Are you enjoying your nightly dosage of tape-delayed snowy Olympic events? Good, you don't mind watching sports that need to have the rules explained to you by Al Trautwig twenty times an hour. Still, wouldn't you rather be watching some competitive baseball right about now? Ever since the IOC eliminated baseball from the Summer Games, folks have been trying to figure out how to get it back in. But why pigeonhole baseball as a warm-weather sport? Why can't baseball be an event in the Winter Olympics?
The most important argument in favor of this unorthodox plan is the possible inclusion of real live professional baseball players in the Olympics. Part of the reason the IOC kicked baseball to the curb from the Summer Olympics is the mere fact that Herr Selig and the ownership cabal refused to allow their MLB players to participate. And can you blame them? Professional baseball doesn't need a mid-year gimmick that interrupts a perfectly good season and screws up pennant races. This isn't hockey, people.
But in a way, maybe baseball needs to take a cue from hockey, which made a huge splash by switching things up and playing an annual outdoors game (in baseball parks, natch). Baseball is adaptable nowadays. You can play it in a dome. There are indoor stadiums all over the developed world. We don't need sunshine and clear skies to play baseball in modern times. And scientifically smart turf developments have made indoor play a lot safer and closer to outdoor play. Well, not everywhere.
True, the duration of Winter Olympic competition collides directly with the onset of Spring Training, but let that not stop veteran players like Derek Jeter or Ichiro from donning their countries' colors to knock the baseball around for a couple weeks. Infielders and outfielders with experience can strap on their gear and get right in the game with not too much effort.
But what about arm problems for pitchers who have yet to go through spring training? Simply put, there's no reason MLB or the NPB or any professional teams need sacrifice their brightest and youngest and tenderest pitching talent for a quadrennial international exhibition. We've seen already the dangers of allowing them to participate in triennial competition, so why not recruit some of our more recent retirees to get back on the mound for one more go?
Yes, this all seems quite anachronistic and downright silly to play baseball in the cold climes. But c'mon, they already have a winter sport (basketball) in the summer games, why not put a summer sport (baseball) in the winter? Let's not be bogged down by traditional season-sport relationships. Modernity allows us to play any sport at any time of year we wish; after all, folks are skiing and skating in Vancouver and Whistler right now even with the balmy seasonal temperatures.
Besides, it'd be a great opportunity for J.T. Snow.