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US Baseball, out of the Olympics

 
 
fbaezer
 
Reply Fri 7 Nov, 2003 08:34 pm
Sorry Folks, we beat ya.


PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) -- The defending champion U.S. baseball team failed to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics, stunned by Mexico 2-1 Friday in a qualifying tournament.

The U.S. team was among the favorites to win the gold medal again, and there was a chance Roger Clemens would have pitched for the Americans.

``It was a well-pitched game by their pitchers,'' said manager Frank Robinson, a Hall of Famer. ``We were not able to do much until the ninth inning and it was not enough.''

In 2000, Tom Lasorda managed a team that included Ben Sheets and Doug Mientkiewicz to the gold at Sydney in the first tournament that included professionals.

While the Americans were beaten at their own game, countries such as the Netherlands, Italy and Greece are already in the Olympics.

``I know Roger Clemens wanted to play. That would've been a big draw for them. That's a shame, because they've got some good players on that team,'' Mientkiewicz said.

``It would've been nice to go out there and defend it, but now they're not going to get that chance,'' the Minnesota first baseman said. ``That's just a shame. I feel for all those guys. It's going to be hard to watch the Olympics now, that's for sure.''

The Mexican team was a heavy underdog in this quarterfinal game, but got a tiebreaking home run in the ninth inning from Luis A. Garcia off Brian Bruney.

Bruney had 26 saves in the Arizona Diamondbacks' minor league system this season.

The United States threatened in the bottom of the ninth when Grady Sizemore and former major leaguer Ernie Young led off with singles.

With runners on second and third with one out, reliever Isidro Marquez got Justin Leone to ground back to the mound and retired Gerald Laird on a popup to end it.

Former New York Mets pitcher Rigo Beltran held the Americans to three hits in seven innings. Leone, of the Seattle system, homered in the fourth for the U.S. run.

Ray Martinez tied it in the fifth with a homer off Cleveland prospect Jason Stanford. The Americans had outscored their opponents 21-0

The U.S. roster also included Atlanta rookie pitcher Horacio Ramirez and former big leaguers Mike Lamb and Todd Williams.

``We lost a game. I don't think it's a setback for U.S. baseball,'' said Sandy Alderson, an executive vice president in the commissioner's office and the top American official with the team.

``I think it's a validation of the internationalization of the game. As we know, anything can happen in a game or a short series of games,'' he said.

Unlike basketball, the biggest stars in the United States do not play Olympic baseball, jeopardizing the sport's future in the games.

Even so, Alderson does not expect top major leaguers to participate four years from now when qualifying begins for the Beijing Summer Games.

``This is not about an eligibility issue. This is about a game played well by Mexico and unfortunately lost by the United States. Again, that's the nature of the game. Things happen,'' he said.


http://photos.eluniversal.com.mx/img/2003/11/hom/festejo07nov.jpg
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,778 • Replies: 10
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Wilso
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2003 05:04 am
Baseball shouldn't even be in the Olympics. They should also get rid of tennis and Soccer. There should be a simple rule for an Olympic sport to exist. The Olympic gold medal should be the highest achievement attainable in the sport, which for these 3 sports at least, it clearly isn't.

I'm sure there's more.
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PDiddie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2003 10:22 am
fb:

There needs to be an immediate embargo on bats, balls, gloves, bases, baseline powder, and Cracker Jack sold to Mexico. :wink:

And all we could is tie y'all in futbol.

Wilso:

I want plate-spinning, five-card draw, and H-O-R-S-E to be made Olympic events.

In fact, I'm in favor of everything that involves even the slightest amount of competition -- hackey-sack! dominoes! -- to be Olympian!

Everything except those maximum-food-consumption contests.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 11:35 am
PDiddie, LOL.

We did spoil the US chances only to be defeated by Canada in the decisive game.

Canadian baseball will be in Athens. The US and Mexico's teams won't.
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 12:12 pm
Congrats, fbaezer. A tough result for the US baseball establishment to swallow, no doubt, but it could have been worse. The US could've lost to Cuba!
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princessash185
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 12:25 pm
Dunno about the Olympics being the all time highest achievement anymore (in figure skating and gymnastics, maybe), but I do not like the trend of allowing professional athletes into the Olympics at all. . . I mean, the US draws tons of people from around the world to be pro athletes, and I don't particularly think it's fair for them to compete against the world's amateurs. . .

Ditto for soccer, basketball, etc. . .
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 12:28 pm
Agreed, princess, but the trend toward professionalism is too far along to go in the other direction. If anything, the system now is more transparent than during the days of "amateurism" when certain countries were subsidizing their athletes rather lavishly...
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 12:46 pm
Hi princessash, welcome to A2K!

Olympic amateurism is a myth.

The difference today, between the different disciplines, is that in some (Track and field, ice hockey, tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball, cycling, alpine ski, figure skating) athletes are very well paid; in others, pay is smaller (handball, thriathlon, waterpolo, gymnastics, nordic ski, swimming); in others, yet, pay is small indeed (fencing, biathlon, field hockey, wrestling, luge, modern pentathlon). But they all get scholarships- support-prizes. And sponsors are all over the fields.

As for Olympic baseball, Cuba won the other continental spot.
And it is no longer unbeatable. It lost against the Netherlands in Sydney 2000 (the Cubans felt really humilliated, when the Dutch took their center fielder to the mound to pitch the last two outs of their victory), and the gold medal game against Tommy LaSorda's team.
Cuba also lost against Mexico in the qualifying round in the Panamerican games, and struggled against us, to finally beat us 5-4 in 13 innings during this Olympic qualifier.

I agree that Olympic baseball has little luster, because of the MLB's opposition and the International Federation emphasis on geographically expanding the game.
A true Olympic tournament, IMO, would have major leaguers, and the 8 teams would be divided as follows: 4 from the Americas, 2 from Asia, 1 from the rest of the world and the host. Or else, they could have an olympic ice hockey style tournament, with the "big teams" playing only one week.

Instead, they got 2 from the Americas, 2 Asians, 2 Europeans, 1 African, 1 from Oceania, and the host, and no major leaguers.
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 12:49 pm
I doubt there will ever be major leaguers in the Olympics, because the Games take place in the middle of the baseball season. I don't think the major leagues would ever want to interrupt the season to let the top players play in the Olympics. Besides, with so many players from Latin America and Asia now, what guarantee would there be that a US team would beat the pros from other countries?
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princessash185
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 01:03 pm
A good reason, at least in the eyes of the Americans, not to play :-) I have a theory that Americans are only willing to put forth their pro players when there's a good chance they'll win. . . we were all for letting pro basketball players in, but pro gymnasts and figure skaters, we oppose. . . the Olympics have somewhat degenerated, I fear. . .
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2003 01:04 pm
I agree, D'Artagnan. But I love to fantasize about such a tournament.
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