Baseball and The 2016 Olympics
In less than a week, Baseball will no longer be a part of the summer Olympics, and cannot be reinstated until 2016. Cuba has to be the most disappointed country by far, being constant gold medal contenders, but all the countries participating in this years' Olympic baseball tournament must have a sour taste in their mouth. Many will ask why, and the answer is very simple: just look at Team Usa, Venezuela and Japan.
The Olympics are supposed to be the pinnacle of sport, but most participating countries don't even send their best players every four years due to the MLB regular season. The United States has done slightly better, going from sending only college athletes to sending the likes of Terry Tiffee and others who have had a cup of coffee at the big league level. Still, this is not enough. Many Baseball teams, like the Yankees, refuse to let their minor leaguers participate for fear of injury. The NBA assembles an all-star caliber squad to compete every four years. The NHL even takes a break during the winter games, sending their best athletes to compete for their home countries, and this should be the model for MLB.
In 2016 baseball will be eligible to return to the games. These Olympics are rumored to be held in Chicago, IL. There will be no excuse for MLB to not release its players. Start the season a week early and have those games played in warm weather stadiums. Extend the all-star break to 2 weeks to encompass the Olympics. In fact, scrap the all star game for that year, hold an Olympic home run derby, and decide home field advantage the old fashioned way. Show the IOC the same showcase of talent that the WBC displayed. Maybe the home field advantage and star power will be enough for team USA to win gold, putting the America back into America's past time. Or maybe a Johan Santana-led Venezuelan team will win, who knows. All I know is that the World would see a true Olympic champion, not the product of some countries (and MLB) holding back.
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