Monday, August 18, 2008

The Seventh Inning Stretch: 5 ring circus - Why baseball should not be at the Olympics

Perhaps I am just bitter about the fact that Team Canada is 1-4, after winning their opener 10-0 against China, and then losing the next 4, each by one run, but I have to agree with the International Olympics Committee’s decision not to have Baseball at the 2012 London Olympics. The Olympic Games are supposed to celebrate the pinnacle of athletic achievements in all sports. In the Baseball competition, however, players on Major League teams are barred from playing in the Olympics, but those in the minor leagues are more than welcome. This hurts every team (except China, the host), some more than others. The Cuban and Japanese teams are good because they have effectively blocked many of their best players in the Major Leagues, making them available to play in the Olympics. But America and Canada (although Canada could not field a team of just Major Leaguers) are sending out lineups of players that are not good enough to play in the Major Leagues. This is supposed to be the biggest stage, and the biggest names are not allowed on it. Without a doubt, the biggest stage for baseball is now the World Baseball Classic, which will be held early next year, with some of the games being played in the Rogers Centre, in Toronto. Just compare Canada’s rosters from the WBC and from the Olympics, and you will see that the WBC is more legitimate.

Don’t get me wrong, I would be overjoyed if Canada were to win a medal in this event, but it is a water-downed event where none of the teams are fielding their best team squad possible. It’s like the Spengler Cup: it’s great if we win, but you know the competition is not the stiffest. Plus, while watching the Spengler Cup, you always find yourself saying things like “Hnat Domenichelli? I thought he was dead.” There are better competitions around, and until the IOC figures out a way to attract the best talent, it should be suspended from the Olympic Games.

For what it is worth, I think softball should continue to be an Olympic sport, despite the fact that no one can touch the Americans (they have allowed 2 runs in the last 2 Olympics). The parity beyond the Americans is great, and throwing the sport to the curb would not give other nations an incentive to get better.

Just a quick follow-up on Scott Richmond. He has been sent back down to the AAA Syracuse Chiefs after Brian Tallet came off the DL. This could very well have been his only shot at making the Major Leagues. He would have to have been mighty impressive to have stayed (see: Litsch, Jesse) with the Jays. He may not have gone to the Olympics, but he could very well get a shot at making Team Canada for the ’09 WBC. Canada can field a formidable starting rotation of Jeff Francis, Erik Bedard, Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster and Philippe Aumont. Those five could rival just about any other teams. Richmond will be in tough to make the team, but it is not out of the realm of possibility. I, of course, will be pulling for him and his tremendous story.
Peter Milway is a third-year Politics student at Queen's University, and author of The Seventh Inning Stretch

1 comment:

Matthew said...

gotta say, I do enjoy your weekly column milway