MLB: Can Baseball Work as an Olympic Sport?


Baseball is america’s pastime; it is a national treasure. The Olympic games are the true test of what country is the best at each sport. The Olympics start in just a couple of days, and baseball will not be a part of the competition. That said, baseball has been approved for the 2020 Olympics. Whether that involves MLB players or not remains to be seen.

Multiple countries are highly invested in baseball besides the United States. They are Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Japan. Other than that, not many countries are invested in baseball. The Netherlands have produced some great baseball players in the last several years including Andrelton Simmons, but they are not dedicated enough to be in the Olympics.

The World Baseball Classic happens every four years, with the last one in 2013 and the next one in 2017. In this event, 15 countries play for the chance to be considered the best baseball country there is. The WBC happens just before the start of the MLB season, so players in the majors have to be extremely dedicated to go almost directly from the WBC to playing 162 games in 183 days.

Moving back to the Olympics, there is one main problem with baseball coming back; the Olympics happen in the heat of the major league season. This would mean that rigorous schedule would either be even more difficult, or baseball season would have to be pushed back even later than it already is.

Neither of these are particularly great options–especially for players. They need time to rest during the offseason, and the season is already quite demanding. Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant spoke on the issues saying, “I wore ‘USA’ across my chest one time in college, and it was an awesome experience. It’d be fun to do that again,” he said. “But baseball season’s so long the way it is. You play 162 games and to add another two weeks, I don’t know if it would be the best decision for ourselves and our bodies.”

More from Call to the Pen

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred thinks the Olympics would be great in terms of the recognition for baseball when told the Associated Press Sports Editors, “Conceptually, I think it would be good for our game, for baseball generically defined, to be an Olympic sport,” Manfred said. “I think it would be a mistake for our sport to make an arrangement with the Olympics whereby we go in for Tokyo and not have some commitment that the Olympics were going to commit to baseball over the longer haul.”

That said, Players Association head Tony Clark is simply worried about their players, saying to the Associated Press “With regard to professional players competing in the games, as we have stated publicly in the past, we are committed to finding the best possible and most reasonable solution for 2020.”

Next: Expect Seattle to Keep Making Moves

Either way, baseball is an international sport, it is just not in the Olympics this year. Will baseball be in the Olympics? It would take a lot of cooperation from a lot of people. It seems unlikely that baseball would find it’s way into the Tokyo Games in 2020, even though it has been approved.

“It’s not going to happen. I don’t think it’s fathomable,” Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said.

One option would be to include minor league players instead of professionals, whether it’s top prospects or players that are not on the 40-man roster. The problem here is that for an international audience, you want to put your best foot forward to gain new eyes on your product. It will be interesting to see how the two sides work this one out, or if it can be worked out.