Danger man ... Sydney Blue Sox slugger Mitch Dening. Photo: SMP Images
1. Canberra has one last chance to cheer on reigning Australian Baseball League and Asia Series champions this season and it’s the Canberra Cavalry’s most important home game of 2013/14. A win against the Sydney Blue Sox puts them just one victory away from a repeat of last year’s ABL championship series against the Perth Heat. With the final two games of the series in Sydney, the Cavs will see this win at the Fort as their best chance of progressing to face the Heat, in another best-of-three-game series, this time in Perth. There are less than 300 tickets left for the Fort.
2. If you heard the Blue Sox were happy for game one to be played in Canberra, don’t believe the hype. Sydney pitcher Wayne Lundgren expressed his feelings of ABL operations manager Ben Foster and chief executive Peter Wermuth on Facebook: ‘‘The ABL is such a joke. You have a team who play their ass off all season and get rewarded with coming [second] only to realise that the first game you play is on the road ... I want to win more [than] anything but with BS no wonder the crowds are down.’’
3. Australian outfielder Mitch Dening will play for the Blue Sox against the Cavalry this weekend, but for an ABL rule change he would have been wearing orange. Dening travelled to Taiwan as part of the Canberra team that claimed the Asia Series title in November and hit 5-5 in the grand final against Taiwan’s Uni-President Lions. The Cavalry then tried to bring Dening to Canberra for the rest of the season, but the Blue Sox refused to let him move. The ABL brought in a new rule this season meaning Sydney hold the rights to Dening.
4. Canberra-born Cavalry players have been cursed by injury and illness this season, forcing the reigning ABL champions to bring in players from Queensland (Steven Chambers and Aaron Thompson) and Victoria (Matt Wilson) to top up their roster. Pitching coach Hayden Beard had shoulder surgery before the start of the season, while Steve Kent needed Tommy John surgery and hasn’t thrown a pitch, either. Now catcher Robbie Perkins has glandular fever and will miss the finals campaign.
5. There’s no doubting Cavalry catcher Jack Murphy is a fan favourite at the Fort, but is he the ABL’s fan favourite? The cult catcher and his moustache were instant hits with the Canberra faithful and he’s been nominated for the ABL’s Fan Choice Award. Voting closes on Tuesday and you can lodge your vote on the ABL Facebook page.
ABL finals series: Canberra v Sydney
■ What? Australian Baseball League preliminary final, game 1
■ When? At Narrabundah Ballpark, Friday, 7pm
■ How much? Adults $20, kids $10. Tickets available through the Canberra Cavalry website
■ Possible Canberra Cavalry line-up: 41 Brian Grening (P), 14Jon Berti (2B), 30 Mike Crouse (CF), 6 Casey Frawley (SS), 20Jeremy Barnes (3B), 50 Jack Murphy (C), 26 Michael Wells (DH), 31 Jason Sloan (1B), 2 Ben Warner (RF), 11 Kyle Perkins (LF)