With several top athletes playing in major international leagues, Brazilian baseball and softball teams are preparing for the toughest competition for places at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
There are just under 500 days until the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which will take place between July 24 and August 9, 2020 in the Japanese capital. The figures surrounding the event are billions. A recent report released by the Japanese government showed that the country will spend US$ 25 billion (approximately R$ 93 billion) to host the Games and that this estimate could be even higher.
This amount is more than double what was spent in Rio2016. The huge investments are worthwhile.The Olympics is the largest sporting event in the world and brings together more than 11,000 athletes from 204 countries.
To give even more visibility to the Games, five new sports will be in competition in 2020: baseball/softball, karate, climbing, surfing and skateboarding. With the inclusion, the number of sports in Tokyo will be 33, the highest in the history of the Olympics.
The idea of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to finance the entry of these sports into the Olympic contest is to reach young people without forgetting the sporting tradition of the Japanese. They love baseball, softball and karate. Just like Brazilians, they are passionate about football.
Outside the competitions there are two Olympics, baseball in Japan will have only six teams participating in each sport and will be played only in men and softball in women. As the host country, Japan has already qualified for competitions. In baseball, as well as in softball, Brazil has little chance of qualifying.
However, the national team is “far from throwing in the towel”. On the contrary, the fight to get passports stamped is the number one objective of the Brazilian Confederation of Baseball and Softball.
The obstacles that the top hat refers to are the competitors that Brazil will have to eliminate to get to the games in the land of the Rising Sun. The dispute will be gross. To win the only place in the Americas, the U.S. has already qualified, the country will have to beat very strong teams like Cuba, Panama, Venezuela.
Since then, Brazilian baseball has only grown. With an eye on the market, Italians, Japanese and Americans have come to Brazil since then in search of new talent. “Some young promises of 16 years of age have already signed contracts with big clubs,” says Caldeira. Currently, several players have been signed by major international leagues, such as Major League Baseball (MLB) in the USA.
“We’ In Brazil for three years, De Leon, who is from the Dominican Republic, landed in Ibiúna, São Paulo, at the Baseball and Softbol Yakult/CBBS Training Center, to dedicate himself to the youth categories and the national team. De Leon arrived on Brazilian soil accompanied by assistant coach and former coach of the Panamanian team Enrique Burgos – a star pitcher who figured in the powerful American league.
Burgos choruses with De Leon about the quality of national athletes and warns of another important fact that may explain the advance of Brazilian players on the international scene. “The change in the profile of the athletes has been determinant,” says the Panamanian coach.
“Today there is a mixture of players of Japanese descent, very technical, with Brazilians, who are very tall and strong,” says Burgos. Another factor that caught the attention of the “gringos”, as they are affectionately called, is the impactful and exquisite Brazilian CT.
“I come from a country that has baseball as its main national sport. There, as in all of South America, there is nothing like the Brazilian training center,” says Burgos. Don’t think that only baseball is competitive, in softball the Brazilian team has achieved several successes, such as the South American Championship in 2013, the 4th place in the Pan American Games in 2015 and 12th place in the world.
“We are respected on the international stage, especially in the Americas,” says Adriana Asano, a Brazilian national team player. In addition to Asian countries, baseball is very traditional in the United States as well as in several Central American countries.
Softball vs. Baseball
Baseball or its “lighter version”, softball, is not as complicated as it seems at first glance. “It’s like the childhood tacos game,” remembers Caldeira. Disputed by two teams of nine starting players each, which alternate positions of attack and defense.
The goal of the fight is to score by hitting a ball with a stick thrown by a pitcher and, when hitting, to run through the four bases of the field – which has a diamond shape. One turn of attack and defense of each team represents an entrance. Baseball consists of nine inlets and softball seven.
The differences between softball and baseball is, apart from the fact that the game time is shorter because of two fewer innings, the softball balls are larger. Other differences are that the stick is aluminum and not wooden as in baseball. The dimensions of the field are smaller and the main one, the throw of the ball is from below and not from above, as in baseball.
In both sports, the team with the highest number of races wins the match. However, the team will do everything it can to prevent this from happening. Every three batters eliminated, the game is reversed and the other team’s batsman enters the field. Matches take an average of two hours.