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Finch Longs for Home While Going for Gold

While Jennie Finch pitches in Beijing, her husband, a pitcher in the Minnesota Twins' organization, watches at home.
While Jennie Finch pitches in Beijing, her husband, a pitcher in the Minnesota Twins' organization, watches at home. (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
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"This year has been hard," Finch said. "I've been apart from Casey basically since January. We've seen each other maybe three days a month since then."

Her two lives still merge sometimes, as when Finch appeared as a contestant earlier this year on "Celebrity Apprentice" -- getting the pleasure of being fired by Donald Trump -- and of course this month, when she will be a staple of NBC's coverage. But things seem to be grinding, if not blazing, to a halt, both for Finch and for women's softball.

Already voted out of the 2012 London Games along with baseball, women's softball is trying to get itself reinstated for 2016, with a critical International Olympic Committee vote coming in February. At a time when her own athletic future is unclear -- she says she wants to have more kids, for one thing -- she remains a crusader for softball's reinstatement.

"I don't know about myself. Eight years [until the next potential Olympic softball competition] is a long time," she said. "But I know what this game has given me. I want other girls to be able to experience the same thing."

Days like Tuesday might help softball's cause in some regards, and damage it in others. There was Finch, tall and beautiful, winding up and unleashing an assortment of pitches that were literally unhittable -- at least by Venezuela's inexperienced hitters. But the lopsided outcome also gave ammunition to those who see the sport as merely a cheap vehicle for American dominance.

"It deserves to be an Olympic sport," she said. "I don't know if these games are going to matter, but it will help to spread the word [and] prove to the IOC we belong here."

If nothing else, at least one bit of good would come out of Tuesday's game: It surely would allow Casey Daigle, almost 7,000 miles away, to rest in peace, to watch his wife without waking up the 2-year-old sleeping next to him -- a prospect that seemed dicey at best in those nervous last minutes before first pitch.

"Are you going to talk to her after the game? Tell her you talked to me, and I've got Ace here with me," he said over the telephone, the game about to get under way. "And tell her both of us love her."

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