Bishell says ABL import rules unfair
Canberra Cavalry's Jack Murphy underneath Telstra Tower on Thursday night. The tower was lit up Orange in support of the Cavalry. Photo: Melissa Adams
The Canberra Cavalry has accused the Australian Baseball League of having rules for some and rules for the Perth Heat.
In the lead-up to the ABL championship series between the two clubs at Narrabundah Ballpark on Friday night, Cavalry general manager Peter Bishell said the ABL had allowed the Heat to bend the import rules while not allowing the Cavs to do the same thing.
It adds even more fuel to a fiery encounter after Heat officials and players nicknamed Canberra ''Team USA'' because of the extra imports the ACT team was allowed.
Due to Canberra's smaller population they can have more overseas imports than the other clubs.
ABL import rules were clarified in an email obtained by The Canberra Times stating: ''Eight [non-Australian] players total (maximum of four position players including the designated hitter) on Adelaide Bite, Brisbane Bandits, Melbourne Aces, Perth Heat and Sydney Blue Sox rosters.''
It goes on to state the Cavalry is allowed eight position imports, including the designated hitter, and eight pitchers in their 22-man roster.
But it's a rule the Heat has been allowed to break for the 19 games outfielder David Amberson has played.
Despite never having pitched for Perth, Amberson is listed as a pitcher/outfielder, effectively giving the Heat an extra positional player - a spot that should be taken by an Australian.
The Cavalry tried to do the same with lead-off hitter Kody Hightower but was told by the ABL after the third round it could no longer do that because Hightower had yet to pitch.
Both Hightower and Amberson have thrown the same number of pitches this season - zero.
''We were told [Hightower] had to come off the roster as a pitcher because he never pitched,'' Bishell told The Canberra Times. ''Amberson is in exactly the same position, but no such call has been made to Perth.
''It annoys me that people associated with other teams are saying things about Canberra and the number of imports we've got when that's just what was in the rules … we obey the rule, we expect every other team to obey the rule.''
But ABL operations manager Ben Foster said that wasn't the case and both teams were allowed to count the players as either a positional player or a pitcher if they wanted.
''The only limitations on a roster that apply are the number of imports allowed and the number of imports allowed in the [starting] line-up,'' Foster said.
Bishell said he felt sorry for the Heat imports.
He felt it could hardly be a healthy environment for them to play in given the negative connotation surrounding the tag Team USA.
''It must be hard to feel like you've got the 100 per cent support of your fans,'' Bishell said.
While limited tickets will be available at the gate, the Cavalry is asking fans to buy online to ensure they get in.
ABL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: Canberra Cavalry v Perth Heat, at Narrabundah Ballpark, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if required) at 7pm. Tickets: canberracavalry.com.au/tickets canberracavalry.com.au/tickets or a few available at the gate.