In the Olympic Ties series, we’re highlighting Olympians with ties to Blast. Read about Team Australia, Team Italy, and Team Mexico to learn how the world’s top teams train using Blast sensors. The best use Blast!
For many people across the globe, the month of July held a special sense of anticipation and excitement as the Tokyo Olympics approached. The worldwide event was long-awaited, particularly after its yearlong postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the pandemic, spectators would not be allowed, but fans eagerly looked forward to watching from home.
For Jon Moscot though, the time leading up to the Olympics was a little different. Although he shared the excitement, the Blast Senior Account Executive wasn’t getting ready to watch the Olympics on TV.
He was getting ready to compete.
Formerly a pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, Moscot was selected to play for Team Israel in Tokyo. He began preparations for the Olympics with Team Israel’s mini-camp – a series of practices and exhibitions which took place in the United States.
In early July, the team traveled across the East Coast for two weeks while getting ready for competition. During their training, Team Israel utilized Blast sensors. They were able to gather swing data throughout their mini-camp.
“We broke out the Blast sensors when we were out in the cages,” Moscot explained. “We were using them as a team, hitting with them to see where guys were at coming into camp. It was a great tool as we were getting back into the groove and getting back into seeing live pitching and throwing to hitters.”
The mini-camp experience was not only a chance for Moscot and his teammates to prepare for the Olympics, but also an opportunity for fans in the U.S. to see the team in action.
“It was fun because we had great fans and great participation, and people loved coming out to support us,” Moscot shared. “It was a good experience for the team to get back together, play together, and get out on the field.”
“I saw family on the East Coast, and a lot of our team is from the East Coast, so there was tons of support,” Moscot noted. “There was an outpouring of love on social media too.”
Following the mini-camp, it was time for Moscot and his teammates to head to the Olympics. The team flew 14 hours from New York to Tokyo.
“It was pretty surreal,” Moscot recalled about traveling to Tokyo. “For me personally, I just wanted to make sure that I felt in the best shape that I could possibly be in. Then I was ready to go.”
Due to the pandemic, Team Israel had to be extremely careful when traveling to Tokyo. The team took precautions against COVID-19 and had been testing multiple times within the days leading up to the flight.
“Once we all got on the flight, it felt incredible to really board a flight going to Tokyo for the Olympics,” Moscot described. “It was almost like we never thought that day was going to happen with the postponement of the Games from 2020 to 2021 because of COVID… It was a reminder of the journey that we had been on, and we didn’t take it for granted for one second.”
After landing and spending the night in Tokyo on July 22, the following day was the Opening Ceremony. The team had some time to explore in the morning and then received their Opening Ceremony outfits along with other gear.
Later on, Moscot and his teammates arrived at Olympic Stadium a few hours before the start of the Opening Ceremony. The athletes were directed to a tunnel underneath the stadium, where they stayed until it was finally time for the moment they had been waiting for: the Parade of Nations.
“It was the most interesting experience of being extremely excited, knowing that the world is watching this event, and you’re waving to the camera,” Moscot shared. “You’re videoing everything and it’s incredibly emotional walking out there for Israel and representing a country. At the same time though, I can only imagine what it would have been like with 50,000 fans in the stadium making noise.”
“Nonetheless, it was an incredible experience,” Moscot reflected. “We had an option of staying or leaving right after we had walked, and I wanted to stay and just watch the other countries come out. I’m really glad I did because their Opening Ceremony outfits were amazing to see.”
In the days leading up to competition, Team Israel practiced once a day. The remaining time was downtime for the athletes, although they were not allowed to leave the Olympic Village due to COVID-19 restrictions. Moscot was appreciative of the amenities the Village had to offer.
“They had all kinds of things for athletes,” Moscot recalled. “They had a rec area where you could play ping pong and other games, so we were playing with people from other countries like Zambia and Italy. There was also a food area, as well as on-demand massages and acupuncture and dentists.”
A lot of aspects of life in the Olympic Village were what Moscot expected, but the thing that surprised him the most was the unique fanfare when an athlete would return to the Village after medaling.
“Every time a delegation won a gold medal for their country, they would have the whole organization come down to the main level of the apartment building and cheer on the people coming back, which was really cool to hear,” Moscot shared. “Late one night, New Zealand had the haka going on downstairs in the main lobby and the whole Village could hear it.”
“Also, we were staying in a building with Sweden, and Sweden had won gold and silver for the discus throw, and these guys came back and they were cheering so loud,” Moscot recounted. “It was really a special moment.”
Among the other highlights for Moscot was the chance to interact with local college baseball players at Team Israel’s practices in Tokyo.
“We got to converse with them about their lives and baseball and what it means to them,” Moscot said. “I gave one of them a Blast sensor and he couldn’t believe it. He was so excited. He could barely even talk.”
“It was so cool to experience that with another culture and see how they play baseball,” Moscot added. “It’s different than how we play, but in a good way, and I think there’s a lot that we could learn from them.”
July 29-Aug. 3
After the days of practice, baseball’s Opening Round began on July 28, and the following day was Team Israel’s first game. Moscot was named Team Israel’s starter for their opening game as they were pitted against the Republic of Korea.
Unfortunately, while Moscot was facing the second batter of the game, he tore his ulnar collateral ligament. The elbow injury was one that he had previously suffered during his time with the Reds.
“After you do that, you can’t play. You just physically can’t perform,” Moscot said. “I unfortunately had to come out and basically be a cheerleader for the rest of the time, which was tough because our team needed pitching and we just ran out of arms. With so many games in so many days, it was difficult to overcome that hurdle.”
“I wish I could have been out there competing more than I did, but I was able to support the team from the bench however I could,” Moscot shared. “Emotionally I kind of acted as a player-coach towards the end of it.”
Despite being unable to play, Moscot looks back fondly on memories from the competition. In particular, a moment from Team Israel’s game against the Dominican Republic was unforgettable for him.
“A buddy of mine who had played with the Reds named Jumbo Díaz was pitching for the Dominican, and we were down one run in the eighth inning,” Moscot recalled. “Basically, if you lose, you go home. Our first baseman came up with a guy on first base and he hit a two-run home run to put us ahead and I don’t know if I’ve ever gone that crazy in a dugout.”
“You’re excited in an MLB game, you’re excited in a high school game, and you’re excited in a college game, but at the same time you’re concerned for your career,” Moscot explained. “I think that’s in the back of everyone’s minds, whether they realize it or not. When you’re not playing for your career, and when you’re playing for a country or something that’s bigger than you, it really shows through, and it showed through the whole tournament.”
“It was all about if we won or lost, and when we took the lead [over the Dominican Republic], it was so emotional and spectacular,” Moscot continued. “We ended up losing it in the ninth, but it was still just a moment that I’ll never forget.”
Team Israel ultimately finished the Olympics in fifth place among the competing nations. Moscot was proud of the team’s efforts throughout the competition.
“Our guys fought insanely hard,” Moscot said. “We had crazy games. It was so much fun and lots of up-and-down emotions – jumping out of the dugout, game-tying and game-winning home runs, and extra innings. It was like a movie script.”
Due to the pandemic, the athletes were required to return home once their event had concluded. When Team Israel finished their Olympic run, Moscot flew home to Northern California.
It wasn’t the end of baseball for Moscot though. As a Senior Account Executive for Blast Motion, he is immersed in the world of baseball every day.
“My role at Blast allows me to help youth to collegiate athletes and all those in between understand technology’s role in the ever-changing baseball landscape,” Moscot explained. “It is exciting to be on the cutting edge of player development at a fast-paced company like Blast and I enjoy the team atmosphere the company has cultivated.”
As for playing baseball, Moscot doesn’t expect to compete in the 2028 Olympics – which is the next time baseball and softball are presumed to be featured on the world stage. He would be interested in a coaching role, however.
In the days until then, Moscot has plenty of time to look back on the unforgettable moments of the Tokyo Olympics.
“It’s something that I’ll cherish forever,” Moscot said with a smile.
In the Olympic Ties series, we’re highlighting Olympians with ties to Blast. Read about Team Australia, Team Israel, and Team Mexico to learn how the world’s top