Olympic baseball, a cross between Double-A and Old-Timers Day
YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) – Imagine Olympic swimming without the top 100 in the world. Or athletics without the best and fastest 100. Or gymnastics, if the 100 most talented were not present.
That’s what the Olympic baseball tournament is all about, largely a cross between the Double-A ball and Alumni Day.
While acronyms are essential at the Olympic Games, DFA is as important as the IOC.
Numerous players had been nominated for posting, baseball parlance for being taken off a list of 40 Major League Baseball players prior to absolute discharge.
There was a much lower level of diamond talent than displayed at the MLB Futures Game in Denver on July 11, where Washington’s Cade Cavalli and Yankees Luis Medina both went over 100 mph.
Throwers hit triple digits at the Olympics, but that’s because the Yokohama stadium scoreboard lists km / h in addition to mph.
That’s not to say that the athletes of the six teams are talentless. They are extremely competent. But not all of them are among the 1,200 or so top baseball players in the world. Is this the kind of competition the Olympics should want?
Tampa Bay prospect Shane Baz, who pitched in the Futures Game before traveling to Japan, was the most prominent young pitcher, followed by Joe Ryan of Minnesota, traded on the eve of the tournament as part of the deal that brought Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay.
Aside from Anthony Gose, whose last big league pitch was five years ago, and Jumbo Diaz, whose last was in 2017, they were the biggest pitchers. Most failed to hit the 95 mph and higher level of top college pitchers such as Jack Leiter. Several peaked in the upper 80s.
Yes, there were a handful of Olympians who can play at the major league level. Masahiro Tanaka could have stayed in MLB this year, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a 22-year-old right-hander with the Pacific League Orix Buffaloes, looks set. Kodai Senga, a 28-year-old right-hander who throws hard with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, could be the major league end-of-inning material.
And Scott Kazmir pitched as if his 37-year-old body was reacting in a way that could put him back in the big leagues.
But much of the rosters were filled with average minor leaguers. Or several even more distant: Jeremy Bleich, front office analyst for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who last presented professionally in 2019, was on Israel’s pitching team with Shlomo Lipetz, who has a day job. at the City Winery in New York. Their performances were admirable but very different from that of elite athletes participating in other sports.
Big-league veterans included Todd Frazier, Edwin Jackson, David Robertson in the United States, Oliver Perez and Adrian González in Mexico, José Baustisa and Melky Cabrera in the Dominican Republic, Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia in Israel. They showed heart and commitment. They had great moments. But none looked like they could claim last place on a list of 26 players in the big league.
MLB is excluding Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, Jacob deGrom and the rest of the 40-player Olympic eligibility list. outside the club’s agricultural teams.
Baseball and softball were abandoned by the International Olympic Committee after the 2008 Beijing Games, discontinued in 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, then brought back together for that year before being dropped again for Paris in 2024. They hope to return to Los Angeles in 2028 and Brisbane, Australia, in 2032.
Softball, with the best playing the sport, deserves to be independent. The Olympics are their moment in the spotlight, and they deserve this platform to shine every four years.
While the baseball tournament was filled with competitive and entertaining games, part of it was a showcase for players trying to earn places in the big leagues. Is this an Olympic ideal?
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