Thursday, October 28

Japan wins gold in baseball, an existential crisis disguised as an Olympic sport | Tokyo 2020 Olympics

TOs Japan applauded its first and perhaps last title, it was time to say goodbye to an existential crisis disguised as an Olympic sport. Why are we here? Will we ever see each other again? If a Fan Cam scans the stands looking for people dancing Uptown funk, in a stadium with no fans, did someone really break some moves?

Officially introduced in Barcelona 1992 (softball followed four years later), baseball was withdrawn from London 2012, although nearly 120,000 people were interested enough to attend a two-game series between the New York Yankees and the Red Sox. Boston at the former Seven Olympic Stadium in the capital. years later.

He returned for these Games thanks to the passion of the host nation, but the third out was called for Paris 2024, where breakdancing will be on the menu and baseball and softball will not. However, these sports, which bounce off the Olympic field like a wild field on earth, could well return once more when Los Angeles is the host in 2028.

Japan’s best previous performance was silver in Atlanta. Cuba won gold three times, while South Korea won in Beijing. The Dominican Republic defeated South Korea 10-6 on Saturday to clinch bronze in Yokohama.

Yet while an American squad of holdings and quites was aiming for their nation’s second Olympic title after gold in Sydney, across the Pacific the Major League Baseball season continued, underscoring the bond of baseball.

It’s part of the essence of the Olympics (or at least marketing) that your events are the pinnacle, not a postscript. An Olympic sport without the best in the world is obviously a problem, because how many people want to see it? (See also men’s soccer. Or not). But an Olympic sport where the best in the world routinely show up and win, making each tournament feel like a foregone conclusion, is also a problem. How many people want to see that? (Looking at you, basketball.)

However, without baseball, we would not have had a chance to enjoy minor league second baseman Eddy Alvarez from the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp making his way through history. The Cuban-American from Miami won silver at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 as a speed skater. He is also now a silver medalist in the Summer Games, only the sixth person and the third American in do double. And he was the men’s flagger for Team USA at the opening ceremony.

Without softball, we would have been denied the fascinating vision of 39-year-old legend Yukiko Ueno launching Japan to gold medal glory against Americans Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott, the top three pitchers of their era battling for last time on a night where sweat mixed with tears.

And who could envy Japan for its delight here? The hosts, who won all five games and have the generously paid Former Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka on his squad beat the United States 7-6 in 10 innings earlier in the week. This was a better night for the pitchers. 23-year-old Japanese starter Masato Morishita of Hiroshima Toyo Carp pitched five scoreless innings.

The hosts took the lead with a home run by 21-year-old slugger Munetaka Murakami of Tokyo Yakult Swallows. The blast to center field came in the third inning off Nick Martinez, a 31-year-old former Texas Rangers pitcher who now works for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball. The league took a break for the Olympics, allowing Japan to pick a solid roster of players mid-season.

Japan added a safe run in the eighth, Tetsuto Yamada scored on a single by Masataka Yoshida. The United States had six hits in a 2-0 loss. Reliever Ryoji Kuribayashi closed out the game, the tournament and the sport’s Olympic status and his teammates rushed to the mound, celebrating like there was no tomorrow.

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