All Time Team: Star Wars EditionFollow @RoyalsBlue_com
A long time ago on a baseball diamond far, far away …
May 4th marks a day that hopeless romantic nerds like myself take pause to celebrate an institution of entertainment that has undoubtedly shaped our lives more than we probably care to admit: Star Wars. We may have forgotten or tossed aside many of the things we loved as children, but the universe as created by George Lucas will always stay near and dear our hearts. We will often turn to Yoda speak without even noticing. We will respond to any declaration of affection with a simple “I know.” We will always get a bit misty eyed when the Ewok dies in Jedi (his name was Nanta, btw (told you I was a nerd)). We will unmercifully make fun of Jar-Jar until the day we die.
To celebrate Star Wars this year, we here at Royals Blue decided to make it the theme of this month’s All Time Team. Everyone’s favorite disclaimer: We scoured the vast annals of MLB player history to find the top 25 players whose names best fit the Star Wars theme. All choices were made in the good faith of humor and entertainment. We had to make some generous exceptions in regards to spelling to fit the theme. So before you start sending thermal detonators to our offices because I said something that might not be canon in the expanded universe, keep in mind I am one of you and this is all in the interest of fun and humor.
So with the force as our ally, let’s meet the team …
Leading off is shortstop Luke Appling. Although known to be a bit of whiny brat early in his career, through the trust of his teachings he blossomed into a 7 time All-Star and Hall of Famer, finishing 2nd in MVP voting twice (most notably in 1936 when he hit .388 with 204 hits, 124 RBI, and 111 runs scored). Unfortunately he is as clumsy as he is stupid, so his 643 career errors and .948 fielding % could prove troublesome in the field.
Batting second and manning right field is Larry “Sky”Walker. This Canadian grew up wanting to be a professional hockey goalie, which perhaps is what led him to be so good with the leather (7 time Gold Glove award winner). After searching his feelings, he made the wise decision to focus on baseball instead. Walker ended his career with 5 All-Star game appearances, 3 Silver Slugger awards, 3 NL Batting Championships, and the NL MVP in 1997.
Not to be outdone by the good guys, “Count” Duke“u” Snider roams center field and bats third. Our second of four Hall of Famers, this tall drink of water boasts a career .295 BA, .540 SLG, 407 HR, 1333 RBI and 8 All-Star game appearances. However, it is obvious that his career could not be summed up by just his knowledge of batting, but by his skills in the field as well with 123 career outfield assists.
Slowly moving into position as our cleanup hitter and first baseman is Willie “Death” Stargell: From 1962 to 1982, the baseball world was lucky to witness the full firepower of this completely operational Hall of Famer. Stargell was an absolute beast of a man, often warming up in the on deck circle with a sledgehammer. Over his career, he obliterated 475 peaceful baseballs over the walls, while driving in 1540 runs on his way to 7 All-Star Game appearances and the NL MVP in 1979 (as well as two other second place MVP finishes).
Continuing the iron fist of evil domination, we have designated hitter Al Dark”side”. The 1948 Rookie of the Year and 3-time All-Star was the first NL shortstop to hit 20 home runs more than once. His impressive (for a short stop) offensive numbers include a career .289 BA, .411 SLG, 126 HR, and 757 RBI.
Perhaps the most terrifying physical presence on the team is left fielder Ben “General” Grieve“ous”. Our second Rookie of the Year (1998) fought injuries for most of his too short career, but still ended with respectable career numbers of .269/.367/.442 with 118 HR and 492 RBI.
Enough of this evil stuff, let’s get back to the good guys. I happen to like … nice ballplayers. Batting 7th and overseeing third base is Ray “Jedi” Knight. Currently a part of the Washington Nationals broadcast/studio crew, Knight has the dubious distinction of being the player that replaced Pete Rose as third baseman for the Reds. Still, he was a fine ballplayer in his own right, hitting .271 with 595 RBI over 13 big league seasons, while being the MVP of the 1986 World Series.
The offensive half of our battery is Mickey “Uncle” Owen. This 4-time All-Star played 13 seasons in the bigs and was a strong defensive presence behind the dish, having a stretch of 508 errorless chances and finishing the 1941 campaign with a .995 fielding %. Ironically, he might be best known for an error in the World Series that year that started the slide that eventually lost the series for the Dodgers. He promised to make it up to them next year.
Davy Force rounds out our starting lineup and plays second base. At 5’4”, he was a little short for a ballplayer (and so earned the nickname Wee Davy), but still enjoyed a 15 year career of solid play.
On the pine, we’re not left with many options. George “Jar-Jar” Binks is goods to knockses in a man or two and has a very teamsa first, not mesa, attitude. Eric Wedge doesn’t get much attention as our backup catcher, but always seems to be around to save someone’s skin. And because we have to have 25 players on the team, Bill “Ki Adi” Mundy and Art Rebel get last pick of seats on the bus.
Our pitching staff is anchored by our 4th and final Hall of Famer “Obi” Juan Marichal. Many teams were unwise to lower their offenses to this 10 time All Star. Over 3507 IP, he racked up a 2.89 ERA, 2303 Ks, 243 wins, and a 1.101 WHIP. His 52 career shutouts ranks 18th all time.
Next up is Brett “light”Saberhagen. This two time Cy Young Award winner had a 3.34 ERA and a 126 ERA+ over 2562 career IP. Perhaps most impressive was his K/BB ratio of 3.641, which ranks 12th all time. Most impressive indeed.
Third in the rotation is Storm”trooper” Davis. Contrary to his namesake, he was in fact able to hit the broad side of the barn, showcasing that talent in the form of 113 career wins and 1048 Ks in over 1780 IP.
Cuddly Bob “e”Walk saunters his way to the bump next. Even with just a terrible name for a pitcher, Walk enjoyed a 14 year major league career, racking up 105 wins. As a rookie, he recorded the victory in game one of the World Series against our very own Kansas City Royals. The Phillies would go on to win that series, resulting in the beginning of Walk’s cult worship of large hunks of gold plated metal. When questioned about this, he often responds with a simple “Yub yub.”
Last but not least by a long shot, Al “Darth” Maul rounds out the starting rotation. This old timer was known as a bit of a bad guy and showed it by either shutting the opposition up (hitting 67 batters) or shutting them down (84 career wins).
In the bullpen, we’ve got Joba “the Hutt” Chamberlain warming if the starter gets in trouble. Although often seen somewhat as a failed prospect, he is sure we will soon learn to appreciate him.
The council of Mace “Windu” Brown and Tsuyoshi Yoda are thinking long and hard about the batters they may face, while Lou Fette and Sebastian Vader will do whatever it takes to shut down the opposition. Randy “chew”Bockus is a man of few words, but has a domineering presence on the mound and a hell of a nose for the game. On the other end of the spectrum, Erick “C”Threets”io” is a Sabermetrics junkie and won’t shut the hell up about all the probabilities and advanced statistics.
Vegas doesn’t believe in this team. They say the odds of this team successfully making the playoffs are approximately 3,720 to 1. They say our squad’s not true, that it’s impossible for our ragtag bunch of scruffy nerf-herders to have a successful season. That it might help if we all got out and pushed.
But I think we’ll find that they’re full of surprises. Delusions of grandeur aside, this team should have its moments. Perhaps not many, but it will have some.
May the force be with them …
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