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Baseball Fights to Return to Olympics

Ancient history: Tommy Lasorda at a news conference where the U.S. Olympic baseball team was announced in 2000.

Baseball may be America's pastime but it's an afterthought in most of the world.

Which probably explains why the sport was dropped from the Olympic program after the Beijing Games in 2008.

Now, International Baseball Federation president Riccardo Fraccari says he will fight to get baseball back in the Olympics.

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Fraccari said baseball needs to change the perception that it's solely an American sport. (Considering MLB players hail from 15 nations, you'd think the sport's appeal would be broader, but apparently not.)

"The message you have to give to people is that baseball is a global sport, not American," Fraccari said. "This was the mistake made in the past."

If pole dancers can make a push for Olympic participation, then baseball should have an easier pitch, as long as they make a creative case. Perhaps if the sport adopted some more international flavor and Olympic tradition, it would make it back to the Summer Games.

Some possible ways to make baseball less American:

1. Replace umpires with judges. There's nothing the IOC loves more than controversial scores. Who needs close calls at first base when you can have the base runner graded for artistry and technique?

2. Accentuate the ancient. To strip away the perception that baseball is a modern American contrivance, it's important to ground the sport in Olympic roots. As such, replace managers with philosophers. Forget 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame'; play Vivaldi. Remove cleats and go barefoot.

3. Add horses. Equestrian events are already in the Olympics, so apparently that is an automatic seal of approval. Maybe even give the pitchers a curling stone. Very few people in the U.S. own a horse or know what curling is - statistics that will appeal to the IOC.

If baseball simply needs an image makeover to make it into the Olympics, maybe other sports popular in the U.S. could do the same.

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