Major League Baseball is currently slugging its collective way through its hot and muggy summer months, with October’s postseason scene still thousands of games away. That doesn’t mean playoff action around the country isn’t happening, as the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Final is upon us.
The expansion Vegas Golden Knights, seeking to be the only first-year team to win the Cup in the game’s modern era (post 1967), are taking on the Washington Capitals, a team long mired in playoff disappointment looking to shake off their image as perennial chokers. After Saturday night’s game in the nation’s capitol, Washington leads the series 2-1.
I’m a huge hockey fan, and in addition to my work here, I cover a minor-league hockey team that feeds into the NHL’s Dallas Stars for small-town newspaper and a larger Canadian magazine. That gets me thinking, if we as fans and media can merge our interests in two sports together, can’t the sports crossover themselves?
This is what we’re going to get into today, in the first edition of a new series called Crossed Up. In reference to a catcher and pitcher confusing each other’s sign and getting “crossed up,” we’re going to explore the ways the world of sports can cross paths.
Right now, we must put our interest in the games of hockey and baseball together to create a revolutionary (horrible, non-competitive, absolutely embarrassing) baseball team full of hockey players, complete with blurbs on why and how the positions and batting order spots came to be. Let’s get right into it.
Wait wait wait wait… what should our team be called? Uh, I’ll go with a good mix between baseball references and hockey references and call them the Kevlar Sox, okay? Thanks.
1. Shortstop: Dylan Larkin (Forward, Detroit Red Wings)
The ideal leadoff man is fast, and Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin is about as fast of a skater as anyone in the NHL. Clocked at 13.386 seconds in a hot lap around the ice, Larkin has wheels and could provide the same speedy impact around the bases. His defense at shortstop could be subpar, but hey, his throwing form doesn’t look too bad.
2. Center Fielder: Steven Stamkos (Forward, Tampa Bay Lightning)
Steven Stamkos is fast and offensively productive, so he makes for a fine center fielder and top of the order bat. Also, this swing from a batting practice with the Tampa Bay Rays doesn’t look all that bad. I mean, his back elbow could be higher, but who I am to question the athletic methods of a two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner?
3. First Baseman: Shea Weber (Defenseman, Montreal Canadiens)
The prototypical first baseman is never the fastest player on the diamond, but has great defensive fundamentals and all-world offensive output. That’s Shea Weber, a four-time NHL All-Star, whose game within his own defensive zone is top-notch, and his offensive skills (443 career points) are formidable. The three-time finalist for the Norris Trophy — awarded to the top defenseman in the NHL — has a booming slapshot, which translates to tons of power at the plate.
4. Catcher: Ben Bishop (Goaltender, Dallas Stars)
It isn’t often catchers are the biggest offensive catalyst on their teams, but all throughout Bishop’s career in the NHL, he’s had to stand on his head and make something happen for his team. He plays catcher, because goaltender and catcher require basically the same skills: reflexes, glove work, and communication.What if a bunch of @NHL players formed an @MLB team? Meet the Kevlar Sox, the expansion team made entirely of professional hockey players.Click To Tweet
He also hit this home run in batting practice with the Rays once, and it’s for that reason why he’s hitting cleanup for the Kevlar Sox.
5. Designated Hitter: Alex Ovechkin (Forward, Washington Capitals)
Alex Ovechkin is one of the greatest offensive players of all-time. His reputation as a nonchalant defensive player in the NHL, however, will keep him off the field for the Kevlar Sox, but he’s perfectly suited for a role as the DH. With 607 goals to his name, and unparalleled offensive firepower, Ovechkin is a potentially dangerous batter and a hard out.
6. Third Baseman: Erik Karlsson (Defenseman, Ottawa Senators)
In the modern MLB, the third baseman is often the most well-rounded player on the squad. From Kris Bryant to Nolan Arenado, this rings true — and Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is about as versatile as any NHLer. He can drive offensive play, help out defensively as the number-one blueliner on the Sens, and pile up points along the way. The two-time Norris Trophy winner will be a Justin Turner type at the MLB level.
7. Right Fielder: Jonathan Toews (Forward, Chicago Blackhawks)
Jonathan Toews is going to play the same position as Mookie Betts because, in a sense, he’s the same player. A force on offense and defense for the Chicago Blackhawks, Toews — a three-time Stanley Cup champion — has made a career being a top two-way NHLer. In right field, he can play that superb defense and chip in offensively as well with the Kevlar Sox. Here he is at Wrigley Field (get used to playing at historic ballparks, buddy).
8. Second Baseman: Filip Forsberg (Forward, Nashville Predators)
Filip Forsberg is fast, elusive, and extremely skilled with his hands and feet. Playing a position as dependent on quickness as second base, Forsberg, a dynamic Nashville Predators forward, will be just fine on the dirt. At the plate… ah, that swing looks horrendous, but he’ll bat eighth, I’m not all too worried.
9. Left Fielder: Vladimir Tarasenko (Forward, St. Louis Blues)
Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the most lethal pure shooters in the NHL. Placing him ninth in the order allows him to do work in getting on base for the top of the order’s big bats to drive him in — if he even needs to be driven in, because he’s Vladimir Tarasenko and he’s had four straight seasons of 30 goals or more. Those offensive instincts could transition well to baseball.
Starting Pitcher #1: Sidney Crosby (Forward, Pittsburgh Penguins)
Sidney Crosby is one of the greatest hockey players ever. A surefire Hall of Famer, Crosby will headline the Kevlar Sox’s pitching rotation as their resident ace. A right-hander (who shoots left in the NHL), Crosby will pitch the same way he plays hockey: intelligently, and with the use of extreme finesse, to whiff batters. Hopefully this weird-looking delivery will allow the Penguins captain to get some backspin on his pitches.
Starting Pitcher #2: Mitch Marner (Forward, Toronto Maple Leafs)
Mitch Marner is an extremely gifted offensive player, but he’s no sleaze when it comes to defending. For the Kevlar Sox (by the way, I’m really feeling it with this name) the pitcher — shown here with a pretty decent delivery — will have to buckle up in preventing runs. He’s also just 21 years old, which would be exceptionally young for a real-life starting pitcher. He must be a superprospect or something!
Starting Pitcher #3: Connor McDavid (Forward, Edmonton Oilers)
Connor McDavid is arguably the league’s best and most-evolved player in current day, 2018. He’s only 21, and has twice paced the NHL in point-scoring, winning the Hart Trophy (league MVP) in 2017 along the way. However, as displayed here, he clearly has some control issues to work out. This one is waaaaaaay outside.
Starting Pitcher #4: Brock Boeser (Forward, Vancouver Canucks)
Another young gun in the Kevlar Sox’s starting rotation, Brock Boeser fits the mold of an up-and-coming fourth-starter. Boeser was a potential Rookie of the Year this past season in the NHL, before an injury derailed his debut season. Regardless, he’s got some flair, and uh, beautiful hair. He’s like Tim Lincecum, only probably better right now.
Starting Pitcher #5: Alex Pietrangelo (Defenseman, St. Louis Blues)
Every MLB rotation needs that rugged veteran, a Charlie Morton or Rich Hill type who has been around the block. Blues defenseman Alex Pietarngelo, a veteran of 10 NHL seasons and a two-time All-Star, is exactly that guy. He also seems pretty thrilled to be throwing this pitch in the picture below. He really puts his lower-body into it and generates a lot of torque.
John Tavares (Forward, New York Islanders)
I don’t know what kind of grip Tavares is supposed to have on the ball here. Is this a two-seamer? Is that some kind of splitter? Listen, John Tavares is one of the NHL’s best all-around players, but the Kevlar Sox’s bullpen will have to really be taxed to use Tavares and his crazy pitch grip. Get it together.
Jack Eichel (Forward, Buffalo Sabres)
Jack Eichel is a former number-two overall NHL Draft pick, and already has 177 points before his 22nd birthday. He’s clearly very talented, plus, he’s really stepping into this pitch; front foot flat on the lower side of the mound, toes on the rubber, etc. The fundamentals are strong with this one, heck, he might be the closer.
Jamie Benn (Forward, Dallas Stars)
Here, the former Art Ross Trophy winning captain of the Dallas Stars, Jamie Benn, is seen with linemate Tyler Seguin throwing out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers game. They both look awful, but hello, Jamie, you’re in the bullpen. Benn throws lefty, and is the only left-hander on the staff.
Duncan Keith (Defenseman, Chicago Blackhawks)
Duncan Keith is a two-time Norris winner, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, and a member of the centennial NHL 100 countdown. He has never thrown a pitch in MLB, and those jeans are gross, but Keith is as good of a defenseman as any in the last 15 years or so. Keith knows a thing or two about preventing the opposition from scoring.
Dylan Strome (Forward, Arizona Coyotes)
Dylan Strome has one of the fastest wrist shots I’ve ever laid my eyes on. He is adept at generating velocity, and could fill in as one of the new-age relievers that throw 250 miles per hour with ease. The Coyotes forward could be a strong set-up man.
Corey Perry (Forward, Anaheim Ducks)
Corey Perry is perhaps my least favorite NHL player, but he’s a former MVP and has previous pitching experience. Sometimes you have to put personal feelings aside for the betterment of the club, and the Kevlar Sox will be better off with Perry in the fold. Wait, hold on, that pitch is waaaaaaay high — work on your control.
Logan Couture (Forward, San Jose Sharks)
One of the most underappreciated forwards in the NHL, Sharks center Logan Couture could be a valuable back of the bullpen arm. Except, you know what, he doesn’t even throw a pitch in the tweet below. He’s a pitcher in name only, included because he’s the most notable of the few Sharks players that showed up to this A’s game. He will not be on the postseason roster, I can tell you that.
— Oakland Athletics 🌳🐘⚾ (@Athletics) June 18, 2016
Wayne Simmonds (Forward, Philadelphia Flyers)
Wayne Simmonds — pictured with a bat in his hand and around Flyers teammates — is a lofty power forward with some offensive skill. He will be a serviceable fourth outfielder/backup DH guy for the Kevlar Sox, as he seems to be a disciplined boss at the dish.
P.K. Subban (Defenseman, Nashville Predators)
P.K. Subban is probably a utility infielder whose flair for the dramatic keeps him out of the every day lineup. He would deliberately wait on throws to first base to put some extra swagger into the play, and the fans would rightfully go crazy. He plays hockey that way, he lives his daily life that way, he isn’t going to change. He’s an enigma, but could be a good two-way force.
Tyler Seguin (Forward, Dallas Stars)
Oh, hey, Tyler, we saw you in that video with Jamie Benn. Do you also want to be on our team? Okay, great, let’s make you a late-inning pinch-hitter/pinch-runner. Seguin is one of the fastest skaters in hockey and also scored 40 goals this past season — this is a role he’s suited for.
Corey Schneider (Goaltender, New Jersey Devils)
Every team needs to carry two catchers, so Schneider joins Bishop as the catcher duo on the Kevlar Sox. He’s also got some pop to him, knocking a few balls off the Green Monster in this video.
Auston Matthews (Forward, Toronto Maple Leafs)
We don’t have many left-handed batters, so Leafs sensation Auston Matthews will be a valuable bench presence if a righty reliever enters the game for the opponents. His 40-goal rookie season two years ago means his offensive potential is still very high.
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) June 22, 2016
Manager: Joel Quenneville (Head Coach, Chicago Blackhawks)
Fine, you’re the manager. Go crazy.
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) August 24, 2017