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Joe Torre believes baseball deserves a spot in the Games

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Former Yankee skip Joe Torre, who coached the U.S. team to a sixth place finish at the World Baseball Classic last month, thinks the popularity and competitiveness of that event proves that his beloved sport belongs in the Olympics again.

“The World Baseball Classic has showed you the three times it’s been played that other countries have caught on and done a pretty good job of playing baseball,” Torre told the Associated Press.

“I’m a realist. I’d like to believe it will happen.”

Baseball was long considered the front runner for the lone open spot on the 2020 Olympics schedule, but the push squash has made in recent months and the fact that wrestling was added to the list of candidate sports after being recommended for removal by the IOC in February has put baseball and its co-bidder, softball, on the back-burner.

But Torre believes that the improvements to national programs like those in Brazil and the Netherlands show that the sport is growing worldwide, and that it’s worth giving baseball another shot on the Olympics stage.

However, as Major League executive he’s also not exactly willing to forfeit three weeks in the middle of the season, much less the lucrative All-Star Game, in order to allow the pros to compete in the Games.

“I’ve heard rumblings of that,” Torre added. “You can’t stop baseball for three weeks. I know they do it in hockey [in Olympic years], but we really can’t do it. There’s a rhythm to our game.”

Details of NBC Olympics’ Facebook, Instagram content for Rio

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NBC Olympics, Facebook and Instagram will team up to provide video highlights and interviews on social media daily during the Rio Olympics.

An on-site “Social Command Center” in Rio will capture Facebook Live content, including interviews with athletes and NBC Olympics commentators.

A daily two-minute recap video will be produced for Facebook, while Instagram will have a daily slow-motion video around an inspiring moment.

Instagram will also feature NBC Olympics commentators and athletes on its own account, @instagram, along with highlights of NBC videos through its Search & Explore video channels.

More on the NBC Olympics, Facebook and Instagram partnerships is here.

MORE: Complete U.S. Olympic team roster

Russia names flag bearer for Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 08:  Sergey Tetyukhin #8 of Russia celebrates a point in the second set against Poland during the Men's Volleyball quarterfinals on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Earls Court on August 8, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Russia’s depleted Olympic team named its flag bearer for the Rio Games Opening Ceremony, giving the honor to volleyball player Sergei Tetyukhin, who’s set to make his sixth Olympic appearance at 40 years old.

The announcement came via the Instagram page for Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who has become somewhat of a spokesperson for the Russian team amidst the country’s doping scandal. Isinbayeva will not compete in Rio since her nation’s track and field team is banned, but she spoke to Russia’s athletes during a ceremony Wednesday.

“Today, as never before, we need to stay united and become a family,” Tetyukhin said before the athletes departed for Rio on Thursday.

Russia’s flag bearer was set to be announced Wednesday, according to Russian news agency TASS, but Isinbayeva said in her Instagram post (according to Google translate), “Flag bearer at the Olympics in Rio have already been defined, it is a great athlete, Olympic champion, Sergey Tetyukhin volleyball. Yesterday at a reception at the President he acted with dignity and promised to fight for the victory in Rio.”

The Russian men’s volleyball team has won a medal at the past four Olympics, but Tetyukhin’s time with the team began at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Russia placed fourth there, then took silver in 2000, bronze in 2004 and 2008, and gold in 2012. Tetyukhin was Russia’s third-leading scorer in London.

The team will be an outside medal contender in Rio. After winning the FIVB World League in 2013, the Russians have placed no better than fifth since. They finished fifth at the 2014 World Championship, fourth at the 2015 World Cup, and sixth at the 2015 European Championship.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova was Russia’s flag bearer for the London Olympic Opening Ceremony, but she will miss the Rio Games while serving a drug suspension.

MORE: Number of Russian athletes banned from Olympics reaches 105