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.”