Canberra Cavalry re-sign players as rival pitchers fire up about ABL finals umpires
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Canberra Cavalry re-sign players as rival pitchers fire up about ABL finals umpires

The Canberra Cavalry has already started building a roster to end Brisbane's three-year Claxton Shield stranglehold, going on a signing spree a day after a heartbreaking end to the season.

But the Cavalry's fiery loss against the Bandits has sparked calls for the Australian Baseball League to introduce an independent officials system for finals after rival players were perplexed by some decisions.

The Cavalry and Bandits engaged in a fiery ABL final.

The Cavalry and Bandits engaged in a fiery ABL final.

Photo: SMPMAGES.COM

Australian duo Brad Harman and Todd van Steensel voiced their concerns about the use of hometown umpires when the Cavalry appeared to be on the wrong end of some borderline pitching calls.

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The tension and frustration in the Cavalry camp was evident for everyone to see, boiling over on to the field when the benches cleared twice.

The Cavalry opted not to be drawn into a debate about officials, congratulating Brisbane for winning their third consecutive Claxton Shield and instead re-signing a host of players including Boss Moanaroa.

But general manager Donn McMichael endorsed the idea of independent umpires next season.

"I think it would be very healthy for the finals in the future for any game and I think independent umpires would be a good thing," McMichael said.

"I think the ABL is a progressive organisation and they'll be looking at it. There's probably a shortage of umpires around, but I've got no doubt they'll look at it.

"Brisbane outplayed us and they've done a great job to win three grand finals in a row."

Cavalry stand-in manager Keith Ward added: "There wasn't much in the game, Frank [Gailey] threw a hell of a game and battled his arse off. He kept us in the final, but we didn't score enough runs.

"We'll come back bigger and strong next year. Unfortunately you move on pretty quick and we'll start recruiting as quickly as we can and turning the page so we can take that next step."

Ward was filling in for Michael Collins for the grand final series, guiding the Cavalry to a game-one win before the Bandits rallied when it mattered most.

Collins has joined Major League Baseball champions the Houston Astros as a bullpen catcher in a massive step for his individual career.

But the Cavalry already have an eye on next season, re-signing Boss Moanaroa and Moko Moanaroa for two years each, David Kandilas for one-year extension and four development players.

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More signings will be announced as early as this week, with Steve Kent, Brian Grening and a host of others on the wishlist as back-room staff plan for the future.

There is also a move towards a private ownership model, which could change the ABL contract system and earning potential for individual players.

Chris Dutton

Chris Dutton is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

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