Baseball's bid to gain re-entry to the Olympic Games in 2016 took officials to Switzerland on Monday where they presented their case to the International Olympic Commission. Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy and MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr were part of the delegation, which gives a hint as to the major selling points of the International Baseball Federation's appeal.
The group told the IOC that there would be no MLB games on the day of the Olympic medal games and that there would be no broadcasts of MLB games competing with broadcasts of Olympic baseball games. That's all well and good, but what about the players?
Even though MLB does not intend to stop its season during the Olympics, [International Baseball Federation president Harvey Schiller said] there would be a "representative number of the best players available (for the Games)."
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
According to the Chicago Tribune, none of the three men would reveal what a representative number of players meant in actual terms. That's an important question to answer, as is the question of what team owner is going to willingly give up one of his best players for, at minimum, a week in the middle of the season.
There is absolutely no benefit to the team from allowing one of their players to play in the Olympics, but there are all sorts of risks. Injury is the obvious one, and it looms the largest, but a week of the baseball season can decide who wins and loses a pennant. Even if your shortstop comes back from Madrid, Tokyo or, best case scenario, Chicago in fine health, he may have missed the series that decides who goes to the postseason.
MLB's sudden interest in the Olympics has to be connected to the lukewarm reception to the World Baseball Classic, particularly in terms of participation and interest. While the Olympics might generate more viewers and is timed far better for players than the WBC, it still can't overcome the damage that would be done to the regular season by removing players in the middle of the season for what are exhibition games at the end of the day.
In a perfect world, baseball would be an Olympic sport and the rosters would be loaded with stars. It's not a perfect world, though, and a World Series title should and does mean more to the people in charge of the game than a gold medal. Leave the Olympics to golf and squash and keep the integrity of the regular season.