Baseball might be returning to the Olympics for first time since 2008. (Getty Images)
Boston mayor Marty Walsh clearly wants the Olympics to come to his city for 2024. According to his comments on Middays with MFB Friday afternoon, he also is pretty jacked up about the possibility of baseball being part of the festivities.
“I think they’re trying to keep baseball in the Olympics,” Walsh said. (Click here to listen to audio of the interview.) “Can you imagine having the Gold Medal game in Fenway Park? It would be incredible. Fenway Park is probably the best example of Boston. We’ve had World Series there. We’ve had concerts there. We’ve had hockey. And now to top it off, to bring in the United States, possibiy playing in a Gold Medal game at Fenway Park. How better does it get for a sports fan?”
Walsh is right, there have been rumblings about bringing baseball back to the Olympics, with the sport having been booted from the Games after 2008. And, thanks to newly-mandated flexibility on the part of the IOC, it has a really good chance to make a return.
The IOC recently ruled that starting in 2020 not only wouldn’t it be beholden to the 28-sport limit of years past going forward, but that host cities will be allowed to propose the inclusion of one or more additional events for their games.
You can bet that, with the iconic Fenway Park sitting in the middle of the action, Boston would be pleading for baseball to make a return.
The reality is that baseball might be back in the fold even before ’24, with Tokyo expected to make a push for both that sport and softball for when the host the Summer Olympics in ’20.
So, what would this mean for the Red Sox?
Well, the last time Olympic baseball was played in a Major League city was during the 1996 Atlanta games. On that occasion, the Braves were forced on a 19-day road trip. (That still match up to the Astros’ 26-game road trip scheduled due to the 1992 Republican National Convention.)
The Braves finished their 17-game, 5,600-mile trip with their sanity, a 9-8 mark on the swing, and enough gumption to finish the season in first-place. While many of the Braves players were relieved to get home, some on the trip saw the merits of such a sojourn.
“Now I’ve got to go home and pay the bills and do the wash,” then-broadcaster Don Sutton told the Associated Press at the time. “I’ve been on a 19-day working vacation. I had great room service, played a great golf course almost every day, and I would tell you that Morton’s [the restaurant chain] has a better wine cellar than I do.
“Of course, I had friends with me on the first half of the trip and my wife on the second.”
As for the fear of losing any major leaguers to such an Olympic endeavor, don’t count on it. Former MLB commissioner Bud Selig seemingly threw down the gauntlet when addressing the issue in 2013.
“Look, we can’t stop our season in August. We just can’t,” Selig said. “You can’t say to your fans: `We’ll see you in the next period of time. Your club loses some players but yours doesn’t.”
Just something to think about … for the few years.