Baseball is a sport of speculation and anticipation, in a rough sense. It's human nature to take a moment to wonder about the future, and for us baseball fans, in which direction the sport is heading. How many years do some of our favorite aging stars have left in the tank? What does the future hold for our favorite organization? Will someone ever come along and throw more no-hitters than Nolan Ryan or win more games than Cy Young?
Let's face it. Those are huge feats that may never be accomplished ever again. To even have a chance, you'll have to be born with a God-given talent like no other. Such a child would need the 23 greatest chromosomes from each parent to combine in the same location—a gift from the baseball gods.
Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit there, but it's certainly possible. Looking around the game today, some of the league's top talents are hooking up with some great female athletes, and the result can only be positive, right? Let's take a moment to do something fun.
With such unreachable goals in mind, lets take a moment to forecast the next baseball great and rank the parents that are most likely to provide the genes to get him there.
This couple has all of the makings for a pair that can produce a great contact hitter.
Freddy Sanchez has spent his career being the prototypical "small guy" in the Major Leagues. Be it as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates or San Francisco Giants, the man has never had much power. He knows that in order to be successful, he has to make contact with the ball and spray it to all fields, and as a career .297 hitter, he's done a nice job.
Combine the lineage of the Giants' second baseman with that of his wife, and we're talking about a very athletic player. In high school, Alissa Dowdy was a cheerleader at Burbank High School. She would go on to have a very versatile career, including a stint as a back-up dancer for Paula Abdul, in both dancing and television.
The couple already has two sons, Evan and Ryan, and both could one day represent their family in the Major League. Let's just hope they have healthier careers than their dad! (Zing!)
In just a short career, Dainel Bard has become an accomplished man. He solidified his role in the bullpen of the Boston Red Sox with two straight solid seasons heading into 2011, and married his wife, Adair, in January of 2010. Not bad for a guy just turning 26 years old.
With the Red Sox, Bard's been throwing up numbers that have the members of Red Sox Nation calling him the closer of the future, with interim-closer Jonathan Papelbon set to test the waters of free agency. In his third year with the Sox, Bard has a record of 4-8 with an ERA of just 2.63.
His wife Adair was also a good athlete throughout her life. She started cheerleading at a very young age and went on to become a cheerleader at Furman University, cheering on the Furman Paladins.
Jed Lowrie hasn't had the most successful of careers with the Red Sox. If you'll take a moment to remember way back, there was once a time when he was considered a "can't miss" prospect and labeled as "untouchable" in the Boston system.
My, how things have changed. Now in his fourth season with the big league club, Lowrie is the owner of a .258 / .332 / .419 slash line with a career total of 16 home runs. His lack of production from the shortstop position has Red Sox Nation calling out for a trade.
Luckily, his soon-to-be wife, Milessa Munchmore, is successful enough for the both of them. Once a successful pole vaulter in college, Munchmore went on to double-major in Spanish and International Relations, and then, a double-Master's in International Relations and Public Affairs.
We've heard a lot about the "re-emergence," if you will, of Cole Hamels this season. Heralded as the greatest thing since slice bread here in Philadelphia after the Phillies' World Series victory in 2008, where he was named WS MVP, Hamels followed up a disappointing 2009 season with a strong 2010, and just a couple months into 2011, it isn't hard to see that this is his greatest season yet.
To date in his career, he is the owner of a 69-48 career record with an ERA of 3.43. Just the other day, during a start against the Seattle Mariners, Hamels became the third quickest, active pitcher to reach 1,000 strikeouts for his career.
But to make it in the Major League, you need more than just good baseball genes—you need to know how to survive, and if anyone knows how to survive and beat the odds, it's Hamels' wife Heidi: a former contestant on the popular reality series, Survivor.
If there was any one child born for playoff baseball, their son Caleb may just be him. Not only does he have the baseball make-up of his father and the survival instinct of his mother, but he was born during a 2009 NLCS game pitched by his father.
I couldn't really find a picture of Miguel and Alejandra Tejada together, so I took it upon myself to assume that you'd much rather look at the latter.
All in all, Miguel Tejada has had a very, very good Major League career. Watching him nowadays, many of us forget that there was a point in time when this man was one of the best shortstops in baseball, with great range, a canon for an arm and one of the best bats in baseball. While his production has declined, that shouldn't stop us from recognizing his .285 / .336 / .457 career slash line and noting that most of his career 301 home runs were hit from the shortstop position.
With the couple having welcomed Miguel Tejada Jr. into the world, we know that his father will provide the baseball genes, but his mother provides some of those classic intangibles. Alejandra Tejada is a pop singer, and we know what that means—she has great cardio. Few people realize the stamina that it takes to sing and dance during a live show. I wouldn't make it through the first five minutes.
I did you a favor by putting that photo there for you; trust me. You can thank me later!
If I had to guess, I'd say that a child of Scott Podsednik and Lisa Dergan would be really, really fast. While he's been a capable Major Leaguer over the course of his career, that's what Podsednik's really been known for. He's that pesky type of hitter that will make solid contact and spray the ball to all fields, but the real problem lies with letting him on base. The man has more stolen bases (301) than career RBI (300).
His wife, Lisa Dergan, is more than just a Playboy Playmate. Surprisingly enough, this bombshell is also an avid golfer and has been for life. Should her future child seek the opportunity to play baseball in Japan, it should be comforting to know that his mother is also fluent in Japanese. Talented woman.
Brad Penny has spent his entire career being a solid middle of the rotation arm. In stints with the Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and now, the Detroit Tigers, Penny has been solid (except with the Sox. That's debatable.) Never an overpowering guy, the big right hander relies on getting groundballs and logging innings to be successful. To date in his career, he's posted a record of 113-94, with an ERA of 4.15.
Had he been with another woman, the chances of him producing a future "star" may have been greatly reduced, but Penny is dating a very athletic woman in her own right—versatile dancer Karina Smirnoff. She is a World Champion ballroom dancer, but she made her name by dancing on the popular game show, Dancing With the Stars.
The only bad thing about her career? She had to dance with Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from Jersey Shore. Bleh.
Andre Ethier is quickly becoming one of the best corner outfielders in baseball. Having come into his own at the Major League level, many expect Ethier to have his greatest season to date in 2011, already owning the longest hit streak of the 2011 season, though he was just over halfway to Joe DiMaggio's record. In just six full seasons, Ethier has put together an outstanding slash line of .293 / .366 / .487 with 104 career home runs. At just 29 years of age, he still has plenty of time to pile on those numbers.
His wife is also very athletic and very talented. Maggie Ethier attended college at Arizona State University, where she was one of the school's top gymnasts. In each of her four years at ASU, she was recognized as an All-American athlete.
Probably the most recognizable baseball couple around the game today, Matt and Misty May-Treanor certainly have the genes to produce a future baseball star. It's just a shame that Matt has spent his career as a back-up catcher. Kind of takes away from the legend of Misty May, no?
Time for a more serious evaluation. As I said, Matt has spent his entire big league career as a back-up catcher, and I'm kind of surprised he's even been able to stick there for this long, having played for the Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and now, the Kansas City Royals, the team that originally drafted him. I'd say he's more known for being married to Misty May, because it's certainly not his career .226 / .317 / .311 career line and 16 home runs that are getting him any recognition.
Speaking of Misty May, does the greatest professional volleyball player of all time even need an introduction? In college, she was the captain of the first NCAA team to have an undefeated season, and from there, all she did was win. She's the owner of two Olympic gold medals, won in 2004 and 2008, and and three gold medals from the World Championships, won in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
If Matt was anything more than an AAAA catcher, they're in the top three on this list, easy.
After overcoming personal issues and several anxiety disorders a few seasons ago, Zach Greinke has become one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, culminating with his receiving the American League Cy Young Award following the 2009 season. After years of dominating the AL, Greinke was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason and picked up right where he left off. To date, he has a career record of 66-69 to go along with an ERA of 3.88.
His wife, Emily Kuchar, was named Miss Daytona Beach in 2006, but is much more than just a beauty queen. Greinke credits her for helping him past his darkest days, and in that regard, we can thank her for whipping one of the league's top pitchers into competition shape. She's also quite the athlete herself, as she is a frequent participant in various sports, including baseball, of course, swimming, dancing, tennis, golf and cheerleading.
With the genes of a Cy Young winner and an athletic mother, any child of this couple will be in great shape.
Over the last couple of seasons, few sluggers brought more power to a lineup than Ryan Howard. As he matured as a Major League player, he also slimmed down into better playing shape, hoping that his numbers would beef up. While that may or may not have happened, he has provided the Phillies with a solid career, posting a slash line of .277 / .370 / .566, with 268 home runs.
His girlfriend, Krystle Campbell, is quite the athlete in her own right. After completing her schooling at West Chester University with a degree in education (she is also a second grade teacher), Campbell went to work as a cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles, and has been with the team for the last six seasons.
This couple brings an interesting combination of power and athleticism to the plate, which would make for an interesting Major League player.
One of the greatest closers of all time, could this couple, who already has three boys, be housing the next great closer of the future?
I think there is little dispute about whether or not Trevor Hoffman is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. The fastball / change-up master is, for now, the greatest closer of all time. The career reliever who never made a single start at the Major League level is the all time leader in saves, at least, until Mariano Rivera catches him. Along with those 601 saves, he is the owner of a career record of 61-75, with an ERA of just 2.87.
While she has been relegated to the duties of most WAG's in recent years, Tracy Hoffman was quite the athlete as well. She has been cheerleading throughout her entire life, culminating in her gig as a Buffalo Bills' cheerleader. Go ahead, try and tell me cheerleading in Buffalo is easy.
So I was originally going to post a picture of Jennie Finch with her husband, Casey Daigle, here, but I came across this gem currently being featured on your left and couldn't get over how awesome it was. Plus, does anyone really care about Daigle anyway?
I'll give you this—making it to the Major Leagues is a feat in and of itself, and Casey Daigle should forever treasure his 33 career appearances. That said, he's not exactly the best player on this list, and is probably a career Minor Leaguer. In those 33 career Major League appearances, Daigle posted a record of 3-4 and an ERA of 7.16. Ouch. He also walked more batters than he struck out, and his Minor League numbers aren't much better. Things aren't looking up for his career.
Luckily enough, he's married to the most decorated softball player of all time, American softball legend, Jennie Finch. She attended college at the University of Arizona, where she recorded 60 consecutive wins. The streak stretched over two seasons and three College World Series appearances, all wins. She would go on to appear in two sets of Olympics for the United States—in 2004 and 2008—bringing home gold and silver medals, respectively.
This is kind of like the Matt and Misty May-Treanor slide, only Finch and Daigle are probably better suited to produce a Major League Baseball player. The two have a son named Ace, and he ever makes the big leagues, he can thank his mother for her genes. (Zing!)
Speaking of Major League pitcher / softball star couples, Jon Garland and Lovie Jung are coming in at number two on my list, and for a while, I had them at number one. They're sort of like the opposite of Casey Daigle and Jennie Finch. Garland is an established Major League pitcher, while Jung had to live under shadow of her teammate—Finch.
Garland has pitched for a number of teams over the course of his career, including the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres. He's been a solid middle of the rotation arm during the course of his career, posting a winning record of 132-119 to go with an ERA of 4.32.
Jung began her softball career at Fresno State University, but soon transferred to Arizona State University after it was made popular by the likes of Jennie Finch, who led the school to a College World Series—the first of three consecutive appearances, where Jung would be a part of the last two. She also joined Finch on the United States Olympic teams, winning gold in 2004 and silver in 2008.
As I said on the last slide, I had Jon Garland and Lovie Jung here for a while. I had myself convinced that a baseball / softball couple would come out on top. Then I changed my mind, for reasons I'll explain below, and gave the nod to Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm.
Garciaparra is most well known for his days with the Boston Red Sox, but he also spent time with the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics. The man is a former Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger Award winner and six time All-Star. Having played shortstop, one of the most athletic positions on the diamond, for years, he retired with a slash line of .313 / .361 / .521, with 229 career home runs.
Mia Hamm, of course, is the most decorated womens' soccer player of all time. All that you need to know is that she scored more international goals than any player—man or woman—ever has in their careers, but of course, I'll go into more depth. She was named FIFA World Player of the Year in consecutive years—2001 and 2002—the first two years of it's existence. In a list constructed by soccer great Pele, she was listed as one of the 125 greatest living players of all time.
She was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Womens' Professional Soccer League features her silhouette in it's logo. In each of her four years at the University of North Carolina, she led her team to the National Championship and won it. She's taken home Olympic gold twice, silver once, and holds a number of other titles to her name.
So no doubt, the two have the credentials to take the number one spot, but why did I choose them first overall? Well, these two have to be the most athletic and accomplished couple on this list. In terms of an overall package, this couple has it all—well, except a boy.