David Pressgrove: Watching baseball’s demise | CraigDailyPress.com

David Pressgrove: Watching baseball’s demise

Baseball’s descent continues.

I enjoyed writing that as much as I enjoy sticking my tongue to a frozen flagpole. Baseball is my favorite sport to watch, to cover and if there were any leagues for washed-up guys who hadn’t played since high school it would be my favorite sport to play. Unfortunately the sport continues get knocked around like a Colorado Rockies relief pitcher.

The International Olympic Committee voted this week to strike baseball and softball out of the 2012 Olympics.

My first reaction was that the IOC was ridiculous for voting out the two sports. I started thinking of Olympic sports that, in my mind, are less deserving. Are badminton, fencing and handball really more popular than baseball and softball?

A day before the IOC tossed out baseball and softball, a story in Sports Illustrated ran about how the Chinese and Russians are teaming up to share coaches and facilities in order to beat the United States in medal totals.

I thought about writing about how the lack of the two sports in 2012 was a conspiracy headed by the two aforementioned countries. After all, the U.S. softball team has won all three gold medals in the sports.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed too much of a coincidence.

The unfortunate thing for both amateur baseball and softball is that Major League Baseball has ruined it for them. IOC officials want to have the top athletes in the world represented in the Olympics. Since the Olympics always fall during the pennant race or the playoffs, MLB doesn’t want disrupt its season. Instead it sends minor leaguers to the games.

That plan worked so well for the 2004 Greece Olympics that the U.S. didn’t even qualify.

The IOC members also said that the steroid scandal blemished baseball’s chances to remain in the Olympics.

MLB’s popularity in the United States and in the Caribbean makes it just popular enough for the rest of the world to notice occasionally. So when something like the BALCO scandal breaks, the only image the rest of the world has about baseball is that all the players are on steroids.

As much as I want to defend the sport and call the IOC the Insane Out-of-touch Committee, I don’t have enough to justify it.

And yes, it is MLB’s fault.

MLB could not care less about the Olympics. Why would they send players to something they can’t make money off of? That opinion was made evident when MLB announced its plans for the World Baseball Classic next spring. The WBC is a World-Cup style tournament in which MLB players will participate.

The reason baseball and softball are no longer in the Olympics is because MLB is too worried about its self-image.

Ironically, the image the rest of the world has of MLB is what caused the sport and its sister sport to now be equal with the likes of squash, karate and roller sports (all sports trying to get into the Olympics).

No offense to connoisseurs of those sports, but it has to be embarrassing for America’s Pastime to be associated with a vegetable, a sport made popular by an 80s movie and something hockey players invented in their spare time.

Baseball’s descent continues.

And the pain is still there when I write that.

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