August 10, 2012

The Baseball Nations

For a friend, here's a list of countries that play baseball.

Countries with at least two professional baseball leagues:

-United States of America/Canada
-Japan
-South Korea
-Italy
-Netherlands
-Spain
-Venezuela
-Mexico
-Australia

Countries with only one professional baseball league:

-China
-Taiwan
-Dominican Republic
-Puerto Rico
-Nicaragua
-Colombia

Countries without a fully professional baseball league who compete in international baseball competitions:

-Cuba
-Czech Republic
-Germany
-France
-Greece
-Ireland
-Sweden
-Finland
-Switzerland
-United Kingdom
-South Africa
-Guam
-Palau
-Saipan
-New Zealand
-Israel
-Philippines
-Thailand
-Brazil

And how strong are all these other countries? Cuba and Japan have so far won most international tournaments with the US coming just behind them. Canada, Korea, Italy, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela would probably make up the second tier of talent, at least according to international results in the past. There is strong competition in baseball, but in softball, not so much. Softball is US-dominated to the point of being embarrassing (though Japan won one of the four gold medals ever awarded), which is probably why the IOC even thought to toss the sports out in the first place.

Baseball was a "men-only" sport for one Olympics, but there is not an international talent level reason to expel it from the games, it's all about the softball problem and MLB's unwillingness to let professionals join the games.