USA Baseball Press Conference:
2008 USOC Media Summit
Event hosted by Chicago's Palmer House Hilton Hotel
April 15, 2008
|The ’08 USOC Media Summit was held at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago on Tuesday. (Maggie Lee / Around the Rings)
Manager Davey Johnson (DJ)
General Manager Bob Watson (BW)
Q: How are you going to select the team?
BW: We'll take non-25-man [Major League] roster players. We'll probably take player 28-40. There is an outside chance -- a real outside chance -- we'll take a collegiate player but mostly Minor League players. We want to pick the players that are playing the best and hot right now to make the best team.
Q: Are you interested in getting baseball reinstated in the Olympics?
BW: The desire is high. I've got my marching orders -- we better win. We were very disappointed in the vote [to remove baseball from the Olympic program]. With the vote in '09 we feel our performance in '08 will go a long way. Bottom line, baseball needs to be in the Olympics.
Q: What did you learn from the 2000 Olympics?
BW: We learned a great deal. We actually learned more from 2004. Balance, pitching is the name of the game. We're going to have the best pitchers available to us. We've already made some calls to the ball clubs… It will be whoever throws the ball the best.
DJ: I've gone through this process four times: two World Cups and two Olympic qualifiers. We have scouts out there to look at them. We go through and study, watch their line. A lot of the players have played with USA Baseball before. If we're picking the right guys, a lot of the guys will go on to the big leagues.
DJ: I think the Olympics are probably the single most important event in the world. I've been all over this world and I [see sport] bringing people together, watching sports and seeing people play. I hate to see politics come into sport, but it happens.
BW: The bottom line is to send the message that baseball is a game that is really interested in growing itself around the world. The big names aren't always the selling point. It's the presentation and the sportsmanship. Those are the things that are important.
BW: The thing we learned most from non-qualifying in '04 was to have some semblance of balance. As the GM it's my job to find that balance. Davey likes power. He likes speed. He likes balance. So we're all going down that path.
Q: Are you still planning on announcing the roster in July? And will teams be hesitant to give up their best players during the season to the U.S. Team?
BW: Yes, we will announce our club in the first two weeks of July. I know as a general manager sitting in that chair, it's going to be a very delicate spot for the teams to let me and the U.S. have their best pitcher. Instead of looking at player 26, 27, we're looking at player 29.
Q: Is there anything you can do now to get baseball back on the Olympic program?
BW: One thing that we can do is put on a very good show in '08 at the Olympics. Really show the game with enthusiasm and professionalism, the way we go about our business, being open to you the media, but mainly going about playing solid baseball in a way that people want it in 2016 and going forward.
Q: What do you believe is the biggest problem the IOC has in not letting baseball in the Games?
BW: The game is a global game -- to be honest with you, not sending our top athletes because of the timing of most summer Olympics. Our sport has not shut down for a period to do this. Smarter guys than myself have been working on it. With anti-doping, as of a couple of days ago, Major League Baseball has come up with one of the toughest drug policies. I think that will go a long way in convincing the IOC we're serious about doping.
Q: If you come home with a gold medal, what is your next step?
DJ: My next step would be to go to the beach and wear that around my neck. I've really enjoyed my wife working and me not working. I've enjoyed working with USA Baseball.
Q: Do you think baseball and softball have to go in together to make a return in 2016?
BW: They left together so I'd like to see them go back together. They both play with balls, bats and bases. They should go hand-in-hand. Softball has done very well in competition. I'm glad our guys don't have to hit off of Jennie Finch. I think they go hand-in-hand and I'd like to see them go together.
Q: Will it be difficult to make a cohesive team with so little time together?
DJ: A lot of the times the players come in, and we only get one practice and then we're playing in the Games. I know a lot about my players before they get to my bullpen. Sometimes they surprise me though. We bond pretty quick. It's fun to see them grow as we go along. We'll have more preparation for this Olympics than I've ever had -- we'll probably be bored of each other.
Compiled by www.usocpressbox.org.