NotGraphantasy Draft: The Bates-o-Matic Fun Machine


Did we get him? Fuck yeah, we got him.

When I was asked to join the NotGraphantasy Draft, I was at once honored and horrified at being included in any project that Carson Cistulli would actively try to ruin by being himself. But I soldiered on because I’m a hero. Speaking of heroes, let’s talk about my team, which I chose strategically and with malice of forethought. The goal was to put together a team that would be as much fun to follow as possible, that was the most loveable. Fuck “poetry” and all that. Give me some guys I can root for. That said, I did make a couple of picks I’d take back if I could, to which mistakes I’ll uncharacteristically own up and explain what I should have done differently. So without further ado, I present:

The Bates-o-Matic Fun Machine

Round 1: George Herman “Baby” Ruth, OF

This was an absolute no-brainer pick, as Ruth not only is one of the greatest players of all time but had perhaps the greatest joie de vivre in baseball’s storied history. Plus, he can pitch in a pinch. Taking the Babe also allowed me to do this:

Round 2: Sylvester Coddmyer III, aka “The Kid Who Only Hit Homers,” OF

David Temple hated The Kid Who Only Hit Homers, and quit halfway through because he’s a stupid quitter. And if it wasn’t so much fun mocking him to his stupid quitter face, I would probably agree with him. But how could I pass up the opportunity to pair Coddmyer with Babe Ruth, whose ghost inspired him to only hit homers for practically an entire junior high baseball season? With Ruth on hand, and unable to apparate away when he thinks Coddmyer’s been inspired to believe in himself enough, the kid should be unstoppable.

Round 3: Satchel Paige, SP

Speaking of joie de vivre, ol’ Satch should pair nicely with the Babe. He (briefly) had his own plane for barnstorming, was constantly getting busted for—and skipping out on the tickets he got for—speeding, owned several shotguns, and for the first part of his life on the mound, allegedly had such a good fastball he got away with using it virtually exclusively. Also told his fielders to sit down on the grass when he was angry and proceeded to strike out every batter he faced.

Round 4: Jack Glasscock, SS

I don’t think we really need much of an explanation here. Jack’s just a funny name. That said, Glasscock batted .290/.337/.374 from 1879-1895 and earned the excellent nickname “Pebbly Jack” for having hands so large he would scoop up tiny pebbles with the ball when he fielded it and throw them to first base as well. Also sported a healthy mustache.

Round 5: Wallace Wade Moon, OF

Unibrows are my brain’s ecstasy.

Round 6: Steve Balboni, 1B

In spite of Glasscock’s best efforts, we’re a little light on the facial hair so far, so I’m going to go here with Steve “Bye-Bye” Balboni, for his prodigious power, terrible batting averages, amazing Strat-o-Matic card, and his acute resemblance to Ron Swanson.

Round 7: Bid McPhee, 2B

Bushy mustache-haver, and life-long Cincinnati Red, but most importantly, Bid McPhee is credited with being the last major league player to play in the field without a glove. That’s toughness.


Round 8: Ernie “The Schnozz” Lombardi, C

I love Ernie Lombardi for his nose and for his slowness, which was so legendary that infielders used to be able to play well into the outfield when he was hitting. He was kept out of the Hall of Fame out of pure spite by his former manager, Warren Giles, an influential person on the HOF Veterans’ Committee. But in keeping with the fairly positive vibe I’ve established, I shouldn’t have taken a guy whose nose was the subject of so much derision. Lombardi is great on his own, and hated that nickname. A better choice would have been the greatly beloved and recently deceased Gus Triandos, who gamely fought to catch Hoyt Wilhelm, was one of the most popular Orioles in Baltimore history, and made The Wire so much better. This is not to discount my love of Lombardi, who was absolutely screwed by life in a lot of ways after he retired.

Round 9: Dock Ellis, SP

How the hell we let the only pitcher we know of to throw a no-hitter while high on LSD get to the 9th round is beyond me.

Round 10: Arlie “The Freshest Man on Earth” Latham

It was all about the nickname for me, but in retrospect the funniest man in Major League Baseball should be able to come up with a better stunt than putting a lit firecracker under third base.

Round 11: Randy Johnson, SP

The only MLB pitcher to have killed a bird in mid-flight. Inspired fear in stupid John Kruk. If I had gone with Harold “Pie” Traynor and Jim “Cakes” Palmer for rounds 10 and 11, however, it might have been even more NotGraphsy. And in bringing cake and pie together toward a common purpose, I might have finally stopped the Internet’s longest and most tragic shooting war. I have only myself to blame, because I’m dumb.

Round 12: Mike Veeck, Executive

Bill Veeck was stolen out from under me with the pick before this, so I took his son. Mike is ultimately responsible for Disco Demolition Night, perhaps the most disastrous promotion in the history of baseball, but remade himself as a minor league executive and prime mover behind the St. Paul Saints. If there’s anybody around who understands how much of a joy a ballgame should be, it’s Mike Veeck.

Disco Demolition

Round 13: Malachi Kittridge, MGR

More on this on Friday, as I feel compelled to explain my perverse attraction to Malachi Kittridge..

Round 14: My childhood backyard, Ballpark

My backyard was huge and wide open, and ringed by trees. It was shaped roughly like old Shibe Park in Philadelphia (reasonable down the lines, but squared off in a very deep CF. My friends and I would play one-on-one baseball (tons of ghost runners and fielders) and home run derby well into my high school years. It wasn’t a real ballpark, but it was to me, and it’s one of the ways I coped with being a Twins fan in the 1990s. After the game, we’ll go inside and my mom will make us root beer floats.

So here’s what the actual roster looks like:

Bates-o-Matic Fun Machine
C Ernie “The Schnozz” Lombardi
1B Steve Balboni
2B Bid McPhee
3B Arlie “The Freshest Man on Earth” Latham
SS Jack Glasscock
LF George Herman Ruth
CF Wally Moon
RF Sylvester Coddmyer III
P Satchel Paige
P Randy Johnson
P Dock Ellis
Manager Malachi Kittridge
Executive Mike Veeck
Ballpark My childhood backyard, which was shaped like Shibe Park

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Mike Bates co-founded The Platoon Advantage, and has written for many other baseball websites, including NotGraphs (rest in peace) and The Score. Currently, he writes for MLB Daily Dish on SB Nation. His favorite word is paradigm. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBatesSBN.

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“Well into my high school years,” as though we didn’t just do that like two summers ago.