With the Summer Games about to begin, the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday announced that baseball and softball were returning to the list of medal sports with the Toyko Games in 2020 after a two-Olympiad absence.
I am not enthused by this, at least the baseball part of it. The one plus, I suppose, is that Japan has plenty of baseball infrastructure already in place; having baseball in the Olympics won't mean building a baseball field that will then be left to rot, as in Athens.
One reason the IOC dropped baseball to begin with is that the best players weren't coming to the games. That's not about to change. Unlike the NHL and WNBA, major league baseball doesn't need to piggyback on the Olympics to sell its game to the American masses. MLB isn't going to shut down for three weeks for the Olympics.
I suspect -- or expect -- that the reinstatement of baseball/softball is a one-time thing that has more to do with the host country than anything else. Japan loves baseball as much as Americans do. If the 2024 games are in a U.S. city, the chances of the Olympics keeping the sports are higher; if they are in, let us say, Paris, much less so.
Which is as it should be. The Olympics has been defined as "sports packaged for the non-sports audience." Baseball doesn't need the Olympics.