Sunday Rewind: “All-Christmas Squad 2008″
I first posted this on December 16,2008 and wanted to include some of our favorite Christmas characters into a baseball scenario. So this is my All-Star Christmas Team for the 2008 season. Hopefully within the next few days I will also have a posting on my 2009 selection to the squad………Maybew this year I will pick Super Heroes..hmmmmmI do not have one of these nights very often, but I seem to get them more and more during the Holiday season. I do not know why, but I have a bit of a insomnia around the Christmas Holidays. So I went on MLBlogs.com and was strolling and checking out the Christmas blogs and “wish lists” when I thought to myself, I said “Self, what would be the ultimate Christmas baseball team?” So I thought it was the right time of the year to come up with a stellar squad of icons and characters for the holidays.
And being bit tired and delirious, I somehow answered myself that I should find the right combination of Christmas-based characters both human and cartoon characters to field the perfect Holiday baseball squad. Now I do not know why, but this sounded like a fantastic idea so early in the morning. So I hit into my past memories of great Christmas moments on film and television and mettled, cursed and prodded as I searched my brain for past names, wild photos and even a airdate that the original movie/cartoon was presented to the world.
Let me tell you that sometimes even Wikipedia can’t help you on a quest for a team like this one. So I used every memorable holiday phrase and try to recount audible soundsfrom the past to try and determine the right pairing of 10 players and coaches for the Polar Express. Now I did this in a variation of using at least 5 cartoon personalities and 7 human figures as my fantasy team. Being that we are playing in the North American League, I have instituted the Designated Santa on my team.
I think this squad as the right hint of animation and perfect human element to make this team a sure fire winner in the Winter Leagues. So I will introduce my 2008 team moving from the 1-9 positions in the lineup, then I will divulge the 2 special coaches for the team. But we have to first begin with our outstanding mound presence on our squad.
Now that we have the pitching and catching battery taken care of, I have decided that we do not need any relief pitchers since we might have a 10-run rule going after just the 5th inning knowing the way Charlie Brown pitches to batters’. So let’s get you aquainted with the 5 infield positions on the team.
I wanted my second baseman to be fast and quick as a rabbit, or bunny. He needed to have the killer instinct and the speed to get the toss for the double play, or also cover the bag when Quaid launches a rocket to second to catch a rambling polar bear trying to steal a base trying to get into scoring position. I picked the smart little guy Ralphie Parker from “A Christmas Story” to play second base for me. The movie is a all day affair on TNT nowadays on Christmas Day, and has been another holiday appetizer since its original screening date in 1983.
In the movie, Ralphie showed the moxie I want on second to decide on the fly to either talk about the notorious leg lamp, or just be quiet as a mouse. He also has the fortitude and determination to keep pestering his parents for that Red Ryder BB gun. Hopefully the ball coming in hard and fast from Quaid behind the plate will not put his eye out……..again.
My shortstop has to be quick and have smart reflexes at the same time. He has to be able to use instinct to decide if the throw should be made, or to run and cover second as the pivot man on a ball hit to the first base side of second base. I decided to use a quick guy who is also small and nimble. I think, that Hermie, the dentist elf from ” Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer” would be the perfect guy to man the hole position for the Express. He showed remarkable smart judgement during the movie, which first hit the networks in 1964. And with over 44 years of intelligent moves, should be a valuable additon to the 2008 squad.
Playing third, I had to find a big guy who could move laterally and go blindly and swifty into the foul territory for quick pop-ups. He also had to have some horizontal versatility towards the hole or the chalk on the left-field line. He must be able to leap to and fro anytime it was called for in the contest. He had to also be a power hitter to produce some runs and protection for our little squad. It had to be a movie character from the last 5 years to have youthful vitality and vigor for the position. He had to have the enrgy and the motivation to add to the teams awesome chemistry.
The person who fit this position perfectly to me was Buddy from the movie “Elf.” He has the comedic chops to take one for the team down the line and will sacrifice his body for his craft. Because of this, he was a hands down favorite to make the All-Frozen Tundra team during the time before the spring thaw. His quick wit and glove along with his quick wrists and power stroke should power the ball to all fields and should produce a slim chance of the opposition getting to his liners and high drives to the high walled snow fences.
My choice for leftfield could not have two-left feet. He has to have the agility and the coordination of a leopard. And the guy has to adequately take the position and make it his own by exhibiting speed and smart thinking through the Christmas season. He has to be sure footed and should be able to dance in the outfield while chasing down flares and dying quails. The guy who I think would be a model left-fielder is George Bailey of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” I just hope George remembers to put some zuzu petals in his uniform pockets before he takes the field. You know they are magical.
I wanted to have a shrewd and calculating centerfielder. Someone who could get a baserunner to make a mistake and try and score on his arm, then he guns them down at the plate. I needed someone with a huge heart who would run and run all over the field and get the ball whereever it is in the field. I also needed someone who could exhibit some emotion even if he is a problem-child at times, but play the game on our terms too. And for that reason, I picked Grinch from the movie “The Grinch”. I wanted someone who could go from bad to good in a heartbeat. And if he did make a bad play,or make a questionable play or action on or off the field, I could just say it was the “Grinch being the Grinch.”
I wanted a right-fielder who would not be afraid of the snow wall, or of taking one for the team down the icy foul line. If the ball was in the air long enough, I wanted to see distance and a nice combination of horizontal or vertical movement towards the failing sphere. He needed to have a rifle arm and also a wit about him to keep base runners honest on the basepaths. I chose Ernest from “Ernest Saves Chrsitmas”. This 1988 sequel, to the sequel, to the sequel kept a long line of profitable movies going for over a decade. We needed that kind of staying power in rightfield. A streak like that is contagious on a team. If the team has confidence, they will go above expectations and strive to be the best in the Winter League.
I needed a huge character in this spot in the lineup who evokes the charm and the outward joy of the big guy himself. He has to be able to belly up to the plate and hit it a mile, or at least to the South Pole with every swing. The guy I picked for this position has been cranking out movies for a long time, and also has played the part for several installments of his own movie franchise. I picked Scott Calvin as my Designated Santa from the movie , “The Santa Clause.” He has made this a blockbuster hitting streak by hitting a trifecta of pitches out of the park in this series of movies. That kind of power will be needed in the clutch on this team. It also helps protect the younger hitters on the team by showing the power and the possible results of pitching to this Christmas giant.
Now that we have finished with the fielders and DS position. Let’s meet the two extra ordinary base coaches’ selected for the Polar Express team. Both come with their own set of particular unique in-game behaviors, and both can help baserunners and hitters in the situations during offensive appearances at the plate.
Over at first base we have a guy who makes the ball seem to freeze in mid-air. He has ben instrumental with teaching players how to hit a frozen rope down the line for extra bases for the Express. He has been described as a cold hearted soul, who can melt you with his smile. But his cunning directions and cool and calm manner make him the perfect first base coach for the team.
I am talking about the cool cat also known as the Snow Miser. He was in the 1974 classic movie ” A Year Without Santa Claus“, and has been giving icy banter to opposing players and baserunners for years. His cold demeanor on the basepaths has been legendary for the past 34 years. He uses his cold hard facts to make the opposition freeze in their tracks while diving for low balls or foul pop-ups.
Our third base coach is a Christmas legend and a member of the Kringle Hall of Fame. He is almost as famous as our Designated Santa. He had been blazing the trail like a beacon for years pioneering the use of unique signals and well placed lighting to facilitate the proper transfer of anticipated moves and pre-arranged actions to baserunners’ and batters’ for the Express. He knowledge of reindeer games and his leadership expertise is reknown in the Winter League. I am talking about the brilliant Rudolf.
Since his first sighting on televisions in 1964, he has been leading a lighted path for children and players alike to the real spirit of Christmas. His classic “Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” special is a holiday classic that is without equal. It is for that reason that he should be the perfect third base coach for this high-powered squad of Christmas icons. Both a legendary character by actions and by reputation.