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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

 

 

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