What would your ideal fantasy-baseball lineup be if you had to create it using only characters from classic Nintendo video games?
1. Mega Man, CF
While Mega Man's defense has always been lauded for his high-flying acrobatics and his arm cannon, his true value is as a leadoff hitter. He rarely hits .250, but his suit of armor allows him to crowd the plate, accumulating an average of 243 painless hit-by-pitches a year. And don't worry about Craig Biggio's legal team and their pursuit to strike Mega Man's HBPs from the record books; the Man cares not about records, only championships.
2. Link from Zelda, SS
Only 17 years old, Link is already a fan favorite because of his bravery, humility, and pleasing-to-the-eyes all-green attire. While his defense is exemplary, Link's best attribute is his bat control; he puts every pitch wherever he wants, like a stud slow-pitch-softball player. And despite being the butt of many locker-room jokes involving the large amount of "fairies" he hangs out with, Link has proven to be thick-skinned and unflappable, the Tom Brady of the team.
3. Bald Bull from Mike Tyson's Punch Out, DH
While not the greatest conversationalist, the mad man from Istanbul oozes with intimidation. Much like Manny, Barry, or the Big Hurt in his heyday, the powerful giant causes everyone in the ballpark to stop what they're doing when his name is announced. Sometimes the pitchers wait out the holes in his swing and send him to the bench. Other times he cranks out a 600-foot home run. But the real reward is watching him after a brush-back pitch: Bull starts his "Bull Charge" like a rock in a slingshot, and charges ahead, pouncing the pitcher with a bald-headed assault of thunderous uppercuts.
4. Donkey Kong Jr., RF
The youngest member of the Kong baseball dynasty, Junior made a name for himself when he saved his father from accidentally getting shipped to the zoo because of a clerical error. And while rumors persist that he maintains the cleanup-hitter spot only because his dad's the coach, Junior's long arms send many balls into the stands. As long as the crowd doesn't distract him with bananas.
5. Thomas from Kung Fu, 3B
A man of few words, Thomas has yet to reach his defensive peak because of "mental quirks." He has one of the best arms in the league, but his range is hurt by a mental inability to run up or backpedal, always moving in a side-to-side fashion. His OCD-esque need to wear ninja slippers doesn't help.
6. Dog from Duck Hunt, 1B
Despite having the reputation as a "clubhouse cancer"—one gotten from always laughing at others, no matter how serious the issue—the large canine is an annual Gold Glove recipient. However, his batting leaves much to be desired, as he continues to ignore the advice from the batting instructor to grow opposable digits.
7. Kirby from Kirby's Big Adventure, C
Sure, his blank eyes, rosy cheeks, and always-cheerful demeanor are creepy. But he hasn't let a single wild pitch get by yet. As a tip, don't let him near young, impressionable kids during autograph sessions.
8. Toad from Super Mario Brothers, LF
Only on the team as a favor to the marketable Italian brothers, this diminutive's only attribute is chasing fly balls and catching them in his soft, padded, circular mound-head. In the event that he doesn't get to the ball, it usually turns into an inside-the-park home run, as Toad's 6-inch arm span doesn't allow him to hit the cutoff man.
9. Mario from Super Mario Brothers, 2B
The stocky plumber gets a lineup spot because of his much-admired defense (he is constantly mentioned in steroid rumors because of his vertical leap), his clubhouse leadership, and his hilarious accent. But his offense is horrendous, mostly due to his refusal to give up his plunger.
1. Samus Aran from Metroid
Yes, she's a woman. Yes, her history as a bounty hunter causes others to distrust her. Yes, her body suit might not be legal. But it's all worth it. She has a dfjslajfling arm cannon built in. Literally.
2. Simon Belmont from Castlevania
Nicknamed "Nelson" because of his long blond locks, Simon is a media darling with an entourage that tops 40 members on the weekends. Despite the fame and fortune he's gotten from his changeup ("like it was pulled back on a string, or maybe a whip," the batters often say), Belmont has a deep loneliness. Like the ace pitcher above him, the vampire hunter must shower alone because his teammates don't trust a lifestyle that includes bloody fights with Dracula. Do you really blame them?
3. King Bowser from Super Mario Brothers
An innings-eater in the David Wells vein, Bowser's main pitch is his fastball, reaching into the mid-120s and actually catching on fire. Unfortunately, he also takes after Wells in another respect: hard drinking. Management looks the other way with his alcoholism, though, as the 180-proof liquor keeps his cold-blooded reptilian body warm in the chilly October nights of the postseason.
4. Luigi from Super Mario Brothers
The poster child for the fraud of the Atkins diet, Luigi has long been in the shadow of his stockier, redder brother. But after using his lanky body to its maximum potential and adding a nasty curve ball to his repertoire, he's finally coming into his own as an average starting pitcher. But his true value is marketability. As long as his catch phrases ("Now, that's a spicy meatball!") make the organization $4 million a year, he'll have a rotation spot.
5. Great Tiger from Mike Tyson's Punch Out
After the huge bidding war following his defection from India, everyone thought Tiger would become the next great pitcher. However, his refusal to remove his turban during games has cost him dearly, as the flashy jewel embedded in front tips his pitches.
Glass Joe from Mike Tyson's Punch Out
Now in the twilight of his mediocre career, Glass Joe tips his pitches, gets tired early (after five or so innings), and is a horrible fielder due to his awkward side-to-side backpedaling technique. So why is he on the squad? It's a fact that every successful team has a wacky, one-screw-loose character in the bullpen, just to make those 14-3 games a little more exciting. And Glass Joe is he.
Pit from Kid Icarus
Despite being below the major league's age cutoff, his mythological status exempts him from the rule.
Ozzie Guillen-esque in his inability to convey audible words or coherent directions to his team, the grizzled veteran succeeds by being a much-needed stoic presence during the long season. And when his players disagree with a call, Kong backs them as any good manager would. Unfortunately, now and then he overreacts and throws barrels at them, forcing him to watch the rest of the game on TV.
McSweeneys has a semi-regular baseball/fantasy column that is always good. I highly recommend their heckling columns:
This past summer at a Pirates-Angels game, my friends and I had managed to work our way to four rows back from the dugout—prime heckling area. As Vladimir Guerrero stepped out of the dugout to take some practice swings, I realized something funny: Vladimir is a Russian name. Immediately, I shouted, "Hey, Vladimir, why don't you go back to Russia? COMMIE!" He paused for a second, but didn't give us any recognition. After he went down swinging, my friend shouted, "Nice cuts, comrade!" That got us a big, fat middle finger. Needless to say, it made the night complete.
OK. That's all.