Major League Baseball in Sydney, Australia: An Unforgettable Experience

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-037On a beautiful, warm, early autumn night in Sydney, Australia, I watched the Los Angeles Dodgers take on Team Australia at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). It was an exhibition game before Saturday’s Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Opening Series where the Dodgers will take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Team Australia took the lead early but ended up losing 4-2 in what turned out to be an exciting game after Yasiel Puig’s seventh inning home run.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-053The smaller-than-expected crowd was rooting for Team Australia but the biggest ovation came in response to Puig’s home run. A friend sitting next to me said Australians are respectful fans and are just excited to see their first MLB homerun.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-012Team Australia has a combined team salary of about $1 million compared to the Dodgers’ $245 million yearly player salaries so the crowd was excited to see their team hold their own. Don Mattingly, the Dodgers manager, was quoted after the game as saying, “They were good. Those guys threw the ball good. It shows that baseball is all over the world. We always talk about pitching—you get good pitching and you get a chance. They played the game well.”

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-039Although the stands were half empty, the lines were long to buy MLB merchandise and most of the shops were donning Dodger blue. However, it was the first time I’d ever been to a baseball game where fans were wearing jerseys and caps from practically every Major League Baseball team—and era, as many had jerseys of baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-045Besides getting pregame field access for batting practice, I got the biggest kick out of seeing the food they served. The SCG regular food outlets included Doyles, famous for their Saltwater Barramundi and Chips ($13.80 AUD) and other seafood dishes. Next door was the Pie Emporium selling a variety of meat pies and a few other food outlets.

Dodger Dog in Los Angeles

Dodger Dog in Los Angeles

But the biggest surprise was seeing all of the food tents (cash only) outside offering Los Angeles Dodger Dogs. They’re really nothing like the Dodger Dogs in Los Angeles, as back home they’re plain steamed frankfurters with the option of going to one of the condiment stations that has raw chopped onions, ketchup, mustard and relish.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-052In Sydney, Dodger Dogs are topped with caramelized onions, pico de gallo, and cheese ($15.50 AUD). The Arizona Dog was the same price but topped with American beef chili, cheese sauce, pinto or refried beans, pico de gallo, and cheese.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-020Other notable food included: LA Street Soft Shell Tacos (carnitas pulled pork, adobe grilled chicken and Baja fish tacos) starting at $8 AUD. Then there was grilled thick-cut bacon dipped in maple syrup and cayenne pepper and served on a skewer called The Streaker.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-057The Chipper, which was nachos topped with slow-cooked meat (chili beef, pulled pork or smoked brisket), is served in a plastic Dodgers or D-Backs baseball helmet.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-024By far the most talked about was the All-American SuperDog, a 24-inch long smoked frankfurter topped with American beef chili, cheese sauce, tomatoes, onions and cheddar cheese for $40 AUD. Most passersby scoffed at the price tag but it was actually a better value to feed a family.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-014As for beer, the American sponsor was Miller but the Australian beers on tap were Victoria Bitter (VB), Bulmers Original Cider, Pure Blonde and Carlton Draught.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-027Prior to the first pitch, baseball facts and terminology were displayed on screens around the stadium. I’d never even heard of some of the phrases before. I had no idea Uncle Charlie meant a curveball, did you?

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-013During the American National Anthem, the words were displayed on screens, which I thought was a great touch. Seats in high risk zones had stickers on the back of them warning, “BE AWARE OF FLYING OBJECTS LEAVING THE FIELD.” They also encouraged all guests to practice baseball etiquette, saying, “PLEASE WAIT for a stop in play before moving to and from your seat.”

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-041Other American-esque notables included Kiss Cams, “Which Cap?”games and the singing of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-060It was a surreal experience to see a Major League baseball game in Australia and the players, coaches and even the announcers seemed genuinely excited to be here.

MLB Baseball Sydney Los Angeles Dodgers vs Team Australia SCG 2014-0Overall, it was a fantastic night and as Anthony Dennis from The Sydney Morning Herald put it…it was an interesting cultural experience.

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Comments

  1. If you’re still in Sydney, there are a couple of bars that I could suggest! Namely the Wild Rover in Surry Hills and the Barber shop in the CBD. And if you’re looking for a good bagel head out to Bondi!

Trackbacks

  1. […] you read my story this week from Sydney, Australia, you know that I was Down Under in the Australian capital for Opening Day of the 2014 MLB season. […]

  2. […] you read my story this week from Sydney, Australia, you know that I was Down Under in the Australian capital for Opening Day of the 2014 MLB season. […]

  3. […] was also plenty of “American” food which I thoroughly enjoyed documenting in my Dodgers vs Team Australia exhibition game post. Below I’ve included my photos from Saturday night’s game one and Sunday’s matinee game […]

  4. […] Baseball since the Dodgers and Diamondbacks played two games there (here are my stories on the exhibition game and then Opening Day). The ‘Chin Music Shave’ included the Barber Shop’s straight-edged […]

  5. […] Major League Baseball in Sydney, Australia: An Unforgettable Experience […]

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