WWE: Fielding the Raw and Smackdown All-Star Teams
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Baseball fans were treated to the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night as the annual All-Star Game took place from Kansas City. Fans of the National League were treated to a fast start offensively. Fans of Chipper Jones got to see him claim an infield hit in what will be his final All-Star appearance. On the opposite side, people who love to hate the Yankees got a kick out of Robinson Cano getting booed by Kansas City fans. Those envious of Washington's phenom Bryce Harper enjoyed seeing him lose an easy fly ball.
For the most part, it was not exciting. An 8-0 National League victory was pretty much over early, and all scoring was completed by the top of the fourth inning. Outside of holding on to watch R.A. Dickey or Billy Butler play, there was no real intrigue to see the end of the game. Just imagine if it was an All-Star Game made up of WWE superstars.
Could you really change the channel? Who knows what could be happening by the end of the night? Even with this past Monday, widely considered one of the worst Raw episodes in recent memory, how many can honestly say that they turned away from the game? You would never quite know what to expect in the ninth inning. So, here are the rosters for an All-Star Game between the brands of Raw and Smackdown.
(Just a note for everyone before we begin. Damien Sandow was slated in one of the outfield spots at first, but rejected the idea of such an absurd notion of partaking in such a nonsensical paradigm. You're welcome.)
Team Smackdown Catcher: Brodus Clay
A good catcher needs to be able to have the size to keep a baseball in front of him while also being light enough on his feet to field balls that could get past him or dribble in front of him. It also wouldn't hurt if the guy is pretty tough and can survive a collision at the plate. Insert Brodus Clay, who won't need to call his momma to get into this game.
Clay's quick feet allow for him to dance more than R.A. Dickey's knuckleball, which sure would be nice if he needs to run after a bunted ball. Let's just hope that Clay doesn't struggle in taking his mask off like he does with his track pants.
Team Smackdown First Base: Christian
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The first baseman has to be the general in the infield. The ball is almost always coming towards him with a ground ball, as the throw to first base is always a force from a batted ball. Young first basemen are often coveted and become franchise players, while the lists of great first basemen in both the NL and AL read like a list for a fantasy baseball team or MVP consideration. A gritty veteran is what Smackdown needs at first base with Christian.
The current Intercontinental Champion has seen and done it all. As the man at first, he can take it easy and catch a ball thrown at him while holding his foot on first base. Much like Christian's ability to make opponents look good, a good fielding first baseman can scoop up throws that are too low or high and help the fielder save face. Christian is about as valuable as a commodity as Smackdown has currently.
Team Smackdown Second Base and Shortstop: The Usos
Turning a double play is one of the more important defensive moves in all of baseball. Having the relationship and history of trust between the second baseman and shortstop is key to being able to turn two. Who has more trust for one another in WWE than the resident Samoan brothers, Jimmy and Jey Uso?
They already belong to the same team, wearing identical outfits and being almost completely alike. Their chants can be easy to call out for plays to be run by the infield. Their low positions will also be ideal for fielding ground balls. If you don't think that they could begin a 6-4-3 double play, just watch one of them throw an opponent in the air to the other for a Samoan Drop.
The Usos are also very well-liked by WWE fans who want to see them get championship opportunities in the future. Unlike the Yankee All-Star middle infield of Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano, nobody thinks that The Usos are overrated, nor would they be booed constantly by the fans in Kansas City.
Team Smackdown Third Base: Sin Cara
The agile Sin Cara may just be the perfect fit for the hot corner. Third base often has larger guys that hold that position, but Sin Cara would likely be cut from the same cloth as Houston Astros All-Star Jose Altuve, who stands at just 5'5".
The high-flying Sin Cara would be a nice fit to field the difficult position. When a bunt gets put down, a third baseman needs to run in and throw a ball across his body. Sucking up any ground balls at such a difficult position needs an agile third baseman. What's better is that there are no ropes for Sin Cara to jump over or through and rupture tendons in his patella.
Team Smackdown Left Field: Tyson Kidd
Young Tyson Kidd has really improved his stock in WWE and will have a chance to achieve new heights at Money in the Bank this Sunday. In this situation, Kidd would manage well in left field and be able to climb the walls and rob home runs. With his speed and agility, Kidd would be able to chase down any ball in the alleys. I'm pretty sure Kidd's vision would also have been able to catch that fly ball Bryce Harper lost last night.
Kidd would also be an ideal leadoff hitter for Team Smackdown, as his speed would leave his opponents in fits. Slapping singles and swiping bases would be the norm for Kidd, as he could easily generate a rally.
Team Smackdown Center Field: Alberto Del Rio
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Alberto Del Rio is a hot commodity that commands respect, as well as a lot of dough. That sure sounds a lot like a superstar centerfielder. As the leader in the outfield, Del Rio calls the shots out there. He must patrol a lot of ground, but it is all his land ultimately. If a fielder can try for a ball but the centerfielder thinks he has it, he will be called off to let him make the grab.
Centerfielders are often imagined to be five-tool players, and there is little to argue that Del Rio wouldn't be in the same boat. Well, at least Del Rio would have been in that discussion when he had fewer years to speak about. Del Rio would be that washed-up megastar still hanging around with guaranteed money on an incredible deal with little room to get out of it. Still, it would be for a popular team, and Del Rio would garner enough votes for the nod.
My thanks to Alfonso Soriano for the inspiration in this description.
Team Smackdown Right Field: Sheamus
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There is often a strong outfielder that, while he isn't the best fielder, can be a big part of the team. This is a lot like Ryan Braun or Jose Bautista, who are not fantastic with their gloves, but pack a punch with their bats. The current World Heavyweight Champion would be good enough stuck in the outfield because his true contributions would come as the big bopper in the middle of the batting lineup.
The only real flaw thus far for Team Smackdown is putting Del Rio next to Sheamus in the outfield. If a ball falls in the alley, don't be shocked if the fiery Irishman gives a Brogue Kick to Del Rio when he isn't looking. Don't get on the bad side of Sheamus. Definitely don't pinch hit for him either.
Team Smackdown Designated Hitter: Mark Henry
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Mark Henry has been at it for quite a number of years now. If he cannot move around too well, then so be it. He is still the strongest man in the world. That sure sounds like a great man to put in as a designated hitter. When he becomes a DH, Henry can go up to the plate, bop a baseball around the field and be an offensive juggernaut. When he isn't holding a bat, Henry can lounge around. He doesn't need to play any defense, as his offensive contributions are good enough on this team.
Henry has been nursing a load of injuries for quite some time, so Henry may be playing injured. That's quite alright for a DH to do. Just ask Matt Kemp, who participated in the Home Run Derby earlier this week, but was still too injured to play in the All-Star Game itself.
Team Smackdown Starting Pitcher: Ryback
Feed Ryback more baseballs because he is the starting pitcher for the Smackdown side. His impressive physique and very strong arms can mow down opponents and can probably throw a nice two-seam fastball. A starting pitcher needs to be able to go deep into games and put the rest of the team on his back. If anyone can do such a thing, Ryback seems to literally try to do that weekly. You also only see a starting pitcher once every five days or so, which is about on par with our ability of seeing Ryback on television.
I feel bad for the batters opposing Ryback. Just imagine looking at that man throwing a baseball very hard at you. If he ended up hitting you, would it be an accident? Would you even bother arguing with him about it?
Team Smackdown Relief Pitchers: Prime Time Players
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The Prime Time Players, the name given to Titus O'Neil and Darren Young, would be great relief pitchers out of the bullpen. The position of being a guy to relive a starting pitcher is one of the most unsung roles in all of baseball, if not all of sports. Rarely does a guy out of the bullpen without a lot of saves get an All-Star nod. For Young and O'Neil, they certainly have earned the opportunity.
Coming up from the minor leagues of NXT, the duo have impressed in their time on the main roster. They own a chance to be WWE Tag Team Champions when they finally get their match against R-Truth and Kofi Kingston. Until then, Young and O'Neil will continue to put on great tag team matches and help to revive the fleeting tag team division. By the way, their All-Star nod kicks in an incentive in their contracts to pay them millions of dollars. I don't know if they told you that yet.
Team Smackdown Closer: Daniel Bryan
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No matter what happens, Daniel Bryan has the ability to come in and finish a matchup. His good feat can deliver kicks that can knock any opponent down to size. His Yes Lock has also been known to effectively close out a match with its damaging power. This puts Bryan into a great place to be the closer on the Smackdown side.
Just imaging Bryan as a relief pitcher. He could run to the mound doing his infamous "YES!" exclamations. It won't exactly be like Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn from the Major League movie series, but Bryan will have his own niche. Besides, both men seem to know a thing or two about winning.
Team Raw Catcher: Tensai
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A big body that won't be knocked over too easily? That's Tensai alright. The American male who went Japanese before returning to America has taken a route often traveled by older baseball players. For Tensai, he has been as good as, if not better than he was the first time around. With Sakamoto still following him around, Tensai surely has enough followers to get voted into an All-Star Game.
Those gigantic hands of Tensai's would probably be great to grip a baseball. Who knows if he even needs a catcher's mitt or not? Just be careful that the green mist doesn't get onto the baseball. I'm pretty sure there's something illegal about that.
Team Raw First Base: David Otunga
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It's all about two things for David Otunga. It's about the way he looks and it's about the power that he shows. A Harvard-educated man like David Otunga can understand that the greatest position for him is at first base. He doesn't need to exert much physical energy on ground balls, where he needs to catch the ball with his foot on first. For plays like covering a bunt or turning a double play, it takes someone with the intelligence of Otunga to get that stuff done.
When he isn't involved in the action, Otunga can sit back and flex. If there is ever a problem with the first base umpire, Otunga can use his stellar legal career to argue in favor of his squad. He would also likely be a good candidate to bat in the heart of the order.
Team Raw Second Base: Kofi Kingston
Second base can be a very trying position to field. There is a lot of ground to cover up the middle of the diamond, and there are often dives just to keep a ball from getting past. This seems like a good place to stick Kofi Kingston, who can leap in the air to snag a frozen rope or go all out and flash some leather.
One of the more dangerous plays in all of baseball comes to the second baseman, who has to begin a double play by stepping on second and throw to first for the second out of the play. The problem that often comes is that the runner making it to second base wants to prevent the double play from happening, so a collision with a second baseman is imminent.
Kingston has taken his fair share of bumps and has dealt with adversity from losing out on pushes to the main event and losing tag team partners to injury and suspensions. Kingston is so versatile that he could probably leap over a guy trying to slide into him.
Team Raw Third Base: John Cena
John Cena has that uncanny ability that no matter where you put him, he always seems to be just fine. Cena has made a career over the last decade for making himself adjust to whatever happens to him. Cena can always be full of surprises, just like when he pulls off an occasional drop kick or monkey flip in the ring. Cena may not be exactly the kind of guy you would want to see at third, but his desire and effort is exactly what it needs to be.
Just like a guy like David Wright, Cena can be the quarterback on the infield from third base. He will take whatever dangers he needs to do in order to make a play. Also, like NL starter Pablo Sandoval, his popularity would get him into this match, even if his abilities at the position couldn't.
Team Raw Shortstop: Dolph Ziggler
The best position to show off from is shortstop, where many men in that position like to look fancy in making plays. Nothing quite says "look at me and how great I am" quite like being an All-Star shortstop. Derek Jeter is the perfect example here, as his patented move of falling away and throwing across his body for a groundball out has been immortalized in countless Jeter highlight reels.
For Ziggler, who has not enjoyed quite as many world championships as Jeter, the position of shortstop puts him at ground zero for where a lot of the action is. As shortstop, you can easily be in the enter of all of the action. It isn't even too far-fetched to try to make a play, fail and not be given an error for your troubles. That's how hard it is to be a shortstop, but Ziggler's ability to be a workhorse in the ring makes him the perfect shortstop on this team.
Team Raw Left Field: Zack Ryder
The man from "The L.I." can hold down the fort in left field. Ryder's Twitter followers alone would be able to combat any ballot stuffing done by San Francisco Giants fans and put The Woo Woo Woo Kid into the game. Ryder has been known to rise through the ranks in the past, and while he has dealt with kayfabe injuries, including broken hearts and shattered championship reigns, Ryder stands strong.
There's still a place for Zack Ryder, and he has really shown himself to be an All-Star of sorts for WWE. His rise to be United States Champion late last year really showed the power that the fans have when they rally behind one guy.
Team Raw Center Field: R-Truth
If I have to pick anyone to patrol center field, R-Truth is it. It may seem like a questionable pick, but R-Truth has a lot of energy and can bounce all around the outfield. A centerfielder needs to be able to be vocal with his teammates, and few people talk more than R-Truth. Sure, a lot of the talking that R-Truth does is incoherent or to imaginary people, but R-Truth can certainly do enough to command the outfield.
It may even be an advantage for R-Truth to be out there. After all, he could easily sneak Little Jimmy out there with him to shag fly balls.
Team Raw Right Field: Jack Swagger
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The All-American American has to be included in America's pastime. The graduate of Oklahoma is skilled enough to be able to play baseball, especially when he was so successful in playing football and wrestling in college. In right field, Swagger can hold his own while being that young and strong bat in the lineup.
To bring into focus with his wrestling abilities lately, Swagger is a winner, or at least he was. It doesn't make him a terrible star, but just not one to get very excited about right now. For now, you just hope that Swagger works his issues out and gets back on top where he once was.
Team Raw Designated Hitter: The Big Show
This one is about as much of a no-brainer as we have seen so far. Big Show is a seven-foot giant, and while that leads to a massive strike zone, it also leads to a lot of power from The World's Largest Athlete. There's some irony in being named the designated hitter, especially since his latest mean streak has had Big Show hitting pretty much whoever he wants to whenever he feels like it.
Big Show is a destructive man, and nobody is safe from his warpath. Just imagine being a pitcher and trying to combat someone so lethal and awe-inspiring. Big Show can be a big help to the offense for Team Raw.
Team Raw Starting Pitcher: Chris Jericho
Raw is the flagship brand for WWE and they'll need the absolute best to pitch for them. Who would be better than Chris Jericho, who states that he is the best in the world at everything that he does? Jericho is a crafty veteran that can find unique ways to get people out, much like R.A. Dickey, and his phenomenal knuckleball pitching this year. What has made Dickey so successful is that his knuckleball is coupled with his fastball, which used to be up to MLB standards. Similar parallels can be made for Jericho.
Jericho is not what he used to be, but is still a very formidable foe. You don't win the accolades as much and for as long as Jericho has without picking up some tricks over the years. Jericho's arsenal of moves have been just about what they have always been, but have been tweaked as time has gone on to showcase his strengths. Jericho has never been a pushover, and while this isn't the Jericho from WCW or even Y2J from the Attitude Era, Chris Jericho is still someone to fear.
Team Raw Relief Pitcher: Kane
When a game is close, you call on a big arm out of the bullpen. A team needs someone that can throw absolute heat. That sounds like a job for a man like Kane, who comes from the depths of hell and actually can control fire. Kane has been a good superstar over the years, but he is a lot older now and not as skilled as he was. Still, Kane can get the job done when he is called upon. It is much like a starting pitcher who, in the twilight of his career, is put into the bullpen to throw fewer innings with the hopes of getting that strength still out of him.
Kane still has the firepower, but doesn't have the years to really keep it sustained. It's unlikely that he will ever be a world champion in WWE again, but that's just fine. He has enough in him to bring the best out of his opponents and make his remaining matches as great as he can make them.
Team Raw Closer: CM Punk
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If you need someone to close out a game for Team Raw, look no further than the WWE Champion, the Best in the World, CM Punk. His entrance music is much like that of a closer's, and his look is very similar to that of former All-Star closer Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants.
Fearing of beards aside, Punk has that jolt of energy out of the bullpen and can wrap up any game he comes into. That's what CM Punk's job is all about. As WWE Champion, he belongs in the main event, which for baseball's sake, would be in the ninth inning.
So, which team is better? Who would win in a baseball game between these two teams? Comment on the article with your answer or tweet me with your response.