This weekend, the New York Times profiled Harvey Schiller, the man currently in charge of one of the losingest causes ever lost: bringing baseball back to the Summer Olympics. The pitch, pun intended, is that Schiller is spending all of his time working on lobbying to arranged some sort of agreement by which it makes sense for the International Olympic Committee to vote baseball back to the Olympics in 2016. The sport was eliminated after the 2008 Beijing Games. This makes people who both like baseball and the Olympics very sad.
Schiller seems a competent fellow. His resume is packed with lost causes. His disposition seems uniquely tailored to scoring unlikely victories. Whoever picked him to run the effort made a smart decision.
The problem is that the IOC seems to have absolutely no interest in re-allowing baseball back into the games any time soon. There are plenty of rumored reasons why. They're apparently not a fan of Major League Baseball's unwillingness to halt its season mid-stride to allow professional players to represent their countries. MLB's steroids issue has been brought up. Maybe everyone just hates America. There are plenty of underlying reasons here.
But more than ever, Olympic baseball is probably lost because it has a fresher, less controversial cousin: the World Baseball Classic. The WBC is MLB-run and approved. It garners the support of a wide swath of nations. And though it stretches baseball players thing for the impending season, it doesn't require them to leave their clubs in the middle of the season. Basically, if you want international baseball every few years, the WBC is for you. Why push for anything more?
So it seems unlikely baseball will ever return to its Olympic perch. Which, really, is fine. We just hope Harvey Schiller doesn't kill himself trying to make it happen. This cause is more than lost.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.