No Olympic baseball at Fenway Park – maybe?


Boston won out in the first phase to host the 2024 Olympic Games. The process will now move to the international stage where Boston will compete against other entries from around the world to determine which city will have the “honor” of hosting.

That Boston managed to survive the Big Dig does not mean we could survive the games. The word on the street will be highly charged as two camps are forming battle lines over this issue.

On one side is the “take it elsewhere” crowd that realizes that somewhere along the way money will be taken to pay for this. Couple that with years of preparation, strain on infrastructure, traffic nightmare, security issues, malfeasance, space for the influx of tourists and athletes and a hundred other negatives that can be formulated.

The “please let it happen group” will point to the prestige factor. Boston, already a world-class city, will have our hubris bumped up another notch. The games will be a development plus addressing long needed infrastructure improvements, development of additional housing, increased potential for business and technical development and the hundred other pluses that can be formulated.

Count me out. I hold a baseball grudge on the issue. Petty? You bet!

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The discussion also impacts Fenway Park. Fenway will be included somewhere in this project, but with baseball being not part of the show, since baseball and softball were cut from the Olympics, that role is open to interpretation – maybe rugby? They don’t want baseball – our so-called “national game” and our great “summer game,” well, spiteful me says just forget them. Go to Berlin or Johannesburg. Let them enjoy golf and rugby which replaced baseball and softball.

"“To be on the Olympic program is an issue where you need universality as much as possible. You need to have a sport with a following, you need to have the best players and you need to be in strict compliance with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). And these are the qualifications that have to be met. When you have all that, you have to win hearts. You can win the mind, but you still must win hearts.”"

Baseball has a long history in the Olympics starting in 1904 in St. Louis. Baseball and softball have been both an exhibition and official Olympic sports. Baseball Gold Medals have been won by Cuba (3), the United States (1) and South Korea (1). The United States has never seen our own elite professional team make an entry – no baseball version of a basketball Dream Team. That is and has been a major point of contention with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In softball the United States has three gold and Japan has one. Unlike baseball, the softball ranks have had our very best perform and that seems to be somewhat in conflict with “Best players” concept of IOC. Place the blame on the IOC which appears to consider the two sports the same.

There is a lifeline for those such as myself who simply do not like a dope slap on baseball which happens to be a worldwide sport and softball that has an extensive international federation. The IOC has left the door slightly open to resuscitate both and the matter will again be discussed with the potential of adding both to the 2020 games. Until that happens I consider the games to be like a banana split without the bananas.