It’s a slow news day, so building off of the previous post in praise of Jose Oquendo, Mike Gallego, and knuckleball, I offer you my all-time idosyncratic, oddball, knucklehead, misfit, reject team. This team doesn’t consist of my alll time favorite or exciting players — stabs at those can be found here and here — and it certainly isn’t a team I think could win anything. Like a commenter said this afternoon, this is my version of the Harlem Globetrotters. Something fun to watch and be around, but not anything that represents good baseball in any real sense. For what it’s worth:
C: Sal Fasano — It’s all about the mustache.
1B: Dimitri Young — I’m guessing he knows how to keep things light. Besides, I’m going to be managing this team and I’m going to need someone around like ‘Da Meat Hook so I’m not the worst looking guy in a uniform.
2B: Davey Lopes — we’re three guys in and all three have mustaches. Hmm, maybe I should talk to my psychiatrist about this. Beyond the facial hair, however, I put Lopes in because (a) I have to have some competent baseball players on this team; and (b) I can’t have a second basemen worse than Oquendo or Gallego, or else I’d be tempted to give them more playing time than I want to. Like I said this morning: I want them around to shoot the breeze with me in the dugout, coach a little, and to go in and be the catcher in the 7th inning or something. They can’t be expected to do that if they’re starting regularly.
SS: UL Washington — Hmm, Gallego and Oquendo would probably be able to start ahead of Washington. I’ll risk it, though, because I plan on eating a lot of corned beef sandwiches on the bench and I may need to borrow a toothpick from him to get the caraway seeds out of my teeth.
3B: Richie Hebner — Lots of reasons. The gravedigger thing is obvious — he probably has some good stories to share along those lines — but he has a mustache too, and that’s apparently a big deal on this team. Oh, and he’s the guy that authored that line about how hitting Phil Neikro’s knuckleball was like eating soup with a fork. Given the composition of my pitching staff, it will be important for team chemistry to have around someone who respects and fears the knuckly arts like Hebner does. UPDATE: Many have noted that the soup with a fork line was said by Willie Stargell, not Hebner. That seems to be borne out by some Googling, but Hebner’s Wikipedia page credits him. I’m going to assume that this is an instance in which Hebner himself is spreading self-aggrandizing lies via his own Wikipedia page. If that’s the case, he’s even more welcome on this team because that’s the kind of subtle chaos I can get behind.
RF: King Kelly — He played everywhere, so in some ways he was a proto-Oquendo. Different era, of course, so we’ll stick him in the outfield where he played more than anywhere else as far as these things can be determined. A mustache to rival Fasano’s, and behavior that would make Dimitri Young look like Dale Murphy.
CF: Dale Murphy — The only position player without a mustache would be forced to room with Young and Kelly on road trips because, oh God, that would be awesome. Murphy gets the roll-away bed.
LF: Lonnie Smith — Oquendo, Gallego and I are going to get bored during those innings the ShysterBall All-Stars are giving up 15 runs because the prevailing winds aren’t helping our knucklers, and watching Skates fall all over the outfield will provide numerous opportunities to laugh and/or gamble.
Bench: Oquendo and Gallego of course. I’ll forego much more of a bench for the time being because (a) those two can backup anyone; and (b) Lopes, Hebner, and Murphy are the only guys who seem like they’d exert themselves all that much, so not too much rest will be required. Besides, we’re probably barnstorming with this crew, so there will be a lot of days off built in, forfeits, days the bus is broken down, etc., so no one is going to be too gassed. Which reminds me: our strength and conditioning guy will be Bob Horner.
Starters: Phil Niekro, Joe Niekro, Charlie Hough, Ed Cicotte and, because we don’t want batters digging in too much, Steve Dalkowski.
Relievers: Jim Bouton, Hoyt Wilhelm, and whichever of the starters aren’t going that day. The beauty of the knuckleball: keeps payroll low.
I think we’d have fun with this crew, don’t you?