On Wednesday August 3rd the International Baseball Committee reinstated baseball as a sport in the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Baseball, along with softball, will be added along with a handful of other games in which athletes will participate. Baseball will be featured in the games for the first time since 2008 where the United States won a bronze medal with Cuba winning the silver and South Korea winning the gold respectively.
With the United States seemingly a favorite to get a medal in nearly every event it may or may not come as a surprise that the U.S. will have their hands full in 2020 thanks to a heavy foreign influence.
Because the Summer Olympics are played in August the games will interfere with the Major League season possibly causing most talent to sit out playing for the U.S and continue playing for their respective MLB team.
This hasn’t necessarily been something that has recently come up, the 2008 Olympic roster wasn’t star studded in 2008, but the team still ended up securing a medal at the games. Still for those hoping to see a loaded roster like the one of USA’s men’s basketball team, don’t hold your breath.
Whatever your opinion may be of the Olympic sports in general and what they mean, the Olympics are two weeks out of every four years where as a viewer you can appreciate the other sports you never get to see.
Still with that being said, legacy doesn’t exactly play a huge role in the Olympics. When we look back on the collective careers of Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw, pondering about their Olympic careers isn’t likely to a focus when reviewing all their achievements.
Baseball being played on the Olympic stage is awesome for the sport itself, but the best players in the world won’t all be able to showcase their talents at that level because of the ongoing Major League season. I’m not blaming anyone here but realize that, much like other Olympic sports, not all the top athletes at their respective sport will play.
The Nippon Professional Baseball League, which is Japan’s top professional baseball league, is arguably the second best baseball league in the world and actually takes a hiatus from games so players can play in the Olympic Games. Major League Baseball just couldn’t do that with such important games on the line in mid-August concerning pennant chases and of course viewership for their games.
The World Baseball Classic is the event that fans should consider baseball’s own Olympics. Starting in 2006 the event showcases the best 16 countries in the world playing for the right to be crowned best baseball country on Earth. The event has taken place in March so that players from Major League Baseball can play for their respective country if they so choose.
The World Baseball Classic doesn’t have the same ring to it as the Olympic Games, but in a way it is baseball’s Olympics. Baseball being back in the Olympics is something that all baseball fans should rejoice about. The game gets to be played at the highest level possible and may spark a new fan base in the process.
Contrary to many events that happen in the Olympic Games, don’t expect Team USA to blow anyone away when the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo come around.