Baseball coming back in 2020?

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The return of America’s pastime to the Olympics may be more imminent than we dreamed possible.

The International Baseball Federation and the International Softball Federation signed an agreement Monday, according to the AP, and are moving forward on a merger to strengthen its’ bids and be reinstated for the 2020 Games, which will take place in either Madrid, Istanbul, or Tokyo.

The merger still has to be approved by the governing bodies of both sports, but members are preparing a presentation for a December meeting with the IOC’s Olympic program commission. They’ll be going up against squash, karate, roller sports, wushu, wakeboarding, and sport climbing in a vote next September.

The presentation will apparently include some significant changes to the tournament, including shortening it to six days and making pro players available for the semifinals and finals. That change would obviously cause a slight hiatus in the MLB season, since the Olympics usually take place in July and August just as playoff races are just starting to heat up.

We’re not sure if MLB commissioner Bud Selig and the owners would agree to the short break, but we’re guessing it would be a pretty hard and fast (and awkward) “no.”

The two sports were bumped from the Olympic schedule back in 2005 and were last contested in Beijing, with South Korea winning the men’s gold and Japan taking the title for the women. Both sports lost out on reinstatement for Rio, when golf and rugby sevens were added instead.

U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet

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The U.S. and Great Britain go head-to-head in a track and field meet on July 21 at the London Olympic Stadium.

“The Meet” will include nine running, jumping, hurdles and relay events and last two hours. Specific events and athletes will be announced early next year.

The U.S. topped the overall medal standings at every Olympics and world outdoor championships since 2004.

Great Britain is one of three countries to earn at least five medals at every Olympics and worlds since 2007, joining the U.S. and Kenya.

British athletes made six podiums at the just-completed worlds at the London Olympic Stadium, including in all four relays. The other two medals came from Mo Farah, who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

“The Meet” is similar to swimming’s “Duel in the Pool,” a biennial head-to-head competition between the U.S. and rival Australia from 2003 through 2007 and between the U.S. and Europe between 2009 and 2015.

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Maria Sharapova gets U.S. Open wild card

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NEW YORK (AP) — Maria Sharapova was granted a wild-card invitation for the U.S. Open’s main draw on Tuesday and will take part in a Grand Slam event for the first time in more than 1 ½ years.

Sharapova is among eight women given entry into the 128-player field by the U.S. Tennis Association — and by far the most noteworthy.

The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, has not entered a major tournament since the Australian Open in January 2016, when she tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium.

That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April. She returned to the tour, but her ranking — currently 148th — was too low to allow entry into major tournaments, and the French Open denied her a wild card. Sharapova planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon, but the 30-year-old Russian wound up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning in April on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany. She’s only played nine matches this season.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. Two years before, at 17, Sharapova won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam and become one of the most recognizable — and marketable — athletes in the world.

The U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows on Aug. 28.

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