John Vandelinder: No gold in America’s pastime
August 23, 2008
It’s the American pastime, but, alas, Americans didn’t finish on top.
The U.S. women’s softball and men’s baseball teams have been bucked from the center spot on the podium in Beijing.
So much for going out with a bang.
Baseball and softball are being eliminated from the Olympics.
Some say it’s because of the U.S.’s dominance, as of late, over the competition.
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Sure, a silver medal for the ladies, and a possible bronze for the men – the team plays Japan today – aren’t too shabby, but I expected more from the Americans in their sport.
By “their sport,” I mean a sport that was born in this country. We started it.
Everybody else just jumped on board.
Now that the sport will no longer be part of the games, I was hoping that the U.S. would roll over the competition – even if it did prove the International Olympic Committee right – bringing home the last two gold medals ever won in their respective sports.
The men’s team losing to Cuba – twice – is predictable, considering the Americans send college and minor league players to compete.
Thank Major League Baseball for that.
MLB’s refusal to interrupt the regular season abroad for a few weeks so we can send the best players in the world is another reason baseball is being dropped.
And, since its inception as an Olympic sport in 1992, Cuba has claimed the gold medal three of the past four times. The Americans claimed the top spot when Tommy Lasorda guided an overachieving bunch of no-namers to the title in 2000.
But, in the last time we will ever see a U.S. pitcher tote the rubber in the Olympics, I’d hoped for a better showing.
As far as the ladies go, I’m blaming that one on my co-worker.
Mr. Collin Smith – a proud University of Texas alumnus – ranted and raved Thursday about how good the ladies are.
Cat Osterman is a fellow Longhorn, so he was eager to call her the best player in the world.
Thanks Collin – they lost.
I’m sending his address and phone number to each of the members of the ladies squad informing them of the jinx he placed on the team.
I learned from Rich Sadvar, Moffat County summer league baseball coach, not to talk about a no-hitter until the game is over.
Too bad Smith wasn’t there, maybe he wouldn’t have said anything and maybe, just maybe, the girls would have won gold.
But, really, it was time.
The women have won every gold medal and world championship handed out in women’s fast pitch softball.
The team lost once – in 2000, still managing to win gold – and had won 22 consecutive Olympic games entering Thursday’s match-up.
They basically ran into a buzz saw pitcher from Japan, who apparently needs no rest to perform on the world’s biggest stage.
Yukiko Ueno pitched in three consecutive games – totaling 21-straight innings – and still managed to shut down the vaunted Americans.
I feel bad for the men – once again they were pushed aside by Cuba.
I feel bad for the women – it was a loss at the worst possible time.
But, most of all, I feel bad for us.
No longer will we see America’s pastime in the Olympic Games, and no longer will we get to show the world we are the best at our game.
I mean, we still get to wait and see if the Yankees will win it all again.
But, it’s going to have to be the New York Yankees in the World Series, because there are no more Yankee ballplayers at the Olympics.
John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org