Baseball in Australia, why not?

A love of sport is inherent in our Aussie genes, – if we aren’t playing it, we’re watching it, if we aren’t watching it, we are talking about it.  In a country where surfing and snowboarding competitions are run simultaneously, our climate and landscape is naturally engineered to accommodate our obsession.

In a population where “What’s the score?” unites strangers, it’s safe to say we are a sporting nation.

What most of us haven’t realised, yet, is that we are groomed for a love of baseball our entire lives.

“In Australia?” is the typical response.  Like most Australians growing up with T-Ball and softball, an appreciation of baseball seems like a natural progression.  When you hear “Out of left field” and “Ballpark figure” in the same sentence, one could assume the game has already infiltrated our culture.

Baseball fills our unexplainable demand for regular displays of fast-paced, on field athleticism; it offers the grunt of rugby, the intimacy of tennis, the technique of cricket and a far better atmosphere than any swimming event could ever offer.

This long summer, the Australian Baseball League gave us six teams who fought it out in most states.  Up to five times a week, Australians were treated to top level showmanship, spoiled with homegrown and imported talent.  At the conclusion of each series, thousands of spectators were left wanting more.

Regardless whether you were a spectator, participant, diehard fan, or first-timer this season, there was a place for you to enjoy the competition, witnessing Australian sporting history being made firsthand.

Down under, we are spoilt by access to sport; there is an oval on every corner; multi-sport stadium schedules do not allow for a game free moment.  The Brisbane Bandit’s venue, the RNA Showground, hosts an authentic ballpark experience.

A couple of beers and a hotdog during three hours of play and live entertainment is the perfect way to wind down after a long work week, or a launch pad for a big night – Brisbane’s nightclub hub nestled just meters away.  First timers quickly become season ticket holders and it is not difficult to see why.

Congruent with Australia’s love of a good character, there is no typical baseballer.  On any given team, you’ll find your Shane Warne, Bernard Tomic and Billy Slater counterpart.  One thing you will notice is that they are all battlers; the struggle for baseball to survive in Australia is the ultimate underdog story.

The sporting atmosphere is second to none – unlike tennis, the crowd is encouraged to roar and being Australian, you don’t need permission to holler at the batter.

You don’t have to know much about baseball to appreciate a game (you’ll pick it up easily) or know all the players (picking your favourite won’t be difficult).  You don’t even have to be a “sportsman”, or a man for that matter to come along, just someone who welcomes a good time.   If you have children, don’t deny them the action – the League offers one of the best family-friendly activities available today.

In no other professional sport is the fan’s experience so entirely in their hands.  For $15 you can park yourself practically anywhere and after the game you are encouraged to meet the players – who, unlike in other sports,  aren’t hurried in to a locker room as though allergic to the general public.

If you miss a pitch, or the entire innings, the person next to you will be more than happy to bring you up to speed.  If you can’t make it to the ballpark, you can stream it online and cheer from your couch.

This “new” Australian sport should come with a warning – a love of baseball can induce wild fanaticism; in no time, new aficionados willingly throw themselves in to this hole in our sporting landscape.

Anything that involves a couple of hours in the sun, armed with a cold one, surrounded by your mates, gets the tick of approval as an enjoyable pastime; park yourself at an Australian diamond next summer.

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