This is the last year for Baseball and Softball in the Olympics and the IOC is sending it out with all the respect it never gave it. Get this:
The Olympic baseball tournament will institute a new tie-breaking procedure in Beijing, beginning each inning starting with the 11th with runners on first and second bases. Teams also may start the 11th at any point in their batting order under format changes announced Friday by the International Baseball Federation and adopted in time for next monthís Beijing Games. For example, a team that opts to lead off with its No. 3 hitter would begin with its No. 1 batter on second base and its No. 2 hitter on first with no outs.
There is no debating that this is an absolute mockery of the game, particularly for the Japanese and Koreans who shut down their professional leagues so that they could send their best players for this.
I have a feeling that most people on this board won't watch an inning of Olympic baseball and I don't really understand why. I understand not taking the tournament seriously, inane extra innings rules and Mike Koplove will do that to a person (that's right, Mike Koplove, USA!). But it's still baseball and there is still plenty of talent on display. Consider:
Team USA is led by Matt LaPorta and Colby Rasmus.
Cuba has sent essentially the same team that will send to the WBC in March.
The Japanese team is made up entirely of NPB pros including Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, and Koji Uehara.
Team Taiwan features Sox prospects Che Hsuan Lin and Chih Hsien Chiang. Check out Lin's ridiculous throw in a tuneup game last week. Kids got a cannon.
I for one am going to make sure that I see as much of the Taiwanese team as possible and certainly won't miss a Darvish start.
Complete Schedule Here