When the Olympics return to London for 2012, baseball and softball won't be coming with them.
The IOC voted to cut both sports from the Olympic program yesterday.
Never mind that the sport is going to have it's first real world championship in 2006 and that the Pacific Rim, the Caribbean, Canada, and Australia are into the sport.
Never mind that softball was eliminated only because it had to be eliminated with baseball and that now opportunities for female athletes have been reduced.
So what killed the sports at the Olympic level? Steroids, in part. The steroid scandals in the Major Leagues hurt the image of the sport internationally, and the IOC is pretty quick to react to doping issues.
What else killed it? Well, unlike basketball and hockey, which are willing to allow it's athletes to compete in the Olympics and expand the global reach of the sport, (in mid-season in hockey's case) Major League Baseball is unwilling to give it's players 3 weeks off to compete in the Games.
There's also a thought that the baseball and softball facilities don't get much use once the Olympics is over. (Here's a thought, maybe you could use the facilities to learn to play baseball?)
Anyway, the Olympics couldn't agree on a replacement. Golf, Karate, Rugby, Rollerblading, and Squash all failed to get the necessary votes.
(I don't understand why they couldn't get enough votes for golf? I mean, you could hand out at least 4 medals... stroke play, match play singles, match play doubles, alternating-shot. I don't understand why Rugby didn't make the cut either, the appeal of that one is fairly global also.)
Astros near .500
While the other baseball team in the state is apparently falling apart, The Astros have seemingly pulled things together, going 21-11 since the start of June. They can pull above the .500 mark if they sweep the slumping Dodgers this weekend. The ridiculous Roger Clemens trade rumors have stopped for the most part. And the team appears to be hitting a lot better now.
The funny thing about the baseball season is, most teams go through stretches where the team just plays really well. Even the bad ones. But since this is over an extended period of time, and because the Astros just took 2 of 3 from first-place San Diego, I think we can dismiss any talk of this being a fluke. Unfortunately, the All-Star break is Monday.
Monday: Home Run Derby