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


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?

Yevgenia Medvedeva opens Skate Canada with personal best

SPOKANE, WA - APRIL 23:  Evgenia Medvedeva of Team Europe competes in the ladies Free Program on day 2 of the 2016 KOSE Team Challenge Cup at Spokane Arena on April 23, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Yevgenia Medvedeva followed up her world title with a personal-best short program in her Grand Prix season debut, taking the lead at Skate Canada in Mississauga, Ontario, on Friday.

Medvedeva, a 16-year-old Russian, landed all of her jumps cleanly and tallied 76.24 points, bettering her previous high of 74.58 from last season’s Grand Prix Final.

She leads by 1.91 points over Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond. Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion, is in third place, 9.45 points behind.

American Mirai Nagasu fell on her opening triple flip and is in ninth place out of 11 skaters. Full results are here.

Medvedeva is the youngest world champion since Tara Lipinski in 1997 and hasn’t lost in nearly one year.

Medvedeva’s short program score Friday was 6.74 points higher than world silver medalist Ashley Wagner‘s total from Skate America last week.

The men’s and pairs short programs, plus the short dance, are later Friday. The free skates are all Saturday. A full broadcast and streaming schedule is here.

NBC and the NBC Sports app will air Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 5-6 p.m. ET.

MORE: Lipinski, Weir back Gold’s comments about weight

NCAA runner dragged to finish line by opponents (video)

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Boston College’s Madeline Adams dropped to the ground during the final meters of the ACC Cross-Country Championships on Friday.

What happened next was reminiscent of one of the most memorable Rio Olympic track and field moments.

Clemson’s Evie Tate stopped and helped Adams up at the Cary, N.C., 6k race. Then, Louisville’s Rachel Pease did the same. Tate and Pease each took one of Adams’ arms and dragged her to the finish.

Pease would end up 127th and Tate 128th out of 131 finishers. Adams was disqualified. Full results are here.

Tate was running around 70th or 80th place when she stopped, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, which means her aid ended up costing Clemson about 10 points in the team scores.

Clemson was sixth, 23 points behind fifth-place Syracuse, so Tate’s act of sportsmanship actually didn’t change the Tigers’ placing. NC State won, Louisville was fourth and Boston College 12th.

The scene brought to mind the Rio Olympic women’s 5000m heats, when American Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin fell and then crossed the finish line together.

MORE: NCAA might reconsider Olympic bonuses after swimmer received $750,000