There's a Bay playing ball in Olympics
Sister of Red Sox outfielder set to pitch for Canada
BEIJING -- At the same time that several representatives from the U.S. baseball team were meeting the world press in Conference Room 3 at the Main Press Center on Thursday, the pitcher with the biggest baseball name at these Summer Olympics was right next door in Room 4, speaking as part of the Canada Olympic Committee contingent.
Her name is Lauren Bay Regula, pitcher for Canada's women's softball team and sister of new Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay. While Jennie Finch of the U.S. team has been commanding most of the pre-Games attention over softball, it's probably a good idea to get to know this left-hander.
"I've been to MLB.com 75 times in the last few days. I've been Googling Jason every morning. I told him, 'I've been stalking you,'" Bay Regula said with a laugh outside the interview room, as Canada's media members focused their attention mainly on a team physiotherapist who was talking about air pollution. "I was stressed out the last week, I'll be honest. Obviously his name had been up in the air a ton.
"The Rays were in there for a while, and we were prepared for anything to happen. Then all of a sudden the Dodgers came in, he goes to Boston, and I couldn't be happier for him. Now I'm having to change my Pittsburgh Pirates wardrobe, though."
Bay Regula, from Trail, British Columbia, was wearing the red colors of her homeland as she spoke. Her focus first and foremost has been on the opener Tuesday morning against Chinese-Taipei, starting the preliminary round.
Maybe in a perfect world her brother would have been here with her, representing Canada in the baseball competition, but it's not a perfect world for Olympic baseball because Major Leaguers have to be Major Leaguers at this time of year.
So Bay Regula does her best from within the Olympic Athletes Village to follow her brother as he and his new Boston teammates play the White Sox on the road.
"That's their Olympics," she said. "That's what every baseball player aspires to be. It's all about being in the Major Leagues and winning a World Series. Just like every softball player aspires to be in the Olympics and winning a gold medal."
Another odd coincidence about her appearance simultaneous with and next door to the U.S. team was the fact that both baseball and softball are playing with the knowledge that the sports will not be included in the 2012 Olympics in London. Just as USA Baseball general manager Bob Watson was explaining why he believes baseball will be reinstated for 2016, Bay Regula expressed hopes that softball's absence will be only a hiatus. She said it is not only a matter of representing her country, but fighting for her sport.
"I do -- I feel for softball anyway, because I know the most about that," she said. "We're going to go out there and the softball portion of the Games are going to be outstanding. They'll be the thrilling games you're used to in softball. That will be a platform to show how great the sport is. There are tons of athletes trying to make sure softball and baseball come right back."
Bay Regula, who holds a bounty of records from a great career at Oklahoma State, has been in this situation once before as a pitcher in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Her country failed to reach the medal round that time, but now she is here as the ace, looked up to by younger players, and she comes to Beijing with a pretty strong pedigree.
Besides that Red Sox outfielder in the family, there was her great uncle, Gerry Moro, who competed in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and again in Munich 1972 as a decathlete. It is generally considered the most quintessentially athletic events of them all. Her husband, Chicago-based commodities trader David Regula, was a place kicker for the Ivy League's Dartmouth College, graduating as the second-leading scorer in school history.
Bay, of course, was part of that blockbuster deal announced just after the July 31 Trade Deadline. He went from Pittsburgh to Boston, Manny Ramirez went from Boston to the Dodgers, and the Pirates landed four prospects. So now the question is, what does Jason think of the Canadian lefty at the Games?
"It's always an honor to represent your country in any event, but doing so in the Olympics is above and beyond," said Bay, who represented Canada at the 1990 Little League World Series, the 1996 Junior Olympic Team and, most recently, the 2006 World Baseball Classic. "I'm sure Lauren will do a great job. Our entire family is looking forward to watching her."
For Bay Regula, interest in softball began when she would sit in the stands and watch brother Jason play in Little League. He is the big brother. She turns 27 on Saturday, and that will be the day after the Opening Ceremonies, when she will enter with Canada's force of athletes and catch the attention of many TV viewers who are entirely familiar with the other ballplayer in the family.
She can't wait for Tuesday, for the prelims of a tournament that very well could bring her a medal. That is something she can partially control, a rare powerhouse lefty in this kind of competition. One thing she can't control is how her brother will fare in his new settings, filling some pretty big shoes, but she said so far, so good.
"He's great. He said the guys have been unbelievable to him there," she said. "Jason is a chameleon. He adapts to any surrounding. At first I was worried and I tried to protect him, but I know he's going to be just fine."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.