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Could Tokyo’s victory help baseball, softball get back in Olympics?

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Sports Nippon, one of Japan’s leading sports newspapers, had the number 20, not 2020, splashed on its front page of Saturday’s edition.

The centerpiece photo was of Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitcher Masahiro Tanaka fist pumping as he raised his record for the season to a record-tying 20-0.

That’s how big baseball is in Japan. Going into the day Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympics, baseball was the biggest story.

No doubt, any fan of baseball (and softball) to get back into the Olympics smiled when Tokyo defeated Istanbul and Madrid in Saturday’s International Olympic Committee vote held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here’s why:

Baseball and softball are in a combined bid to rejoin the Olympics for 2020 and 2024. Another IOC vote will be held Sunday, choosing one sport from baseball-softball, squash and wrestling to add to the Olympic program. Wrestling is considered the front-runner, baseball-softball in second and squash third.

Sunday’s sport vote previews: Baseball-softball | Squash | Wrestling

Tokyo’s win Saturday could give baseball-softball a boost. Japan looks upon baseball and softball more favorably than perhaps any other nation. It’s got the success to back it up.

Japan won the first two World Baseball Classics (2006, 2009), which has replaced the Olympics as baseball’s major international tournament. Japan also won the last Olympic softball title in 2008. Both sports were cut from the Olympics in 2005, with the exclusion taking effect beginning with the London 2012 Games.

“If Tokyo wins the honor to host the Olympic Games in 2020, I believe baseball and softball competitions will deliver the peak of Olympic sport, capturing the full attention of our entire nation and others around the world,” said legendary Japanese slugger Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 career home runs, according to a release from the World Baseball Softball Confederation. “The electrifying atmosphere of Japan playing at home for the gold medal would give the ballplayers and the fans the most unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Granted, IOC members must consider the future of the Olympics and not just a single Games in Tokyo. And keep this in mind: Japan won gold in three of the four women’s wrestling weight classes in 2012. Wrestling’s proposal to stay in the Games includes adding two women’s weight classes.

Hardball Talk: Tokyo’s in; baseball next?

Shaun White, Chloe Kim lead Team USA award winners

Shaun White, Chloe Kim
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Shaun White and Chloe Kim swept the Team USA Awards just like they swept the halfpipe gold medals in PyeongChang.

The snowboarders were named the top U.S. male and female Olympians on Thursday night at an awards show in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the Team USA White House visit.

The women’s hockey team, which beat Canada in a gold-medal game shootout, earned the Olympic team title.

The awards, hosted by Mike Tirico, air on NBCSN on May 12 from 6-7:30 p.m. ET.

The athlete and team winners for the PyeongChang Olympics and Paralympics were determined by online fan voting (50 percent) and members of the Olympic and Paralympic family, including journalists (the other 50 percent).

White, 31, earned his third Olympic halfpipe title in four Games by attempting back-to-back double cork 1440s at a contest for the first time and landing them on his third and final run. White overtook Japanese Ayumu Hirano for the gold with 97.75 points.

Kim, 18 and at her first Olympics, injected far less drama into her final the previous day. Her first-run score of 93.75 would have been enough for gold, but she tacked on a 98.25-point victory lap on her finale with the first back-to-back 1080s by a woman at an Olympics.

The male and female Paralympian winners were both Nordic skiers. Dan Cnossen, a retired Navy SEAL, earned six medals after coming to PyeongChang without any podium finishes in 24 career Paralympic and world championships biathlon and cross-country skiing events. Oksana Masters earned five PyeongChang medals after dislocating her right elbow before the Games.

In 2014, the first edition of the Team USA Awards, Sochi slopestyle snowboarding gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg, luge bronze medalist Erin Hamlin and ice dance gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White took the Olympian honors.

In 2016, Michael PhelpsKatie Ledecky and the women’s gymnastics team were the Olympian winners.

2018 Team USA Awards nominees (WINNERS IN BOLD)
Male Olympian
Red Gerard, Gold, Snowboard Slopestyle
Shaun White, Gold, Snowboard Halfpipe — WINNER
David Wise, Gold, Ski Halfpipe
John-Henry Krueger, Silver, Short Track Speed Skating (1000m)
Chris Mazdzer, Silver, Luge (singles)

Female Olympian
Jamie Anderson, Gold and Silver, Snowboard Slopestyle, Big Air
Chloe Kim, Gold, Snowboard Halfpipe — WINNER
Mikaela Shiffrin, Gold and Silver, Alpine Skiing (giant slalom, combined)
Elana Meyers Taylor, Silver, Bobsled
Brittany Bowe, Bronze, Speed Skating (team pursuit)

Olympic Team
Jessie Diggins/Kikkan Randall, Gold, Cross-Country Skiing (team sprint)
Men’s Curling, Gold
Women’s Hockey, Gold — WINNER

Olympic Coach
Jason Cork, Cross-Country Skiing — WINNER

Phil Drobnick, Curling
Mike Jankowski, Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding

Male Paralympian
Dan Cnossen, Gold, 4 Silvers, Bronze, Nordic Skiing — WINNER

Noah Elliott, Gold, Bronze, Snowboarding
Andrew Kurka, Gold, Silver, Alpine Skiing
Mike Schultz, Gold, Silver, Snowboarding
Andy Soule, Gold, Bronze, Nordic Skiing

Female Paralympian
Kendall Gretsch, 2 Golds, Nordic Skiing
Brenna Huckaby, 2 Golds, Snowboarding
Oksana Masters, 2 Golds, 2 Silvers, 1 Bronze, Nordic Skiing — WINNER
Brittani Coury, Silver, Snowboarding
Laurie Stephens, Bronze, Alpine Skiing

Paralympic Team
Sled Hockey, Gold — WINNER

Paralympic Coach
Gary Colliander, Nordic Skiing — WINNER

Guy Gosselin, Hockey
Graham Watanabe, Snowboarding

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MORE: Chloe Kim among Olympians in Time 100

USA Track and Field sets team for Penn Relays, live on NBC Sports

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World 100m champion Justin Gatlin headlines the U.S. roster for the Penn Relays, which air live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold this weekend.

Friday
Penn Relays: 5-6 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday
Penn Relays: 12:30-3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold
Drake Relays: 3-5 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Gatlin is joined on the U.S. team for the Penn Relays in Philadelphia by NCAA 800m champion Raevyn Rogers, plus Michael Cherry and Aaliyah Brown, who were part of U.S. medal-winning relays at last summer’s world outdoor championships.

They will compete Saturday in USA vs. the World races in the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m and men’s and women’s sprint medleys.

Women 4x100m pool
Aaliyah Brown
Destinee Brown
Destiny Carter
Tawanna Meadows
Candace Hill
Kyra Jefferson

Women 4x400m pool
Jasmine Blocker
Kendra Chambers
Daina Harper
Kyra Jefferson
T’sheila Mungo
Raevyn Rogers
Kiah Seymour
Jaide Stepter

Men 4x100m pool
Leshon Collins
Jeff Demps
Justin Gatlin
Cordero Gray
Tevin Hester
Remontay Mcclain
Bryce Robinson
Blake Smith
Justin Walker

Men 4x400m pool
Michael Berry
Marcus Chambers
Michael Cherry
Kyle Collins
Najee Glass

Calvin Smith
Marqueze Washington

The schedule (p.m. ET):

Women’s 4x100m — 12:38
Men’s 4x100m — 12:50
Women’s Sprint Medley — 2
Men’s Sprint Medley — 2:10
Men’s 4x400m — 2:35
Women’s 4x400m — 2:52

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