What if you could create the sleaziest team in Major League Baseball history? My brother and I set out to do that on MLB 09: The Show, but we had to make a few adjustments by creating some retired players (these guys shouldn’t be retired yet anyway). Created players will be indicated in this article with an asterisk. We kept it current and didn’t pick anyone who was too old to be considered reasonable, and we had decent motivations for each decision, even if several players were selected based solely on appearance.
First, we had to choose a team as a basis for these dirtbags, so we obviously went with the Chicago White Sox. The clear choice for skipper was the club’s current manager, Ozzie Guillen (although Bobby Valentine would have been good instead, had he been available). Ozzie might be the only person around capable of handling such a ragtag bunch of ruffians. Next, we traded away players until we ended up with exactly who we needed, saving our big chips for last (Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez). The team ended up with this highly deplorable and infamous lineup:
- Coco Crisp, CF
- Lastings Milledge, LF
- A.J. Pierzynski, C
- Manny Ramirez, DH
- Milton Bradley, RF
- Robert Fick*, 1B
- Chris Woodward, SS
- Ronnie Belliard, 2B
- Corky Miller/Sal Fasano, 3B
The bench consisted of Jorge Cantu (IF), Rafael Furcal (IF), and Gabe Kapler (OF), and we’re still hanging on to Carlos Quentin (OF) until we can think of another malcontent to trade him for.
As for the pitching staff, the starters were as follows:
- Carlos Zambrano
- Joba Chamberlain
- Brian Tallet
- Bronson Arroyo
- Boof Bonser
The bullpen was a formidable one, with Tyler Yates in long relief, accompanied by Gary Majewski in middle relief, setup men Kyle Farnsworth and Danny Kolb*, and closer John Rocker* bringing up the rear. While it’s true that four out of those five relievers once pitched for the Braves, they are all equally qualified to be on the Sleaze Sox.
Perhaps some explanation is in order. There were many players whose inclusions are self-explanatory (Manny, Milledge, Zambrano, Rocker, and definitely Pierzynski), but others may be less plain. For instance, Robert Fick was picked not just for his ginger-like appearance, but also for his unforgettable incident with first baseman Eric Karros. Crisp, Bradley, and Belliard have had behavioral problems, and Woodward, Miller, and Fasano are pretty terrible ballplayers. But Corky Miller brought much more to the team than just a career .179 average – he was bad enough to be lovable, and the team needed someone like that. Kapler was picked for appearing in a commercial touting his Minor League prowess only to follow it up with a blatantly mediocre big league career – the man was even struck out by a position player. Most of the pitchers were either picked for appearance, name, or just lack of talent. For instance, Yates was included because of his uncanny knack for blowing leads.
Even if an opposing player did not know anything about the statistics of the players he was about to face, a team composed of Coco, Lastings, Ronnie, Corky, Sal, Joba, Majewski, and Boof, among others, would undoubtedly be intimidating. Interestingly, all of the trades required to land these players were fairly believable, so if Ken Williams had the moxie to do it he could create just such a team. And they could win, sometimes. He would just have to ensure that nothing in the clubhouse was very fragile, or valuable.