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Chris Chase

The mystery of the disappearing sports

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Baseball and softball will be removed from Olympic competition following the Beijing Games, the first sports to be thrown out of the Olympics since polo in 1936. Fourth-Place Medal readers are clamoring to know what these sports ever did to the IOC in order to get unceremoniously dumped from the world's biggest sporting event?

Unlike the previous cases taken on by our top-notch Investigative Unit, the questions about the removal of baseball and softball have no definitive answer. The dumping of the sports was done by a secret ballot and the IOC felt no need to justify its actions afterwards. But, we have come up with the four most likely reasons, which we'll rank in order of importance.

4) The American softball team is too dominant

The U.S. won every single men's long jump competition from 1968 to 2000; the men's basketball team from 1932 to 1972. The U.S. women's softball team is 28-4 since the sport was introduced at the Atlanta Games. Over the same span, the U.S. women's basketball team is 28-0. And nobody is suggesting that basketball be taken off the Olympic slate.

3) Baseball and softball aren't played all over the world

As opposed to team handball? (No knock on team handball, by the way. We love ourselves some team handball here at the FPMIU.)

2) The IOC is a Euro-centric organization

Most Europeans don't play, or understand, baseball. Getting rid of the sport eliminates an unknown for them, while also sticking it to the U.S. a bit. Some have even suggested that the baseball/softball vote was payback for American policy in Iraq. While we doubt Lichtenstein's IOC representative was voting against baseball because they disagree with George W. Bush, it's not hard to imagine that some Europeans derived a little satisfaction from taking away American pastimes from the Olympics.

1) Major League Baseball won't allow big leaguers to play in the Olympics

This reason makes the most sense as it combines jealousy, pettiness and America-bashing all rolled into one. The Olympic tournament has always been a weak representation of international baseball (example: the Dominican Republic isn't competing in Beijing) and with the advent of the MLB-backed World Baseball Classic, the Games becomes even less compelling with its D-list players and eight-team format.

Mystery: solved (sort of)

FPMIU's global headquarters are located adajacent to the FBI Headquarters (in the back-booth of a Burger King). We do have a computer though and would like you to leave any Olympic-related mysteries in our comments section. We accept cash only (for tax purposes).

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