HIGHLIGHTS FROM RIO: Baseball was dropped for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. It has been dropped again for the 2024 Paris Games and is expected to return for 2028 in Los Angeles.
WHAT’S NEW: The eight-nation tournament in Beijing in 2012 was cut to six for Tokyo. A complicated format has two groups of three: Group A — Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico. Group B — United States, Israel, South Korea. The first round determines only seedings for the double-elimination, 10-game knockout stage. The Japan-Dominican Republic opener on July 28 will be played in Fukushima, the rest of the tournament in Yokohama.
TOKYO EXPECTATIONS: Major League Baseball refused to give national teams access to 40-man roster players, while Nippon Professional Baseball is stopping the Central and Pacific League seasons for the Olympics, giving the hosts an All-Star team that is the favorite.
ATHLETES TO WATCH: RHP Masahiro Tanaka, back with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles after seven seasons with the New York Yankees, is the lone holdover from the 2008 Japan team that lost to the U.S. 8-4 in the bronze medal game. RHP Tomoyuki Sugano, the reigning Central League MVP, would attract interest from major league teams if he becomes available. The U.S. team is expected to include INF Todd Frazier, released by Pittsburgh in May.
GOLD MEDAL MOMENT: The medal games are Aug. 7.
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