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Monday, August 16, 2004

Olympics: Baseball Just 'Greek' to the Hosts 

The Olympic rules allow Greece to field a team in each Olympic sport. So maybe it doesn't matter that the ragtag baseball team they've assembled might not know the difference in an infield fly and a sacrifice fly.

They should know the term sacrificial lamb?

Determined to field a team in Athens, as is their right as the host country, the Greeks set out on a recruiting mission. Manager Rob Derksen scoured North America for anyone whose great-grandpappy - on either side of the family - might have been from Greece. Or maybe passed through the motherland long enough to vote or get a driver's license.

Finally, Derksen found enough Americans with Greek ties, flimsy as they might be, to fill out a roster. The Greek government waived the mandatory military service requirement and declared them all citizens.
How great is that? The U.S. didn't even qualify in baseball, but they end up sending a team anyway -- to play for Greece. I use the term "team" lightly.

This reminds me of that Joe Mantegna movie, The Comrades of Summer, except for that team was at least comprised of Russians, not Americans whose grandfathers earned their rubles in Ukranian mines before defecting to America. But that was just fiction (as evidenced by its depiction of the Seattle Mariners winning the World Series). This almost-Greek team reinforces that old notion that truth is stranger than fiction.


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