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Pitch moving forward for Olympic baseball in 2020

Summer OlympicsA joint bid from International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and International Softball Federation (ISF) — an arrangement formalized this week — could see a successful effort to bring baseball back to the Summer Olympics in 2020.

It’s been no secret that both federations have sought a return to the Olympics; it’s also been no secret that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would look favorably on some sort of joint bid.

As reported by Inside the Games, the two federations signed a memorandum of understanding to present a joint bid to bring baseball and softball back to the 2020 games. The two federations will create a single joint committee charged with negotiating the return.

While this is a big step, one bigger step remains: persuading Major League Baseball to release players for the Games is a huge challenge, and one that might be insurmountable. The Olympics take place in the middle of the regular season, and in the past MLB has refused to release major leaguers to the Olympics. The whole idea of the World Baseball Classic was to create an international tournament (a la the Olympics) at a time that would not impact the regular season, and MLB hasn’t shown any inclination toward Olympic cooperation.

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