With Baseball off the Olympic Agenda, Can We Return to Nine Innings?

Last week it became clear that baseball will no longer be an Olympic sport after the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. Clearly the sport was a gift for the organizing country since baseball in Japan is still BIG. But now baseball won’t be an Olympic sport in 2024, it is time think about the return to nine innings.

In the past few years, WBSC chairman RIccardo Fraccari was the champion of seven inning baseball games. He did everything his might to flatter the International Olympic Committee in an attempt to make baseball an Olympic sport again. His final attempt was to cut the number of innings of international games to seven frames.

Somehow, Fraccari is blind to the fact that baseball is losing interest world wide and is no longer attractive for the IOC to make it a permanent Olympic sport. The creation of a baseball diamond is rather expensive when you know that it likely won’t be used after the Olympics. And perhaps the most important reason that baseball has been taken off the Olympic program is the fact that MLB will not stop its season half way in order to send its players to an Olympic baseball tournament. Let’s face it. As long as MLB does not put its season on hold because it is losing money otherwise, the best players will stay with their MLB clubs. Without the MLB players, there will be players from the NPB, KBO, CPBL and other lesser competitions. Don’t get me wrong, the NPB, KBO and CPBL are good leagues but they do not come close to MLB. And since the IOC wants the best athletes to participate, baseball as an Olympic sport is a stillborn.

After Fraccari decided to cut the number of innings of a baseball game, the FIBS (Italian Baseball and Softball Federation) and the KBBSF (Royal Belgian Baseball and Softball Federation) followed swiftly. One difference between the two countries: In Belgium they will play two seven-inning doubleheader games. This is not uncommon in baseball as this format is used in the Minor Leagues as well. And in case of the Belgian Top League, the move is understandable. No Top League team has a rotation that is big enough to play two nine-inning doubleheader games.

But the international games should return to nine innings. Baseball was designed to play in nine innings, not in seven. One exception in international games: the mercy rule when a team has a lead of ten runs or more. In that case, the mercy rule is implemented and after seven innings the game is over. If I want to see seven innings, I will attend a softball game.

Mr. Fraccari, get your head out of the sand and start to realize that baseball will not be an Olympic sport any time soon. In other words, the mutilation of our beautiful game doesn’t make any sense. Please return the international games to nine innings. You will please many baseball fans and traditionalists.

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