Series Preview – Brisbane Bandits @ Blue Sox

Things in Blue Sox camp have been quite lively over the past week, with the Blue Sox traveling to Canberra for their first ABL match-up of the year, and a 2-game exhibition against Team New Zealand. The boys played a total of 5 games in 4 days, winning 4 of the games (2 wins Vs. Canberra and 2 wins Vs. New Zealand). The Blue Sox completed the pre-season with a record of 3-2 and sitting on a 2-1 record in the ABL. Blue Sox ace, Chris Oxspring, took home the honour of Pitcher of the Week in the ABL for his performance in week 1, getting the win Vs. the Cavalry in 7.1 innings with 7 strike-outs.

The Blue Sox now prepare to welcome the Brisbane Bandits to town for their first ABL home stand of the season. Brisbane, along with Canberra and Sydney, make up what is unofficially considered the “north” division of the ABL. Each team will have 3 series’s Vs. the other 2 squads, while they only have a home-and-away series with the teams from the “south” division; Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. This is put in place in an effort to drive rivalries and marketing opportunities. Brisbane will travel to Sydney again for the last week of the regular of the season, January 24, 25, 26 and 27.

The Blue Sox pitching rotation will look very similar to the past 2 weeks, with the starters likely to be Chris Oxspring, Vaughn Harris and Craig Anderson. Matt Williams has been anchoring the bullpen as the closer, and will likely see the 9th inning again this week with normal closer Dae-Sung Koo on loan to the Perth Heat for the Asia Series in Korea. Though the bullpen will still feature hard-throwing Tyler Herr and Todd Van Steensel. If the Blue Sox take the lead into the 6th or 7th inning you can expect them to be lights out.

Coming across the diamond, the Blue Sox will be missing 1st baseman/DH Boss Moanaroa, who is traveling with Team New Zealand for the next 2 weeks as part of the World Baseball Classic. The Blue Sox should have no problem filling the gap with import James Robbins. Look for hot-hitting Zach Penprase to possibly make the move to the top of the line-up, to open up JD Williams to see more fastballs in the 2-hole. Though keeping JD in the lead-off spot really puts the speed threat on base early for Penprase or Klein to drive him home and get the Blue Sox out to an early lead.

This will be the first test for the Bandits in the 2012/2013 season, and it certainly will not be easy. The team will be missing 3 of their players who are joining Boss with Team New Zealand, creating possible holes in the rotation and batting order.

The Bandits are coming into the week with 10:1 odds to win the championship, while the Blue Sox odds have increased from 4:1 to 3.60:1 according the http://www.sportsbet.com.au. With chances of rain through-out the weekend, look for errors from both sides. The weather does not play into the Bandits hand, with starting pitching, speed, and home field advantage being on the Blue Sox side. Expect the Sox to take 2 out of 3, or sweep the series.

Blue Sox Vs. New Zealand Recap

The Sydney Blue Sox bats came alive once they returned to Blue Sox Stadium Sunday morning, taking both games from the DiamondBlacks, 10-4 and 12-1. New Zealand Baseball was making its first ever international start in preparation for their trip to Taiwan for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The Blue Sox were returning from their ABL opener at Canberra, and preparing for their home opener Vs. the Brisbane Bandits.

Team New Zealand started off with a bang, scoring the first run of the series with a home run over the right field fence by former Blue Sox player Moko Moanaroa. Though that was the last time for the first game the DiamondBlacks would be in front, as the Blue Sox bats got hot and took advantage of the baseball youth in the NZ bullpen, piling on 10 runs quickly. Though at the end of the day, the score of the game did not mean much to all those playing, it was more a matter of truly being part of history.

Game 2 was started before the first pitch, with the first even DiamondBlack Haka. The Haka is a traditional war chant preformed before battle by Kiwis around the world. It has become famous through the New Zealand All-Blacks, the national rugby team. Each sports team is given the opportunity to help create a Haka chant unique to their sport, and the DiamondBlack squad was actually led in the tradition by New Zealand elder tribesmen. The DiamondBlack Haka is truly unique to their team, and the emotion was clear from every player. The game itself started again with NZ scoring first, and the Blue Sox coming out hot after. JD Williams hit a 3-run home run and Angelucci finished with a grand slam, his first career home run. (Picture of the Haka below).

Team New Zealand will now head to Canberra for another set of scrimmages before leaving for Taiwan. The Blue Sox will have optional practices, after playing 5 games in 4 days (winning 4), before the first ABL game in Blue Sox Stadium of the 2012/2013 season. The up-coming series will be the season opener for the Bandits, and the first of 3 times the teams will play this season (11 games total).

The DiamondBlacks Haka

Friday Fun – Movember

While  October 31st is known internationally as Halloween, it also serves for men across the world as the last day to shave for the next 30 days. November 1st is the month for men to grow out their facial hair, being called No-Shave-November or Movember, pending where you are located and what you want to do. For the office staff and some of the players for the Blue Sox, it is Movember, with the Mo standing for mustache. While technically the participates are allowed to shave their face, they are not allowed to touch the upper lip area, creating fantastic opportunities for horseshoes, mutton chops, goatees or more.

Blue Sox relief pitcher/part-time closer Matt Williams already sports a Brian Wilson-esk beard, which will serve as the poster for what movember should truly be about. Just look at that gorgeous beard already. It will be interesting to see who on the team can come close to that. Media man Matt Sutor should easily represent the worst attempt, with his already lack of facial hair. Catcher Geoff Kline could put up a decent attempt to compete with Matt Williams for best beard though, as he already wears a fairly solid beard. Lets see if he decides to decorate the facial hair in a new and different way!

A true beard sported by Matty Williams

 

 

 

 

Mid Week Report – 31 October

Well, Team Australia has come and gone, taking 2 games of 3 off the Blue Sox. The series was tough for both sides, with lots of young talent making headlines on the field. The outcome of the series could have been a lot different if the Blue Sox had Mitch Denning (played for Team Australia) and Boss Moanaroa (Training with Team New Zealand), but who knows. It was exciting and good to see baseball back at Blue Sox Stadium for the 2012/2013 year. Fox Sports will be airing the first ABL Season Week in Review show on Thursday at 4pm, and again on Saturday at 11am, with highlights from the series.

The team is now preparing to head to Canberra on Friday for the ABL Season opener. Ox and Ando are expected to make 2 of the 3 starts for the Blue Sox, but Manager Pops, has yet to confirm who he will throw and in which game. The rest of the diamond should shape out nicely with imports Klein, Williams, Robbins and Penprase on the field, and then the usual Blue Sox vets. If the team can get some good swings on the ball, it would not be a surprise to see the Blue Sox take all 3 games from their rivals. The Blue Sox are currently running at 4-1 odds to win the Championship, second to Perth with 3-1, while Canberra has the worst odds in the league at 10-1.

The Blue Sox will have a quick turn-around on Sunday morning, taking the short 2 hour bus trip straight back to Blue Sox Stadium where they will host Team New Zealand at 4pm Sunday and 7:30pm Monday in a 2-game exhibition set. No rosters have been announced for this series, and you can expect to see some younger talent take the field for the Blue Sox to give the starters a break. This will be the first time Team New Zealand plays in Sydney, and the local Kiwis are excited to see the Diamond-Blacks take the field.

Meanwhile in the Front Office, the Blue Sox are excited to serve as a sponsor for the Australian American Association Halloween Trivia Night tonight, donating tickets and base memberships for the winners. They join Hawaiian Air and Coopers Beer as the sponsors. The Blue Sox are also finalizing a deal to sponsor the United

Blue Sox during starting line-ups

States Studies Center Election Day event, again with base memberships to give away. Blue Sox Golf Day is slowly approaching at the same time, set for November 28th.

Opening Day 2012/2013

The smell of hotdogs, pizza and beer is starting to fill the stadium. The grass has been cut and the white powder lines are ready to be put down. There remains a tarp over the pitchers mound and home plate, for the time being. The box office and merchandise stands are ready to be open. It is Sydney Blue Sox Opening Day 2012/2013. And while this may just be considered an “exhibition” series, when Team Australia takes the field Vs. the Blue Sox tonight for the first of 3 games, this may just be the highlight of the season.

The Blue Sox official ABL campaign does not start until next week, November 2nd, when they travel to Canberra to face the Cavalry, the day after what would be game 7 of the World Series (following MLB rules, no MLB official “winter ball” league may start while the MLB season is going on). Blue Sox Stadium will hold its first ABL game in the 2012/2013 campaign on November 9, when the Brisbane Bandits come to town, but Blue Sox Stadium will have already been up and running long before then. Team New Zealand will also be visiting Blue Sox Stadium before the Bandits come to Sydney, for a 2 game set with the Blue Sox.

Though today is about one thing and one thing only, 2 baseball teams taking the field for what should be a historic match-up. The last time Team Australian played in Sydney was in 2006, and now it hopes to become a yearly tradition. Sadly some big names will be missing, like Grant Balfour and Travis Blackley, due to contractual requirements. For now, it marks Blue Sox Manager Jason “Pops” Pospishil’s, managing home debut for the Blue Sox, and the first opportunity to see some of the Blue Sox and Australia’s new talent take the field in the newly structured Blue Sox Stadium.

On the mound tonight for the Blue Sox is veteran right-handed pitcher Chris “Ox” Oxspring. Ox went 2-0 Vs. Japan in the 2004 Olympics as a starter, truly earning his way to a silver medal with Team Australia. His MLB debut came just a year later with the San Diego Padres. Ox will provide a young team with a lot of confidence this season, as he will also serve as the teams pitching coach. It should be fun to watch Ox pitch against the young talent of today, that just 8 years ago was sitting at home watching him on TV. To give an idea, Zac Shepherd, an the 18 year old recent sign of the Detroit Tigers, currently holds a spot on the Team Australia roster, and was just 10 years old when Ox was pitching in the Olympics. Who knows, maybe the 2 will strap on the same uniforms come March in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Baseball Week in Sydney

Baseball week in Sydney is in full swing now. Kicked off on Saturday with the Blue Sox V. Manly game, Baseball Week has a little bit of everything going on. Wednesday will represent the official season launch, with the ceremony being held at Parliament House in downtown Sydney, followed by the World Series Launch Party on Thursday and the Australia V. Blue Sox series Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is without a doubt, a week for baseball fanatics across Sydney.

The season launch is sure to be a good show, with New South Wales politicians in attendance. The highlight will likely be the NSW Premier, who is scheduled to make an appearance. Other politicians and media representatives will be around, to shake hands with the players and staff of the Blue Sox. It will be hard to miss the players, as 6 foot 5 inch Tyler Herr will be there. Look for the towering giant, and you should find the Blue Sox players!

After the launch, the team will head home for the day for their final true day off on Wednesday before practice Thursday and Australia on Friday. The stadium is sure to be in full force, with media coming out to try and hit a baseball and take batting practice, in-between their player interviews. With just over 72 hours left until those magical words ring through-out the stadium, the excitement is clear. This could be the year the Blue Sox re-claim their spot as the top team in Australia.

Blue Sox Season Under Way!

Well the unofficial start to the Sydney Blue Sox’s 3rd campaign under the newly formatted ABL is unofficially underway after this past weekends exhibition/split squad with Manly and the U9 Blue Sox Cup and Fan Fest. And it seems as if this year will be better than any!

The Blue Sox first traveled to Manly on Saturday for an exhibition/split squad, which resulted in a 2-2 draw. According to Pops, the manager of the Blue Sox, the teams pitching looked fantastic, as Blue Sox pitchers also pitched for Manly, challenging Blue Sox hitters. “A taste of your own medicine” you could even say. The game was tight, all the way through, and it seems as though Pops is happy with the result. It was the first opportunity to see the team and the new players in a game situation.

On Sunday, the Blue Sox held their U9 Gala Day and Fan Fest, and to say the day was a success would be an understatement. Between the 23 teams, parents and fans, close to 2000 people made their way to Blue Sox Stadium. Blue Sox players barely had any room to breathe as they were swamped by the kids looking for autographs. When they were not signing autographs, they were out on the field, helping the kids with their swings and throwing motion. The highlight of the day may have been will all the kids got together with the players for some pictures and started chanting “Who rocks? Blue Sox!” At the end of the day, the Quakers Hill Sea Dogs and Winston Hills Warriors came out as the bracket winners and will meet in the Grand Final in 3-weeks time. 

 

Team Australia and the Blue Sox will take the field at 7:30 pm on Friday for the start of what should be a historic series.

Blue Sox Cup and Fan Fest

This Sunday is the unofficial launch of the Sydney Blue Sox season with the 1st annual Blue Sox Cup and Fan Fest day at Blue Sox Stadium. The stadium and adjourning practice diamonds will be transformed from professional sized fields to 3 smaller T-ball diamonds for the Blue Sox Cup. The forecourt and entrance to the stadium will put aside the ticket booth and make room for inflatables, games, and player autograph and picture areas.

The Blue Sox Cup will play host to 32 teams of under 9 year olds playing T-ball. With 8 groups of 4, the kids will have at it, with 4 group games to determine the seeding, before the number 1 seeds play out to determine the 2 best. The 2 teams that make the finals will return on November 10th for the Grand Final, right before the Blue Sox take on the Brisbane Bandits on national TV. Each participant will receive a certificate of participation and a ticket to an upcoming Blue Sox game. This should prove to a fun filled day for the participants.

While the kids are lacing up their spikes, Blue Sox Fan Fest will be taking place in the forecourt of Blue Sox Stadium. This is an opportunity for all season members and fans to come out to the ball park, and experience the upgrades to the stadium. New concessions, new designs and additional seats will be some of the things the fans can come check out before Team Australia takes the field Vs. the Blue Sox. Membership packs will be available for pick-up and additional tickets will be on sale for all games. The players will be shuffling in and out of the stadium to meet the fans, smile for pictures and sign autographs.

With the Blue Sox Cup and Fan Fest 6 days away, the Blue Sox are excited for the start of the season. Before the Blue Sox Cup and Fan Fest, the Blue Sox will travel to Manly for a exhibition match on Saturday for their first spring training test.

How the Blue Sox Staff does Media Meetings

Wednesday October 10th media manager Matt Sutor, manager Pops and Director Bob Turner will be doing a media meet and greet around the center of Sydney, starting at the Sun Herald. Setting up the meetings has seemed to be the easiest part of the meetings. For about 30 minutes Matt Sutor, Pops and General Manager David Balfour, hovered over a computer figuring out how to get to the city. Sadly, this is not a joke.

Sutor came walking down (tail between his legs after the Yankees loss to the Orioles), and approached Pops to make their travel plans. Let me remind you, Pops will be coming from Penrith, about a 45 minute drive or 1 hour train ride to the city, and Sutor will be traveling from Parramatta, 30 minute drive or 35 minute train. There was more effort put into this planning than college students planning a weekend roadtrip for an away football game.

After first using Google Maps to determine the location of the first meeting, the debate began as to where the nearest train station. Wynyard, Town Hall and Central were all up for debate. Wynyard and Town Hall created mildly attractive walking opportunities through Darling Harbour. But these are Blue Sox staff we are talking about, laziness is of the essence here. The next question was talking a secondary train from Central to the Star Casino and walking the final block or two. This creates a more enticing option, though more costly. So, the more costly offer it was, 2 trains.

Next, figuring out the train system. This proved as complicated as creating 3-way sponsorship deals. This is where GM Balfour stepped in to help. Finding a train that ran from Penrith, through Parramatta (fairly common) to Central station. Believe it or not, this took more than 10 minutes, planning which train, what time, what car they would both be on etc. Finally the decision had been made, and the meeting was adjourned. 30 minutes to plan a 1 hour train ride. Lets just hop Pops can decide which pitcher to put in the game in the 7th inning quicker than he can figure out which train to ride.

Blue Sox to Paint the Town Blue

On Saturday October 6th, Blue Sox players, staff, volunteers and friends will gather at Blue Sox Stadium to “Paint the Town Blue.” Now that sounds like a lot of work, and in fact it will be, but we will not be painting the actual “town,” rather we lather up our brushes and take them to the walls of Blue Sox Stadium. The goal is rather simple, paint Blue Sox Stadium blue.

This is not a normal event to take place in a professional ballpark. In fact, I can not even think of another example where a professional baseball team opened up their gates to the public to come and partake in the upgrades of the ballpark. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, where everyone in the Blue Sox Organisation, the General Manager on down, will be there doing their part and getting their hands dirty.

Turning Blue Sox Stadium blue has been a goal of the front office for some time now. It was just a matter of getting the timing right, and getting venue approval. Once approved, the staff thought it would be a good idea to include the fan base, really create an opportunity for the team to interact with the fans and create a sense of community. The Blue Sox are truly dedicated to being a community team as well, and this proves how important it is to the organisation.

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