Tuesday night’s World Baseball Classic final between the United States and Japan will feature some of the best Major League Baseball players in the world.
The main attraction is USA outfielder Mike Trout playing against his Los Angeles Angels teammate Shohei Ohtani. If Ohtani pitches in relief, it’d be a battle between two of the greatest players in the game today — and one that we’d only get the chance to see in international competition.
It’s always a treat when two incredible teammates face off. Here are some other examples we’re remembering since the turn of the century.
Lionel Messi vs. Kylian Mbappe (2022 FIFA World Cup)
The Paris Saint-Germain teammates put on a show in the World Cup final between Argentina and France. Messi’s early penalty looked to be the difference in the game and Argentina was sitting on a 2-0 lead into the 80th minute. Mbappe put the team on his back, however, scoring on a penalty in the 80th and a volley in the 81st to send things to extra time. Messi looked to have the winning goal again in the 108th minute, but Mbappe scored again on a penalty in the 118th to become just the second player in history to record a hat trick in the men’s World Cup final. Both players scored on their penalty tries, but Argentina ended up winning out.
Kobe Bryant vs. Pau Gasol (2008 Summer Olympics)
Spain was the reigning FIBA world champion at the Summer Olympics but had to face off against the “Redeem Team.” Kobe Bryant led a squad featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, all coached by Mike Krzyzewski. Gasol put up 21 points to his Los Angeles Lakers teammate Bryant’s 20, but the USA prevailed 118-108.
Sue Bird vs. Lauren Jackson (2004 Summer Olympics)
Bird and Jackson were anchors of the Seattle Storm during the team’s 2004 championship run. When the USA faced off against Australia in the women’s basketball gold-medal game, Bird was mostly on the bench, with Jackson leading both teams in rebounds. The USA led the entire game and pulled ahead significantly in the fourth quarter, winning the gold medal with a 74-63 performance.
2010 Olympic men’s hockey gold-medal game
Some big names here — Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Sidney Crosby (Canada) and Brooks Orpik (USA) faced off, as did Chicago Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews (Canada) and Patrick Kane (USA). The real kicker, however, was Ryan Kresler scoring for the USA against his Vancouver Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo. Fortunately for Luongo, Canada prevailed 3-2 in overtime.
2002 Olympic men’s hockey gold-medal game
This one’s a doozy. Team Canada defeated Team USA 5-2, but just look at the array of teammates who matched up here:
New York Rangers: Theo Fleury and Eric Lindros (Canada) vs. Brian Leetch, Tom Poti, Mike York and Mike Richter (USA)
St. Louis Blues: Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger (Canada) vs. Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight and Scott Young (USA)
Colorado Avalanche: Rob Blake, Adam Foote and Joe Sakic (Canada) vs. Chris Drury (USA)
Detroit Red Wings: Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman (Canada) vs. Chris Chelios and Brett Hull (USA)
New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur and Scott Niedermayer (Canada) vs. Brian Rafalski (USA)
Philadelphia Flyers: Simon Gagne (Canada) vs. John LeClair and Jeremy Roenick (USA)
Dallas Stars: Joe Nieuwendyk (Canada) vs. Mike Modano (USA)
San Jose Sharks: Owen Nolan (Canada) vs. Gary Suter (USA)
Lots of bragging rights for the Canadian teammates in those eight locker rooms post-Olympics, we bet.