It's said that everyone has a twin somewhere in the world. Does every baseball player and team have a twin in another sport? As the NBA interrupts its interminably unproductive regular season for an All-Star exhibition, it's a good time to determine where there are analogs across leagues.
For example, which MLB team is most likely to repeat the work of the 2012-13 L.A. Lakers, a Ferrari of assembled talent playing like a jalopy? It seems as if the Toronto Blue Jays are setting themselves up for that, having imported the failed Miami Marlins' roster for a run at an AL East title. But it feels different with the Blue Jays, perhaps because they're no longer commanded by General Footshooter and perhaps because they are a year removed from novelty.
MLB's Angelinos are both candidates for this comparison because both have spent lavishly on talent and are expecting upper echelon results. Of the two, the Dodgers seem more vulnerable to under-performance because their imports seem less strategic and they're starting with a weaker base.
This year's Miami Heat is the MLB squad with a world class roster and championship-or-bust designs. Perennially that would be the Yankees, but management's efforts to put the payroll on a diet have trimmed some of the excess talent from the Bombers this season. The L.A. Angels feel like the team built for both the short and long haul and most likely to elicit yawns for winning the World Series.
The baseball version of the San Antonio Spurs is the St. Louis Cardinals. Both franchises have been successful for two decades despite small-market profiles and middling payrolls. They both have management with aptitude and vision, strong on-field (court) leadership, a culture of modesty and excellence, and star players who act like professionals. The Spurs no longer have the most talent, but they have the best record in the NBA so far. The Cards never had the most talent, but won two titles in six years and got to Game 7 of the pennant last year after losing the best player on the planet to free agency.
The Phoenix Suns are a once-proud franchise now in some semblance of disarray. Their 17-36 record so far this year looks a lot like the Boston Red Sox' final month of 2011. Also like the Sox, they have no pitching.
It's too early to tell who will be baseball's version of the Chicago Bulls, treading water until their ascendant superstar's triumphant return. But their opposite is in New York. The Yankees are hoping to make waves while avoiding the return of their dimmed star.
We won't even mention the Charlotte Bobcats and Pittsburgh Pirates. Their fans have suffered enough.
LeBron and Kobe have no equal in horsehide. Prince Albert still generally needs a last name, has never been a brand and is no longer the unquestioned king of the game. But Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg appear to be the Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose of baseball. Like Rose and Durant, the baseball trio has made the All-Star team every year they've spent in the league. Maybe the Bulls should have shut down Rose in last spring's playoffs to avoid catastrophic injury.
Tim Duncan and Derek Jeter are sports doppelgangers. Bright, beloved, biracial, respectful Hall of Famers with lots of team-based jewelry. Neither ever says anything controversial. Neither has been able to reach a grounder hit six feet to his left for eight years.
Jarvas Varnardo averages less than a point per game for the Heat and less than a third of a rebound as the last guy off the bench for Miami. But he and Dwayne Wade will sport the same ring if Miami repeats as NBA champs. That would make him the Eli Whiteside of basketball. The 32-year-old catcher backed up Buster Posey last season for the World Champion Giants -- which is like being Robert Deniro's understudy. Whiteside got into 12 games with a double, a walk, a .396 OPS and a ring. And then he got waived.
Finally, Charles Barkley has Curt Schilling, the retired great who can't seem to shut up. Actually, Barkley has Barkley and Schilling has Schilling, which might be the crux of the issue.