While most Olympic events are a competition between the best, the better you are at baseball, the less likely you are to play for gold.
Major League Baseball has refused to allow players from 40-man teams to compete in the Six Nations Olympic tournament, and many technically eligible high-level prospects are discouraged by their clubs, who are unwilling to risk injury and prefer to stay. available if needed for big league teams.
The rosters for the Olympics remain on the move. Israel lost wide receiver Ryan Lavarnway when the Indians knocked him out of Columbus AAA in late June after Austin Hedges was put on the concussion list. Israel manager Eric Holtz, already without Baltimore pitcher Dean Kremer, was hoping to get Lavarnway back in his team’s opener against the United States on July 30.
“Our guys are playing everywhere. But it’s not like a 162-game season where we have time to work on things, ”said Holtz. “We have to put things together and treat this like a 12 year travel tournament, right, where you have to win or come home.”
Host Japan are favorites to win. The Central and Pacific leagues stop their seasons between July 14 and August 13 for the Olympic tournament, which runs from July 28 to August 7.
While Japan lacks major leagues, including Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, San Diego right-hander Yu Darvish and Minnesota right-hander Kenta Maeda, it has many more top players than the five. other nations.
Masahiro Tanaka, returning to Japan with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles after seven seasons with the New York Yankees, is the lone survivor of the 2008 Japan squad that lost to the United States 8-4 in the game. for the bronze medal.
Right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano, the reigning Central League MVP, leads a pitching team that includes current Rookies of the Year Masato Morishita and Kaima Taira.
LIST OF UNITED STATES
The United States expected to announce their roster on July 2, and US manager Mike Scioscia anticipated changes in the squad that won the spot at the Americas qualifying tournament on June 5. November 2019: pitcher Brandon Dickson.
Todd Frazier, a 35-year-old infielder released by Pittsburgh on May 13 after scoring 3 for 35, was 4 for 4 with a solo homerun and an RBI brace in the 4-2 win over Venezuela which took won the trip to Japan.
OLD SCHOOL BAL
While teams do scouting which leads to defensive changes, these games lack Statcast, the modern measuring system that has changed the way Major League Baseball is played. This means no spin rate, exit speeds and launch angles.
“This is going to show you that you really don’t need most of this stuff,” Frazier said. “It’s baseball at the end of the day. You play for your country. You play for pride. We did not strike on the ground. We just hit the batting cage – until our hands bleed, to be honest with you. So we brought it back to the days of its youth. Hit it. It doesn’t matter who throws. The next guy in the line. And it’s really going to show you guys that honestly, guys really don’t need video. All we need is a bat and a ball and a glove and the determination to be the best player we can be. “
There are two groups of three in the first round, which determines the standings for the knockout stage. The opening game will be played in Fukushima, about 180 miles north of Tokyo, and the remainder of the baseball tournament in Yokohama, about 20 miles south of Tokyo.
The United States plays in Group B against Israel on July 30 and South Korea on July 31. Japan, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are in Group A.
A double round robin will start on August 4 and the final will be held on August 7.
COME AND GO
Cuba won gold medals in 1992, 1996 and 2004, and the United States from Tommy Lasorda in 2000. Baseball was scrapped after South Korea’s victory in 2008 and was scrapped for the Olympics in Paris 2024. He should return for the Los Angeles Games in 2028.