Maybe MLB will change mind about Olympics

July 21st, 2008

If it will help restore baseball to the Olympic calendar, Major League Baseball is ready to consider releasing major league players.

Baseball and softball will be played at the Beijing Olympics next month but the International Olympic Committee has voted to remove both sports from the Olympic calendar from 2012 onwards.

Among the reasons for the decision has been MLB’s consistent refusal to alter its calendar in order to create a window for major league players to compete.

However, MLB vice-president Bob Watson, who also serves as the general manager of the American national team, revealed as part of the American squad announcement on Wednesday that talks are ongoing between MLB, the IOC and International Baseball Federation.

‘I believe they are trying to work up something, you have a few years to get a plan. There are a lot of moving parts but don’t rule it out,’ Watson said in a conference call.

MLB is still not ready to consider shutting its season down for an extended period, but is studying an idea to schedule an extended All-Star break that would allow a short Olympic tournament to be scheduled.

So if MLB really decide to open, with more strictly drug testing is already under way, the two critical point that IOC wants, there is very good chance that Olympic Baseball will back to 2016, and hope it will come true.

IBAF fight for Baseball to Return to Olympic 2016

June 27th, 2008

During press conference with Cuban Media, IBAF President Havery Schiller talk about Baseball return to Olympic in 2016.

Havery Schiller trust that baseball will return to the Olympic Games.You can’t deny that Havery Schiller, president of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) is an optimistic person in assuring on more than one occasion that baseball will return to Olympic Games in the summer of 2016, after being excluded in London 2012.

Schiller, from the US, answered questions from sportswriters in Havana for around 45 minutes at a press conference held at the Latinoamericano baseball stadium where he once again thanked the Cuban authorities for their unlimited support for Olympic baseball.

“I have held very important and interesting talks [here] about the organization of the upcoming Beijing Games and the strategy to follow in the coming months towards a common desire, to see baseball back on the Olympic program after 2012. This is my second visit to Cuba [the first was in 1991 during the Pan American Games] and I am leaving pleased with the trip. I hope to return very soon.”

Asked about how the IBAF is going to resolve one of the main problems facing today’s baseball, the excessive length of the games, Schiller responded: “We have discussed the need to speed up the games with the umpires, especially during the competition in Beijing. In addition, a change in the rules is being studied in games beyond nine innings. When the game enters the 10th inning, the first two players in the lineup would be placed on first and second base and each team starts with one out. It’s a proposal that we have made to the eight countries that will participate in Beijing and that’s a step forward.”

Regarding the participants in the Olympics, Schiller said the United States will take players on the 40-player rosters from the Major League teams, but not those on the 25-man roster, something that could be resolved in the future. The other teams, including Cuba and Japan, will compete with their best players.

Ricardo Frascari, IBAF vice president, noted that next year’s World Cup will include qualifying rounds in Holland and Italy. He said the eight top teams in round robin play will then play the sudden death games, often considered unfair, before the semifinals and finals.

Other issues brought up at the press conference were the IBAF web site (which has a new special page for the Olympic Games, ready for live play-by-play transmission of the games and a greater quantity of statistics), the Second World Baseball Classic, a recognition to Latin America with the designation of two of the qualifying round venues, Mexico and San Juan, and a new acknowledgement to Cuba for its efforts to help nations with less development in the sport.

Schiller detailed the work being done in preparation for the International Olympic Committee General Assembly in Copenhagen, Denmark in October 2009, in which seven sports will defend their hopes to be included in the Olympic program.

“We are working hard to be the first to reach all our friends around the world, asking them to take the message of a sport with more than a hundred years of tradition and with more than a hundred countries that play it. We are optimistic of a return in 2016,” said Schiller.

So let’s hope his effort will be enough for Baseball in Olympic 2016.

Roger Clemens is eliminated from Team USA

April 17th, 2008

From Patrick Mooney of MLB.com, Team USA General manager Bob Watson discuss the Olympic Team.

Approaching what could be the last days of Olympic baseball, Davey Johnson says he would trade one of his three World Series rings for a gold medal.

The self-described Army brat, a manager proud to once again represent his country, won’t be forced to make such a deal just yet. But with the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing looming, there are several complex choices ahead for Team USA.

General manager Bob Watson knows he must strike a delicate balance between the needs of the Olympic team and the 30 Major League franchises that might lend out prospects.

In assembling the team, Watson will look at players outside of a Major League club’s active 25-man roster. From there, an organization’s top two or three prospects — the next men up in a possible pennant race — will also probably be off-limits, Watson said Tuesday at the U.S. Olympic Committee’s media summit in Chicago.

Even so, Watson said, “I still feel our player [No.] 29 is as good or better as everybody else in the world.”

One name Watson has seemingly eliminated from consideration is Roger Clemens.

“He’s not on my radar screen,” Watson, the former general manager of the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, said at the Palmer House Hilton. “Not because of his off-field issues, [but] his last four or five outings in the big league level — it was a real struggle for him physically.

“He took shots in his elbow and he had hamstring and groin issues … I would rather take [a] 28-year-old who’s throwing well and he’s in good physical shape, even though he doesn’t have the numbers and the credentials that Roger would have, but I could depend on him. See, once we go … there’s no replacing him, and I don’t want to play a man short.”

August may mark the final appearance of baseball as an Olympic sport. The International Olympic Committee dropped it from the London Games in 2012, though next year it could be voted back into the 2016 edition.

Watson, now an executive with Major League Baseball, said he thinks the sport could reemerge on the Olympic stage. Watson identified several factors that could prove influential: a good show in 2008; the continued international growth of the game; Major League Baseball’s tougher drug-testing policy; and a creative agreement that would allow the world’s best professional players to participate.

“This is — not in my mind — the last Olympics,” Watson said.

Team USA must submit a provisional 60-man roster 45 days before the first day of competition, with the final 24 players expected to be announced in early July.

It will be Johnson’s job to protect those Major League assets, the power arms that will confront Japan, Cuba and the world. If a pitcher changes his delivery, Johnson promised on Tuesday, he will be taken out. If a young reliever pitches multiple innings, the manager said, he will receive a few days off.

Johnson carries extensive international experience, having managed the Dutch national team in 2004 — he said wearing orange and white to the Opening Ceremony felt strange — as well as the American squad that qualified for the upcoming Olympics at a 2006 tournament in Cuba.

After clinching, the veteran baseball man experienced a bus ride in Havana like no other, full of singing, partying and passing around a jug of rum. The manager is clearly excited for this opportunity.

“It’s one thing having ‘Orioles’ or ‘Mets’ across your chest. It’s another thing when it says ‘USA,’ and you go play against other countries,” Johnson said. “It’s just something in there that tugs at you.”

But even if Johnson pockets a gold medal, he dismissed the idea of parlaying that into another managing job on the big league level.

“My next step would be — go to the beach and wear that around my neck,” Johnson said. “I’ve really taken care of my baseball fix and this is a new pinnacle, really, for my career.”

So for Team USA, how to find out the player they can choose is quite important, due to good prospect could be up to MLB and sometimes team will not let them go, it is quite a challenge to pick players and also play in Beijing.

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