While I was watching the US-Canada gold medal hockey game, I started lamenting that baseball doesn't have anything that rivaled it -- where the best players in the game get divvied up by nation and play for something as big as the ultimate championship in the sport. The World Series is all about the team... the All-Star Game is an exhibition... the Olympics are for tomorrow's hopefuls... the World Baseball Classic is more of an intense exhibition, at least for the U.S. team.
But is that really so bad?
I mean, is there anything that matches the intensity of baseball on a daily basis? Even when your team throws out its "B" lineup, it has a chance to win. Baseball doesn't have the lack-of-effort games that can make following the NBA so maddening, and it doesn't have situations like late-season NFL games, when starters take a seat early in the game (if they play at all) and a lesser team can win as a result. College football and basketball have a half-season of games between Big State U and Northnorthwest Palooka Tech.
Hockey comes pretty close to baseball in mirroring the game-to-game intensity, which explains why the sport is to Canada what baseball has traditionally been elsewhere in the Americas.
The beauty of baseball is that I can go to Game 85 of the season... Twins vs. Royals... a fifth starter on the mound or a day game-after-night game lineup and still feel like I'm getting my money's worth. The beauty is the daily ritual, starting out with what's happening in Fort Myers right now and going through early October ... or later in October if things work out well. And I'll suggest that we are fortunate because, more often than not since the millennium started, the Twins have been a factor at the end of the season. The novel typically has had an interesting finish, even if it's not the one we've wanted around here.
Is there a good way for baseball to have something like what we saw in Vancouver? Should it even try?