Baseball disappeared from the Olympics schedule following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but America’s pastime is making its return in Tokyo this summer.
Six countries, including the United States, are competing over a 12-day period in the baseball competition.
Team USA has done fairly well at the Olympics, having won gold back in 2000. The U.S. won bronze in 2008 but failed to qualify for a medal in 2004.
Team USA’s roster doesn’t consist of any current MLB stars. In fact, not a single player from an MLB 40-man roster is partaking in the Olympics for any country. Despite this, there are still recognizable players in Tokyo.
Here’s everything you need to know about Olympic baseball in 2021:
What is the TV schedule for baseball at the Tokyo Olympics?
All Olympic baseball games in Tokyo will be aired on NBC and NBC-affiliated channels, including NBCSN, the Olympic Channel and Peacock.
NBC’s full 2021 Olympics viewing schedule lists more than 5,000 hours of content by channel and sport.
When are the Team USA Olympic baseball games taking place?
The baseball event started with the group stage, where the six teams were split up into two groups. Group A consisted of Japan, Mexico and the Dominican Republic and Group B was the United States, South Korea and Israel. The three teams played a round robin to determine the seeding for the knockout stage.
After each team played it opening two games, the knockout stage commenced. Play began on Tuesday, July 27, and will conclude with the gold medal game on Saturday, Aug. 7.
The U.S. won its two round-robin games before falling to Japan on Monday. Team USA then beat the Dominican Republic in an elimination game on Wednesday.
Next up, Team USA will play South Korea at 6 a.m. ET on Thursday with a spot against Japan in the gold medal game on the line.
Who is on the USA Olympic baseball team in Tokyo?
With the Olympics taking place amid Major League Baseball’s regular season, you won’t see any of the American MLB stars playing for Team USA. Instead, the roster is made up of minor leaguers, Americans playing overseas and former MLB players who are now free agents.
The most recognizable names on the roster are Todd Frazier, Edwin Jackson, David Robertson and Scott Kazmir. Frazier was a two-time All-Star third baseman during his 11-year MLB career. Jackson was a World Series champion, one-time All-Star and owner of a no-hitter. Over 17 big league seasons, he played for 14 different clubs, the most out of any MLB player ever. Robertson was a one-time All-Star reliever and Kazmir was a three-time All-Star pitcher who most recently made his return to MLB in May with a start for the San Francisco Giants.
In addition to Kazmir, Robertson and Jackson, the rest of the pitching staff consists of Shane Baz, Anthony Carter, Brandon Dickson, Anthony Gose, Nick Martinez, Scott McGough, Joe Ryan, Ryder Ryan and Simeon Woods-Richardson. The catchers are Tim Federowicz and Mark Kolozsvary.
Joining Frazier as infielders on the roster are Nick Allen, Eddy Alvaraez, Triston Casas and Jamie Westbrook. Manning the outfield will be Tyler Austin, Eric Filia, Patrick Kivlehan, Jack Lopez and Bubba Starling. Former Los Angeles Angels skipper Mike Scioscia is Team USA’s manager.
Which baseball team is favored to win at the Tokyo Olympics?
It was a fairly wide open race for baseball entering Tokyo. The host country of Japan was the favorite to win gold, coming in as the No. 1 ranked team in the world and the favorite at +130, according to PointsBet. The U.S. was right behind them at +300, followed by South Korea at +450.
While MLB doesn’t allow anyone on a 40-man roster to compete in the Olympics, that isn’t the case with Japan’s professional league, Nippon Professional Baseball. NPB, as it’s referred to, is taking a mid-season break in order to accommodate the Olympics.
Japan has never won gold before. In 2008, South Korea beat Cuba in the gold medal game, while the United States defeated Japan in the bronze medal game. Former New York Yankees All-Star Masahiro Tanaka, who returned to NPB last season, headlines Japan’s pitching staff.
Cuba leads all countries in medals, but the country shockingly didn’t qualify for this year’s Olympics. It has won gold three times and silver twice. The United States has three medals — one gold and two bronze — and so does Japan with one silver and two bronze. South Korea has the other gold medal, in addition to a bronze.
Why was baseball removed from the Olympics?
The relationship between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the sport of baseball has been rocky for years. After becoming a mainstay at the Games for a few years, the sport was voted out by the IOC, citing that there wasn’t enough global interest and that there weren’t enough stars from the sport competing at the Olympics. As a result, baseball was not featured at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics.
Baseball makes its return in 2021 mainly due to the sport’s popularity in the host country of Japan. It won’t be featured at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, however there is a chance for a return at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Editor’s note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.