'Tis the season for fantasy baseball drafts. While you prep for your draft — you probably have one this weekend, right? — we thought about another type of fantasy baseball draft. A fantasy fantasy baseball draft. Yep, twice the fantasy. It's a draft of fictitious players. From movies, TV, books, video games, etc.
We gathered seven baseball writers — David Brown, Kevin Kaduk and Mike Oz from Big League Stew, Yahoo! Sports columnist Jeff Passan and Yahoo! fantasy experts Scott Pianowski, Andy Behrens and Brandon Funston. Each of us mined our brains for the stars and the sleepers of fictional baseball.
[Baseball 2013 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
You can see the round-by-round picks below, along with some smack talk and reaction. Once you've read through our picks, chime in on who you think has the best team, who we overvalued and who we forgot.
1.01: - Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez, "The Sandlot" (Scott Pianowski)
Unlike many of the picks in the early rounds, I'm not going to have signability issues with this pick. Rodriguez is also a high character guy (remember, he never gives Smalls a hard time), a five-tool athlete, and someone who plays a premium position. If I nail this selection, I've set up my franchise for 10-15 years. The marketing department already loves him. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.
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1.02: Steve Nebraska, "The Scout" (Andy Behrens)
Scott definitely drafted from the better movie. No argument there. But in so doing, he passed on a guy who's pretty clearly the best pitcher and the best hitter available. Just check the tape.
By selecting Nebraska, I've managed to address nine of the 10 standard fantasy categories with a single pick. So the draft is basically a coronation at this point. (Note: I considered Roy Hobbs, but hate taking on so much injury risk in the first round).
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1.03: Sidd Finch, via Sports Illustrated and George Plimpton (David Brown)
You guys are already toast. He could throw 168 mph fastballs and curves at 110 that burned holes in the mitt of Ronn Reynolds back in the spring of '85. Born in England, educated in a Tibetan monastery, learned to play the French horn and frequently quoted Buddha and other philosophy written in Sanskrit. When curious reporters asked to speak with Finch, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre would tell them, "He's gone. You've got to get here by 6 a.m." Was he the greatest April Fool's joke in history, or is that the biggest April Fool's joke in history, that he wasn't real?
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1.04: Kelly Leak, "The Bad News Bears" (Kevin Kaduk)
The ultimate ringer, Leak is a five-tool player whose immense talent overshadows any concerns over his makeup. Signability also shouldn't be a problem as his agent Morris Buttermaker has laid out some very reasonable demands: Some motor oil for his dirtbike, a date for the Rolling Stones concert and a carton of smokes.
"Bah. It's all projection with Leak. Killed it in Little League, sure, but we have no idea how the kid will adjust to more advanced levels. Everyone loved Sean Burroughs in '92." — Behrens
"I thought I could get Leak later because he looked *awful* at the combine. But yeah, I wanted him too. I think we all did." — Pianowski
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1.05: Bugs Bunny (Jeff Passan)
How he lasted past the first pick I cannot fathom. I feel like Green Bay in the Aaron Rodgers draft. Benny the Jet grew up to be a pinch runner. Steve Nebraska retired to fight mummies. Sidd Finch got bored with baseball and went back to cricket. Kelly Leak flamed out amid a cloud of cigarette and dirtbike smoke.
Bugs Bunny turned in the single greatest performance in baseball history. This is indisputable. In one game, he played all nine positions at the same time, brought the Tea Totallers back from a 95-0 deficit to score 96 runs by himself against the mighty Gas-House Gorillas and introduced the world to the "slow ball," with which he struck out three batters on one pitch. Due to his diet, Bugs has incredible vision, and team doctors expect him to age well, especially if he stays indoors during hunting season. Guys in the clubhouse love his antics. He's a marketer's dream. This is the epitome of a franchise player.
REACTION: "Leave it to Jeff Passan to write 165 words justifying his choice of a bunny in the first round." — Oz
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1.06: Paste, "Bases Loaded" (Mike Oz)
He comes from the era when baseball video games rarely used players' real names and he's probably the most dominant hitter from any video game, real name or fake. Paste was the big stick for Jersey in "Bases Loaded" for the original NES. A first baseman who could launch the ball out of the stadium seemingly at will, Paste's stats were drool-worthy: .467 batting average and 60 home runs. It wasn't measured in the game, but I'm sure his WAR is something like 35. So yeah, enjoy your rabbits and rebellious teenagers.
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1.07. Roy "The Natural" Hobbs (Brandon Funston)
To put it simply: "Best there ever was, best there ever will be …"
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2.01: Henry Rowengartner "Rookie of the Year" (Funston)
After the Hobbs pick, I needed to get younger in a hurry. Mission accomplished with the 12-year-old Rowengartner, who made hitters like Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla look silly after he arrived on the Cubs scene with his blazing, (tightened-shoulder tendon aided) fastball. I'm hoping for a good 25-30 years from Henry.
REACTION: "See, if you're gonna draft a young player, that's how you do it, Kaduk. Established major leaguer, no known history of substance abuse." — Behrens
"Did you watch the movie? Mark Prior had a longer run of dominance before injuries took him down than Razzenboozler did. Good luck getting out of each inning with the hidden ball trick." — Kaduk
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2.02: Willie Mays Hayes, "Major League" (Oz)
He runs like Hayes and he hits like ... ummm, hopefully Curtis Granderson? Hayes -- I'll use the Wesley Snipes characterization, thanks -- gives me speed, run and hits, complementing the power already on my team. He started to develop a long-ball stroke in "Major League 2." If he can give me additional pop, I'll take it.
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2.03: Leon Carter, "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings" (Passan)
Nothing is more valuable than a franchise catcher, and Leon Carter is the epitome: He's bright (reads W.E.B. DuBois in his spare time), a strong leader and a powerful hitter. Josh Gibson redux in the second round? You're just handing me this league on a platter.
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2.04: Bobby Rayburn, "The Fan" (Kaduk)
"Heya, Bobby!" Now that knife salesman Gil Renard is eating worms after being shot to death at home plate in a driving Candlestick rainstorm, Rayburn is poised to go on a multi-year tear only paralleled by his real life inspiration Barry Bonds. MVP material.
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2.05: Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own" (DB)
A devious pick, because Jimmy Dugan is actually Jimmie Foxx, one of the biggest underachievers among Hall of Famers in baseball history. Not only did he finish his career with 534 homers, but he's one of those guys who had more walks (1,452) than strikeouts (1,311), which is beautiful for a power hitter. Led the league in OPS five times. The only problem was, he was reputed to be an alcoholic whose career was more or less over at age 34. No use crying about it, because there's no crying in baseball.
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2.06: Pablo Sanchez, "Backyard Baseball" (Behrens)
Everyone knows this game, right? Boys and girls from some make-believe neighborhood play pickup ball with the little-kid versions of major league stars — Bonds, Griffey, A-Rod, et al — and li'l Pablo Sanchez is, at all times, the best player on the diamond. Easily. No one is close. Click, click, boom. We don't have the usual worries about projectibility with Pablo (the Kelly Leak problem), because he's been facing the best possible competition.
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2.07: Snoopy, "Peanuts" (Pianowski)
I love it when a plan comes together — this is a perfect mix of talent, pedigree (literally), and marketing. Don't sleep on Snoopy's natural ability; we're talking about a World War II flying ace (Ted Williams, anyone?) and a scratch golfer (Robin Yount, anyone?). And you might recall he made a run at Babe Ruth's 714 homers in the early 70s before Hank Aaron got there first. Having Snoopy in the fold means I also get rights to the future litter — imagine how good Snoopy 2, Electric Boogaloo might be. And the power of animation means I can have Snoopy drawn bigger, faster and stronger as need be. Obviously you guys didn't have Daisy Hill Puppy Farm on your scouting list. For shame.
And then there's the off-the-field potential. You can't walk 50 yards (or turn five TV channels) without seeing a Peanuts shirt, mug, blimp, or other memorabilia. When's the last time anyone spotted a Sidd Finch t-shirt? Even if Snoopy tanks on the field, I know he'll be a home run on the balance sheet. And since he's represented by that blockhead Charlie Brown, contract terms should be a snap.
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3.01: Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh, "Bull Durham" (Pianowski)
Imagine a more likable A.J. Burnett, that's what I'm getting here. All of the flake, none of the downside. LaLoosh has been well-groomed by Annie Savoy and Crash Davis, and the control issues seem to be ironed out. And again I'm not worried about signability - my club has a good relationship with LaLoosh's agent, Griffin Mill. Don't think, meat, you're hurting the club.
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3.02: Jon Dowd, "MVP Baseball" (Behrens)
If we're allowing Dave to select Jimmy Dugan, then Dowd should be allowable, too. Dowd was the fictional player who represented Barry Bonds in EA Sports' "MVP Baseball," back when Bonds opted out of the MLBPA's group licensing agreement. And as you can imagine, Dowd was pretty awesome. (Note: When Mike snagged Paste in Round 1, I knew I'd have to alter my draft strategy. Can't sleep on the video game greats in this league).
"If we were actually playing this league out (not sure how that would happen), then we'd already be at the point where I was offering a discount on the league fee if you just paid me now. This thing ended when Pablo fell to me in Round 2. Sick value." — Behrens
"Congratulations, Andy, for drafting a 7-year-old who can hit a ball over a fence 75 feet away. You sure won the league with that pick." — Passan
"Good luck to all of the guys drafting algorithms or whatever from video games on extinct computer platforms that are trying to play baseball in three dimensions. Quaking!" — DB
"As opposed to the guy whose face never has been seen and the guy managing a women's team." — Passan
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I'll take Kenny Mother****ing Powers, a**holes.
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Every fictional baseball team needs a quirky, slightly pudgy backstop who brings the comic relief. While Hamilton "Ham" Porter and Engelberg were intriguing picks, their inexperience (and affinity for eating entire buckets of KFC, in Engelberg's case) scared me. So I'm going with the guy who once coaxed Ray Kinsella into throwing a perfect game for the Detroit Tigers.
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I am thrilled to play fantasy fantasy baseball with a group of people who missed the memo on integration. First I steal Leon Carter/Josh Gibson in the second round. And now you're giving me Bingo Long, the nom de screen of Satchel Paige. Between Bingo and Bugs, I've got two aces and two icons of comic relief. And just in case Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam learns to shoot straight and nabs Bugs, at least I know Bingo will pitch well into his late 40s.
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The most feared hitter in the first "Major League" movie. It's revealed in the film that Haywood won the triple crown — and even led the league in nosehair, which could be helpful in those horrible fantasy baseball tiebreakers. He was portrayed by real-life MLB pitcher Pete Vuckovich, which wins me points in the mustache arena as well. But, yeah, a triple crown winner in the third round. I'm happy.
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3.07: Damon Rutherford, "The Universal Baseball Association, Inc." (Funston)
Rookie star of the Pioneers of the Universal Baseball Association, son of UBA all-time great Brock Rutherford, owner of a perfect game in his inaugural campaign, religious allegory, figment of J. Henry Waugh's imagination … In Waugh's world, Rutherford's talents are "arousing," to say the least. And I could use a guy like that at the top of my rotation.
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4.01: Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn, "Major League" (Funston)
Alright, I'll take some flak for reaching early on a closer, but what's more intimidating than a ninth-inning stopper with a a fastball that tops out at 101 mph who is straight out of the California penal league?
REACTION: "Rutherford is such a good pick, I won't even give you crap for taking a closer in Round 4." — Behrens
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4.02: Kazuo Uzuki, Japanese teen star via Topps (Oz)
If you can't get Sidd Finch, the next best thing is Kazuo Uzuki, a teenage pitcher from Japan who can throw 104 mph and is ready, out of high school, to pitch in the MLB. He's a creation of Topps baseball cards as an April Fool's prank, but is perfect for the fantasy fantasy draft.
4.03: Joe Hardy, "Damn Yankees" (Passan)
I've got a pair of aces and a franchise catcher. The only thing I need is a shortstop, and even if it took him selling his soul to the devil, he's got pop and a great glove. Bonus: His walk-up music can be Jay-Z's "Lucifer."
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Did I really just pick a Justin Timberlake character from a 2009 Jeff Bridges movie that no one saw? Well, yes, but only because I sure as hell wasn't going to be forced into picking Freddie Prinze Jr. from "Summer Catch." I'm not exactly sure what position Timberlake plays in this movie, but he's very Derek Jeter-like — the transcendent talent that everyone can agree on.
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Although I'm never sure how many "The's" there are in the title, it's an OK Nora Ephron-esque movie in which John Travolta's wife is a hot nice person to balance the hot mean person she was in "Jerry Maguire." But it also has Vin Scully on the soundtrack calling a perfect game in what's expected to be the last performance of a future Hall of Famer. Someone on the internet went and figured out what Billy Chapel's lifetime stats were, and they're pretty good so suck it, as the kids and pro wrestlers say. Why Kaduk went and took Chapel's catcher with Chapel still on the board, who the heck knows.
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I'm glad Dave took Billy Chapel ahead of me, because that's probably the direction I would have gone with this pick. And then I would have felt a ton of pressure to take Crash Davis in Round 5 -- which is way too early -- so as to pair the Costner characters. (Used to always do this with the Giles brothers). Wiggen is a terrific arm from a terrific series, clearly a Chapel-level ace.
4.07: Sherman, "The Baseball Bunch" (Pianowski)
Sherman doesn't show a lot of actual baseball ability, but he's a whiz with numbers - a mix of Bill James, Nate Silver and Brad Evans. If I land this sort of precocious genius, I enable my team to have a significant edge on the spreadsheet. You have to run these teams like a business. The San Diego Chicken approves of this selection.
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I know what you're thinking — he's a golfer, you knucklehead. But like most young and talented athletes, Noonan has abilities in multiple sports. If you think his gorgeous golf swing is worth paying for, wait until you watch him take his cuts in the batting cage. I don't buy the talk of Noonan taking a college scholarship — given his proclivity for gambling and the ladies, he'll need to start earning now. Another crossover star is born. (Oh, and Lou raised the prize of Coke, he's been losing at the track.)
5.02: Davis, 1B, "Mr. Baseball" (Behrens)
I very nearly drafted Jack Elliot, the character played by Tom Selleck in this regrettable movie. But a quick IMDB check reminded me of the reason Elliot was dealt to Japan: Because "Davis," a gigantic rookie played by Frank Thomas — yeah, this Frank Thomas — took his job in the big leagues. We get a brief glimpse of Davis early in the film; he swats 500-foot home runs and fields his position like ... well, like the real-life Frank Thomas never could.
REACTION: "This is one of the best picks of the draft." — DB
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In an ironic twist, and stolen right from under Scott's nose, he's the actual baseball player Michael O'Keefe (of "Caddyshack") played in "The Slugger's Wife." So not only did I draft Danny Noonan after he already had been drafted on the if/come that he also could play baseball, I got the real deal. No speculation here. He broke Roger Maris' record before Sammy and McGwire tried 13 years later, but he could figure out if he wanted to stay married to Rebecca DeMornay or not. So he was kind of a schmuck. Like Danny Noonan, come to think of it!
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OK, so ol' "Mayday" is a bit of a reach here. He has a proclivity for the bottle and his K/BB rate over 312 2/3 innings pitched for the Red Sox was estimated by Sports Illustrated at 40/109! He also owns a bar, which could send teammate Kelly Leak's career into a Josh Hamilton-type tailspin. But as Josh Hamilton can attest, everyone needs a second chance. Even Sam Malone. And with his former pitching coach now dead, we think a few mechanical adjustments could turn him into a comeback player of the year candidate.
REACTION: "Damn, I really wish I had thought of "Mayday." What a great, great, great pick." — Pianowski
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Anybody who plays baseball in the DC Comics world, then turns into a villain who, equipped with a super exoskeleton, kills people with his arm alone, is more than welcome on my team. I've got enough character guys already. I could use a little heel personality. And if he happens to behead Pablo Sanchez with his eponymous pitch, all the better.
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5.06: Sylvester Coddmeyer III, "The Kid Who Only Hit Homers" (Oz)
Seeing as how we've established these players are being drafted at their peak, this one is a no-brainer. In the book, the kid sucks until some "Ghost of Babe Ruth" figure comes along and gives him home-run hitting powers. On my team, he'll hit a home run literally every time he's up. So that ought to make my offensive categories a lock every week.
5.07: Juan Primo, "The Fan" (Funston)
Like a young Johnny Damon, Primo had it all — a true five-tool fantasy talent with looks, charisma and the coolest name that a man could ask for. As a member of my virtual squad, he'll be on strict orders to stay away from all hotel spas.
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Since he won't have to face his nemesis, Roy Hobbs, who I own.
6.02: Jack Parkman, "Major League 2" (Oz)
I try to resist drafting "Major League" guys, but they keep being there. Parkman was a stud, who could hit like the crazy. And he's a catcher, a tough position that I'm getting near the end of our draft. My offense is legit, guys.
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Spoiler alert: He struck out. Oh, well. Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the world and he struck out to end the freaking World Series. At least Casey took the bat off his shoulder. If everyone in Mudville is that bonkers about Casey, he's obviously a middle-of-the-lineup masher.
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Gentlemen, say hello to the steal of the draft. This fella literally has a rocket for an arm. And since he's a robot, I won't have to worry about shutting him down in August, just a mild tuneup or two. Eat your heart out, Mike Rizzo.
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6.05: Hank Contos, "Hardball" (DB)
Too many damn computer programs being picked. Hank Contos, a switch-hitting outfielder for "The Champs," one of the teams on "Hardball," a game I played on my Commodore 64 back in the mid '80s. Now go suck on some microchips.
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6.06: Kiesha Phillips, "Backyard Baseball" (Behrens)
Is Kiesha the first girl selected in this draft? Or was Flybot a lady? Whatever. Kiesha is a mauler, I know that much.
REACTION: "I'm just wondering how you guys had so much time to play all these other inferior games when RBI Baseball existed." — Passan
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6.07: Ahmad Abdul Rahim, "The Bad News Bears" (Pianowski)
Take a lesson from Syracuse University - sometimes you chase the greatness of a number (specifically, 44). Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey and Reggie Jackson nod approvingly. Admad's power should develop nicely into his 20s.
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7.01: Chuck Leyton, "Computer Coach" (Pianowski)
Okay, I read this book a zillion years ago and it's a little hazy — but I remember Leyton being a collegiate catcher who could absolutely rake. Sounds reasonable. I also remember the computer dork in the book landing the pretty girl — that's more of an upset.
7.02: John Barr, "Sometimes You See It Coming" (Behrens)
Barr is a Ty Cobb-ish figure, the game's best player, a clear multi-category fantasy asset. He also brings an edginess that my roster previously lacked. And yup, I'm clearly still dominating this draft.
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7.03: Cecil Stud Cantrell, "Long Gone" (DB)
Player/manager of the Tampico Stogies, also known as William L. Petersen. Also features the naked butt of Virginia Madsen. Not only that, Teller from Penn and Teller is in it and he talks! Now I gotta go watch it.
7.04: Marla Hooch, "A League of Their Own" (Kaduk)
Look, we're not selling jeans here. When you can nab a switch-hitting second baseman with power in the seventh round, you have to take it. Extra points for strong parental support and karaoke ability.
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7.05: Tanner Boyle, "The Bad News Bears" (Passan)
Because he grows up and changes his name to A.J. Pierzynski.
"Great pick. Just keep him off Twitter." — Kaduk
"It should be noted at this point that Jeff Passan owns two guys who were later in two 'Star Wars,' and now a kid who looks like young Anakin Skywalker. I'm sure you could re-cast 'Star Wars' with the rest of his team. Casey as Han Solo, Bugs Bunny as C3PO, etc. No lightsabers at the plate, however." — Oz
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7.06: Edward Cullen, "Twilight" (Oz)
Go ahead, laugh. Have you seen "Twilight"? (I only saw the first one, swear, and it was on a plane). Have you seen the baseball scene? He literally can fly to catch balls and his throws appear to be at speed-of-sound. He and his vampire family play baseball only when there's lightening, because they hit the ball so hard (and so loud) that it's the only time it doesn't draw too much attention to them (or something). And since you guys have brought up marketing — my team will now be HUGE with the teenage-girl crowd.
REACTION: "I'm gonna drop my entire laptop and pretend like I didn't read that out of embarrassment for you." — Passan
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7.07: Babe, "Baseball Stars," (Funston)
After all the hot air my fellow league mates have expended talking up their video game picks, it's laughable that they'd leave the best for last.
Developer of the greatest video game ever coded, SNK didn't have the rights to use real MLB player names, but they got around that in a not-so-inconspicuous manner, loading up it's American Dreams squad with players such as Hank (Aaron), Sandie (Koufax), Willie (Mays) and, of course, the most dominant power hitter of them all, Babe (Ruth).
Along with "The Whammer", I now have two fictional representations of Babe Ruth and Roy Hobbs in the heart of my order. That's just plain filthy.
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YOUR TURN: And now, readers, we turn it over to you: Who has the best team? Who else should we have drafted? Who did we vastly overrate? Let's hear it.
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