Tokyo – These are the “Olympics made for television”, a line organizers have repeated as a justification for holding the Tokyo Games without spectators.
Bad news for those in charge: One of the first shows to air on TV, well, sounds weird.
As softball continued for the second day at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, some people watching from home continued to comment about the awkwardness of the softball field being built within the baseball stadium.
For example, the pitcher’s hoop is in front of the traditional mound. The second base sits in the middle of the infield. And the outfield wall is well in front of the baseball fence.
Good News? The people playing there don’t care much. After the United States beat Canada 1-0 on Thursday, shortstop Amanda Chidester – who drove in the game’s only run and went 2-for-4 – called the field “immaculate.”
“I’ve seen the question come up a lot,” Chidester said of playing softball at the baseball venue. “As a player who played on both… he has done everything to make it as softball-field-like as possible.
“To be able to get into the box of a batsman and the way they are doing it in the field is amazing. They’ve done an incredible job of making it feel like a top-class softball field. “
American coach Ken Erickson agreed. It may sound strange, but plays fine.
“It’s amazing, because television shows lines for baseball on the field, but the field is spectacular and the field is so safe,” said US softball coach Ken Erickson. “It really is one of the best places we’ve played.”
Ericsson expects more at Yokohama Baseball Stadium, where the team has already practiced. There will be pool play on Saturday.
“We don’t really think of it as a baseball field,” he said. “He did a great job with the softball markings and everything else.”
With baseball and softball on the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, Tokyo organizers said that playing both sports at the same venue represented a “new cost-effective model” to make the sport more attractive to the International Olympic Committee. is designed for. According to the WBSC’s media guide, the conversion of the existing stadium’s playing field from baseball to softball and vice versa was brought forward by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).
Organizers said Fukishima Azoma Stadium could hold 14,300 spectators, while Yokhoma was expected to hold 34,000. The pandemic dashed those plans.
Monica Abbott, who played seven non-scoring innings against Canada and a no-hitter in the sixth inning, has played professionally in Japan for more than a decade. Not having fans there, she said, is one of the biggest disadvantages of playing in a baseball stadium.
“It will be the intimacy that the fans will experience closer together in a softball stadium versus a softball stadium,” she said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have fans, so as far as the surface, the game, the fence, the markings (all) have been perfect. Especially down the lines, they have fences all around, so you don’t have that extra foul field that happens when a softball team plays in a baseball stadium. “
For Chidester, it’s all the same.
“I don’t even know – you can’t even tell the difference there,” she said. “It’s great to be out there and be able to play sports.”
Follow Chris Bambaka on Twitter @BOOMbaca