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Olympic Baseball Newsbeat

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Exclusive: Israel baseball brings Kinsler into the fold

Following Team Israel’s meteoric rise to Olympic heights, four-time MLB All-Star Ian Kinsler, widely recognized as the greatest Jewish second baseman of all time, made aliyah earlier this month. His goal: helping the blue-and-white squad win Israel’s first-ever medal in a team sport.

Israel will be one of six teams in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball tournament (if it takes place). As host, Japan automatically qualified. Israel qualified by winning the Africa/Europe Qualifying Event in September 2019. Mexico qualified as the best team from the Americas, and South Korea qualified as the best team from Asia or Oceania (other than already-qualified Japan). Another team from the Americas will qualify through the Americas Qualifying Event in Arizona. The last spot will be awarded to the winner of the Final Qualifying Tournament.

Kinsler was inspired by the monumental achievements of his new teammates. The 37-year-old brings an impressive résumé to a line-up that already includes slugger Danny Valencia, Ryan Lavarnway (who, like Kinsler, earned a World Series ring with the Boston Red Sox) and a great pitching staff.

Besides his All-Star selections, Kinsler earned two Gold Gloves, and retired after last season just shy of 2,000 hits over 14 campaigns in the majors. His 243 steals led the all-time list of Jewish major leaguers, and his 257 home runs placed him fourth (behind Ryan Braun, Hank Greenberg and Shawn Green).

QLE Posted: March 24, 2020 at 12:38 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: ian kinsler, israel, olympic baseball

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Don’t expect to see players like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper play for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics

Team USA will have access to some significant talent for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but don’t expect to see major-league superstars like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper don the red, white and blue. Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and World Baseball Softball Confederation reached an agreement Friday determining which players will be eligible to represent Team USA in the Olympic games, according to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com.

The agreement allows players on 40-man rosters who are not in the majors to play for Team USA. That’s a confusing way of saying any current major-league player — or any player you expect to make the majors out of spring training — will not be eligible to play in the 2020 Olympics. That means no Harper, no Trout and no Gerrit Cole.

It does, however, open the door to some of the game’s future stars. Top prospects who don’t make the majors out of spring training would technically be available to play for Team USA. That means players like Jo Adell, Casey Mize, Adley Rutschman and Andrew Vaughn could be asked to play for Team USA.

Before you start dreaming about a team of super prospects, there’s another significant catch here. Those top prospects can only play for Team USA if their major-league teams allow them to participate in the Olympics. In order for Adell to roam the outfield for Team USA, the Los Angeles Angels would have to approve it. Considering how much teams like to protect their prospects, that might be a tough ask. The Angels would not be happy if Adell suffered a serious injury playing in the Olympics.

The sort of thing that makes one understand why the IOC is reluctant to have baseball in the Olympics.

 

QLE Posted: February 29, 2020 at 12:30 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: mlb, olympic baseball

Friday, January 31, 2020

US opens next Olympic baseball qualifying try vs Nicaragua

The United States will start its second attempt to qualify for this year’s Olympic baseball tournament against Nicaragua on March 22 at Surprise, Arizona.

The Americans play the Dominican Republic the following day at Tempe and finish Group B against Puerto Rico on March 24 in Surprise, the World Baseball Softball Confederation said Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Only players not on 40-man major league rosters are eligible to play for the U.S.

Something for those curious about Olympic baseball to follow.

 

QLE Posted: January 31, 2020 at 12:39 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: nicaragua, olympic baseball

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Israel’s unlikely Olympic baseball team dreams big for Japan

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — As a baseball-crazed kid growing up in Miami, Danny Valencia dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues. The thought of heading to the Olympics, for a foreign country no less, never crossed his mind.

But after nine years and nearly 100 homers in the big leagues, that’s the next surreal step for the 35-year-old Valencia, who recently became an Israeli citizen thanks to his Jewishness and is now the star player in Team Israel’s improbable run to the Tokyo Games. Baseball is returning to the Olympics after being dropped for 2012 and 2016 and Israel is one of six teams vying for the three medals.

“It’s pretty cool to be playing in the Olympics,” he told The Associated Press at a team event in Tel Aviv. “For it to come about the way it did, especially for my mother who is a practicing Jew and very pro-Israel, it just meant a lot to her. So, to do this, especially at the end of my career, it is like the icing on the cake. ”

It’s even more of a dream fulfilled for the small baseball community in Israel, comprised mostly of American immigrants, and which has languished for decades in the country’s sporting wilderness. Israel has zero tradition of the American pastime, which is largely derided by locals as an arcane and boring sport. In Israel, soccer and basketball reign supreme while baseball, long popular among American Jews, has failed to catch on with the rough-and-tumble native-born Israelis who have taken more of a liking to the strategy and hard hitting of American football.

After the events of the last couple of days, feels time for a story about baseball outside of MLB, doesn’t it?

 

QLE Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:22 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: israel, olympic baseball

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

U.S. baseball’s prospects struggle to reach Olympics

Brandon Dickson, the U.S. closer who blew a ninth-inning lead, threw his last major league pitch in 2012. Caleb Thielbar, who gave up the game-winning hit in the 10th, threw his last big league pitch in 2015.

The entire 28-man American roster at the Olympic qualifying tournament that ended Sunday combined for a career 2.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference — less than a quarter of Cody Bellinger’s 9.0 WAR for the Los Angeles Dodgers this year alone.

Little wonder the U.S. failed to earn an Olympic berth at the Premier12 competition, where champion Japan and runner-up South Korea brought many top players.

Mexico qualified for the first time, rallying twice for a 3-2 victory over the U.S. in the bronze-medal game that determined an Americas berth. The U.S. will have two more chances to join host Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Italy in the six-nation Olympic field: an Americas tournament in the spring and, if it flops again, a final tournament that includes multiple regions.

And some folk wonder why many are doubtful about baseball being an Olympic sport….

 

QLE Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:11 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: olympic baseball

Sunday, November 17, 2019

USA Baseball Fails to Earn Olympic Berth

When baseball returns to the Olympics next summer, the United States might not be there. The American team failed to clinch a spot in the 2020 Olympics during the WBSC Premier 12 tournament this month. The U.S. lost to Mexico in a thrilling bronze medal game Sunday afternoon in Tokyo (MEX 3, USA 2).

In 10 innings.

Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: November 17, 2019 at 02:35 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: mexico, olympic baseball, usa

Saturday, November 16, 2019

US beats Taiwan, still has Olympic berth chance at Premier12

Minnesota’s Brent Rooker hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning, and the United States beat Taiwan 3-2 on Friday in Tokyo to keep alive the Americans’ chance of earning an Olympic baseball berth at the Premier12 tournament.

The U.S. finished the super round 2-3 and could earn a berth if Taiwan beats Australia (both 1-3) on Saturday. If Taiwan wins, the Americans would play Mexico (3-2) on Sunday in the Premier12 bronze-medal game for a chance to reach the Olympics. Mexico lost Saturday to South Korea (3-1), which plays Japan for the Premier12 gold medal.

The top finisher from the Americas qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics next year. The second-place finisher from the Americas goes to a final qualifying tournament in March or April.

For those curious as for how Olympic qualifying is going so far….

 

QLE Posted: November 16, 2019 at 12:37 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: olympic baseball

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Dalbec’s slam leads US over Netherlands 9-0 in qualifier

Drew Waters homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning, Bobby Dalbec hit a grand slam in the fifth and Jo Adell and Brent Rooker also went deep, leading the United States over the Netherlands 9-0 Saturday at Guadalajara, Mexico, in the Americans’ opening qualifier for next year’s Olympic baseball tournament.

Cody Ponce (1-0) and four relievers combined on a two-hitter to get a win in the Group A game at the Premier12 tournament.

The top two nations in the group, which includes the Dominica Republic and Mexico, advance to the super round in Japan. The top finisher from the Americas qualifies for next year’s Olympic baseball tournament in Japan.

Japan has an automatic berth, and the top nation from Asia/Oceania other than Japan also qualifies.

Just in time for the end of the MLB season, qualifications for the 2020 Olympics in baseball have begun….

 

QLE Posted: November 03, 2019 at 12:30 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: olympic baseball

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Girardi out, Brosius in as US manager for Olympic qualifiers

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Joe Girardi quit as manager of the U.S. baseball team trying to qualify for the Olympics before it played a single game.

Girardi said Wednesday he is leaving to pursue a major league managing job. There are seven current openings.

He will be replaced by Scott Brosius, who had been slated to be Girardi’s bench coach. Brosius, the MVP of the 1998 World Series with the New York Yankees, became the senior director of baseball development for USA Baseball earlier this year.

Willie Randolph will shift from third base to bench coach, and Ernie Young from the first base coaching box to third.

But what does Girardi do if he doesn’t get one of those jobs?

 

QLE Posted: October 17, 2019 at 12:30 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: joe girardi, olympic baseball, scott brosius

Friday, October 11, 2019

USA Baseball Names Premier12 Roster

DURHAM, N.C. - USA Baseball named its roster for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12™ on Thursday. The 28-man roster is made up of 15 pitchers and 13 position players currently not on an MLB 40-man roster, and features six former national team alumni and seven of the MLB Pipeline top-100 prospects.

The U.S. will begin the WBSC Premier12™ in Guadalajara, Mexico, from November 2-4 as a member of Group A with the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Netherlands. The top two nations from Group A will advance to the Super Round in Tokyo from November 11-16.

The tournament is the first opportunity for Team USA to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The top finisher from both the Americas territory and Asia/Oceania territory (excluding Japan) will join host-country Japan and WBSC Baseball Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier champion Israel in the six-team Olympic tournament. The final two Olympic berths will be decided in March 2020.

“It is an honor to welcome a group of immensely talented athletes to Team USA as we begin the qualification process for Tokyo 2020,” said USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler. “Our goal during the selection process was to identify and piece together a roster that included a combination of both young and veteran baseball players that complement each other on and off the field. These 28 men are exemplary talents and individuals, and we are confident they will represent the United States proudly on the international stage.”

For those with an interest in Olympic baseball, here’s the national team- any thoughts?

 

QLE Posted: October 11, 2019 at 12:54 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: olympic baseball

 

 

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