Eighteen of the 24 players on the Greek Olympic baseball team are Americans, which is 18 more Americans than will play for America in the Olympics because America didn't even qualify. Maybe if the IOC didn't fritter away a wild-card spot in the eight-team tournament on the host nation, the U.S. would've gotten in.
True, some Homeland Security officials are nervous about Americans showing the red, white and blue in Athens and becoming instant terrorist targets, but disguising them in another country's uniform seems a bit drastic, don't you think?
Plus, you can't imagine the research—some of it paid for by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos—that went into proving these American athletes have Greek blood. During one search, an athlete discovered a family secret: Her grandparents were not married when they started a family.
Clay Bellinger, who won two World Series rings as a utility-man with the New York Yankees, is loaded with Greek connections. "Well, my wife went backpacking there once," he says. Bellinger will be in the Olympics because his mother's grandma was born in Greece...or once ate feta cheese, one of the two.
Jared Theodorakos, a pitcher for Baylor, says glowingly, "It's a dream come true!" Wait a minute—the dude dreamed of playing for Greece? Whose poster was on his bedroom wall, Zorba's?
Chris Demetral, a former Triple A player who is an infielder on the Greek roster, says, "Actually, I'm still waiting for somebody to tell me they're kidding."
No kidding. Sixteen of the 18 women on the Greek softball team will be Americans, too. You talk about unorthodox.
It's not really Greece's fault. Nobody knows softball in that country. Linda Wells, the Greek Olympic coach who happens to also coach at Arizona State, has been to Greece eight times in the past year trying to teach the locals how to play. But the outfielders still stand and look up at fly balls sailing over their heads like it's the Fourth of July.