IOC president Jacques Rogge has, not surprisingly, poured cold water over calls to reinstate baseball to the Olympic roster after the sport was voted out of the scheduling for the 2012 London Games. Apparently, allegations of artificially contrived performances from some of the game’s biggest stars don’t sit too well with the Olympic ideal, and this is at the heart of Rogge’s concerns.
The IOC chief has also taken issue with the fact that the peak body for the game in the US, the Major League Baseball, has in the past not allowed players on the 40-man rosters of any of the MLB clubs to rub shoulders with their superstar (albeit less well-paid and less famous, in the US, at least) counterparts from other sports.
Which in itself is probably not a bad thing, especially seeing that the game’s most famous name, Barry Bonds, has long since forfeited a fair chunk of his, and baseball’s, credibility amid suggestions his extraordinary feats have come about on the back of rampant drug abuse.
And it’s not just the Olympic chiefs who have expressed concern at the lingering drugs spectre surrounding “America’s favourite past-time”.
It seems the fans are increasingly becoming sceptical of the game in which the average player can command a $3 million salary. According to an AP-AOL Sports poll only a third of all Americans now identify themselves as fans of professional baseball.
And as if the pain of being excluded from the US baseball teams of Olympics past wasn’t enough of an emotional hurdle for Bonds to overcome (don’t feel too bad for Barry, his $US19 million-a-year pay packet should see him through), the same poll shows that half of all baseball fans are hoping he doesn’t succeed in his quest to overtake Hank Aaron’s long-standing home-run record.
According to the poll, 48% of fans don’t want the San Francisco star to complete the 22 homers needed to overtake Aaron’s mark of 755. On the flip-side, 33% would like Bonds to break it but another 16% said they didn’t care.
Which brings us back to the question of why baseball should even be considered for inclusion in the Olympics in the first place. Surely if the fans, and the apparent large proportion of non-fans, in the game’s spiritual heartland reckon the game is on the nose, what right does it have to be showcased in the greatest sports carnival in the world?