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Monday, January 22, 2018

Fangraphs: Lars Anderson Discovers Australia

Following on the heels of his foray into Japan, Lars Anderson is now playing in Australia.

The baseball is most certainly different. You might even be surprised that baseball is played in the land Down Under. Many of its own residents certainly are. ‘We have a baseball team?!’ is a common response when someone asks me what I am doing in Australia.

villageidiom Posted: January 22, 2018 at 08:37 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: australia, australian baseball, lars anderson

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: January 22, 2018 at 07:34 PM (#5611348)
Just in time for Invasion Day.
   2. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 22, 2018 at 08:41 PM (#5611380)
I wonder if Dave Nilsson is still involved? I believe at one stage he actually bought the whole league.

I'd love to go see a game but the Sydney team plays a long, long, long way out in the western suburbs of Sydney...it is a trek to get out there.

It's at least an hour's drive and they play in Blacktown, which can best be described as pretty average.

Apparently some guy named Jay Baum from Georgia is leading the league in hitting with a Cobbesque .457!
   3. Jay Seaver Posted: January 22, 2018 at 11:54 PM (#5611485)
I was in Melbourne for a week and a half a little more than a year ago, and quite disappointed to see the Aces were out of town. Might not have been great baseball, but it would have been fun to watch. Maybe next time I head down that way I'll catch some.

Reading these, I kind of wonder how much Anderson thinks he's going to get back to the majors, how much this is the only thing he knows, and how much he figures he might as well have these experiences and adventures before it's time to settle down and coach at some alma mater or other. At any rate, I hope he winds up in the Netherlands next year and further wish that someone was following him around with a camera. This would make a great documentary and Anderson seems like he'd be a fun subject.
   4. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: January 23, 2018 at 06:35 AM (#5611517)
Reading these, I kind of wonder how much Anderson thinks he's going to get back to the majors, how much this is the only thing he knows, and how much he figures he might as well have these experiences and adventures before it's time to settle down and coach at some alma mater or other.
My godmother worked as an academic advisor for a major college basketball program. In the '80s and early '90s she'd usually have one charge every year who wasn't good enough to cut it in the NBA and who'd go off to play in Europe or elsewhere for a few years in order to get a "study abroad" experience that he could never have had while in college. I'm not sure what Anderson's motivations are (probably a little bit of everything), but at the very least he seems to have his eyes open and isn't short-changing himself on the experience.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: January 23, 2018 at 04:17 PM (#5612005)
#2: I recall I looked into that once ... but I'm not sure I recall the answer but am pretty sure the answer is no. He gave it a good go for a few years but I think was losing money. Then MLB took it over for a while. Now I think it's on its own.

I caught a bit of Sydney-Canberra last year when they played a game (maybe an exhibition?) in Wollongong -- I was just riding my bike by the field -- really nothing more than a standard public park baseball field. I haven't seen any games being played here this year which I suspect means our local team in the regional league has folded -- I know they were in trouble.

While in NZ, I met just two African-American guys (just in passing). And yes, both came over to play basketball -- one guy all the way back in the 70s, one more recently. Obviously both stuck around after their careers were done although in the older guy's case, I'm not sure he ever made enough money to leave (he was a gas station attendant when I met him). The second guy was working security at the airport which is probably a decent-paying steady job with a solid pension plan. (Or might be a ####-paying, low-benefits job if it's been outsourced.)

So I wouldn't be shocked if Anderson stuck here -- sounds like a laidback lifestyle and some beach time would appeal to him and he seems to have the aversion to Canberra that all sensible people have. Especially if he meets a nice Aussie lass (or lad if he prefers). Obviously it's a lot easier for an American to stay and fit in here than it would be in Japan, Korea or Taiwan.

Huh, Anderson was an 18th round pick out of a Jesuit high school and signed rather than go to college -- that's got to be pretty rare and probably not too wise unless he was one of those guys everybody knew was going to college but the Red Sox gave him a couple million not to.
   6. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: January 23, 2018 at 05:06 PM (#5612054)
Pretty much - signed for 825k and was BA's #41 draft prospect. Commitment to Cal is, I think, why he fell.
   7. Just drawing conclusions on the wall Posted: January 23, 2018 at 10:03 PM (#5612192)
Then MLB took it over for a while. Now I think it's on its own.

MLB Network showed games from Australia a few years ago. I have wondered why they stopped but this would explain it.
   8. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: January 24, 2018 at 09:53 AM (#5612273)
It does. Some background.
   9. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 24, 2018 at 10:25 AM (#5612290)
It seems like things are going reasonably well for the ABL without financial backing from MLB. They're planning to expand by two teams for next season, potentially in South Korea or New Zealand.

I suppose it could also mean that the league is desperate for income and wants expansion fees and television rights fees, but it at least seems like the ABL is fairly stable. I've read that teams have annual operating budgets in the high six figures, so I'd expect annual losses to be manageable.
   10. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 24, 2018 at 11:18 AM (#5612351)
I wonder if Dave Nilsson is still involved? I believe at one stage he actually bought the whole league.


I still kind of marvel at Nilsson's decision making there. I guess he'd already made a bunch of money, but he'd just had a great season and was in line to sign a massive contract -- and instead he went home to captain the national team for the olympics. I guess maybe he was homesick, or he figured he'd made enough money, or he was feeling extra-extra patriotic. But it's not every day you see a ballplayer turn down $20M (or whatever he would have made in 2000) to go play amateur ball.
   11. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: January 24, 2018 at 02:04 PM (#5612566)
Here's an SI piece on his decision from July '99.

A highlight and a quote:

He had spent $630K to create a new league / stabilize Aussie pro ball.

In a negotiating move that probably says more about his intentions than his words do, Nilsson cut an unusual deal last December that assured him of free agency at the end of this season. The Brewers relinquished a one-year option to extend Nilsson's contract through the 2000 season for $5.5 million. In exchange, Nilsson allowed the cash-strapped team to pay his '99 salary ($4.7 million), plus a $1.5 million buyout, over a three-year period, interest-free. Now, at season's end he can go home and stay there to compete in the [ed: Sydney] Olympics or sign with another major league team, a decision he says he will make by November. A return to Milwaukee, the only organization he has ever played for, appears unlikely.

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