Did you see the big game? What? No, The Common Man isn't talking about the Super Bowl, which The Common Man miraculoulsy managed to get half right (picking the wrong winner, but being correct about the Cardinals covering. Though that was pretty good (holy frak, Santonio Holmes!). Instead, he's talking about live baseball. On your TV! In February!
Those of you lucky enough to have DirecTV (get on the ball, Shyster, you don't know what you're missing) and awesome enough to be baseball fans already know about the pleasures offered by the new Major League Baseball network. The network shows great games from the past, wide-ranging shows debating the top players/seasons of all time, schmaltzy documentaries on the game's past.... Really, it's got everything you need. And now, they are showing the Caribbean World Series for what must be the first time on American television. It's not like ESPN has been pounding down the door for this, but baseball fans will take anything in the dead of winter, and it's more fun to watch games that mean something than the upcoming Spring Training action.
Today's game featured the top winter ball squads from Venezuela and the Domincan Republic in opening round action. Though the Dominican squad had the more impressive lineup (with legitimate big leaguers Erick and Willy Aybar, Ronny Paulino, Timo Perez, Jose Bautista, and Ronnie Belliard), the unknown Brad Knox (a 26 year old who flopped at AAA for the A's this year) emerged as the star, no-hitting the D.R. through 6+ innings. Knox did not figure in the decision, as his offense mustered little support, but left to great aplomb after 90 pitches. Luis Maza, a 28 year old infielder who finally reached the majors this year after hitting .378 at AAA, banged out four hits (two of them doubles) and two RBI, including a game-winning single in the top of the ninth.
More important than the actual game, though, was the effect that the game had on The Common Man. Now that the football season is officially over, The Common Man could easily slip away into a sports-deprived hibernation, surfacing just in time for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tourney before losing interest, and bemoaning that Spring Training is meaningless and just not eventful enough to really satisfy. Like eating a Jolly Rancher when you're really hungry. Sure, there's some flavor there, but how much does it actually fill that aching need inside?
Now, with the MLB Network, The Common Man can feast and recharge on the Caribbean World Series now and the World Baseball Classic in the first week of March. Real baseball. Played by guys who care about winning and losing. Watched by fans with an emotional investment in the outcome. How awesome is that? How badly do you need that? The Common Man needs it bad. And so, now, excuse him, because it looks as though Mexico and Puerto Rico are dueling it out as he writes.