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 Granderson spreads Olympics baseball gospel

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PostSubject: Granderson spreads Olympics baseball gospel   Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:40 pm

11/07/08 4:40 PM EST
Granderson spreads baseball gospel
Tigers star travels overseas to put sport back in Olympics

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- Curtis Granderson has built an impressive resume as a baseball ambassador over the last few years. His next trip is going to take baseball diplomacy to a different playing field.

With visits to three different continents over the last three offseasons, including a trip to China last month, the Tigers' center fielder has taken a central role in Major League Baseball's efforts to spread the game internationally. Armed with those experiences, he'll try to help make the case that baseball's worldwide appeal warrants a place back in the Olympics. He'll be part of an international delegation that will present baseball's case to the International Olympic Committee next week in Lausanne, Switzerland.

For a young man who has welcomed each trip as an adventure, this will be a new journey for him. Instead of putting on spikes and hitting the diamond to bring the game to young players in clinics and appearances, Granderson's work will be in suits and conference rooms. But those experiences from his tours of Europe, Africa and China give him a unique perspective on why baseball deserves to be back in the Summer Games.

"I know a lot of people say that, you know, it's an American game," Granderson said. "But the different places I've gone to -- Europe, China, parts of South Africa -- people are surprised to find out there are different nations that have baseball programs already."

Granderson has seen many of them first-hand, enough to compare the level of the sport he saw in China to the development he witnessed in Africa. At each stop, he has seen a common ground -- young players with a passion to learn the game, but needing further development in national programs and specific instruction to take the next step.

His journeys began two years ago with an itch to travel the world and learn different cultures. He was interested in joining the squad of Major League stars heading to the Far East for the 2006 Japan Series, but Detroit's run to the World Series ruled that out. As a consolation, representatives from MLB's ambassador program approached him about taking a tour of Europe to speak at clinics and make public appearances.

Since then, Granderson has become a fixture in the program. As a result, he's becoming a more recognizable face on baseball's world stage.

"It's interesting," he said, "because I didn't set out to do this, but it kind of happened. People say I'm an ambassador. I don't necessarily feel like I am, but anything I can do to help the game, I'd definitely like to be a part of that."

His latest trip to China included a visit to the Shanghai Eagles of the China Baseball Association, a meeting with members of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, several visits with members of the MLB Play Ball! program for middle-school-aged children and a workout with one of China's top college programs.

What stood out to him about baseball in China, he said, was the players' willingness to do whatever was necessary for the team to win. If they needed to lay down a sacrifice bunt with someone in the middle of the order, they would do it. But he also realized that the effort was focused much more on workouts and less on competitions.

"Everything is practice, practice, practice," he said, "whether it's education or on the field. On the other hand, considering a lot of it is run by the government, they don't play a lot of games."

In his free time, Granderson and his parents were able to become tourists, visiting Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall. But the image that stood out for him was venturing to the top of the Shanghai World Financial Center, one of the tallest buildings in the world, and realizing the enormity of the city.

It was soon after he returned home near the end of October that he was approached about being part of the delegation to meet with the IOC. He wasn't sure yet how involved he would be in the presentation, but he'll represent Major League players in the international delegation.

It's a unique role for Granderson, who grew up taking particular interest in the Olympics every four years, then two. Of all the baseball cards he collected as a kid, he said, the one that sticks out in his memory was a 1984 Olympics edition for former slugger Mark McGwire, who was part of the first Olympic baseball tournament back when it was a demonstration sport.

Granderson dreamed as a kid of representing his country, which is why he was keenly interested when Major Leaguers received questionnaires near season's end to gauge their interest in next spring's World Baseball Classic. He has talked with Todd Jones, Dontrelle Willis and Ken Griffey Jr. about their experiences playing for Team USA in the tournament three years ago.

"I'd love to get a chance to do that," Granderson said. "It would be an honor to get a chance to do it."


He'd also love to take part in the Olympics. Yet when it comes to that point, he realizes the obstacles that MLB faces. He doesn't pretend to have the answer to whether baseball can include Major League players without interrupting the big league schedule.

"The crazy thing about it," Granderson said, "is everybdy says, 'Look at the NBA. Everybody sends their players [to the Olympics].' But they're not in their season. I know hockey will send their guys [to the Winter Games], but people forget they don't play six days a week like baseball.

"It's difficult. That's probably one of the most difficult challenges that MLB is going to be faced with in trying to convince the IOC that we can send our best guys out there. I'm not sure how you do that, but it's definitely something that needs to be addressed, both with MLB and the Players Association."


Fortunately for Granderson, it's not something that has to be decided right away. The IOC will not vote on adding any sports until next year. Next week's presentation, International Baseball Federation Harvey Schiller told MLB.com, will be a "show and tell" to present their case.

That presentation will include Granderson, whose travels have not only changed his views on baseball, but the world.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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PostSubject: Re: Granderson spreads Olympics baseball gospel   Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:22 pm

GO GRANDERSON




BASEBALL BELONGS IN THE OLYMPICS
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PostSubject: Re: Granderson spreads Olympics baseball gospel   Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:53 pm

gs78 wrote:
GO GRANDERSON




BASEBALL BELONGS IN THE OLYMPICS

Nod Nod
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PostSubject: Re: Granderson spreads Olympics baseball gospel   Sat Nov 08, 2008 3:53 am

Let's hope Curtis can convince them
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PostSubject: Re: Granderson spreads Olympics baseball gospel   Tue Nov 11, 2008 3:22 am

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
He'll be part of an international delegation that will present baseball's case to the International Olympic Committee next week in Lausanne, Switzerland.[/b][/color]
I should go there and support him! It's just a 90minutes drive for me. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Granderson spreads Olympics baseball gospel   Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:11 am

11/13/08 8:29 PM EST
MLB officials to make case for Olympics
Potential participation of big leaguers could help baseball's case

By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com

Major League Baseball and International Baseball Federation officials are lobbying the International Olympic Committee to get baseball back into the Summer Olympics as a gold medal sport.

To that end, they are making a presentation on Friday at a meeting of the IOC's program committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. Baseball and women's softball were voted out of the summer games in 2005 and won't be played at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Proponents of reinstatement are aiming at the 2016 Games, which have yet to be awarded. Chicago is one of the four finalists to host those Summer Olympics, as is Tokyo, another baseball hotbed.

"We are committed to bringing baseball back to the Summer Olympics on a permanent basis as soon as possible, hopefully by 2016," said Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer. "We are working with the IBAF in an effort to convince the IOC voters that baseball is a truly international sport with global appeal."

There will be no decision about the future of Olympic baseball on Friday. The formal vote won't be taken until Oct. 2, 2009, at the IOC Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark. The selection of the 2016 venue will also be announced during that session.

Baseball will make a 30-minute presentation on Friday followed by another 30 minutes of fielding questions.

Representing baseball will be Harvey Schiller, the president of the IBAF, Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson, and Paul Archey, MLB's vice president of international business operations.

"This is a show-and-tell," Schiller said. "The program commission then meets again in March in private to consider all your numbers and statistics and things. The IOC meets in June to make their recommendations to the full Congress, which votes in Copenhagen in October. So there's no decision to be made until then."

Baseball, softball, roller sports, rugby, golf, squash and karate will all be making presentations to the program committee. Aside from baseball and softball, none of the other sports has ever participated in the Summer Olympics.

Schiller was the former chairman of YankeeNets -- the entity that for a limited time once oversaw the business operations of both the New York Yankees and the NBA's New Jersey Nets. He was also president of Turner Sports when that entity owned the Braves, the NBA's Hawks, the National Hockey League's Thrashers and Atlanta's Philips Arena.

Schiller is hoping to make a case within MLB and with the Players' Association that there could be a creative solution that would facilitate the inclusion of star Major Leaguers the next time baseball is in the Olympics.

Since 2000, MLB has sanctioned players outside the 25-man rosters of each Major League team to participate. Team USA won the gold medal during the 2000 Summer Olympics at Sydney, Australia, and a bronze this past summer in Beijing.

Schiller said he's hoping that MLB's stance toward the Olympics will change.

"We've been working with MLB and the Players Association on what we would consider to be a representative group of the best players," he said. "We're not going to shut baseball down, because it's a big business. I think one way to look at it is that Coca Cola is in the Olympic Games, but they don't shut their company down."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Granderson spreads Olympics baseball gospel   Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:10 am

Friday, November 14, 2008
Granderson makes case for Olympic baseball in 2016
GRAHAM DUNBAR / Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Baseball made its pitch to the International Olympic Committee Friday for a place at the 2016 Summer Games.

A team of six, led by International Baseball Federation president Harvey Schiller and featuring Detroit Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson, spent an hour putting their case for inclusion to an IOC panel of experts.

Schiller told reporters the one-hour presentation to the program commission at IOC headquarters went well.

"I thought everybody was smiling," said Schiller, a former Turner Sports and New York Yankees executive.

Leaders of baseball, softball, golf, karate, roller sports, rugby and squash are competing for two available slots on the 2016 schedule.

All are scheduled to meet Friday with the 16-member program commission, which will deliver an influential report to the IOC's top decision-making body before a vote next year in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Baseball was followed in the closed-door sessions by golf, represented by USPGA executive Ty Votaw and Peter Dawson of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland.

"I think they felt we made a powerful presentation," Dawson said after the meeting.

All seven competing sports were rejected for the 2012 London Games program in voting by more than 100 IOC members three years ago.

Baseball and softball were dropped, while the other five failed to gather enough support for inclusion.

Schiller said the baseball representatives were quizzed about their ability to deliver major league players to a 16-team Games tournament during August.

"We're committed to bringing the best players ever to the Olympic baseball tournament," he said.

"We talked about our advances in drug testing. We have an agreement with the professional leagues in terms of out-of-competition testing for the events we sanction."


The program commission, including eight IOC members and eight administrators from other sports, asked about baseball's ability to reach viewers through the internet and other new media. It was told that no MLB games would clash with the gold medal match.

Each sport must host an IOC delegation to observe an event, and baseball has invited officials to attend the World Baseball Classic finals being played in Los Angeles next March.

Schiller said baseball could work well with any of the four candidate cities bidding to host the 2016 Games. Rio de Janeiro and Madrid had baseball in their plans when bidding for the 2012 Games, while Chicago and Tokyo have existing teams, stadiums and big fan bases.

"All four have strong baseball programs," Schiller said.

Chicago-born Granderson said he favored his home town. "That would be amazing. I'm a little bit biased toward Chicago, but I definitely wouldn't be upset either way."

The 27-year-old said he told the panel of his wish to play on the 2016 United States Olympic team and of a baseball card he collected as a boy featuring Mark McGwire.

"The reason that card stands out is because it had the USA logo on it," Granderson said. "Every other team I've played for hasn't had the USA logo on the shirt."

Golf's presenting team brought the trophy presented the last time the sport was played at the Olympics in 1904.

Votaw said its strong points were "speaking with one voice, bringing top players, and worldwide participation," with the sport televised in 216 countries each week.

"We would be able to promote golf in the Olympics and the Olympic movement across that platform every single week," Votaw said. "I think it was favorably received."

The presentation, on behalf of the International Golf Federation, featured video messages from Tiger Woods and Lorena Ochoa, the number one players in the men's and women's game.

Golf's Olympic proposal is for a men's and women's tournament, one in each week of the Games. It has not decided if the events would be played by stroke or match play rules.

Votaw said an IOC observer team could be invited to attend the Masters tournament at Augusta, Georgia.

The program commission, which is chaired by Italian Franco Carraro, will present a report to the IOC executive board.

The board meets next June to make recommendations to the full IOC membership. A simple majority is needed for a sport to be voted onto the program.

The IOC will also select the 2016 host city during the Copenhagen session.


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