Baseball has a rich history as part of the Olympic Games. Baseball made its debut as a demonstration sport at the 1904 Summer Olympics, which took place in St. Louis, Mo. But as baseball's popularity grew, its inclusion into the Olympics continued to struggle until decades later. For the first time ever, baseball was on the program of the 1940 Olympics in Tokyo, but the Games were cancelled due to World War II.
After a 20-year hiatus from 1964-84, Olympic baseball was introduced as a demonstration event at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. It was not until 1992 that baseball was first recognized as an "official" Olympic sport.
Here is a look at Team USA's past Olympic performances:
1984 -- Los Angeles, California (silver medal)
With a cast of college All-Americans that included Mark McGwire, Will Clark, Barry Larkin and Cory Snyder -- and led by legendary coach Rod Dedeaux -- Team USA entered the 1984 Olympics favored to win the gold. Although Team USA did indeed reach the gold medal game, they were upset by Japan in the final, 6-3.
1988 - Seoul, South Korea (gold medal)
Team USA featured pitching sensation Jim Abbott from the University of Michigan, Tino Martinez from the University of Tampa, and Oklahoma State's Robin Ventura. Team USA got some revenge against Japan for the beating it suffered in the '84 games with a 5-3 win of the Japanese in the gold medal game.
1992 - Barcelona, Spain (4th)
In the first year that baseball was officially a medal sports in the Olympic Games, there was a great deal of confidence surrounding Team USA. They were the defending gold medal winners and had high-profile players like Jason Varitek, Jason Giambi, Nomar Garciaparra, Darren Dreifort and Phil Nevin, among others.
Team USA went 5-0 in the round-robin games, including a win over Chinese Taipei, the eventual silver medal-winners. Losses to Cuba and Japan put Team USA in the bronze medal game and in a second match-up with Japan. They lost the game and a chance at a medal, finishing fourth.
1996 - Atlanta, Georgia (bronze medal)
The 1996 team may have had Team USA's most powerful lineup. The team slugged 32 home runs during the Games, but struggled against Japan in the semifinals. They went on to beat Nicaragua, 10-3, to capture the bronze medal.
Longtime LSU head coach Skip Bertman, fresh off winning the 1996 College World Series with the Tigers, led the '96 Olympians.
"If we kept this team together for two or three more years, we would beat everybody -- including Cuba," he said. "If we could keep it for six years, it would win the A.L. East."
2000 - Sydney, Australia (gold medal)
Nevermind that Cuba's Olympic baseball record against the United States stood at an impeccable 4-0 or that Team USA had its struggles a week earlier in the preliminaries. That didn't seem to matter when the U.S. took the field against the heavily-favored Cubans. Behind Ben Sheets' three-hit, complete game shutout performance, Team USA took a 4-0 victory and a gold medal.
The victory was especially meaningful to Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, the head coach of Team USA. Following the victory, Lasorda celebrated with his players and said, "This is bigger than the World Series."
2008 - Beijing, China (bronze medal)
A four-run fifth inning highlighted by Taylor Teagarden's two-run double and a two-run homer from Jason Donald helped lift the U.S. Olympic baseball team to an 8-4 win over Japan, clinching the bronze medal for Team USA. Team USA finished Olympic competition with a 6-3 record.
Final count: Two gold medals, a silver and a bronze.
After the International Olympic Committee decided to limit the program of the Summer Olympics to 28 sports starting the 2012 Games, baseball was voted out of the program in 2005. The 2008 Bejing Games were the last to include baseball.
To the disappointment of fans around the world, baseball is not currently a part of the Olympics.
Yet there is hope.
Officials with the World Baseball Softball Confederation are increasingly optimistic that the IOC will consider reinstating both sports for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, especially with baseball loving Japan hosting.
As of now, the World Baseball Classic acts as the premier international baseball competition. First played in 2006, the tournament has grown to 16 teams. Most recently, the WBC took place in 2009 and 2013, with Japan winning the whole thing in '06 and '09, and the Dominican Republic outlasting the competition in 2013. The United States has already qualified for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.