Mike Scioscia Named Team USA Manager For Olympics
USA Baseball has named veteran MLB manager Mike Scioscia as manager for its 2021 Olympic team.
Now the team just has to qualify for the Olympics.
Scioscia was the manager of the Angels for 19 years and led the team to its only World Series title in 2002. As a catcher for the Dodgers, Scioscia played under manager Tommy Lasorda. After his career as Dodgers’ manager, Lasorda led Team USA to its lone Olympic baseball gold medal. The 2000 Team USA club won gold in Sydney, Australia.
“I am extremely honored and excited to lead Team USA this year,” Scioscia said. “I am looking forward to the privilege of wearing the USA jersey and I know every member of our team will feel the same way. It is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience that will hopefully end with the USA winning an Olympic gold medal.”
Currently the U.S. still has to qualify to make it to this year’s Olympics. Team USA was knocked off by Mexico at the Premier12 tournament in 2019 that served as an Olympic qualifier. Mexico, Japan, Israel and South Korea have earned spots in the six-team Olympics field. There are two spots remaining.
The U.S. will face the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Canada, Columbia, Cuba and Venezuela in an Americas qualifier in Florida in early June. The winner of that tournament will earn one of the remaining two spots. The second and third-place finishers at the Americas qualifier will then head to the Final Qualifier in Taiwan from June 16-20. The two Americas qualifiers will join Australia, China, the Netherlands and Taiwan at that tournament with the winner earning the final spot in the Olympics tournament.
The composition of the qualifiers rosters is still to be determined, and is likely to be a very difficult task. With no minor league season in 2020, MLB teams will be even more reluctant than normal to allow affiliated minor leaguers to leave mid-season to play in a qualifying tournament, especially as it could mean they will be gone from affiliated baseball for a month or more (with back-to-back tournaments if the U.S. doesn’t win the Americas qualifier).
"First and foremost the priority is roster building. That’s the most important thing in this whole process," Scioscia said. "I expect stiff competition. It’s going to be up to us to play at a very high level."
But most of the teams taking part in the Americas qualifier (other than Cuba) will be facing many of the same roster issues. The tournament was supposed to take place at the end of spring training in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic that forced the postponement of the Olympics also forced the postponement of the qualifier.