With the Major League Baseball season officially underway, or should I say Down Under-way, I figured it was my due diligence to write a baseball article. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks began the season in Sydney last night/this morning, I’m not quite sure when the hell the game was, but the Dodgers won 3-1 behind 6.2 solid innings from non-Australian Clayton Kershaw.
Ryan Rowland-Smith is the only player from either team to actually be born in Australia though he isn’t even on the Diamondbacks’ active roster.
Here are a few players that have represented Oz here in the states (and Canada).
Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays: Balfour, now in his second stint with the Rays, is one of the most animated pitchers in the game but he gets it done at the end of games. The past two seasons he served as closer for the Oakland A’s, racking up a combined 62 saves while striking out 144 batters in 137.1 innings. He enters the game to Metallica‘s One and is widely known for his “Balfour Rage.” He is exactly who I think of when I think Australian baseball.
Graeme Lloyd, retired: Lloyd, a member of the Australian Baseball Hall of Fame, pitched for seven different teams during his 10-year career in the majors, most notably in 1998 for the World Series Champion New York Yankees as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. The lefty posted a career-best 1.67 ERA in 50 appearances. His success in ’98 led him to his first million-dollar per year salary ($1.035 million), though it was with the Toronto Blue Jays, so it might not have been quite a million. For some reason, the thing that comes to mind when I think of Lloyd is the fact that he was 6-foot-8.
Dave Nilsson, retired: A Milwaukee Brewers lifer, he and Lloyd made history back in April of 1994 when the two formed the first all-Australian battery (pitcher-catcher for you non-baseball people) in MLB history. A career .284 hitter, Nilsson blasted 105 home runs and knocked in 470 runs over his 8-year career. When I think of Nilsson, I wonder to myself, “Is that extra ‘s’ really necessary?”
Peter Moylan, Houston Astros: He was actually a non-roster invitee to Spring Training but just received news that he might need his second Tommy John surgery, so things aren’t exactly looking up for Moylan. While healthy for the Atlanta Braves, he had several good years over the course of his seven seasons in Atlanta. He played with the Dodgers last year before getting an invite from the Astros this year. A career record of 21-9 is certainly respectable from a reliever as is his 2.80 career ERA and I’m pretty sure he wears glasses on the mound.
Ryan Rowland-Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks: Smith, a left-handed pitcher, began his big league career as a reliever but has been primarily a starter for the past two seasons with the Seattle Mariners. Prior to this season, all his time in the majors was with Seattle although he did kick around in the minor leagues with the Chicago Cubs and Red Sox. This year marks his first season with the D-Backs and Smith was called upon often by his teammates upon their arrival to the land Down Under. I vaguely remember him wearing glasses the last time I saw him pitch and I hope that’s still the case.
It seems like Aussies have a tendency to wear glasses in-game, maybe the sun was too bright growing up. In any event, there’s your Australian baseball history lesson for the day. Time to watch some college hoops while the Hurricane naps.