* Maxx Tissenbaum (Toronto, Ont.) found Canadian catching countryman Kellin Deglan a Texas Rangers prospect in Melbourne, Australia. The two were teammates with Greg Hamilton’s Canadian Junior National Team. Deglan was drafted in the first round by the Rangers in 2010, while Tissenbaum, selected by the Toronto Blue Jays (43rd, 2009), attended Stony Brook and was selected by the San Diego Padres (11th, 2012).
By Maxx Tissenbaum
Well, as is normally the case for people publishing online while abroad I’ve had some internet issues. We ran out of data on our wireless hotspot for our apartment, and I was left with a fully written blog about week one of the ABL season and no way to post it, upload pictures and share it. So if people really want to read that just comment here, or Twitter/Facebook etc and I’ll throw that online some time for you to read.
Round Two had us scheduled to play the Melbourne Aces on the road. I was looking forward to this series for a number of reasons, first and foremost it was our first road trip as a team. The first trip of the year always seems to make everybody lock in to the idea that the team is now family, a group that will go compete for one another for the weeks and months that make up the season. I was also looking forward to catching up with a former Canadian Junior National teammate of mine, Kellin Deglan, a catcher in the Rangers organization, and actually meeting the person behind the Twitter handle @Baseballexis (for those wondering, she does exist).
Finally, we knew that we’d have a great tour guide for our weekend as fellow Rays prospect Darryl George is a Melbourne native. It was shaping up to be a good weekend even before we ever hit the field.
Our flight left Brisbane around 9 in the morning and we made the 2.5 hour trip south to Melbourne on a fairly smooth flight. The approach was a little shaky, as we got a little knuckleball turbulence on the way down, but we made it in safe and sound. I sat with Jas Shergill who had pitched game four on opening weekend and gotten us a win. Jas is actually cousins with Jas Rakkar whose name a lot of you will know from my time at Stony Brook, and some of you may even know from way back in our days as North York vs Brampton rivals. Small world isn’t it? We chatted briefly on the flight, but I did a lot of sleeping since it was an early morning.
When we arrived in Melbourne we loaded up three vans, one for pitchers, one for position players and one for equipment and headed to our apartments. I was rooming with Tommy, Johnny, Goetzman and Aven Fletcher, an outfielder who also happen to be a body builder. We threw our stuff into the apartment, and Fletch took the rest of the guys out to the grocery store to buy food. Darryl arrived shortly after and the five of us went down to Gem Pier, a little boardwalk area on the water directly across from downtown Melbourne. We grabbed burgers at a cool little joint across the street and then walked around and took some pictures. Darryl dropped us off at the apartments in time for us to change into our baseball stuff and leave for the field.
Game one was the only game of the series that yielded much offense, the rest of the weekend was very close (2-1 loss, 5-4 win, 2-1 win). With the wind blowing out and Melbourne’s field only measuring 300/370/300 we were able to ambush the Aces pitching staff en route to a 10-3 win. We scored all our runs on home runs, as Logan Wade, CJ Beatty, Goetzman, Johnny, Tommy and I all hit home runs. We felt great about our offensive outpouring, and Steve Chambers was solid for us on the mound giving us a good start. Justin Erasmus was next up and got us through the 7th, before handing the ball over to Chen Hua Lin, one of our Tiawanese pitchers.
Line threw the 8th and dispatched the Aces lineup in just 10 pitches, while only showing two of his seven different pitches. Szu Hau Huang came on to start the 9th, got an out then we finished up with a little lefty named Mike Formisano who got the final two outs to seal the win. We finished the game on the brink of disaster with the bases loaded, but a win is a win, and three in a row is considered a winning streak.
After the game we headed to the apartments, showered and met up with Darryl. We piled into his car and headed downtown to see the city. We went to a rooftop patio area and hung out for a little while just relaxing and seeing a bit of the city at night, before we walked across the Yarra River to the casino. The casino was enormous, and was as glitzy and shiny as any I’d ever seen. There were all sorts of restaurants, shops, stores, food stands, and of course rows and rows of tables, slots and other games. We headed downstairs to a place called “The Pit.” It’s an area that is saved for low buy in games with quirky versions of typical casino games, it was a younger more rambunctious crowd and a fun place to hang out for a few hours. I think Darryl and Tommy were the big winners making it out with $25 and $10 respectively.
Game two was a heart breaker as Ryan Searle dealt us through 6.2 innings. He struck out seven and only gave up two hits, before we went to Erasmus again. I was very confident that with Bobby (yes, Justin’s nickname is Bobby, don’t ask) on the mound that we’d shut the door on the win. Unfortunately Brad Harman, a former big leaguer had other plans and launched a game winning home run in the bottom of the 11th.
The final two games were very similar in that they were very low scoring, defense oriented games that were fairly frustrating. On many occasions we absolutely torched balls only to find that gale force winds help them up for Aces outfielders to track down. The field played exactly to its scouting report, yielding next to no offense for three straight days as balls dipped and died in gloves of both teams outfielders. We estimated that we’d have hit betwee 5 and 8 more home runs over the final three games if not for the wind. Such is life.
We finished the series 3-1, improving to 5-3 through Round Two of the ABL Season, a surprise to many in the ABL I think. Our next series is at home against Melboure and starts on Thursday night at Holloway Field. I think it will be a much more offensive series and that there will be some serious power shown off because our ballpark is much more of a hitters park than Melbourne’s. We will get a chance to celebrate two birthdays over the weekend, first with Logan Wade on Thursday then with G on Friday.
It should be a great weekend, and an interesting next week or so as Brisbane welcomes world leaders for the G20 Summit. We’ve seen some of the road blocks, hotel closures and security measures put in place already just driving around today, so I’m sure there will be more craziness to come once all the leaders arrive in the coming days.
Time to make dinner, get some early rest then get a good practice session in tomorrow morning in advance of our series. Tommy and I are making some chicken thighs, vegetables and cous cous, and I love to cook so that’ll be fun! Off to the kitchen!