With the 2008 Olympics now under way, many baseball fans are wondering how the sport fits in. It's actually a big issue for the International and US Olympic Committees, the International Baseball Federation, and Major League Baseball.
This year, the team is mainly comprised of Minor League Baseball players, and also includes one collegiate player. Last week, I posted about some of the former Cape players on the team.
A bit of history: Baseball became an official Olympic sport in 1992, and only amateur players were allowed to compete. The '92 and '96 rosters featured all collegiate players, with many players having spent time on the Cape (e.g. Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek in '92). In 2000, Minor League players were first allowed to compete and the US won a gold medal led by coach Tommy Lasorda. In 2004, the US baseball team failed to qualify for the Olympics.
Baseball and softball are excluded from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. The future of baseball in the Olympics is uncertain. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig stated that he will never shut the season down to accomodate the games (see Reuters article). The World Baseball Classic (held next year in LA, and every 4 years thereafter) will serve as the only true international baseball tournament.
Team USA General Manager Bob Watson thinks that MLB may soon allow their players to compete in the Olympics, especially if the games in 2016 are held in either Chicago or Tokyo (both baseball cities).