Host City: Sydney, Australia
Venue(s): Blacktown Baseball Stadium, Blacktown Olympic Park, Blacktown, New South Wales; Sydney Baseball Stadium, Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales
Date Started: September 17, 2000
Date Finished: September 27, 2000
Format: Round-robin tournament followed by semi-finals and final.
Cuba was still the dominant international team, but less so than in 1992 and 1996. Several of the Cuban players were defecting to the United States, lured by huge dollars from Major League baseball teams. And the International Baseball Association (IBA) opened up the Olympic tournament to professionals. Major league baseball did not release its players, however, so the USA team was made up of minor leaguers, several of whom were former Major Leaguers. The United Statesâ manager was Tommy Lasorda, formerly manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The first sign of Cuba's weakness was shown in the round-robin play. The Dutch team upset the Cubans 4-2, with a 3-RBI double by former Major League player Hensley Meulens accounting for Cuba's first ever Olympic defeat.
The final game saw the USA play Cuba, with Ben Sheets pitching for the Americans. He threw a 3-hit complete game shutout, and the United States won, 4-0. Lasorda, who had managed two World Seriesâ champions with the Dodgers, later commented that nothing could compare to winning an Olympic gold medal.