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SBD Global/February 27, 2014/Events and Attractions
MLB's Paul Archey Says Greinke's Comments Don't Represent Opinion Of League Or Clubs
Published February 27, 2014
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LOOKING DOWN UNDER: The season-opening series in Australia will be the league's first outside of North America and Japan, and a further testament to the sport's growing popularity on the continent. Archey called Australia a developing baseball market, and the numbers show he is right. In '90, Australia had one MLB player and maybe two or three professional ball players in general. To date, the country has produced a total of 31 MLB players and many more are currently competing for spots in the minor leagues. Archey said, "We’ve seen the sport just keep growing there, going up. We’ve been heavy in that market with game development programs for many years. It’s a place that we wanted to go play and give a boost to the game." The league has not only invested in grassroots in Australia but also in the professional level. The country's top professional league, the Australian Baseball League, was set up four years ago and is a 75%-owned subsidiary of MLB. Despite all of MLB's investments in the country, Archey acknowledged that Australia still represents a new and non-traditional market for the league.
SCG TRANSFORMATION: With less than a month to go before the first pitch is thrown at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the league has to transform the cricket ground into a baseball field. "It will be an enormous task. One that is a lot of fun to do, but it does take a lot of work," Archey said. It has been 100 years since the SCG hosted its last baseball game. In 1914, the Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Giants 5-4 in an exhibition game at SCG in front of 10,000 fans, according to The Australian. The transformation from an oval-shaped cricket ground to a diamond-shaped baseball field will start on Friday. "So we’ve got a lot of work to do in a short period of time. Everything from growing grass to erecting backstops and fencing, locker rooms and batting cages, I mean it really is turning this thing over," said Archey.
CLAY THE PROBLEM: In Sydney, Michael Chammas reported perhaps the biggest challenge "has been sourcing the clay that makes up the pitcher's mound and infield." Six months of experimentation went into "trying to mix a blend of clay and synthetic material that complies with MLB standards." The best efforts of three Australian specialists, however, "couldn't produce the right blend, forcing tour promoters Moore Sports to import clay" from the U.S. To "adhere to Australia's strict quarantine guidelines, the clay -- which was sourced from San Diego -- had to be extracted from five metres below the surface." It was an assignment that "finally came to an end" when the clay "cleared customs and quarantine to arrive at the SCG" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/26).