The Major League Baseball invasion hitting Sydney next March has gone up a notch, with the LA Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks to play an additional two games against the Australian All-Stars. AJ Ellis and Patrick Corbin stopped by to discuss.
THE announcement that the 2014 Major League Baseball season will open at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground will inspire serious support for baseball in Australia, according to Sydney Blue Sox manager Jason Pospishil.
Opening Day, as it is referred to in the United States, traditionally has millions of fans watching either at the stadiums, on TV, or online. The season opener being played in Australia will not only bring an economic surge, but also provide a huge boost for baseball's popularity in this country.
The winter footy codes, cricket and football may be the dominant forces in Australian sport, but the MLB's move is likely to attract a new following for baseball.
"Like everyone else I am extremely excited about it," Pospishil said. "I never thought I would see a Major League game played here.
"It is a fantastic initiative. It shows MLB must be taking baseball in Australia seriously."
Despite baseball's second tier status in this country, an incredible 31 players from Australia have played in Major League Baseball.
These players are an enormous inspiration for younger players in Australia looking to break through in the US.
Trent Oeltjen, a Sydney native, has returned from a career spanning seven seasons in the major and minor leagues to play for the Blue Sox. With 13 years of experience across all competitions, Oeltjen is bound to bring some great skills and leadership to the team and younger players in Sydney.
"Trent has brought a presence to the Blue Sox," Pospishil. "It is fantastic to see him play in his home state.
"He is a fantastic ambassador for baseball! Having someone who has played in the Major Leagues and still wants to come back and play here with us.
Since being drafted to the Minnesota Twins organisation in 2001 at age 17, Trent has been contracted with the Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 2004 he was chosen to play for the Australian national team at the Athens Olympics, where they achieved their best Olympic result to date, winning the silver medal.
Australia's participation in these events boosted support for baseball in younger players, and Pospishil claims that this support is rising again.
"After Australia won a silver medal in Athens there was a spike in junior players - that's happening again now," Pospishil said.
"There are more junior players joining following the high results in the Baseball World Cup and [the recent] win in the Asian Series too."
The opening game of the 2014 MLB season kicks off when the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers play a two-game series at the SCG on March 22 and 23.