Tommy Lasorda

Baseball-softball’s chances of 2020, 2024 Olympic inclusion

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The International Olympic Committee will make the second of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday.

Nearly 100 IOC members will choose one of three sports — baseball/softball, squash and wrestling — for inclusion in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics from 11-11:45 a.m. Eastern time. For more on what happens Sunday, click here.

OlympicTalk will look at each sport’s pitch. Here is a rundown of baseball-softball:

Sport previews: Squash | Wrestling

Jessica Mendoza played softball during the 2012 Olympics.

Not with the U.S. national team. No, London marked the first Games since 1992 to not include softball. Rather, the 2004 and 2008 Olympian took to the diamond last summer with the USSSA Pride of the National Pro Fastpitch league in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Akron, Ohio, and Kannapolis, N.C.

“All my Olympic teammates, we were all on the same field,” Mendoza, who gave birth to a baby boy, Caden, two weeks ago, said in a phone interview this week. “It was this weird feeling, being so far away from it.”

Mendoza said she spent days last summer watching the Olympics on TV. At night, she had league games to play. It brought to mind her Olympic experiences in Athens and Beijing.

“I felt, honestly, like crying,” she said. “We should be there. Instead of here in Florida, we should be there in London.”

Baseball and softball were cut from the Olympic program in an agonizing decision eight years ago. A total of 105 IOC members were eligible to vote “yay” or “nay” on all Olympic sports. A majority was needed to remain in the Games.

Baseball went down 54-50. Softball was 52-52. One member abstained from each vote. Had that member voted for softball, it would still be in the Olympics. Had anybody switched in favor of softball, it would still be in the Olympics.

Baseball and softball are now baseball-softball, one combined bid competing against squash and wrestling for one opening in the Olympic program for 2020 and 2024. Wrestling is considered the favorite. The Associated Press described baseball-softball’s chances as, “likely headed for another strikeout.”

“It’s so hard because a lot of the people voting are the same people who voted in 2005,” Mendoza said. “I’ve learned since then to understand the IOC a little bit more and learn that it’s very hard to figure out what they’re thinking.”

Tommy Lasorda doesn’t understand, either. Lasorda, 85, the retired Hall of Fame Dodgers manager, is probably the man most associated with U.S. Olympic baseball. He guided the 2000 Olympic club to gold, a group of minor leaguers who upset favored Cuba to cap an unlikely run. A “Miracle”-like documentary was in the works a few years ago.

“They made a big, big mistake,” voting baseball out, Lasorda said in a phone interview. “They’ve got sports that aren’t even sports in the Olympics.”

Together, baseball and softball are stronger than they were individually. They’re pushing for more compact Olympic tournaments, six days each, and at the same venue, saving money.

Baseball-softball’s chances will rise if Tokyo is elected as the 2020 host one day before the sport vote. Japan won the last Olympic softball tournament in 2008 and the first two World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009. It would be able to fill seats better than other candidates Istanbul or Madrid.

Issues that hurt each sport in the past remain. Softball is certainly more global than it was in its Olympic debut in 1996, but it’s still lacking support and popularity in Europe.

Baseball is beset by its doping problems and that the Olympics are not the ultimate goal for the sport. Major League Baseball players compete in the World Baseball Classic, but, so far, MLB has said it’s unwilling to stop its season to free players for the Olympics, like the NHL does.

“Those guys have contracts to worry about,” retired first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who hit a walk-off home run in the 2000 Olympic semifinals, said in a phone interview. “The timing’s never going to be right for them. This was a stepping stone for us (minor leaguers in 2000). Some of us, (the Olympics) was our big leagues.”

Olympic baseball proponents, such as Fidel Castro‘s son, argue that there’s plenty of time for negotiations with MLB on seeking a solution for the world’s best players to go to the Games.

American Don Porter is the president of the International Softball Federation and a co-president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation. He said he was packing to bring to Buenos Aires letters he’s received from girls who want to play Olympic softball.

“We’ve got a lot of young girls and boys out there who want to get their Olympic dreams back,” he told the AP.

City previews: Istanbul | Madrid | Tokyo

Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

Elaine Thompson runs 200 meters to win 100m in Lausanne

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Elaine Thompson won a 100m at her first meet since sweeping the Olympic sprints, but she actually raced about 200 meters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday.

Thompson, who won the 100m and 200m in her Olympic debut in Rio, was one of seven runners in an eight-woman 100m field in Lausanne who did not react to a second gun indicating a false start.

So Thompson and others had to trudge back from the finish line to the start in order to re-run the race.

About nine minutes after the false start, Thompson won the 100m in 10.78 seconds (video here), a bit slower than her national record-matching 10.70 from the Jamaican Olympic Trials and her 10.71 from the Rio Games.

“There was a mix up at the start,” Thompson said, according to the IAAF. “To be able to produce 10.79 [sic] on second attempt, it’s a great time.”

Neither of the other Rio Olympic 100m medalists — Tori Bowie or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce — was in the Lausanne field.

Untested, Thompson won by one-third of a second over American Jenna Prandini.

Full Lausanne results are here.

In other events Thursday, former world-record holder Asafa Powell won the 100m in 9.96 seconds against a field that didn’t include Rio medalists Usain BoltJustin Gatlin or Andre De Grasse. Powell, 33, broke 10 seconds for a record 97th time, according to the IAAF.

Rio bronze medalist LaShawn Merritt won a 400m in 44.50 against a field that did not include the Olympic gold and silver medalists Wayde van Niekerk and Kirani James. Van Niekerk won the Olympic title in a world record 43.03.

Keni Harrison, who missed the U.S. Olympic team but broke the 100m hurdles world record July 22, won the Lausanne 100m hurdles in 12.42 seconds. The field did not include the Americans who swept the Olympic podium — Brianna RollinsNia Ali and Kristi Castlin.

Harrison’s time Thursday would have won the Rio Olympics and was well short of her world record of 12.20.

“I’m a bit rusty because I haven’t competed for a few weeks with not being in Rio,” Harrison said.

American Dalilah Muhammad followed her Olympic 400m hurdles title with her second straight Diamond League race victory, clocking 53.78 in Lausanne.

Cuban-born Spaniard Orlando Ortega upset Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica in the 110m hurdles, winning by one hundredth of a second in 13.11. Ortega took silver behind McLeod in Rio.

In the shot put, New Zealand’s Valerie Adams topped Michelle Carter, also a reversal of their Rio Olympic one-two. Adams, the 2012 Olympic champion, threw 19.94 meters in Lausanne, while Carter recorded 19.49 meters.

Olympic bronze medalist Sam Kendricks equaled his personal best with a 5.92-meter clearance to win the pole vault over world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie. Surprise Olympic champion Thiago Braz da Silva of Brazil wasn’t in the Lausanne field.

The Diamond League continues in Paris on Saturday.

VIDEO: Top track and field moments of Rio Olympics

Ryan Lochte to be summoned to criminal hearing in Rio, NBC News reports

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Ryan Lochte will be summoned to attend a criminal hearing in Brazil regarding his Rio de Janeiro gas station incident from Aug. 14, according to NBC News.

“A formal summons is expected to be sent to the U.S. asking for help in bringing Lochte to Brazil. If Lochte does not show up, the process, we’re told, will continue, where he could be charged by the public prosecutor and likely convicted in Brazil,” was reported on MSNBC on Thursday.

Lochte has said he “over-exaggerated” his original story that a gun was pointed at his head during a robbery at a gas station.

Lochte’s full interview with Matt Lauer that aired during NBC’s Olympic coverage last weekend is here.

MORE: Lochte loses sponsors after gas station incident