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.
No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland is favored to claim a third French Open title, a year after beating American Coco Gauff in the final. She bids to join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win the French Open three or more times since 2000.
Two Americans are ranked in the top six in the world — No. 3 Jessica Pegula and Gauff.
The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.