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SQ What-If: Baseball Team Without Baseball Players

Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher slapshots the first pitch at a Rays game; AP

What if you had a baseball team full of athletes who didn’t play baseball?

A few weeks ago I was watching Odell Beckham, Jr. set the world record for one-handed catches. Beckham’s circus catches captivated NFL fans this season, but I bet he’s not the only athlete who could do that. In fact, I’m sure a lot of non-football players would be just as good, maybe better at it, than Beckham.

How about a guy like Shaq or Yao Ming with huge hands? They’re not catching a ball in stride or in traffic so football skills aren’t necessarily needed. What about baseball players? David Wright had his famous one-handed grab a few years ago, maybe he should try for the record.

These kinds of questions run through my head all the time, and I’m sure I’m not only one. I frequently have arguments about weird scenarios like this, but I can never get enough of these conversations. 

Enter SQ What-If. What-If is a new platform created to be your outlet for creative, hypothetical sports scenarios that we all love talking about. Be it a hypothetical team on the field or dream Olympic events - you’ll get the chance to argue why your opinion is right. 

Every Monday a new scenario will be posted on the site that contains an open-ended question. The following Sunday, our team will sort through the answers to create an article outlining the best responses to the scenario and why we liked them. The next day a new scenario will be posted. 

This means we want to hear what YOU have to say! Tell us your answer to our What-If in the comments below, and your answer could appear in our article Sunday!

For the inaugural What-If we want to cure some of the off-season blues for baseball fans eager for Spring Training. 

The Scenario: Pick a baseball team using any athlete that never played professional baseball.

The athletes can be living or dead, and assume that all athletes on your team are at the peak of their career. Any sport is welcome, as long as they never seriously played baseball. Guys like Michael Jordan or Ryan Tannehill would be good candidates, but since they played baseball (even at the minor league level) they are disqualified. 

There is also a limit of three quarterbacks, since QBs have the best arm power and probably would translate easiest to throwing a baseball. 

The roster should include: C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, RF, SP, RP, CP

Can you imagine Joe Montana pitching to Shaq, who throws to LeBron to catch Michael Phelps stealing 2nd? What if Jesse Owens used his outfield range to rob Domenik Hasek from a big fly? What if…

Our Picks

Luke Hoban

C: Vladislav Tretiak. The Soviet Red Army goalie is arguably the greatest butterfly goalie of all time. His bat will be terrible but I’m willing to sacrifice that. 

1B: LeBron James. He’s a lefty, which is important. He’s also huge and could probably catch anything within six feet of him.

2B: Chris Paul. Great footwork and reactions, he’d keep everything in front of him and act as the field marshal of the infield. Also a prototypical #2 hitter.

3B: Manuel Neuer. The World Cup-winning goalie is known for quick reactions and excellent distribution, which is crucial at the hot corner. Again, I’m willing to take a hit with the bat here for defensive prowess.

SS: Randall Cunningham. His range would be incredible, and he would be able to throw to first on the run.

LF: Calvin Johnson. He’d essentially be a wide receiver in the outfield, and would be a middle-of-the-order slugger as well.

CF: Jesse Owens. His speed is legendary, and he’d be an excellent lead-off hitter. He’d also be a Gold-Glove caliber outfielder and an amazing locker room presence.

RF: Rob Gronkowski. If he could make his Gronk spikes horizontal instead of vertical, he’d have the best arm of any outfielder in the league.

SP: Peyton Manning. Very cerebral and accurate, and would develop multiple out pitches.

RP: Yao Ming. Yao would get some serious downhill velocity on his pitches, and could perform admirably for a few at bats each game.

CP: Brett Favre. Same deal as Manning except with a stronger arm. He’d be an excellent flame-thrower at the end of games.


Nick Cicere

C: Patrick Roy. His soul is blacker than Longfellow Deeds’ frostbitten foot, and you know he’s bodying up anything in the dirt. Give me a no-nonsense backstop, as Roy makes Brian McCann look like Pope Francis.

1B: Anthony Davis. Those long arms and new-found bulk make him an ideal guy at first. The bat may take some time to develop, but he has effortless power that translates well. 

2B: Doug Flutie. Scrappy Dappy Doo! A throwback Dustin Pedroia, his arm, size and rare mobility would be on full display. Despite a limited bat, he’s a certain Gold Glover.

3B: J.J. Watt. Showcases unique size at the position, while his work ethic and massive power make him a prototypical corner infielder/three-hole hitter. Even though he may always be connected to PED’s with those massive arms, he’s the face of the franchise. 

SS: Lionel Messi. Unmatched lateral quickness and leadership in the clubhouse are too much to pass on. Flutie and Messi twisting two? Child, please. 

LF: Darrelle Revis. He brings a low-key swagger to the ball club, but his range and pre-pitch smarts are his biggest attributes. Prototypical leadoff hitter with sneaky speed. 

CF: Ed Reed. Isn’t afraid to take risks in the outfield, and more often than not, he’s right. Elite athleticism in center is always a plus. A top of the order bat that hits more home runs than expected. 

RF: Joe Flacco. Posses eliteness unlike any athlete to ever step foot on a sporting field, so what’s not to like? His strong right arm and middle-of-the-order strength are also a plus. 

SP: Philip Rivers. His strange mechanics would be extremely deceptive to opposing batters, making up for his average velocity. Real crafty on the mound, Rivers brings a firecracker attitude that only his teammates and fanbase will defend. 

RP: Jon “Bones” Jones. Long arms and frame bring a whip-like action that result in big-time velocity, and in the late innings, I want guys that are bringing the gas. Plus, if he hits you, it’s not like you’re going to charge the mound…

CP: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Zlatan knows that he’s the best, and Zlatan won’t back down from a challenge in the last frame. Transitional size and strength are Zlatan’s biggest attributes, aside from being Zlatan. 


Evan Ormond

C: Jim Craig. An American hero. He was the goalie for the biggest hockey game ever and is certainly clutch. Game 7 of the World Series, you think Craig is letting anything by him? No chance. 

1B: Kevin Durant. Tall, long, and could catch anything. No ground ball would get by him and it would be impossible to throw it over his head. His arms might make hitting a bit difficult but I have enough faith in his athletic ability that he will adjust.

2B: Sidney Crosby. Has amazing hands and quick footwork. Like all baseball players, he can’t fight, so he’ll fit right in. Also would have the worst moustache of any MLB 2nd basemen ever aside from Jeff Kent. 

3B: LeBron James. Perhaps the most insane athlete ever created. He could really play any of these positions, but at third he gives you power from the plate, speed on the bases, and length and quickness necessary to defend that short corner. No matter where he is, his strength will allow him to make the throw to first.

SS: Russell Westbrook. Has the cockiness you need at short, the lateral quickness and length to reach any ball, and could make any throw. His attitude might make developing chemistry with Crosby a bit difficult, but at any rate, Westbrook might just take the ball and turn two himself every play. 

LF: Calvin Johnson. A repeat, I know, but he is irresistible in the outfield with speed, height, length, and ball-tracking ability. You would have to not only hit it very far from him to get a hit, but also the ball would have to reach about the 20th row in order to get a Home Run. 

CF: Kawhi Leonard. Speed and lateral ability with massive hands to boot. He’s quiet, but has a killer instinct. He’ll catch anything and throw you out while never changing his expression. 

RF: Richard Sherman. Like Kawhi, he will throw you out. Unlike Kawhi, he will surely let you know about it. Even if he’s all the way in the outfield, you’ll hear about everything he does all the way at the plate. How valuable is it to have a guy who can trash-talk the batter from the outfield? Amazing tracking skills and hands. 

SP: Joe Namath. Strong arm and unmatched confidence. His forte is velocity, but his toughness allows him to battle through innings and always get late into the game, wearing down the hitters. Plus, he only has to play every five games… and you and I both know that Broadway Joe likes to have fun, even if he has a game the next day. 

RP: Wilt Chamberlin. Huge, in every sense of the word. I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but I really don’t know how you hit a fastball from Wilt. He might never give up a hit and only needs one pitch.

CP: Marshawn Lynch. Closers are all business. Come in and in and get the job done. As a closer, you have to be able to battle and have an innate drive for the finish line. His size isn’t ideal, but his fastball has good speed and he has underrated offspeed stuff. He possesses the swagger necessary for a closer and will never get rattled.


Noah Thomas

C: Martin Brodeur. Perhaps the greatest goaltender of all time, Brodeur leads the NHL in so many categories. The man knows how to win games, and with Brodeur behind the plate, nothing will reach the backstop.

1B: Chris Pronger. Pronger gives you lots of power at 1st base. The 6’6” defenseman is an absolute beast that will most certainly hit the ball hard when he connects well. Additionally, Pronger would never be afraid to get down and do whatever it takes to keep the ball in front of him, something pretty essential at first.

2B: Tony Parker. Tony Parker has some of the best footwork I’ve ever seen. Parker will get to most balls in the hole and make most double plays look like a breeze.

3B: David De Gea. De Gea is one of the best shot stoppers in the world. You need quick reactions at the hot corner, and he definitely is not lacking there. De Gea also does not worry me with his arm, which I have lots of confidence in.

SS: Chris Paul. Paul demonstrates great footwork out there on the basketball court, and that is what I want out of my shortstop. Additionally, his passing prowess gives me confidence in the double-play department.

LF: Garreth Bale. Bale is one of the fastest footballers in the world. In left, I need a speed but not the arm that is necessary in right. Bale could track anything down, and he gives you a left-handed bat to throw into the lineup.

CF: Odell Beckham Jr. The guy can track down anything. His glove would be unreal. The bat might take a while, but it would be worth it.

RF: Michael Vick. In right field, I could use someone fast with a good arm. Michael Vick was the first person that came to mind. Vick used to be able to sling the ball down the field and get out of the pocket and run.

SP: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL right now. His precision and arm strength would be a nightmare for hitters, and that is who I want to send out to the mound to start a game.  

RP: Manuel Neuer. Neuer is a big man who isn’t afraid of anything. Put the German #1 in any situation, and he’ll be composed and stop the bleeding for you. The big man would pound it in there and make it tough on any hitter.

CP: Tim Duncan. Nothing at all fazes Tim Duncan. Duncan gets the job done whenever asked. His height provides a nice downhill plane, and he would get the job done whenever called on.  


Andy Narotsky

C: Domenik Hasek. He holds the all-time record for save percentage, and I doubt anything would get by The Dominator. Hasek also has a fiery temper, which he could use to hammer home runs. 

1B: Wilt Chamberlain. Unbelievably dominant in his time, the Stilt would have one of the most unreal stretches at first. His 7’1” wiry frame wouldn’t yield a ton of power, but his offense would be saved by the fact that he only needs three steps to reach 1st base. 

2B: Pete Maravich. The Pistol was dextrous, shifty, quick and creative. I imagine he would make many impressive flip plays for double plays and lots of bloop singles. 

SS: Ed Reed. Reed has been playing opposite of SS’s his entire career, and I’m sure his ball-hawking range would translate well into the diamond. His footwork from the gridiron would help the Reed-Maravich double play unit excel over all others in the league.

3B: Magic Johnson His quick feet and athletic-to-stocky build would give him perfect attributes at the hot corner. He’s also an electric personality who would be stellar on any team.

RF: Randy Moss. Range, range, range. Plus he’ll catch everything.

CF: Jerry Rice. Stickum, stickum, stickum. Plus he won Dancing with the Stars so, I mean, that shouldn’t not count. 

LF: Jim Kelly. Kelly would have a cannon in left field, and I think he would get speedsters trying to score from 2nd on a single every single time. 

SP: Doug Flutie. The QB owns one of the most clutch moments in college football history, but Flutie also had the consistency in his career that you want from a starter.

RP: Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Watching Big Z stride halfway to the batters’ box at you in the 8th inning would be enough to intimidate any hitter, and leveraging that lanky frame into his arm speed could have Ilgauskas really firing at the strike zone. 

CP: Ashton Eaton. The greatest athlete in the world may even be limited in a relief pitcher role, but his performance in shot put, discus, and javelin coupled with his general athletic ability lead me to believe he could shut down any batter in the 9th. 

Like our teams? Can you do better? Show us in the comments

Edited by Jeremy Losak.

SQuiz
Which famous goalie is accused of assaulting another player in an inline hockey game in 2003?
Created 2/22/15
  1. Roberto Luongo
  2. Ryan Miller
  3. Martin Brodeur
  4. Dominik Hasek

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