Cavalry look to $500,000 bonanza

Cavalry general manager Thom Carter. Photo: Melissa AdamsThe Canberra Cavalry could become the richest club in the Australian Baseball League if they can win the Asia Series in Taiwan to claim the $500,000 prizemoney.

Cavalry general manager Thom Carter said they would be massive underdogs, up against Japan champions Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and Taiwan runners-up EDA Rhinos for a spot in the finals, but they were flying out on Tuesday with the goal of being the first ABL team to win the tournament.

Highlighting the task they face, the Golden Eagles have several former Major League baseballers on their roster, including multiple Golden Glove winner Andruw Jones. Winning one of their games would be a massive achievement, let alone winning the series.

Carter said it would be an ”organisation-changing” windfall if they did, and the club would sit down with the ABL to work out how best to use the money, with junior development high on the list.

Major League Baseball is a major backer of both the Cavalry and the ABL, but it wants the league to be financially independent by 2015.

If the Cavalry wins the Asia Series, they’ll be even further ahead of their ABL rivals. ”Over the last four years we’ve been taking good steps to become financially solvent,” Carter said. ”This clearly would put us over the top and give us a good financial boost as we look to continue to not only grow the Canberra Cavalry brand, but grow the game of baseball in the region.

”It would really help us go a long way in some of the programs we’re looking to roll out.

”It’s an organisation-changing amount of money.”

The Cavalry will create history if they can beat either the Golden Eagles or the Rhinos and become the first ABL team to win a game in the Asia Series.

Perth Heat were crowned champions in the first two ABL seasons, but failed to win a game in the Asian competition.

Carter was unsure of the strength of the Taiwan league, which is called the Chinese Professional Baseball League, but felt the Cavs’ best chance came against the Rhinos.

There’s no doubting the standard in Japan, but Jones was the best centre-field in the MLB for a decade, he played in five All Star games, and won the Hank Aaron Award, Babe Ruth Home Run Award and Major League player of the year, all in 2005.

The Golden Eagles also boast Kenny Ray and Casey McGehee as former Major Leaguers on their roster.

”There is a beauty in one-game series; usually in a five- or seven-game series, the best team wins – I’m not saying we’re not the best team, I’m saying this rugby-type of atmosphere where it’s winner of one game advances is not something we’re used to in baseball,” Carter said.

”But it really gives an underdog like us an opportunity to steal a few games.”

The Cavalry play the Rhinos on Saturday at 3pm and then the Golden Eagles on Sunday at 4pm.

If they win one game they’ll likely progress to the finals, which start on Monday.

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