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Baseball Olympic Games 2020 - Official Payoff

Players, managers believe baseball and softball belong in the Olympics

Players, managers believe baseball and softball belong in the Olympics
09/08/2021
Former MLB player Scott Kazmir said the Olympics is "like the World Series". Legendary pitcher Yukiko Ueno doesn't count out pitching in Los Angeles in 2028.

Coaches, manager and players who were part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games believe baseball and softball should be played at each edition of the Games, every four years.

Following a spectacular showing at the Tokyo 2020 Games, baseball and softball, which together form arguably one of the biggest sports movements in the world, will be absent at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The successful Tokyo 2020 baseball and softball tournaments help showcase why the two sports should be played at every Olympic Games.

Two-time Olympic softball medalist Jessica Mendoza, who worked the Tokyo 2020 Games as an NBC commentator, said she was impressed by the medal round: "A fantastic day. I think the best softball game I’ve seen in Olympic history was Canada-Mexico that was such a good showcase of the game: Pitching, hitting, defence, the emotions, you saw Canada win their first medal, Mexico on their debut making it that far, it was pretty magical.”

Canada earned a historic Olympic bronze medal in softball, the country's first medal in the sport, and didn't spare words to advocate a permanent spot on the programme for the discipline.

"I think a terrible injustice was done to women’s softball when it was taken out in 2008," said head coach Mark Smith. "When you look at equity, there are certainly not as many female athletes at an Olympic Games as there are men’s. I think softball has more than made its case for why it should be in."

"There are so many amazing women that were here this week and so many other amazing women who weren’t here this week and played this sport," added pitcher Jenna Caira. "I hope that we were able to show a little glimpse of that to the world and especially to the IOC, and I hope that they can take that into account of how many eyes are watching and how many female athletes love this sport."

US pitcher Cat Osterman believes that showcasing softball at the Olympics could attract young girls to the discipline: "There are so many girls who could be playing this sport," she said. "You don’t have to be a specific type of athlete to be successful. You can be big, strong, short, quick, all different types of athlete and be successful."

Former Olympic gold medalist Lisa Fernandez, now an assistant coach with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), told USA Today: "There is nothing like being an Olympian and having an opportunity to win a gold medal. It’s something that happens every four years; it doesn’t happen every year. If you’re not at your very best this one week in time, it’s a wasted four years, and this opportunity gets past you. That, to me, is what makes the Olympics so special."

Japan's Yukiko Ueno started the gold medal game in 2008 in Beijing and started the gold medal game 13 years later in Yokohama. Should we expect to see her pitch in Los Angeles in 2028?

"I can't think that far ahead yet right now," Ueno said. "I had a lot of fun throwing in the Games. I had a strong desire to throw until I could. If I'm pitching until then, there might be a possibility of me going back out there."

Eddy Alvarez was the starting second baseman on the United States silver medal winning baseball squad. He was voted to the All-Olympic Team.

Since he had won a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics representing the USA in short track speed skating, he became one of six athletes to have earned a medal in both the Winter and Summer Olympics.

"I can't even describe how I'm feeling right now," said Alvarez after the medal ceremony.

Alvarez also said he didn't believe he would be able to experience the Olympics again once he retired from speed skating.

Both younger players such as slugger Triston Casas and veterans such as third baseman Todd Frazier said that having Alvarez on the roster inspired the whole team.

Major League Baseball (MLB) veteran Scott Kazmir was impressed by the intensity of the Olympic tournament: "There’s been so much passion this entire Olympics," he said. "Every single team is in with every single pitch. It almost feels like a World Series game. Every single game, every single pitch. Even with no fans, it is a special moment to be a part of this."

Outfielder Jamie Westbrook added: "It is such a great honour to be involved in this. I almost cannot believe it. Last Summer, I was released, and I started thinking I would never play organized baseball again. One year later, I played for gold in the Olympics. It's pretty cool."

Korea's Baek-ho Kang commented: "Playing in the Olympics was one of my dreams. It was such an honour to be here. I want to thank the manager and my teammates. I guarantee that I will prepare better to come back on the international stage and have more success."

After the gold medal game, Samurai Japan manager Atsunori Inaba said: "Winning the Olympics on home soil is very special. This takes away the frustration of the 2008 Games. That was my only experience as a player in the Olympics."

US manager Mike Scioscia defined the Olympics: "A freaking awesome experience."
Scioscia added: "It's an incredible oversight not having baseball included as a permanent sport in the Summer Olympics."

After the bronze medal game, Dominican Republic manager Hector Borg said: "Now youngsters in the Dominican Republic know that they can compete for their country and win a medal in the Olympics also in baseball. I'm so happy for the players, they worked hard, and they deserve it."

Former MLB star José Bautista spoke about his experience with the Dominican National Team: "When you’re representing your country, there’s a sense of pride and patriotism which doesn’t play into it when you’re playing in a professional sports league."

After his team was eliminated, Israel's Danny Valencia said: "it's been a fun run anyway. Tokyo was fantastic, and I couldn't be more proud of my teammates and our manager. Hopefully, what we did will inspire kids to pick up a bat and a glove in Israel."