Welcome to Top 5 Fun Friday, a regularly-occurring blog feature where I give you a list of extremely specific pointless shit from my life no one asked for. Why? Because it’s now 2022 and I still find myself BEGGING the internet for fun little diversions to read, so I have to create some of this shit myself. This week’s list…
Top 5 Fictional Baseball Players I’m Building My Fake Team Around
Since it’s now September, baseball games take on greater meaning and a heavier degree of importance. I mean, not here in Colorado this year (or most years), but if you’re a baseball fan, it’s hard not to get excited about postseason action! Combine this with that delightful reboot of A League of Their Own, and I got thinking about fictional baseball players.
And since I’ve seen a shitload of posts from people doing their fantasy football drafts (Quick PSA: Don’t ever ask me to join any fantasy league you’re involved with because I’m not interested), I thought I’d do my own dumbass little version of it to get in the spirit of things. So, since this is Top 5 Fun Friday and I love baseball movies, let’s go through my first 5 selections of this hypothetical fantasy draft. The only rule here is that these players have to be totally fictional, so I can’t take, like, Shoeless Joe Jackson from Field of Dreams or Tim Hudson from the A’s in Moneyball. That wouldn’t be fun. We have to go full absurdism here!
C – Jake Taylor of the Cleveland Indians
I need a leader on the field. A coach. An oracle. A problem solver. Someone all the guys look up to. That’s Jake. True, Jack Parkman is an absolute eater of worlds in Major League II and another catcher, but Parkman is also a colossal prick. The other choice here I suppose could be Crash Davis from Bull Durham, but Crash Davis’s longest stretch in The Show was 21 days. Taylor was an all-star once upon a time in Boston, according to dialogue from Manager Lou Brown.
It’s interesting (perhaps only to me) that Taylor, played by Tom Berenger had a relationship with Rene Russo’s character in Major League, and that Russo had a relationship with Kevin Costner’s (who played Crash Davis) character in Tin Cup, another professional athlete. I wonder if a Tom Berenger character ever hooked up with a Susan Sarandon character in another movie to complete this weird little circle. I’m not going to look it up, but I wonder!
Anyway, Jake Taylor is the glue of the Indians. Sure, he’s got busted knees and can’t really throw worth a shit, but he can coax an elevator shaft pop-up out of a hitter when the game’s on the line and threaten to “Cut off the nuts and shove ‘em down the fuckin’ throat” of his own teammate for tanking plays. That’s my guy. That’s my leader.
1B – Jack Elliot of the Chunichi Dragons
Lotta great choices here at first base as well as I waffled between the smooth, even-keeled consistency of Lou Collins of the Twins from Little Big League (a shockingly enjoyable movie underrated because of its ludicrous premise), and Jack Elliot from Mr. Baseball. Ultimately I needed power, and Elliot has that in spades. He adds a new wrinkle to his game thanks to his relentless coach “The Chief” and manages to hit breaking stuff for average to all fields.
I know I shunned Parkman because he’s a prick, and so is Elliot, but who can resist the sexy allure of Tom Selleck’s mustache? He and Taylor would have an interesting dynamic since they’re clearly both baseball lifers and near the end of their usefulness, but for (what’s a buttfor?) the younger players on this fake team I’m constructing that I’m slowly losing the thread of why I’m doing this, their mentorship is invaluable.
This is one reason you don’t want me in your fantasy league. I start writing little stories about how these guys interact with each other as if it were an actual team instead of just staring at numbers and how they stack up against another column of numbers which seems about as fun as doing my fucking taxes. But I digress! Jack Elliot – manning 1st base for me on the Fictional Jon Eks Fantasy Baseball Team!
CF – “All the Way” Mae Mordabito of the Rockford Peaches
I like troublemakers, apparently!
You: We know.
Me: Shut up.
Here’s my leadoff hitter and primary shit-stirrer. She covers all the ground in center (sometimes catching a ball in her hat!), and then legs out a triple or an infield single to get things cooking. She can clearly ball, but she doesn’t make that her sole preoccupation as she’s also in many ways a more fully realized woman than her teammates on the Peaches. That’s probably due to the oppressive patriarchy of 1940s America against which Mae seems to have the antidote, but also means Mae can stand up to the blunt force masculinity of Jack Elliot and whoever else ends up on this team and not get intimidated.
To break kayfabe here for a second, I’ve read a bunch of essays about Madonna thanks to “The Number Ones” on Stereogum. And Madonna has now remained relevant for more than 40 years. When someone can carve out an iconic place in our collective consciousness like that for that long a time, they become not so much a person, but a concept – an abstraction. That was less a problem thirty years ago than it is today, but it serves to make me appreciate the beautiful humanity she brings to this role even more when I rewatch this movie.
“All the Way” Mae hits leadoff for me, annoys the opposing catcher, and serves as my spark plug. Booya!
LF – Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez of (eventually) the Los Angeles Dodgers
Look, this guy pickled The Beast and became a hometown legend at the tender age of what, 12? I always say in my own business, or when I’m coaching people to be better public speakers, that if you make bold choices, the universe tends to reward you for it. So when Benny pickled The Beast, then stole home to win the game for his hometown Dodgers as a pinch runner all those years later, it’s no surprise he succeeded in both. Benny is the heart and soul of any team. He knows he’s the best player on pretty much any field he’s on, but he’s still the team’s biggest cheerleader.
In my freshman year of high school there was a senior who was an All-American, one of the best swimmers in the entire state, and had a full ride to Northwestern waiting for him. Meanwhile, I was struggling to learn a new standup backstroke start that turned my back beet red practice after practice after practice after backflopping repeatedly. I did that start well exactly once, and it was during our District Championships. I dropped a bunch of time and had what was up to that point the race of my life. Our Team Captain says to me at the team dinner afterward, “Dude, that backstroke start was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. You’re a legend, my man.” I had finished 21st.
This guy went on to become a Big Ten champion in multiple races, held school records at Northwestern, finished in the Top 20 in the US Olympic Trials in 2000, and currently coaches swimming for one of the top college programs in the country. And I’ll never forget how great he made me feel with his words in that Old Chicago in Arvada. That’s Benny the Jet, and that’s a guy who makes your entire team better. Plus, it seems like he can play pretty much any position, so that’s helpful from a practical standpoint.
P – “The Rocket” Chet Steadman of the Chicago Cubs
I toyed with the idea of putting Ebby Calvin LaLoosh here, and while his million dollar arm is appealing, his ten cent head is a deal breaker for me. No no, I’m looking for a flamethrower, but I prefer mine to be a surly old curmudgeon who looks like he taught Doc Gooden how great cocaine was in the 80s. Yep, that’s my guy! My ace! My #1 hurler!
Look, I could bullshit you and concoct a bunch of fake reasons I want Chet Steadman on this team – veteran leadership, heart of gold, after mentoring Henry Rowengartner he’d know how to interact with Benny The Jet, blah blah blah – but the truth is I just want Gary Busey’s unhinged energy on this team. He’s nuts. It’s a throwaway line in the movie, but Henry asks him how his airplane food is, and Busey responds, “One of the best Salisbury steaks I’ve ever had, you want some?”
It’s airplane food! Where the fuck did they cook that steak? I’ve never seen a flight attendant standing over an open Weber asking people how they like their burgers. Only a lunatic cokehead thinks a steak he eats on a plane is one of the best of his entire life.
I love this roster so much. I wish it were real, just so I could hang out with these characters all together. Call it the Fictional Baseball Cinematic Universe!
Of course in baseball terms, over a 162 game season, I’ll bet they’d go 59-103.