Look ... it’s Friday.
We’ve had about two weeks of training camp already, which is typically the point where the preliminary craving for satiated and the desire for actual hockey games becomes overwhelming. In others words, we’ve had enough of the appetizer and are yearning for the main course.
So, instead of another article on who is attending practice, who is not or more CBA drama (we’ll probably have one of those later), now feels like a good time to have some fun with another sport that has arrived at its main course: baseball. Major League Baseball opened its abbreviated 2020 season Thursday night, with Chicago’s two franchises debuting on the diamond later today.
That got the SCH staff thinking: what would a baseball lineup full of Blackhawks look like?
Designated Hitter: Brent Seabrook
Take that booming point shot, adjust the angle of the swing and you have a perfect cleanup hitter. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Seabrook would be able to provide substantial pop in the middle of any lineup.
First Base: Connor Murphy
Murphy fits the protoype: he stands 6-4 and, as indicated by the photo atop this article, he throws left-handed. Considering his penchant for blocking shots, Murphy would have no problem squaring up to a hard-hit ground ball, either.
Second Base: Alex DeBrincat
Short second basemen appear to be all the rage in baseball. Astros 2B Jose Altuve, the 2017 MVP, is just 5-6. The White Sox are going to open the season with a 5-8 Leury Garcia there while the Red Sox used 5-9 Dustin Pedroia for years. So, the 5-7 DeBrincat seems a natural fit. And there’s likely some muscle memory involved winding up for a one-timer that would match the turn from second to first during a double play.
Shortstop: Adam Boqvist
It wouldn’t be hard to envision Boqvist’s speed and agility on the ice translating to the diamond, and there’s no better position for a shifty 19-year-old to occupy than this one. And he’d probably be singing Tina Turner songs the whole time.
Third Base: Duncan Keith
If we were building this lineup 10 years ago, Keith is probably the shortstop. Considering his range may not quite be what it was, it’s better to throw Keith in the hot corner where he’s still agile enough to cover the line and wouldn’t be afraid to charge the plate when a batter squares to bunt.
Left Field: Patrick Kane & Center Field: Brandon Saad
The logic behind these two picks comes down to nationality. Baseball is largely played in the United States and Central/South America. Its popularity in Europe is minimal and, even though there is a baseball team in Canada and some prominent players from north of the border, the game remains a very American tradition. The skill of catching a fly ball, while not wildly difficult, takes some practice to master. It’s more likely Saad and Kane spent some portion of their upbringing on a baseball diamond than it is for the majority of the Blackhawks roster. Plus, the collective speed of Saad and Kane should cover plenty of ground.
Right Field: Jonathan Toews
This is based on the assumption that, if Toews was told he had to play right field, he’d be shagging fly balls for weeks in preparation, making himself at least competent enough to remain on the field.
And his swing didn’t look too bad in this batting practice session in 2009 at Comiskey Park:
Catcher: Corey Crawford
Positioned behind everyone else on defense, responsible for communicating defensive coverage and largely unrecognized as the real steadying force behind a team’s defensive success? Yeah, Crawford could make an easy transition from goaltender to catcher. Only question mark is how quick he can fire down to second base.
Pitcher: Olli Maatta
We’re basing this entirely on the assertion Maatta has some experience on the pesäpallo field (pitch? pentagon?). What’s pesapallo? It’s can be loosely described as “Finnish baseball” and appears to be wildly popular in Maatta’s home country. Cat Silverman wrote about this sport over at Mile High Hockey. It contains many aspects of baseball but also incorporates ... water hazards?
Did we write this entire article just to share that clip? Entirely possible.