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January 15, 2014

The Lineup Card

Twelve Non-MLB Athletes We'd Like to See Playing Baseball

by Baseball Prospectus

1. LeBron James
"King James," as donned on the back of his nickname jersey, is the ruler of the NBA. He is the best basketball player in the world, and has been in every year since the 2008-09 season by win shares (NBA's version of WAR). At just 29 years old, LeBron James has accomplished just about everything he possibly could want in the league he owns. With the Miami Heat, James has won back-to-back championships and the player—I mean, team—is currently favored to make it a three-peat. He's won multiple Most Valuable Player awards, and is on his way to yet another in a season in which NBA pundits and writers are questioning James' effort on the floor. Yes, the guy that is making nearly 60 percent of his attempts shots from the floor is so bored of the competition it has driven him to the point where he is coasting, yet putting up numbers we have never seen before as detailed in this ESPN Insider piece. Asked why his blocked shots are down, James was frank, stating "Guys aren't challenging me as much. I mean, I've had a couple guys turn around and actually dribble the ball out."

Perhaps it's time for King James to take on a new challenge, one that he could not receive from his current profession, by bringing his talents to the baseball world. It would be fitting for me to see James "take a break" from the league he conquered after winning a ring for the third consecutive season, just like the NBA immortal he's so often—and only—compared to in Michael Jordan, who retired from the NBA for a year to give a baseball chance immediately after winning his third consecutive championship. I wonder if James would be more successful than Jordan at baseball in due time, given his once-in-a-generation type athleticism. —Ronit Shah

2. The Cast of WWE
The team captain could be former (and sadly, deceased) minor leaguer Randy Paffo, known better to the world as Macho Man Randy Savage. Batters could make a big deal out of walking up to the plate while their "entrance music" played way too loud over the stadium speakers. Teams could start feuding with each other, leading to someone hitting someone else with a pitch. Then, they could all run out into the middle of the ring (erm, field) and pretend to wrestle one another. Fans and media alike, rather than focusing on what it takes to win an actual baseball game, could instead become obsessed with melodramatic subplots that have absolutely nothing to do with the actual game. One player might even demonstrate that he is clearly the best player in the league, only to have his rightful MVP... erm, championship belt stolen on multiple occasions from him because some other player more closely matched some heroic (or anti-heroic) archetype. #ZigglersBetter

There'd be a downside to it, though. There would probably be allegations of steroids being thrown about, completely without regard to whether or not they were true. Now that I think about it, I don't think I'd want any of these things to happen to baseball. Besides, Don Zimmer would start showing up to work in just a Speedo.

You can't un-think that. Maybe it's best to just move along. —Russell A. Carleton

3. Zdeno Chara
The hardest shooter in the NHL five All-Star weekends running with a record 108.8 mph last time out, Chara could be something of a left-handed-hitting Gary Sheffield. But the more physical comps would come first for the tallest player in NHL history. At 6-foot-9 and a listed 255 pounds, he’s a Richie Sexson on skates, a Nate Freiman with more poundage and more ability to frighten anyone sitting in the first 10 rows of foul territory. And speaking of comps, the best news is that he’d never be subject to a ridiculous Masahiro Tanaka-Yu Darvish type of comp. There hasn’t been a big leaguer from Slovakia in eight decades. —Zachary Levine

4. Manute Bol
When I heard the topic (“non-baseball playing athletes you'd like to see playing baseball”), my first question was which star from the realm of pro sports would make the best baseball player? He’d need a combination of sheer athleticism and demonstrated hand-eye coordination. Maybe a hockey player would be the best choice, or possibly a football linebacker could do it. Then I thought, no, maybe a really good tennis player. Oh! I know, any Olympic athlete! A great swimmer, or a weight lifter! Or a... actually, I have no idea. There are too many options, and truthfully none of us really knows how the skills of any Olympic swimmer translate to baseball, or how a pro running back’s strength and decisiveness would help on a diamond.

So, let’s take a different tact. Let’s take the topic literally. Which non-baseball playing athlete would I like to see try to play baseball? The easy joke is Jeff Francoeur, but let’s move beyond easy jokes to slightly less easy jokes. How about a sumo wrestler? Any of these guys would do. The sight of a mostly naked fat man is always amusing, and if you put a bat in his hand, so much the funnier. Or, how about a pole vaulter? He or she could use their pole instead of a bat. That would be funny because it wouldn’t work.

But I didn’t settle on any of those. I went further. I went to the top. In 1951, Eddie Gaedel batted for the St. Louis Browns. He was 3-foot-7 and quite fittingly walked on four consecutive pitches. There may have been some reticence to go all out against Gaedel, but a guy that tall is also going to have an amazingly small strike zone. Why do I bring this up? Because my choice would be the opposite of Gaedel: Manute Bol. Boll was 7-foot-7, or more than two Eddie Gaedels tall. It was said he could dunk a basketball without jumping. He once blocked 48 shots in one game. (I’m assuming, I didn’t look it up.) Also, he is dead. That’s problematic, but since this wasn’t going to happen anyway, I don’t see it as an impediment.

The sight of a 7-foot-7 man attempting to do pretty much anything on a baseball diamond would be amusing. How easily could Bol rob a hitter of a home run? Pretty easily if he could make it back to the wall in time. How about robbing a hitter of a line-drive single over the head of an infielder? No such thing if that infielder is Bol. In contrast though, simple grounders to Bol might be challenging. How about hitting? Just about any pitch thrown over the plate and above his knees would be a strike. Though that might not matter considering he never played baseball before; he’d probably swing and miss at everything anyway. Could he pitch? Ha ha, no, of course not! But it would be fun to see him try.

So which non-baseball playing athlete do I want to see attempt baseball? I’ll take the seven-plus-foot-tall dead guy, please, and now I win this topic. —Matthew Kory

5. AB de Villiers
For those of you who don’t know, AB de Villiers is a cricket player. Actually, I know nothing about cricket. To get this name, I searched “Best Cricket Players," and this name came up. Wikipedia tells me that AB de Villiers holds “the record for most Test innings without registering a duck” at 78, which sounds fantastic. He also has “accumulated many runs in Tests including 16 centuries and 32 fifties," which is nothing if not exponentially impressive on a base-2 scale.

Cricket is an interesting sport because although it seems to share many superficial similarities with baseball, such as hitting a ball thrown by a player into a field of other players who attempt to catch the ball, the language of achievement is so different as to render it more impregnable than a recently imagined dinner date. Is it good that, after “the third test, after centuries from Ashwell Prince and Jacques Kallis, de Villiers became the third centurion of the innings with a score of 163 off 196 balls with 12 fours and 7 sixes?” It certainly sounds good. Is it important for predicting his skill at baseball that “he became the first wicketkeeper to score a century and claim 10 dismissals in a Test?”

Anyway, look, try to understand the greatness we are dealing with here. According to Wikipedia, in 2008, “De Villiers scored an obdurate 174 that helped set up a 10-wicket win for South Africa in the second Test against England at Headingley Carnegie in Leeds in July 2008. This was followed by a 97 at The Oval before he came down the wicket trying to smash Panesar for a boundary and was clean bowled.” How can you not be impressed by that?

I’m impressed. Let’s give him a bat and a glove and see what he can do playing short, supposing he can figure out where to stand. —Dan Brooks

6. Ray Allen
Allen is an unconventional pick, in that he's not freakish in stature or measurables, yet his body control, intelligence, and commitment to excellence make him an intriguing choice to pitch—even without knowing his arm's looseness or strength. Once considered the worst shooter on his junior-high team, Allen transformed himself into arguably the best marksman in NBA history. Shooting and pitching aren't similar acts in the broad sense, but both require spastic repetition. Likewise, picking pitches requires discipline and understanding limitations, much like choosing shots. Factor in Allen's other qualitative aspects—an eagerness to improve and willingness to forget—and he has many traits that teams want in their pitchers. Given his age, Allen feature a limited ceiling; still, he would be fun to watch for an inning or two on a back field. —R.J. Anderson

7. Martin Brodeur
The greatest defensive catcher in the history of baseball retired after 23 seasons behind the dish. Brodeur's record for most seasons without a passed ball (17) will never be broken. And two generations of knuckleballers owe their careers to the Montreal native. —Harry Pavlidis

8. Viv Richards
A powerful and intimidating batsman as well as a superb fielder and spin bowler, Viv Richards could do it all on the cricket pitch. The son of a fast bowler who also played for the national team, Viv along with his two brothers continued the family affair and did so with swag and flair, with an homage to the old school. Even though the zenith of his career came at a time when fast bowling was the norm, King Viv refused to wear any protection—no helmet, gloves, padding of any sort—but defiantly hammered balls and in doing so garnering the name "Master Blaster." Unafraid to mix it up with a little trash talk during and between overs —"sledging" in cricket vernacular—Richards was equal parts Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig: full of bravado, but also full of talent to back it all up. —Stuart Wallace

9. Jameis Winston
I’m cheating a bit here, as we will actually see Winston on a baseball field this spring. Despite a historic collegiate debut on the gridiron, the Florida State phenom has continually expressed his desire to proceed as a two-sport athlete at the professional level.

He’s already said that he wants to “be better than Bo Jackson” and Rangers officials (Texas drafted Winston in the 15th round of the 2012 draft) have continued to rave about Winston and his chances of making it as a dual-sport athlete.

MLB.com’s Jim Callis claims that if Winston had been willing to sign out of high school, he would have gone in the first two rounds of the draft. He had mixed results during his freshman season, as he hit just .235 with little power in 146 plate appearances as a switch-hitting outfielder (he did manage a .377 OBP thanks to a 15.1 percent walk rate). He faired better out of the bullpen, as he managed a 3.00 ERA and limited batters to a .176 batting average in 27 innings of work.

Raw may be the best way to describe Winston’s current makeup, but he’s certainly exciting to watch. His freshman year highlight video includes a handful of potential mistakes on the basepaths alleviated by his natural speed. The animation he displayed during pep talks in the football locker room was also present in the dugout. And then there’s this:

And this:

On the mound, he’s currently projected to start the season as the Seminoles closer and with his low-to-mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider, he would likely have a faster track to the majors as a pitcher (Callis also points out that losing at-bats by not playing during the summer and fall hinders his development as a hitter compared to other college players).

However, I can’t imagine that any NFL team investing a top pick on Winston to be their franchise quarterback would be too thrilled to have him to risk a potential shoulder or elbow injury by pitching in the minors (his reliance on the slider doesn’t help). Given the relentless demands of being an NFL quarterback, it just seems unlikely that Winston will be able to follow in the footsteps of either Jackson or Deion Sanders.

Given the disparity in guaranteed money that Winston would receive at the top of the NFL draft compared to an MLB signing bonus and the fact that he’s simply better at football, there seems to be little chance that Winston would choose baseball over football. Any slim possibility of him taking such a route would probably be predicated on the matter of long-term health. If there were ever a time for an athlete to ditch pads and a helmet in favor of a bat and glove (and a significantly lower chance of having memory lapses before receiving AARP benefits) it would be now.

In all likelihood, we’ll only see Winston suiting up on Sundays after his days at Florida State are over. It’s a shame, because Winston’s athleticism and aggressiveness on the baseball field would fit perfectly with the new-school breed of players that have pervaded the game in recent seasons. —Chris Mosch

10. John Wall
Regarded as the fastest player in basketball, Wall’s pure speed is an obvious base-running asset. He played shortstop in high school, but I’d convert him to the outfield, because a “Wall to the Wall” riff is basically what I’m going for here. As a premier passer and shooter I’m sure he has the arm strength for the outfield, and only time, practice, and eternal patience will help improve his throwing accuracy to the plate. —Matt Sussman

11. Cristiano Ronaldo
I’m a sucker for athleticism and the oft derided term “The Good Body." Sure, there’s some perverse sense of joy to be had when someone like Prince Fielder accomplishes athletic feats thought impossible considering his girth but child please, give me the Bo Jackson body types all day.

Aesthetics are at the heart of this exercise, and for me Cristiano Ronaldo’s chiseled man physique is the perfect embodiment of athletic aesthetics. Google is loaded with shirtless Ronaldo photographs as the Portuguese footballer isn’t shy about showing off a hard body that screams athlete.

Baseball could use the injection of aesthetic and athleticism Ronaldo would provide. Can he hit a baseball? Almost certainly not, but it’d be fun to watch him try. —Mauricio Rubio

12. Randy Moss
I don’t know how well Randy Gene Moss could hit a curveball, but I know who the best center fielder in the world would have been if that’s the position he’d played instead of wide receiver. His skill set would have made him an unstoppable force defensively.

In the Madden '06 CD-ROM that I still have for some reason, Moss rates as a 99 in speed, 99 in acceleration, 97 in agility, 97 in catching, and 99 in jumping. So you think Mike Trout is great at robbing home runs? Moss has plenty of experience snatching balls out of thin air while on the move. (Check this highlight for evidence.) An elite deep ball receiver, you could expect him to take precise routes to the ball with his sure footwork and excellent depth perception.

Like I said, Moss might be limited to a late-inning defensive replacement. Still, look at the outfield range on a team like the 2013 Mariners (-70 DRS in the outfield alone) and tell me it doesn’t beg for considering extreme measures. —Dan Rozenson

43 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Merlin90

I think everything that Dan Brooks thinks is impressive about AB de Villiers is actually impressive. de Villiers is a wonderful cricketer - a superb batsman who is also a decent wicket-keeper (cricket's version of a catcher). He's one of those people who's pretty good at whichever sport he plays; he could probably play professional golf if he ever got bored of his current occupation. He's a great athlete.

Viv Richards in his prime would probably have been classed as having 70 or 80 power - utterly destructive with a bat in his hand.

On the subject of cricket, there were rumours recently that David Warner, the Australian batsman, was being watched by MLB scouts during the recent series against England, but I'm not sure how much truth there was to that. He'd do pretty well though, I reckon - he combines power and flair with the bat with agility in the field. Not sure he'd get high make-up grades though.

Jan 15, 2014 06:19 AM
rating: 2
 
Merlin90

Oh, and in case you're wondering, a duck is what you get if you get out without scoring a run. If you're out without scoring off your first ball, that's a golden duck. And if it's the first ball of the innings ("innings" is both singular and plural in cricket), it's a diamond duck. Two ducks in a game is referred to as "a pair".

Jan 15, 2014 06:21 AM
rating: 2
 
BPassfield

That's interesting that Warner might have been scouted. I've always thought he would be interesting to see on a baseball field. Although, for some reason I have always imagined him as a Dan Uggla type with regards to the bat (although I also could see him playing 2nd). Not sure whether I am seeing this solely because of the similarities in build but certainly the raw power would be there.

Viv would certainly have been entertaining.

Jan 16, 2014 14:19 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

I would like to see Steven Stamkos, the top marksman in the NHL, who apparently plays in a local men's hardball league in the summer. I recall him going yard during BP in Tampa a few years back as well. Superb athlete.

Also, Michael Phelps. Looks at those arms. Want to see him pitch.

Jan 15, 2014 06:35 AM
rating: 1
 
Luke in MN

Lebron got me thinking about who the best-hitting player was that was over 6-5 or so. You get a lot of first basemen types around that height, but I'm struggling to think of really tall guys that could hit.

Jan 15, 2014 07:17 AM
rating: 1
 
eliyahu

Dave Winfield. Tall and athletic. And he could hit.

Jan 15, 2014 07:46 AM
rating: 3
 
bhalpern

Frank Howard

Jan 15, 2014 08:14 AM
rating: 1
 
Luke in MN

Listed at 6'7'' on Baseball Reference. That's pretty close to Lebron and he sure could hit.

Jan 15, 2014 11:08 AM
rating: 0
 
summoner

Richie Sexson

Jan 15, 2014 08:30 AM
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bline24

Allen Iverson was the best sub-6 footer in NDA history. His historic combination of speed, agility and grit would have translated just as well to the diamond, the pitch or the gridiron as the parquet.

Jan 15, 2014 09:56 AM
rating: 0
 
jdeich

His drawback is that he would catch the ball, then refuse to ever throw it to another player while he runs around with it.

Jan 15, 2014 12:08 PM
rating: 10
 
SC

And he's a hell of a bowler too.

Jan 15, 2014 13:57 PM
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apaterson

Sidney Crosby

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDMxebBNvjU

Jan 15, 2014 10:48 AM
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Scott
(296)

Calvin (Megatron) Johnson, whose first love was baseball. I think the Braves made him an offer while he was in high school IIRC. He pitched and played CF - and given how he hauls in deep throws from Matt Stafford, I think he's have pretty decent defensive potential.

There is a YouTube video of him taking BP with the Tigers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyyaHnUZI_8

Jan 15, 2014 11:15 AM
rating: 1
 
gecko1

Seriously? Jameis Winston? In a just world we'd be talking about the length of his jail sentence not celebrating his two-sportiness. At a minimum his conduct should have him on the list of players we don't ever want to hear about again rather than on lists like this.

Jan 15, 2014 11:38 AM
rating: 0
 
SC

Amen, and shame on the downvotes by those who'd rather just have unpleasantness like rape allegations against a guy they like who throws a ball forgotten.

Jan 15, 2014 13:03 PM
rating: 0
 
Atkinson

You are judging this kid because he was accused of something. The facts of the case were made public, and were more than convincing of his innocence. ESPN and the mainstream media painted a very misguided picture of him to drive an engaging story. He was the true victim in this case. In America you are innocent until proven guilty, and he wasn't even charged!

Jan 15, 2014 17:49 PM
rating: 3
 
SC

He was an adult, not a kid when he allegedly raped a woman.

He wasn't charged because the police didn't investigate properly. As a result of that dereliction of duty, prosecutors did not charge him because they didn't have enough evidence to convict. But "not enough evidence to win at trial" is not remotely the same as innocent.

He's innocent by law, not by fact. That the police and DA let a famous athlete walk on rape charges does not mean but that doesn't mean the allegations should be ignored, particularly as the alleged victim has been consistent in her allegations throughout, and even as the police and DA allowed her to suffer threats and harassment.

I'd hope BP could find another athlete without rape allegations over his head whom we'd all like to see play baseball.

Jan 16, 2014 08:39 AM
rating: 0
 
SC

Cristiano Ronaldo in a batting cage and throwing the first pitch at Chavez Ravine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhSTte0vbQc

Jan 15, 2014 13:05 PM
rating: 0
 
StefanAFrisch

Tennis player Andy Roddick invented a new service motion and holds the fastest serve record. What might he have done as a pitcher?

Jan 15, 2014 13:09 PM
rating: 1
 
MikeMcD

Gordie Howe. Ultimate package of power and speed. Right there in any discussion of greatest athlete of all time. When he took BP with Tigers in the fifties Al Kaline said he'd be a star.

Jan 15, 2014 16:49 PM
rating: 2
 
Plucky

This might be apocryphal, but allegedly Andre Agassi once went to a batting cage and had it turned up as fast as it would go, which was in the neighborhood of the low 90s. He apparently got so bored with how easy it was that he started running at the machine and still hit lazers. Even if that's not true I'd have to think he could have had an Ichiro-type baseball career

Jan 15, 2014 20:39 PM
rating: 2
 
tonynelson19

Michael Vick could be a dominant LOOGY.

Jan 16, 2014 05:35 AM
rating: 0
 
jnossal

If you want LeBron to give pro ball a shot ala Michael Jordan, you'll have to teach him to play golf first (including the intricacies of the Nassau).

Jan 16, 2014 08:10 AM
rating: 1
 
jnossal

Re: Zdeno Chara, a left-handed shot in hockey is a right-handed batter in baseball. So, just Gary Sheffield, not his mirror image.

Jan 16, 2014 08:14 AM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

"a left-handed shot in hockey is a right-handed batter in baseball."
Please explain.

Jan 16, 2014 12:26 PM
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MikeMcD

Hockey stick held with right hand on top and left on bottom has the blade on ice on player's left hand side--player shoots 'left-handed'. Right-handed batter rests bat on right shoulder--player bats 'right-handed'. Gordie Howe was ambidextrous. He could and did switch hands to shoot forehand from both sides though normally he didn't bother as his backhand was deadly. No curved sticks back then.

Jan 16, 2014 13:23 PM
rating: -1
 
R.A.Wagman

I get that. I didn't follow the previous comment. The handedness is not to do with which hand is on top or bottom, but which hand is closer to the body and which side of the body the swing occurs on. In other words, as Chara is a left handed shot in hockey, it is a mirror of Sheffield, who batter right handed in baseball.

Jan 16, 2014 13:51 PM
rating: 0
 
MikeMcD

If a left handed shooting hockey player used his hockey grip in baseball, he would bat cross handed. That is, right hand on bottom, left on top, bat on right shoulder. Supposedly Henry Aaron grew up batting this way and was told to change when he signed his first pro contract. Gary Player's great rival growing up in South Africa golfed cross-handed and never changed. This fellow was of mixed race--'coloured' in the odious nomenclature of Apartheid--and blocked from a professional career. Monica Seles is the only successful example of a cross-handed player in pro sport I can think of.

Gary Sheffield belongs in the HOF. Zdeno Chara is a beast--like Gordie Howe, he can play the game first and fights only when there is a fool dumb enough to go with him. Thanks for your time and input. This article and the comments are fun.

Jan 16, 2014 14:33 PM
rating: -1
 
R.A.Wagman

But his grip would not be the same because his tool of play (stick/bat) would be inverted, so his bottom hand would become his top hand and vice-versa. In hockey he hits the puck with the bottom of the stick, in baseball, with the top (sort of) of the bat. The hands are going to be inverted - even in the hockey grip - unless he wants to swing at pitches near his ankles.

Jan 16, 2014 17:00 PM
rating: 1
 
MikeMcD

You are right about the inversion of the stick/bat. In hockey Chara shoots left but in baseball bats right because left handed shooters in hockey are, off the ice, right handed people. (The right hand does control the stick from its grip at the top). Whereas in baseball, right handed people bat right and left handers bat left. Basically, that's it. Zdeno Chara is said to shoot left because the blade of his stick is on the left. It's his forehand side, his strong side. As a left handed shooter playing left defence Chara could go an entire season without making a backhand pass or shot i.e. from his right side. Chara now picks up a bat using the same grip. The hands come together at the bottom of the bat (although once upon a time in the deadball era a baseball grip had a pronounced, dare I say hockey styled gap between the hands). With bat pointed to the sky (it is now inverted when compared to a downward pointed hockey stick) Chara takes his stance at the plate. With this grip he is batting left handed. BUT as a right handed person Chara would switch his hands on the bat, step over to the other side of the plate and become the right handed batter that all left handed shooters in hockey are naturally. And the right handed hitting Gary Sheffield would have been a left handed shooting hockey player. Thanks again.

Jan 17, 2014 01:15 AM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

Yet I both shoot and bat from the right side. And I am lefthanded. I think there is more to it than handedness. The mechanics of both a shot and swing also involve torso motion, the legs, etc. While bassackwards lefties like myself are relatively rare (Rickey aside), bassackwards righties are fairly common.

Jan 17, 2014 04:54 AM
rating: 1
 
MikeMcD

Excepting centre hockey positions are distributed evenly between right wing/defence and left wing/defence. There are more right wing and right defence positions than can be filled by the smaller supply of naturally left-handed players. So it's quite normal for a right handed kid to be switched over to play left wing and defence. This doesn't change the natural distribution of right handed people versus left. It overcomes it.

This doesn't explain the occurrence of bassackwards lefties such as yourself but does explain what goes on in hockey from a young age. I do think there is a bias at work that makes left-handed kids learn to use their right hands while growing up, if only to fit in. They are a minority that live in a right-handed world.

Jan 17, 2014 13:33 PM
rating: 0
 
MikeMcD

I screwed up. It should read 'it's quite normal for a right handed kid to be switched over to play right wing and defence'.

Jan 17, 2014 17:31 PM
rating: 0
 
thegeneral13

I can't speak for Chara but why more generally would someone who has mastered the hip and torso rotation at the core of the kinetic chain in one swinging sport choose to rotate the other way in another swinging sport? And how are the hand positions any different? The only difference is that batters start with the bat over their shoulder and hockey players don't with their sticks. In the hitting zone, as well as when viewed relative to the instrument being held and not the ground, the hand positions are identical for players of like-handedness in each sport.

Jan 17, 2014 10:23 AM
rating: 0
 
MikeMcD

There is no choice in the matter general13. Kids pick up a hockey stick or a bat and start to play. Describing a hockey player as shooting left or shooting right has nothing to do with handedness. It is about being oriented to the rink. If you stand in the goal crease and look down the ice to the left are the left side players, wings and defence--their counterparts are to the right of course. The left side players have their stick blades on the ice to the left of their bodies. No mention of handedness is involved. It's about two things: the side of the rink your position is and the side of your body the stick blade is on. Viewed from the goal crease hockey is oriented in a logical way. Left or right positions (centre excepted) and left or right shooters. In baseball this isn't the case.

Standing on home plate facing centre field you will see left field to the left and right field to the right. So far so good. Step off the plate. Pick up a bat and stand in the batters box. Obviously a batter standing on the 3B/left field side of the plate should be described as batting left. That's the left field side isn't it? He's certainly standing on the left side of the plate. But no, he's said to be batting right. To the itinerant Martian, foreigner or hockey oriented person passing through this is confusing because it is illogical. Looking out from home plate the field of play is correctly described vis a vis left field to the left and right field to the right. But in the batters box things are inverted. Handedness is dragged in and utterly confuses the issue. Stand on the left side of the plate and you are batting right-handed? Come again?

This is a convention of baseball. When it comes to defining whether a hitter is described as a lefty or righty handednesss trumps the left or right side of the plate that the batter stands upon. Hockey doesn't do this. What hockey does do is define whether a player shoots left or right without handedness being involved at all. This proceeds from viewing the ice from the crease on out and is logical in a way that baseball is not when viewed from atop home plate.

Jan 17, 2014 16:59 PM
rating: -1
 
thegeneral13

Thanks for the clarification. However a right handed swing in one sport is still a right handed swing in the other regardless of orientation vs. the center of the playing surface. I still don't see why a left handed hockey player would swing a baseball bat right handed, unless you are defining handedness in hockey as the side of the ice the guy plays on independent of which way he holds the stick and shoots. But maybe we are talking past each other here and I just can't see it.

Jan 17, 2014 18:14 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

I am with the general. MikeMcD - I gave you too examples of guys who follow my own example. Can you give one example of the reverse?

Jan 17, 2014 19:14 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

And another example - Nyjer Morgan - bats and shoots from his left side.

Jan 17, 2014 19:51 PM
rating: 0
 
MikeMcD

These left/right inversions are hurting my brain. Probably yours too.

Three sports. Golf, baseball and hockey. Three right side players--note deliberate choice of description i.e. 'right side' and not 'right handed'. In all three sports the grips are the same--left hand at end of club, bat and stick, right hand next. (We'll ignore the gap between hands in hockey which is irrelevant here). Same grips.

As right handed people the golfer and the batter ALSO swing and hit from the right side. To call them right handed swingers and hitters is completely true. The hockey player too shoots from the right side.* But, he is NOT a right handed person.

*As verbal short-hand that has now passed into the language the terms 'right handed or left-handed shooter' are now established. Hockey is the poorer for it. Right-side/left-side shooter is correct--remember our orientation to this from standing in the crease.

In hockey, the hand on top controls the stick. Our right side shooter is a left handed person. Has to be. Pick up a hockey stick and shoot some tennis balls at the garage. If you are a left handed person you will NOT be a left-handed shooter. You will shoot right! In golf and baseball there is no difference between BEING left or right handed and PLAYING that way. In hockey there is.

Zdeno Chara shoots left. His right hand is on top of the stick. It is dominant and controls the stick. Replace his stick with a bat, and, without changing the grip, leave the tip of the bat on the ground. Now Chara points the bat to the sky and takes a batting stance. He is batting left-handed, as you say. BUT he's a right-handed person who shoots left in hockey. He will change his grip and bat right-handed.







Jan 17, 2014 22:43 PM
rating: -1
 
R.A.Wagman

Mike - I seem to remember that you are from Ottawa - is that right? Do/did you play hockey?
The point is sided-ness has almost nothing to do with dominant hand and more to do with torque. The hand aspect comes into play only in terms of which hand is closest to the body, not which hand is on top of the other.
My father, for example, is extremely left handed. He bats from the left and shoots from the left. He writes left handed and throws from his left. I haven't asked, but I would but he also wipes with that hand. Do you know for a fact that Chara bats from his right side? I know that Crosby and Stamkos bat from the same side as they shoot.

Jan 18, 2014 08:42 AM
rating: 0
 
MikeMcD

That's me. Played hockey love hockey. Hate the NHL for reasons too numerous to get into...the Stanley Cup in June for one.
Until this discussion I have never ever given a moment's thought to the side from which a hockey player would hit. So, no I don't know if Chara bats from his right side. Obviously that hasn't prevented me from claiming I know he would bat right. My reasons amount to nothing more than inferences made from the following.
The hockey stick is controlled by the top hand. So if a stick is picked up the dominant hand will be on top--usually, often, mostly but not always. Righty/lefty splits in the population at large are seventy to thirty percent so it's reasonable to assume that seventy percent of all hockey players are right handed. So right there Chara is more likely to be right handed. Before this discussion I would have reflexively said that all right handed players would shoot left. Now I'll just say almost all. Chara does shoot left. It is reasonable to assume he is right handed.
My best friend is left handed. In golf he can break eighty left handed and right handed. He is a freak! Left is his best side though, and from there he can break seventy. The truly ambidextrous are rare birds indeed. Gordie Howe! And handedness has many mysteries. If you have an athletically inclined right-handed kid who wants to be a pro I would venture that, beyond ensuring he plays a sport that he truly loves, the best thing you could do is stick a fork and a pen in his left hand and make him use them.
You know what? I do know for sure that Chara would bat righty. A few years ago he rag-dolled a fool who challenged him 'to get his team going' named Bryan MacAbe himself six-four two forty lbs. Left hand on MacAbe's jersey Chara's right hand was cocked. He could have unloaded at any time. But he didn't, likely because he is humane. Or perhaps he legitimately feared if landed the right could crush MacAbe's skull. Kill him even. In a fight you punch with your dominant hand. Instinct. Much the same instinct is at work the first time you pick up a hockey stick or step into a batters box. So that's how I know for for sure that Chara bats right. Because he punches right. And because he shoots left duly noted exceptions notwithstanding.

Jan 18, 2014 13:22 PM
rating: -1
 
R.A.Wagman

Also - See the Crosby swinging video - he bats left and shoots left. On the other hand, here is Steven Stamkos ready to take BP. http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/16062011/5/photo/16062011221223.html He is batting right handed, he also swings right handed.

Jan 17, 2014 11:29 AM
rating: 0
 
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