Sports are a beautiful thing. Besides American Football, most sports compete on an international level. Whether it be at the Olympics, and/or specific competitions for the specific sports, when teams representing a country compete against another nation, it brings those watching together. No sport does it better than soccer, who holds the FIFA World Cup every four years in a different host nation or region. Besides the World Cup, FIFA holds other global competitions that draw fans internationally. If the sport of baseball were to adopt the Champions League format that soccer has, we could possibly see a great growth of the sport worldwide.
For quick background, the Champions League is a tournament that is organized by FIFA to pin the best professional teams from leagues around the world against each other. To make sure the best of the best are in the tournament, FIFA takes the top three finishers of the top three leagues in the world. In soccer, that is normally La Liga (Spain), Premier League (England), and Bundesliga (Germany). In baseball, this could easily be Major League Baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan), and the Caribbean Series (The best professional teams in the Caribbean).
Since those three leagues possess the major baseball talents in the world, we can increase the number from each league to four teams, creating a field of 12. With 12 teams, the three champions in each league, plus the best second place finisher will receive a bye round in a single-elimination style bracket. With this style of single elimination tournament, global exposure will increase for the sport, and development in countries where baseball isn’t as popular will start to happen.
Of course, there are several large hurdles to jump over in trying to organize this tournament. For one, players already have their complaints regarding how much they play. A 162 game schedule is without a doubt a grueling schedule, so it would be hard to convince players to participate in even more games. This is of course is also reliant on whether or not the teams want their players to play in an extra tournament. With injuries more common place in today’s game, general managers and agents of the players would be more reluctant to allow the players to participate in a tournament like this.
Another problem that would arise would be when to play these games, and where. The games would have to be played sometime in the late November-January time stretch. This would prohibit any stadium without a dome in North America from hosting a game. So hypothetically, if the Mets were to host a game in this tournament, they’d most likely be stuck playing at a stadium like Safeco Field, which wouldn’t make much sense.
First and foremost, this tournament would be one designed completely for the fan’s enjoyment. I think that it would be so interesting to see the top professional teams from some of the top leagues on the globe on the same stage, but maybe it is simply one fan’s dream. As Real Madrid and Liverpool get set to battle in the Champion’s League Final on Saturday, one can only dream of a tournament happening on the same scale, but with baseball instead of soccer.