Several years ago I started a MLBlogs.com Holiday tradition by posting about my personal character selections for that season’s All-Holiday squad. The first squad selected back in 2008 was composed of characters we all know and love from our favorite holiday movies and shows.
The usual suspects were invited on the team like George Bailey and little Ralphie, and of course Rudolph. But I knew I had to bring about a more super human strength factor this Holiday Season if we were to beat the current League Champions and their stormtroopers.
Since the “Evil Empire” took the trophy in 2009, I could always hit the “Stars Wars” human and machine memory banks and find more than enough characters and antics to post a pretty good line-up. This holiday season’s roster will be based on Super Heroes. So let’s get on with the formal introductions of my All-Holiday squad for 2011.
So with no further ado, let me introduce to you the 11 players of the newly formed N’oreastern Blizzard, the second franchise of the North American League.
This was a tough decision knowing that so many great super heroes could throw a baseball not only through a strike zone, but through the stadium backstop and wall. I decided to take it in a bit of a different direction. He might be the youngest of the Fantastic Four, but the Human Torch was an easy choice for my starting pitcher. This decision did come with some possible side effects with the baseball actually vaporizing before it gets near the plate. But I have a plan.
With the definite possibility that the other team could chart his flame path to try to steal his pitch locations, I asked Jonathan Lowell SpencerStorm to throw an extra puff of trailing smoke along with the ball to cover its path to the plate. I also dipped all 13 dozen game balls (the same number as the MLB uses per game) in a flame retardant liquid that would not leave a residue, but would leave the ball intact for numerous flights to the plate.
I decided to go with my gut instinct here and put Mr. Fantastic aka Reed Richards, the leader of the Fantastic Four at first base bag as much for his intelligence in the arts of alien biology and physics as for his vertical and horizontal dexterity. Because he could conveniently stretch out far and wide, it made him another clear choice because of his flexibility get errant throws and also provide superb dives and lunges for balls hit either to his left or right.
Here is the position where I am thinking I will get the biggest feedback in the form of the player I picked for this spot. I decided to give this spot to Super Sentai, who was actually the basis for the popular Power Rangers characters. Unknown to most of us in the United States, this Super Hero series has been translated and brought to other cultures around the world from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Portugal to even the US where they were transformed into the Power Rangers. Super Sentai is my only super hero that has come from overseas to play America’s game, and has found his rightful place among my team.
Spiderman aka Peter Parker was one of the only super heroes to not be a protegé at one point in his development. Parker seemed a natural and true choice for this position if you consider his web-shooting ability along with his uncanny spidey-sense. That essence of instinct and range makes him a natural for the spot. And with the mantra, “With great power comes great responsibility” spoken to him by his late Uncle Bob, Spiderman could actually maybe be a nice clone of a certain “Evil Empire” shortstop with his remarkable range and throwing accuracy.
I decided the Hot Corner should be patrolled by Spawn. Because most 3B’s are viewed as baseball mercenaries, this former CIA agent fits perfectly into the mold of a MLB 3-bagger. Considering his character has been known to morph and change during the course of his adventures, this might transform perfectly for him at third base where I though his uncanny ability to transform and stand tall and firm while guarding the line might be the perfect trait for this position. And knowing that games can be won and lost down the Right field line, his ever-expanding bag of tricks from sprinting in for bunted ball to making odd angle throws or even making full-body dives over the bag to snag balls screaming down the line at the speed of light makes him the perfect choice.
This line-up spot was actually very easy for me. The character taking this spot has to dive, block and basically be a human wall to the Human Torch’s hot tamale pitches. That is why Thing from the Fantastic Four was the perfect pick. As the founding member of the Fantastic Four, Thing also can be the field general that every team needs behind the plate. Born Benjamin Jacob Grimm, he was an avid football player, which will make him a perfect wall when he stands in front of the plate and blocks a runner from trying to score on him. And with his orange-colored skin, he will be an easy target for any member of the Blizzard’s pitching staff. Add on his comical tag line of: “It’s clobbering Time”, and you get one of my team’s pure power hitters.
I wanted to use one member from the Batman franchise here. For that reason I selected the Batman (Christian Bale version) who could be the most productive and intimidating based on the uncanny ability to leer into the infield might keep guys from trying to stretch singles into doubles. Just a glare from his eyes might freeze a runner between bases and hesitate just enough for him to get a quick throw in and nail him for an outfield assist. Added on the fact he has enough pieces of equipment on his utility belt to scale any wall, even the Green Monster and bring the ball back into play. Plus the caped crusader has some pretty cool rides which translates nicely into the MLB lifestyle.
Here is another spot that I thought demanded that I have one of the fastest super heroes in the corner outfield to cover the Centerfield-Right field gap. For that reason, Flash seemed to be the perfect fit. I decided that the Scarlett Speedster would be a nice deterrent to teams trying to not only run on his arm, but test his abilities to get to almost any ball hit his way. One of the greats attributes a Rightfielder can have is teams’ fearing what he will do once he has the ball in his glove or hand. Flash gives me that extra jolt of confidence that if a runner is trying to score from third base, the throw will be at the plate with authority.
This one was actually another one of the easiest positions to fill on this roster. Who else but Superman (Christopher Reeves version) could patrol the gaps and distances to the centerfield wall. Partner that with a great ability to keep the ball in the park hit at any height, and you get a solid defensive outfielder who also can bring some super power to the plate.He could take a bit of pressure off Batman in Left field, but it would be on a purely speed basis to secure the out and not be an ego thing. Mark that with his solid personal makeup and you got a guy that the fans would also enjoy having him autograph a ball with his eyes, or even pose for pictures strutting his muscles.
Here is a spot I did not include my initial 2008 squad, and I felt terrible about it. Every team needs a guy who can button down those close games and give them that needed push to hold a team scoreless and then win in walk-off fashion. For that reason, I think the Punisher is the perfect man for the job.
Not only does the Punisher have those human flaw trademarks we all know and love in our closers, he has that anti-hero trait that most MLB closer possess and use to their advantage. As Frank Castle, the Punisher will use whatever methods are needed to get a positive end result. That, is the ultimate goal of every closer, to have the game come down to his abilities and he conquer them single-handedly.
I think there is only one choice considering it has to be a position of power and great energy. Without a doubt, the prefect DH would have to be the Incredible Hulk. Just on his pure ability to hit the cover off the ball. Hulk has the ability to change, so he could be his green imposing self at the plate, and transform into his human form and become a speed merchant on the base paths. But, for the sake of argument, I think he will try to maintain his angered state throughout the baseball game just for team confidence.
So there you go. This is my player selections for my Christmas 2011 roster of the newly formed second team in the North America League. Unlike the AFL or even the USFL, this baseball league will continue to expand with at least one team forming every Christmas season until we have enough teams to play every day of the holiday season.
This is my own little personal Winter League experiment, and with three teams already in the books, it will be fun to watch both the N’oreastern Blizzards, Evil Empire and the Polar Express playing on a cool and sunny Florida baseball diamond near you. Admission is free and remember, a hot dog always tastes better at the ballpark!
Happy Holidays to everyone from Rays Renegade.