February 9, 2010
Have you seen the new TV show called "Shaq Vs."? I've only seen one episode, but the general idea is to have Shaquille O'Neal take on some of the world's greatest atheletes in their own sports. In the episode I saw, Shaq was swimming against Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps. Of course, they had to severely handicap the event by giving Shaq about a 5 lap head start, but it was entertaining nonetheless.
I've talked to some people who think the show is pretty lame, and I agree to a certain extent, but I love the general idea behind the show. I'm not sure if anybody else does this, but I am constantly inventing fictional matchups between athletes in one sport and athletes in another sport and predicting what the outcome would be. Probably my favorite thing to do is to make a lineup for one sport using only the players from another sport. For instance, what if I had to select the starting 5 for a basketball team using only pro Tennis players? Or what if I had to pick a full 25-man baseball roster using only players from the PGA?
Yes, it's a weird hobby, but it's actually pretty fun. Yesterday, in honor of the Super Bowl, I wondered if, using only active MLB players, I could devise a football team that could take on the New Orleans Saints. Within about 30 minutes, I came up with a team that I think could at least play a respectable game against the Saints (well maybe not the Saints, but the Lions perhaps). Here is the list, and as you read it keep in mind that although a lot of these players are in their late 20's and older (which is over the hill for most positions in the NFL), remember that a 32 year old baseball player is in much better shape than a 32 year old football player whose body has taken a beating for the past 15 years. Anyway, here's the team...
Quarterback Todd Helton (6'2,210)
Yes, he's past his prime, but it's hard not to go with Helton to take the snaps. He played QB at Tennessee and at one point ranked ahead of Peyton Manning on the depth chart. Plus he's a fierce competitor and a great leader.
Offensive Line Adam Dunn (6'6,285), CC Sabathia (6'7,290), Prince Fielder (5'11,270), Carlos Zambrano (6'5,255), John Lackey (6'6,245)
Unfortunately there aren't any 300 pounders to put on the line, but what these guys lack in size they'll make up for in determination and toughness.
Running Backs Jose Reyes (6'1,200), Carl Crawford (6'2,215)
Crawford has quick feet and good enough size to pick up 5-10 yards consistently up the middle. And if Reyes can find his way to the outside, he'll beat just about anybody in a footrace.
Wide Receivers Jeff Samardzija (6'5,220), Hanley Ramirez (6'3, 225)
Samardzija is a no-brainer given his stellar college football career with the Fighting Irish, and Ramirez has the speed, agility, and hands to be a mid-range and long-range threat.
Tight End Alex Rodriguez (6'3,230)
Regardless of what you think about ARod, he clearly belongs on this roster. He's a pure athlete with the size and strength to make a formidable Tight End.
Defensive Line Justin Morneau (6'4,235), Joba Chaimberlin (6'2,230), Ryan Howard (6'4,260), Miguel Cabrera (6'4,240)
All four of these guys have a ton of strength and should be able to put some good pressure on Drew Brees.
Linebackers Jermaine Dye (6'5,245), Albert Pujols (6'3,230), Matt Holliday (6'4,235)
These hard-hitters will send Reggie Bush to the sideline with some bruised ribs. Incidentally, Holliday was recruited to play big-time college football as a quarterback, so he'd make a great backup for Helton as well.
Cornerbacks BJ Upton (6'3, 185), Jacob Ellsbury (6'1,185)
Upton and Ellsbury have the athleticism to go one-on-one with the league's best receivers.
Safeties Grady Sizemore (6'2,200), Michael Bourn (5'11, 180)
If Sizemore and Bourn get as good a jump on a QB pass as they do on a baseball hit into the gap, Brees won't have a chance at going deep.
Kicker Izzy Alcantara (6'2,180)
Yes, he's retired, but I think I he's by far the best kicker we've got and I think I could convince him to come out of retirement. If you're not familiar with Alcantara, he's the former Red Sox player who once karate-kicked the catcher after being brushed back with a pitch.
So there you have it. I'd put these guys on the field against the Saints any day of the week (well, against the Lions at least). I know, if you really took this scenario seriously it would probably be a blowout, but comparitively, how do you think a team of NFL players would fare in a baseball game against the New York Yankees?
Alan Schuster is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.