Can We Create the Most Entertaining Baseball Team of All Time?
Can we create the most entertaining baseball team of all time? To do this, we'll want to think beyond just dominant on-the-field performance. We'll want dominance, sure, but something more entertaining than just the sledgehammer dominance of the 1927 Yankees (too boring), and hopefully something a bit more explosive even than the entertaining-but tepid run of the 2019 Nationals.
Instead, we'll create our entertaining team to induce the greatest drama: huge, towering home runs, insane speed on the basepaths, great play but also insanely stupid decision-making, hard but wild-throwing pitchers, and lots and lots and lots of on-the-field and off-the-field storylines: locker room fighting, player squabbles, and general toxicity. We're planning to invite around 50 players to camp for what we hope are spirited position battles among the best of friends. Here goes nothing:
At the foundation of any entertaining team we'll necessarily include Yogi Berra. With the antics that this team will conjure, we'll need Berra to be our narrator to make sense of it all with inexpicable cliches. Backing him up, we'll include AJ Pierzynski, if only becuase his notorious fighting would be a nice complement to some of the other pieces on this team.
It's tempting to simply choose a notorious steroid user at first base - massive home run bombs within an obviously, albeit allegedly 'roided-out body (Big Mac or Rafael Palmeiro or Jason Giambi, for instance) would definitely be entertaining. Instead we might consider including Charles Comiskey, player-manager and famous locker room cancer with outsized ego, again, you know, for entertainment value. We'll also include Orioles' Chris Davis and keep a running stadium counter for at bats he can put together without a hit.
Second base is a difficult position, in large part because there haven't been overly many second basemen with outsized personalities. It just isn't a position that attracts that for the most part. But Rogers Hornsby is a good place to start, both because he was an entertaining payer and because he was a notorious locker room cancer who might mix it up with some of the outfielders in interesting and entertaining ways. Fun fact: He and Charles Comiskey are both among the all-time leaders in errors committed, so our double-play tandem would be a force to be reckoned with.
We'll also include Duaine Kiper for completely unrelated reasons. Despite getting over 3,400 plate appearances in the major leagues, Kiper only hit one home run. Each plate appearance for Kiper could keep fans on the edge of their seats, just pining to see if he might ever manage another dinger.
Chuck Knoblauch could also be a good addition, since we'll need a steady arm at second.
We'll also want to consider Jeff Kent, if only because we also have Barry Bonds on the team and the two would provide for some fun locker room fireworks.
Shirtless Brian Dozier might also be a good play.
Third base, like second base, rarely attracts hotheads or any other uber-entertaining players. One player that might be a fun inclusion is Pete Rose Jr., who had only 14 big league at-bats and a fairly dismal experience with them, but the media attraction around his rise would be fun to rekindle as part of this mess of a team. Or we could include Pete Rose himself, but only the player-manager Pete - the one who was allegedly betting on his team - only so that he could fight endlessly over roles and managerial duties with fellow egomaniac Charles Comiskey.
We could also look at including Bobby Bonilla - probably not on the team itself, but we could at least pay his salary incrementally over about a thousand years to ensure that our fans can enjoy his lingering impact on our team for centuries to come.
We might also consider inviting George Brett, but only if we can also locate and hire the Patriots' ball manager and Alex Cora to help him manage the pine tar.
For actual, genuine on-the-field entertainment, it would be hard for us to leave out Ozzie Smith. Backflips on the field would, after all, be great entertainment.
There is such a glut of entertaining outfield talent, it's hard to know where to begin:
For sheer on-the-field entertainment we'll need to include Barry Bonds. No player ever has inspired as much awe and intimidation on the field, at least the elder Barry who started working out and eating balanced breakfasts around his 37th birthday.
One who might rival Bonds for sheer entertainment in a completely different area of the game is Deion Sanders, one of the fastest and most dynamic players ever to play any sport, much less two. Same goes for Rickey Henderson, who would be a bargain for us. Given his record, we'll write him a billion-dollar check, knowing it's unlikely to ever be cashed.
We'll also consider including Bo Jackson, one of the greatest athletes of all time and noted bubble gum enthusiast.
We'll also want to include any of a range of notorious locker room cancers, you know, just to make it interesting. Albert Belle would be a nice complement to Bonds. Both lively personalities, both are notorious for their friendliness and humility. And we'll throw in Bryce Harper to instigate a good fight every now and then, with Yasiel Puig to stand up for his teammates and throw the first punches. In addition to Harper, we'll include Elijah Dukes and Nyjer Morgan from the Nationals of the late-2000s to ensure plenty of poor fielding and explosive temper tantrums. We'll also add Milton Bradley to the mix for the same reasons. We're confident we can develop a jovial outfield threesome from this collection of friendly individuals.
We'll need to include Ty Cobb in this mix, too, just to ensure we have somebody really mean and uncomfortable in the locker room to clash a bit with some of the others. And Jimmy Piersal, whose litany of issues included delusions that led to him running the bases backward. He sounds like he'd fit right in.
Mickey Mantle will also be a good way to keep the drinks and liaisons flowing, and might help to lure Marilyn Monroe into the fold.
It'll be a crowded outfield. Luckily everybody on this list is likely to respond well to a role on the bench.
While there are many fun options here, we're going to have to go with Eddie Gaedel, the 3'7" pinch-hitting experiment. Having retired with a career batting line of one plate appearance with one walk, we'll happily take his 1.000 career OPS and be content with a guaranteed baserunner every time he comes up. Unfortunately, we doubt he'll be the greatest runner, so we'll need to keep a pinch runner on hand as well, and for that we'll use Billy Hamilton, maybe the fastest player in the history of the game. We might also consider Gerardo Parra, so that he can teach Barry Bonds how to dance.
Mark Fidrych is perhaps the most entertaining starting pitcher ever, so he'll be at the top of our rotation. And for sheer power, we'll keep Randy Johnson on the team. We'll pitch him on back-to-back days just to see what happens, since he's generally been good at that in the past. And whenever Fidrych or Johnson are pitching, we'll release a flock of birds on the field, you know, just to see what happens. Clearly, both men share different feelings for winged animals.
And for sheer impressiveness, we'll include late-career, possible (allegedly) steroided Roger Clemens and his arm of steel. For the ultimate in finesse ,we'll compliment Randy Johnson with Tom Glavine and his 83-mile per hour fastball.
Speaking of control, how about Rick Ankiel.
We might also include Curt Schilling to join forces with John Rocker in our postgame interviews. We'll see where that goes.
So that none of those individuals get too cocky, we'll induce a media mob with Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo.
Lest we create too much stability, we'll also need some hotheads to keep things interesting in the bullpen. Some guys with a proclivity toward fighting should help keep things interesting, so we'll throw in Carlos Zambrano and maybe Chris Archer. And we'll give Trevor Bauer a shot, but only if he can throw the ball over the center-field fence.
We might also give some consideration to uber-intense Max Scherzer.
And for sheer silliness, we'll include overzied Bartolo Colon.
Like outfield, this is sure to be among the most entertaining areas of the team.
We'll need some crazily hard-throwing and wild pitchers as the bullpen's foundation. Guys like Aroldis Chapman and his 105-mile per hour fastball and hard-throwing Mark Wohlers should get us started.
Since we have Bryce Harper on our team, we'll also want to include Jonathan Papelbon and Hunter Strickland as viable relief options, since the three of them are best of friends.
Just to create competition with Trevor Bauer throwing the ball over the center field fence, we'll add notorious "Nasty Boy" Rob Dibble to the mix, since he also once threw the ball over the center field fence.
No entertaining team would be complete without John Rocker and his oh-so-memorable career of highly measured politically correct off-the-field comments. Rocker was perhaps the most entertaining closer of all time.
Frank Francisco could help complement our bullpen with a nice stable demeanor. Since the bullpen is likely to be crowded, we'll give him a folding chair.
And, so that we're really prepared when we need to get down to business and blow the save, we'll add all-time favorite Met Armando Benitez.
Since we'll likely need a voice of steadiness and a calm temper to lead this team, we'll choose Hal McRae, Lou Piniella, or Ozzie Guillen.
We'll offer split ownership to Bill Veeck, who might be the only owner actually able to make a compelling show out of this team, and Jim Crane, for his PR expertise, though his role will be relegated to managing press conferences with John Rocker and Curt Schilling.