David Fenko’s Fictional Player Draft Review
Almost a decade ago, I thought it was a great idea to try and build the ultimate fantasy rock band while whiling away the day at work. My coworker and I would debate the merits of which instruments are necessary for a “rock” band and how we would define a successful band. Ultimately, we would come up with several bands apiece and would spend the rest of the day debating the merits of each.
You could imagine my excitement when the idea of a fictional fantasy draft was floated on the Pitcher List Discord. I couldn’t have jumped at the opportunity to participate fast enough. I’ll admit, the experience was different than what I expected, though that difference made it even more enjoyable.
Round 1 – Buck Bokai, SS
Right at the onset of the draft, I knew that all of my preconceptions for what would be available were completely wrong. Given the awfulness of The Scout, I assumed that Steve Nebraska would fall to the mid-rounds. When Dave Cherman took him Round 1 Pick 1 (owing to the fact that he threw an 81-pitch perfect game), I figured that I would have to stake my claim on the players I wanted immediately.
In hindsight, I definitely overpaid for Buck Bokai, but he was my guy. For the Star Trek fans in the room, Bokai was considered the greatest player that ever played baseball by the time the game stopped being an international draw. Starting as a shortstop and eventual moving to third base, Bokai was the only player to break Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak record. Given the dearth of middle infielders in fictional baseball, finding the best player ever to play professional baseball while filling a position with no depth was a steal.
Round 2 – Bugs Bunny, P / Util
Coming into the second round, I wanted to push the draft into a direction it hadn’t yet moved. Up until that point, all of the choices were actual baseball players, whether they were real or not. The letter of the law was that any character shown on screen playing baseball was eligible, so why not go the absurdity route. In the 1946 Looney Tunes short Baseball Bugs, Bugs Bunny was shown playing every position on the field, including pitcher. At one point, Bugs is shown striking out all three batters in an inning on the same pitch, meaning that he would be an amazing catch on the mound. However, another position of scarcity is catcher and ultimately, that’s where I drafted Bunny to play.
Round 3 – Superman, P
At the end of round two, players like Gohan from Dragonball Z and Jimmy Neutron came off the board. The jig was up on my fantastical fantasy plan — right up until the moment that I remember that Kal-El played baseball in the ’80s. That’s right, Superman was shown one time playing baseball in the 1988 animated series. The Man of Steel is a solar battery capable of lifting an entire continent (with the reflexes to match). On screen, he was shown throwing a baseball through the opposing teams bats, which was a fraction of his estimated power level. Steve Nebraska might throw 110 MPH, but Clark Kent can throw the ball harder than any radar gun can register.
Round 4 – Mickey Mantle, CF
Traditional wisdom suggests that a team built strong up-the-middle will perform better than one built from the corners in. Mickey Mantle is one of the greatest real-life players ever to play baseball. 1961 was one of Mantle’s greatest seasons. Lo and behold, the movie 61* portrays the epic race between Roger Maris and Mantle to break the single-season homerun record. I very happily snagged one of the greatest center fielders to play the game at the end of the fourth round.
Round 5 – Bo Jackson, RF
Justin Paradis is a very bad man.
Marla Hooch (boy, what a hitter) looked like she was going to fall to me in the 5th round, which would have solidified the middle of my fantasy diamond. Immediately before my pick, she was unceremoniously added to Justin’s squad.
For any child of the ’80s, you might remember the short-lived cartoon ProStars. Alongside the Macualay Culkin vehicle Wish Kid, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, and Bo Jackson were shown acting as superheroes to save the day. Bo knows many things, including how to swing a light pole as a bat in a game of baseball. Who better to hold down right field than the larger-than-life Bo!
Round 6 – Tony Micelli, 2B
Losing Marla Hooch in the fifth round was still haunting me when it came down to my turn in the sixth. As near as I could tell, the only second base options left were Steve Sax and Bertram Weeks. A little birdy suggested that I should look at Who’s The Boss for inspiration. Tony Micelli was a former baseball player for the Cardinals as the premise to start the series. What would I want with a player who washed out due to injury? Well, thanks to the wonderful world of fantasy situations on TV shows, Micelli was shown in a dream sequence as though he wasn’t injured. He went on to be the best second baseman (!!) in the league. Who better to fill that Hooch-sized hole on my team?
Round 7 – Reggie Jackson, LF
The snipers struck again. Ginny Baker was just about ready to join my team as the screwballer to throw off an opposing team’s rhythm after facing Superman, but Daniel Port gave her a larger signing bonus before I even had the chance to negotiate.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Baseketball, you’d remember that the story begins with Trey Parker and Matt Stone catching Reggie Jackson’s third home run in Game 6 of the ‘77 World Series. Left field was looking awfully vacant and who doesn’t want to hear chants of REG-GIE REG-GIE!
Round 8 – Doris Murphy, 3B
Third base is another position with a short supply of fictional players. Doris Murphy is easily one of my favorite personalities from A League of Their Own, and boy can she hit and field the hot corner.
Round 9 – Worf, 1B
The greatest moment of on-field chatter (and the name of my team) is courtesy of my new first baseman, Worf, son of Mogh. In a losing battle against the Vulcans in the classic Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episode Take Me Out to the Holosuite, Worf yelled “Death to the Opposition” to try and unsettle the Logicians. Worf showed off his prodigious strength and super-human reflexes during the ballgame, making him a steal in the ninth round.
Round 10 – Bob Feller, P
Bob Feller is often cited as one of the five or 10 best pitchers in MLB history. In the 1949 film The Kid from Cleveland, that skill with the baseball was shown to motion picture viewers. Not the most fantastical pick I could make in the 10th, but the perfect second starter to line up behind Kal-El.
Round 11 – King Kelly, P
1949 was a great year for baseball movies (and my fictional fantasy pitching staff). In the movie It Happens Every Spring, the ultimate pitching cheat was developed by Professor Vernor K. Simpson. His substance, when coated on a baseball, would allow the baseball to repel away from a baseball bat. Simpson went under the pseudonym King Kelly and proceeded to rise to stardom in the majors. Who doesn’t want a closer that can legitimately miss a bat with every pitch!?
Round 12 – Dr. Julian Bashir, DH
I cheated. Coming into the 12th round, all I needed was a DH. I like to consider myself a nerd of many passions, but Star Trek and baseball are always going to be No. 1 and No. 2 for me. Dr. Julian Bashir was exposed as a genetically engineered superman throughout the course of Star Trek: Deep Space 9. While Worf played first, Bashir was put in left field to try and allow the Niners a fighting chance against the Vulcans. Bashir has enhanced intelligence, vision, reflexes, and strength — a potent combination for any ballplayer.
In the end, my team is susceptible to an eraser (courtesy of three animated players) or a disturbance in space (thanks to two aliens and another Starfleet officer), but not really much else. Bugs Bunny and Superman alone provide otherworldly ability to dominate the game, while players like Mantle, Jackson, and Feller can provide the real-world experience. Murphy and Micelli are only human, but are clearly some of the best at their positions. Bokai provides the necessary consistency to ensure H2H wins each and every week. Not much should be able to faze this squad and I fully expect to bring home the fictional fantasy trophy.
(Main photo by Justin Paradis)