Seven-Inning Baseball?

Not the first time the topic is approached, and by the same person, because the chairman of the World Confederation of Baseball and Softball, Italian Ricardo Fraccari has been long pleading for changes in the rules so that, baseball especially becomes more attractive in countries where is not practiced regularly, and stays in the official program of the Olympic Games.

After appearing uninterruptedly since Barcelona-1992 until Beijing-2008, this sport will return to the Olympic games of Tokyo-2020, but Fraccari wants it to stay for good. Fraccari has considered vital the introduction of a few changes to do it more attractive and especially, shorter in time-consuming.

He insists, and he is certainly right about it that the dynamics of current times is that the youth worldwide is not willing to spend more than three hours watching a ball game, when at the same time other sports are on.

That is the main reason for which he has promoted changes, and the most polemic and radical is to downsize the baseball to seven innings.

Purists fall off their seats, but the question here is to be or not to be. Do we prefer to respect rules but remain on the sidelines of the Games? Those who wish to be in the Games must adapt, and the most radical measure is in fact the one of reducing innings.

In his condition as member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Fraccari realized that doping cases or the lack of the most upper-class professionals was not a big problem, because that also affects other sports. However, in a board of European majority, from countries that don’t play baseball massively, the time used is a key factor. Also, other sports have made important modifications to their rules, but not baseball, and that is also seen as an expression of willing to adapt.

On the other hand, baseball keeps the same rules of its origins, and the little changes done to shorten the time of the game (base on balls with a pitch, chronometer for pitchers, etc.) have not produced a remarkable change in the duration of matches, as it would certainly do to play only seven innings.

I particularly like baseball as it is, but as I mentioned at the beginning, it’s to adapt or die, and I’d rather like the Olympic tournament to be played to seven innings, before none is played. Boxing has different rules in its Olympic style, soccer has age limit, basketball also modifies its rules regarding professionals, however, they are included in the Olympic Games, and it’s enjoyed with its variants.

Baseball could do it too, and keep these regulations only for the Games and its classificatory tournaments. In the end, statistically most challenges are decided before the eighth inning, although to the eye what’s left are the spectacular plays of the ninth inning, or beyond.

It would be a remarkable change, actually, but less traumatic than the other variants on the table, as to leave the count in two strikes and three balls, or similar proposals.

It’s to be or not to be in the Olympic Games, and I’d rather be, although that’s the price to pay for it.

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Did Usain Bolt do well Running one More Year?

Watching the bitter farewell to the best sprinter of all times, many wonder if Usain Bolt should have said good-bye after winning his third Olympic gold medal in a row.

But first let’s turn to the motives to stay. Competitively, he had given all he had; he wasn’t interested either, judging by the little interest he showed in his training for this competition. Then, why continue?

He said he wanted to dedicate his last campaign to his fans and, although I don't distrust of his good intentions, it doesn’t seem as a convincing argument to me.

Now we get to the point: how much did Bolt win to continue for one more year? According to Forbes magazine, almost always well informed in money issues, it was more than 30 million dollars earned by the Jamaican bolt this season.

The greater part was not earned winning races, not even running, but by sponsoring. That is, no matter what he did, his account was going to get fat enough. It’s not like he desperately needed it, because in his brilliant career as a runner he is estimated to earn around 150 millions, but not bad to keep going for a few months without the pressure of having to win it all neither the demand of the gyms.

We go back to our opening question: did he do well or bad?

To me, watching Bolt is a unique show, and these months have been a priceless gift. It’s also true he didn't have the expected ending, but we must not forget his opponents trained with only one objective in mind to defeat him, and if he is not at his best, it could happen what we saw in the 100-meter final.

The lesion in the relief final was no surprise either, because when you push your body to the limit and you haven’t had the necessary training for that, lesions occur, as it just happened to him.

I have dreamt these last days that he is not injured and he performs the feat of surpassing Christian Coleman and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, as he did many times before with other rivals, but it’s just that, an impossible dream.

Anyway, I feel privileged to have seen all his career, and this bad moment does not clouds his legend, neither erases his message that to be the best it’s not necessary to get dope, but working very hard. The bolt fades, but thunders will come.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés/ Cubasi Translation Staff

Paris and Los Angeles Will Be 2024 and 2028 Olympic Hosts

While hosting the Olympic games are a massive responsibility, the role is one that comes with tremendous honor as well. Which is why residents and city officials in Paris and Los Angeles are both elated by the recent news that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted unanimously to approve a plan awarding the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympic Games to the competing cities.

Although the two cities have been determined, there still remains a few outstanding questions. One major uncertainty is which city will host each year. In order to find a verdict, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and the IOC have until September 13 to work out a deal. “We welcome the executive board’s decision to recognize two excellent bids from two of the world’s greatest cities,” said LA Mayor Garcetti prior to the vote, in a statement. “We look forward to working together maybe not in competition but collaboration with Paris. LA is ready to throw these Olympics in two months, if we were asked, or two decades if it came to that. LA is ready because the infrastructure, the love and the vision to make sure it’s something that serves this movement and serves the people of our city."

Of course, inviting the world to your city for the Olympics brings a host of opportunities—both in terms of profits as well as rebuilding infrastructure (not only for aesthetics, but to ensure visitors are safe and can quickly move from one location to the next). According to the Council on Foreign Relations, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, for example, there $2.6 billion in broadcasting revenue from the television right fees. Much like previous hosts, Paris and Los Angelese would have to build new, or update pre-existing infrastructure. Which is preciously what Tokyo is in the midst of doing as they prepare to host the 2020 Olympics. Other cities that were vying for the upcoming games included: Rome, Budapest, and Hamburg.

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World Boxing after Gender Equality

A few days ago, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made public that boxing in the Olympic Games Tokío-2020 will grant 13 medals, just as its two previous editions, but this time only eight for men, and five among women.

After gender equality, boxing joins the rest of summer sports, where the participation of women equals that of men, to eliminate all the differences seen throughout history.

In this regard, the number of women categories will reach five now, although the weights in which they will participate aren’t decided yet, neither those to be eliminated among men.

Personally I support women boxing, but I don’t think the formula to do so is the right one. I find it fairer, and just equitable that instead of reducing the number of categories for men boxers, it decreases the number of boxers by weight.

Therefore allowing all boxers the chance to reach the Olympics. It’s true it’d be more difficult to win a place for the Games, but the opportunity it’s there, while the other way leaves out a large number of good boxers.

IOC’s main concern is to achieve the gender equality without damaging the number of contestants, hence the costs for organizers, but with this second variant which Cuban boxing authorities want to present at the AIBA Congress, and it would improve quality, because in the preliminary rounds many mismatched combats take place.

If this variant does not succeed, which according to experts, women will have two more medals in their goals and men two less. Hence it’s more than necessary to promote the practice of boxing among women worldwide.

What is Cuba doing about it? Well practically nothing, is still being "studied" the participation of women.

IOC Approves Facilities for Olympic Games in 2020

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved the facilities, for Tokyo 2020, that will host the five new sports recently incorporated into the Olympic Games.

The new sports are, men's baseball, women's softball, karate (both sexes), skateboarding, surfing and climbing.

Baseball and softball will be held in the Yokohama Stadium, built in 1978. The possibility of first round matches taking place in Fukushima (devastated on March 11th, 2011 by a nuclear accident) is still under analysis.

The karate competition will be held in the Nippon Budokan in the Japanese capital, while temporary structures in the Aomi Urban Sports Complex in the city will be installed for skateboarding and rock climbing.

Surfing will be held on the natural waves off Kujukuri Beach, Chiba Prefecture, a hundred kilometers east of Tokyo.

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Japan Studies Reducing Costs of the 2020 Olympic Games

The Tokyo government is studying how to reduce the costs of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, while doubts are growing over the negative implications these costs will have for the Japanese economy and society.

Now the controversy in the public opinion is more intense after knowing the intentions of Governor Yuriko Koike to use geothermal air conditioning competitions, expensive to install but with low maintenance costs.

Koike said that there is a need to differentiate between cost and investment for the future.

She said that it is impossible to install geothermal heating and air conditioning systems later.

The governor also spoke at a symposium on the Tokyo Olympics and the environment.

According to the NHK state chain, she is confident that the price of the Olympics will be reduced, as several proposals on the review of the places of competition were presented.

However, she acknowledged that some people are incredulous about the original estimate.

Meanwhile, doubts in the experts about the not-so-good consequences that the final expenses will have for the economy, and therefore for the society of Japan, are increasing, especially, in the present moment, defined as growth negative.

Over the past decade, according to official reports, recessions are recurring, with declines in Japanese gross domestic product for all of 2009 and 2011.

Last year the economic growth figures were also not very encouraging (0.2 percent).

Experts say Tokyo, as the first key to the analysis, continues to present a chronic stagnation problem that has lasted since the 1990s.

While a 1.4 percent rally is expected for 2016, the Japanese economy will grow only three tenths by 2017, according to the latest data released by the Bank of Japan (BOJ).

In this context, public opinion increasingly raises controversy over spending for the Olympics, which although almost always represent an important source of income for the host country, but is not clear that it is entirely sustainable for Japan, unless the currently questioned economic policy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe finally escape the so-called damn binomial recession-deflation.

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Antonio Pacheco and the Fake story of the Cuban Adjustment Act

What we’ve seen so far, and according to his statements Antonio Pacheco didn't ask for asylum in the United States fearing the communism to which he represented in his international career as a baseball player.

Almost a month after his arrival in the U.S. the star Cuban player Antonio Pacheco declared to the website Centro Tampa that he wanted to become a coach in the Major League Baseball.

Though the player refused to speak about politics because, as he stressed: “I am not a politician. Baseball is my thing and teaching”, his decision of "taking refuge in the United States questions, once again the so-called Cuban Adjustment Act.

Pacheco, assured to "be requesting the Cuban Adjustment (asylum). As all Cuban who arrives to North American soil and wants his papers to be in order. I won't be an illegal foreigner here and I am trying to get my work permit, my driving license and I want to contribute to society”, he said.

"The Cuban Adjustment Act – according to the Cuban encyclopediaEcured-is a legislative monster adopted in 1966, with the deliberate purpose of motivating the illegal exodus of Cuban citizens into the U.S. This Act is one of a kind in the world; it offers Cubans who arrive illegally in the United States privileges that no other citizen of any other nationality or country receives."

According to declarations of the senator of Cuban origin Marco Rubio who has intended to make amendments to this Act. The Act was put into force in 1966 to offer refuge to those escaping from the "horrors" of communism.

In an interview to Las Americas Journal, Marco Rubio criticized those who use the Law to stay in the United States using alleged reasons of political sort that: "The Cuban Adjustment Act allows any Cuban to enter U.S. territory with the argument that they are escaping due to political persecution. But if afterwards you travel back like 16 times a year… you are no longer that afraid.

As website Centro Tampa reads: "Pacheco Massó, 50 years old, resided in Canada and worked as trainer in the neighboring country, thanks to a job contract with Cubadeportes, company of the Cuban government which exports the sport."

“I travel from Cuba to Canada for a job contract and lived there for a year and half. I worked in a baseball academy for children”, said Pacheco Massó.

“I played 22 national series with the Cuba team; I made it 16 times to the national team; I was captain of the national team for 16 years. I went to three Olympic Games, I coached the Cuban team in one Olympic Games, I coach Santiago de Cuba team for 7 years, we obtained three championships and a ended runner-up in another one”, said Pacheco in his interview to the Tampa newspaper.

He also said "he holds the record in Cuba with the best life batting average with .334 and he ranks among the best 10 Cuban baseball players. He also holds the record for more hits with a total of 2,356."

Once asked why he hadn’t returned to Cuba after Canada, the player answered:

“We weighted everything, it was a family decision and we wonder: Where is a better place to be? In Canada, too cold, it was not the kind of weather we have in Cuba. In Tampa the climate, the people are very much like our thing, it’s a quiet place”, he said.

He also added, "here I want to feel like any normal person. It’s not easy to take a decision to enter or leave a country. It’s a personal decision. The United States offers me the opportunity that offers everybody, this is first world country.”

It’s striking that at the same time Pacheco made his statements in Tampa, the U.S., the country that offers "opportunities to everybody" deports dozens of thousands Central American children who arrived into the United States escaping from the violence and misery in their countries of origin.

There is nothing apolitical in becoming the accomplice of the so-called murderous Act that it’s being used, as a means of propaganda against Cuba. In the end this Act seeks to spur the illegal exits, even in the unlikely case of Pacheco, afterwards they portrait to the world the evidence of the Cuban socialism’s inefficacy. This act is indeed the same that has robbed the Cuban people from many sport talents trained by the Revolution over the last years.

Paradoxically, the most developed country in the world, so it seems, cannot do without the doings of a small country whose social system they have wanted to wipe out of the face of earth. Each home run of the Cuban players who play today in the MLB should embarrass them.

Pacheco's "decision" reveals once again the hypocrisy of the so-called Cuban Adjustment Act, used by many as political alibi to escape the suffocating blockade of the United States against the Island.

A blunt lie. Who attempts to strangle you, later becomes the savior to give you a quick CPR. Regrettably there are some who taking advantage end up choosing the bait of money over “people's affection.”

  • Published in Sports
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