Cavalry and the Sydney Blue Sox both use names not previously used in Australian baseball at the national level.
Expansion teams to represent the ]]Gold Coast]], the Central Coast, and Geelong are being considered for future seasons, as well as the possibility of second teams from Melbourne and Sydney. There is further potential for teams to be based overseas, with New Zealand and Japan having been publicly discussed. Another alternative for expansion teams being considered is the possibility of an all-Japanese or all-Asian team added to the league, with the team being based in Australia rather than requiring international flights for the team's members and their opponents.
Major Partners & SponsorsEdit
Naming Rights SponsorsEdit
|Sponsors||Naming Rights||Resulting Name|
|Alcohol Think Again||Perth Heat||Alcohol Think Again Perth Heat|
|Delta Air Lines||2010–11 Postseason||2011 Delta Air Lines ABL Postseason|
|ETSA Utilities||Adelaide Bite||Adelaide ETSA Bite|
- Edge 85 - Training apparel
- Majestic - Uniforms and supporter apparel
- Mizuno - Batting gloves
- New Era - Caps
- Rawlings - Balls, batting helmets, catchers' protective gear
- Sam Bat - Bats
- Australian Baseball League (1989-1999)
- Claxton Shield
- International Baseball League of Australia
- Winter leagues