The IOC’s decision to put baseball/softball on its shortlist of candidate sports for the 2020 Games seemed to be a stay of execution for the pair of former Olympics disciplines, as the World Baseball Softball Confederation tried to convince the MLB to allow its players to compete in the Games.
But that reality seems more unlikely by the day, so leaders of the WBSC need to find new ways to convince IOC members that they’re more worthy of the lone available spot than wrestling or squash.
“I don’t see the ability for us to change that basic model of moving major league players out of competition and into the Olympics,” Arizona Diamondbacks exec Ken Kendrick told USA Today. “The only way to do it is to interrupt the season.”
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig already shot that down, so the new plan is for the two sports to create the same “footprint” on the Olympics, according to Paul Seiler, executive director and CEO of USA Baseball. That means the two sports would play at different times, play fewer games, use the same venues (with some minor field adjustments), and take up the same rooms at Olympic Village.
“It sounds cliché, but you get two [sports] for the price of one,” Seiler explained. “I’ve heard the term ‘marriage of convenience.’ I’m not sure I buy that. It’s an intelligent partnership, that’s what it is.”
It’s definitely a workable model for the Games, especially with about seven years to prepare. But most think the IOC won’t give baseball/softball the spot without some All-Stars to back the bid, and that doesn’t even seem like a conversation the pros are willing to have anymore, according to Seiler:
“If the only option from the IOC’s perspective is that we need a Dream Team, then that’s a challenge.”
The U.S. under-23 men’s soccer team kept its Olympic qualifying hopes alive by beating Canada 2-0 in the CONCACAF tournament’s third-place game in Sandy, Utah, on Tuesday night.
Midfielder Marc Pelosi and forward Jerome Kiesewetter scored in the 69th and 84th minutes, respectively, with Canada playing with 10 men for the entire second half.
The U.S. will qualify for the Rio Olympics if — and only if — it beats Colombia in a one-game playoff in Rio de Janeiro in March.
The U.S. failed to qualify for the 2004 and 2012 Olympic tournaments and hasn’t won a men’s soccer medal since 1904, when the Olympic tournament included three teams.
The Americans missed an earlier chance to clinch a Rio Olympic spot when they lost 2-0 to Honduras in the CONCACAF tournament semifinals Saturday.
If the U.S. qualifies for Rio, it can swap in a maximum of three players born before Jan. 1, 1993, to its roster for the Olympics.
The U.S. took advantage of the over-age exception to add World Cup veterans in 2008 (Brian McBride) and 2000 (Brad Friedel).
The U.S. can already add three World Cup veterans without using any over-age spots, since John Brooks, Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin will still be eligible for the U-23 team in 2016. Even though none were used in CONCACAF qualifying.
The 2016 Olympic men’s soccer tournament field:
Brazil — possibly with Neymar
Argentina — 2008 Olympic champion when it had Lionel Messi
Germany — possibly with Philipp Lahm, but unlikely for Mesut Özil
Portugal — possibly with 2004 Olympian Cristiano Ronaldo
Sweden — possibly with Zlatan Ibrahimovic
U.S. or Colombia
Three Asian nations determined in January
Three African nations determined in December
MORE SOCCER: Jurgen Klinsmann’s journey to an Olympic bronze medal
“Race,” a film about Olympic sprint legend Jesse Owens, will hit theaters Feb. 19.
Owens, who won four gold medals at the Berlin 1936 Olympics in the face of Nazi Germany, is played by Stephan James in the film.
Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Irons are also in the cast for the Focus Features film, according to reports. Sudeikis will reportedly play Owens’ coach, Larry Snyder. Irons will play Avery Brundage, then the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Angelina Jolie discusses her decision to use Jesse Owens in ‘Unbroken’