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The Great Movie Athlete Fantasy Draft

ESPN

With sports now on hiatus for an indefinite time, a lot of fans have been getting their athletic-competition fix by going to their streaming service of choice and doing a deep dive into sports movies. With fantasy drafts currently on hold, we thought it might be fun to see what a draft made up of athletes from the world of cinema might look like. So, we tasked DJ Gallo and AJ Mass with selecting their fantasy dream teams. The rules were very loose, with the only major restriction being that all the players selected had to be somewhat fictional -- in other words, no biopics allowed. Teams would consist of three players each from baseball, basketball and football, two players from hockey, three "wild-card players" from any other sport and one coach to rule them all. As for the scoring system? Your guess is as good as ours. Public opinion will likely decide which team wins, but at the end of the day, it's really not important whether you win or lose -- as long as we all remember how much we really miss sports.

Warning: Spoilers and terrible puns abound.

BASEBALL

Gallo, Pick 1: Roy Hobbs, OF, New York Knights -- "The Natural"

Hobbs was scripted as a sort of Ted Williams-Babe Ruth hybrid who didn't make his major league debut until age 34 due to being shot at age 19. After some early struggles on the Knights with pre-"diabeetus" manager Wilford Brimley riding him every game, Hobbs proceeded to put up Triple Crown-caliber numbers. Mike Trout numbers. Hobbs in Season 1 undoubtedly won a ton of leagues as a waiver add, but he's my No. 1 pick in Season 2. Sure, there's some age and wear and tear on him, and he won't steal any bases, but expect his timing at the plate to improve in upcoming seasons as he continues to work off the rust. This pick is a home run into a light standard.

Mass, Pick 1: Steve Nebraska, P, New York Yankees -- "The Scout"

From the moment of his first "open audition" at Yankee Stadium, it was clear this Shohei Ohtani precursor was destined to be a fantasy baseball superstar. He's that rare "10-tool" athlete who can just as easily strike out the side as he can clear the bases with a tape-measure home run. OK, sure, there's some question as to whether or not he has the mental makeup to last in the majors -- especially in the fishbowl that is the Big Apple -- but how can you argue with his 81-pitch, 27-K, perfecto (with two solo home runs) in his World Series debut?

Mass, Pick 2: Bingo Long, P, Traveling All-Stars -- "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings"

Bingo Long was essentially a fictionalized version of Satchel Page, who was able to go 6-1 with a 2.48 in 1948 as a rookie for the Cleveland Indians at age 41. Long, as portrayed by Billy Dee Williams, still has a lot left in the tank, and he often manages to fan hitters while flying solo without any other members of his team on the field, Eddie Feigner-style. He's well-respected in the clubhouse so there's really no reason to have a bad feeling about this.

Gallo, Pick 2: Henry Rowengartner, P, Chicago Cubs -- "Rookie of the Year"

With every draft pick you have to consider the risk of injury. With Rowengartner, the risk is him not being injured. Assuming the Cubs re-break his arm for a new season, or at least surgically re-tighten his tendons so they allow him to light up the radar gun again, Rowengartner is the most dominant pitcher in baseball. But if news comes out that he's healthy, he's off the board. Undraftable.

Gallo, Pick 3: Willie Mays Hayes, OF, Cleveland Indians -- "Major League"

Hayes gets on base, scores runs and steals a ton of bases. We're talking peak Rickey Henderson. There is no weapon like that in the game today. Granted, Hayes, isn't going to provide a lot of home runs unless the fences are moved in to Little League distance. But you don't want to miss on Hayes in your draft. Or as manager Lou Brown might say: "Don't gimme this 'olé' bull---t."

Mass, Pick 3: Kelly Leak, OF, Bears (sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds) -- "The Bad News Bears"

I've always said that you need to separate the stats a player can give you from any potential personality quirks that you might not like. And there's a lot not to like about this cigarette-smoking, motorcycle-riding ne'er-do-well off the field. Heck, he's probably the only member of his Little League team who actually has a need to use the services of the team's sponsor. That said, he has a ton of power and can catch any ball hit to any of the three outfield positions (whether Lupus likes it or not), and even at his young age, he has experience in major league parks like the Astrodome. Let him play! Let him play!

FOOTBALL

Mass, Pick 1: Shane Falco, QB, Washington Sentinels -- "The Replacements"

It's easy to forget that Falco was an All-American at Ohio State. Sure, he tanked in the Sugar Bowl. But then again, does anyone remember how poorly Lamar Jackson threw the ball against LSU in the Citrus Bowl (153 passing yards, 0 TD) or against Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer Bowl (171 passing yards, 2TD, 4 INT)? Maybe he will carry that "scab" label with him going forward, but if any team is willing to give him a chance, you'd be foolish not to do so yourself. After all, Falco is no Ed Rubbert!

Gallo, Pick 1: Rod Tidwell, WR, Arizona Cardinals -- "Jerry Maguire"

It's a risk to take a receiver with your first pick. It's even more of a risk when you take a receiver who seems to be driven entirely by money and fame. See: Brown, Antonio. But Tidwell produces. And he scores touchdowns, too, which separates a good fantasy receiver from a great one. Here's hoping Tidwell remembers he still needs to be a productive player on the field for the money to keep rolling in. (By the way, if they ever come out with a "Jerry Maguire" sequel, I bet we discover Tidwell originally landed on the Cardinals after being traded there by Bill O'Brien for scraps.)

Gallo, Pick 2: Willie Beamen, QB, Miami Sharks -- "Any Given Sunday"

Waiting on a quarterback in fantasy is usually the smart move. But Beamen has a skill set that is unique to fictional quarterbacks. Your Shane Falcos, Paul Blakes and Paul Crewes of the cinema world tend to be traditional drop-back quarterbacks. But Beamen can also make plays with his legs. He's an eye-popping player in a literally eye-popping league. His yards on the ground can be the difference in a very close fantasy matchup. Because in either game -- life or football -- the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don't quite make it. Et cetera.

Mass, Pick 2: Levander "Bird" Williams, QB, Central High Wildcats -- "Wildcats"

It's the sport of kings, better than diamond rings. Football. And while this underfunded program was headed for a losing season with Woody Harrelson under center, it all turned around once Bird realized that Goldie Hawn's coach Molly actually knew what she was talking about. (Coincidentally, this film came out the same year Katie Sowers was born.) With a rifle for an arm and the speed to avoid tacklers when forced to scramble -- go ahead and pass on Levander. All I have to say to you if you do is "U.G.L.Y. You ain't got no alibi."

Mass, Pick 3: Manumana "the Slender", OL/DL, Texas State Armadillos -- "Necessary Roughness"

The huge lineman (played by real-life NFL center Peter Tuiasosopo) was a dominant force in terms of sacks on defense and rarely let opposing linemen get to his quarterback (or his kicker, but she can take care of herself). Imagine how valuable he would be in an IDP league if he played for a team with enough eligible players so he didn't have to be an ironman? Or, for that matter, if he wasn't playing alongside the likes of Jason Bateman and Sinbad?

Gallo, Pick 3: Bobby Boucher, LB, South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs -- "The Waterboy"

Yeah, I know. Boucher is a linebacker. But I'm taking a flier on him here even in a non-IDP league because I simply refuse to believe that any coach would choose to not give offensive snaps to an absolute unstoppable wrecking ball. Boucher has potential to be the greatest goal-line ball carrier in football history. It's no stretch for Boucher to break LaDainian Tomlinson's single-season record of 28 rushing touchdowns, a feat that would no doubt make his momma very proud.

BASKETBALL

Gallo Pick 1: Teen Wolf, every position, Beacon Town Beavers -- "Teen Wolf"

Teen Wolf is the worst team player in sports history. And that's exactly why he (it?) would be the greatest fantasy basketball player of all time. Night in and night out, he'd give you double-digit points, rebounds, steals, blocks -- everything but assists (and the semiregular 100-point efforts would easily outweigh all the 0-assist games). Teen Wolf would be so good in fantasy that it may not even be necessary to fill the rest of your roster. I might even take Chubby and Boof with my next picks.

Mass, Pick 1: Troy Bolton, G, East High Wildcats -- "High School Musical"

What more needs be said? He keeps an eye on defense. He can run the give-and-go. He can take the ball to the hole. And he's never afraid to shoot the outside J. And I hear that werewolves have extremely sensitive hearing, so if his path ever crosses with Mr. Scott Howard (Gallo's pick above), he can sing that furball into submission. Pick Mr. Bolton for your fantasy team and get ready for the start of something new!

Mass, Pick 2: Saleh Wintambuh, C, St. Joseph's University -- "The Air Up There"

This 6-foot-10 soon-to-be dunkaholic didn't even know how to dribble when coach Jimmy Dolan came to Africa looking for the next Hakeem Olajuwon or Manute Bol, but he quickly took to the sport and succeeded based on natural talent alone. Give Saleh a few seasons in the NCAA to percolate and he's bound to be an NBA and fantasy hoops sensation. Sadly, in real life, while Charles Gitonga Maina did end up leading Lynn University to the Division II semifinals and set the school record for blocks in a single game with 11, visa problems ended up hampering his ability to pursue the sport further.

Gallo, Pick 2: Neon Boudeaux, C, Western University Dolphins -- "Blue Chips"

Neon Boudeaux was given a new car to play for Pete Bell at Western University and I'm going to win enough money in fantasy to buy a new car by drafting Neon Boudeaux. Size, strength, quickness, ability to run the floor or just post-up and pound opponents down low. He's got everything but free throw percentage. You know, Boudeaux reminds me a lot of a young Shaquille O'Neal.

Gallo, Pick 3: Jimmy Chitwood, SG, Hickory Huskers -- "Hoosiers"

Jimmy Chitwood was before his time. Put him in today's game and he would absolute dominate with his pure, long-range shooting. And while Chitwood's scoring numbers are limited somewhat by coach Norman Dale's mandate to pass the ball four times before every shot -- fantasy poison! -- it would at least help Chitwood rack up some assists, too.

Mass, Pick 3: Roberta "Swish" James, G, Cadwallader Eagles -- "Fast Break"

In an era when there wasn't even a 3-point line, Swish routinely led coach Gabe Kaplan's up-tempo offense to 100-point performances with deadly outside shooting, pinpoint passing and the ability to go coast-to-coast a la Tyus Edney when the situation calls for it. The fact that she did all of this while also enduring the pressure of having to hide her gender only adds to how impressive a player she truly was. Heck, she helped make Bernard King a much better scorer than Rory Sparrow ever did.

HOCKEY

Mass Pick 1: Doug Dorsey, F, USA Hockey -- "The Cutting Edge"

There's not much footage left from Dorsey's abbreviated career, but we do know he was the captain of the 1988 US Olympic team, which makes him at least as good as Tony Granato and a likely 40-goal scorer at the NHL level. Now, some might argue the head injury that ended his hockey career means you shouldn't draft him, but the joke's on you! Anyone who watched him pull off the Pamchenko as he and Kate Moseley medaled in Albertville can clearly see that the reports of his "permanent vision damage" were premature. I believe he'll be back scoring goals in no time and, when he does, it behooves you "toe pick" him for your fantasy team.

Gallo, Pick 1: Adam Banks, F, District 5 Ducks -- "The Mighty Ducks"

Yes, he gets hurt a lot. Yes, he struggles with his confidence. Yes, The Flying V would not work in real hockey. Yes, scoring a goal against Iceland is not very impressive, as Iceland actually stinks at hockey. But Banks is a skilled player and, considering most hockey movies glorify fighting more than playmaking and KOs don't equal fantasy points, Banks is the pick.

Gallo, Pick 2: Darren McCord, G, Pittsburgh Penguins -- "Sudden Death"

Before Zamboni drivers served as our emergency goalies, there was terrorist-fighting fireman Darren McCord playing goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins in a borrowed Brad Tolliver jersey. Despite never having played the position before, McCord made a clutch save on a Tony Amonte breakaway. If he can do that on the big stage of the Stanley Cup Final cold, he can definitely rack up the fantasy points during the regular season with a little practice.

Mass Pick 2: Julie "The Cat" Gaffney, G, Team USA (Jr. Goodwill Games) -- "The Mighty Ducks 2"

Please! McCord doesn't even know what he did there. Sheer luck. Gaffney comes into her penalty shootout (true sudden death) just as cold, and on the world stage, no less. Not only does she make the save on Gunnar Stahl for the win, but she nonchalantly flips the puck onto the ice and offers up a "nice try" to the stunned sniper. Double-impact burn! Who is more likely to repeat the performance? After replacing Gordon Bombay, Ted Orion might not have been the warmest coach, but even he knew who deserved to be in net going forward.

MISCELLANEOUS

Mass Pick 1: Boxing -- Ivan Drago, USSR - "Rocky IV"

As the hype before the fight said, "Drago is the most perfectly trained athlete ever." Sure, maybe some of his "evolution" came courtesy of a needle, and that's not OK. Still, that was clearly just a shortcut to the top. I wasn't always in his camp, but if "Creed II" showed us anything, it's that the Drago line knows how to box. I'm not sure exactly what fantasy categories we'll use here, but in terms of punching power, knockouts and opponents permanently defeated, Ivan is sure to win the day. And if you don't agree with me on this, all I can say is, if I can change, you can change -- everybody can change!

Gallo, Pick 1: Soccer -- Jess Bhamra, F, Hounslow Harriers -- "Bend it like Beckham"

Despite having zero formal training, Jess Bhamra has proved she can outperform those who have played years of club soccer -- and she can score clutch goals, too. Now give her high-level coaching and the support of her family for the first time in her life? Yeah, I'm expecting a huge fantasy season in her freshman year at college.

Gallo, Pick 2: Bowling -- Ernie McCracken -- "Kingpin"

Bowling has never seen a superstar like Ernie McCracken. Even Pete Weber would fold in the face of McCracken's dominance, confidence, sartorial style and cantilevered hairdo.

Mass Pick 2: Soccer -- Cpl. Luis Fernandez, Striker, Allies -- "Victory"

Taking on the entire team from the Third Reich... with broken ribs... and executing a perfect bicycle kick... to score the tying goal. Even with the fix in, you can't escape the truth that there's no stopping Pele. Victory shall be yours!

Mass Pick 3: Rollerball -- Jonathan E. Houston -- "Rollerball"

It was a game created to demonstrate the futility of the individual effort. It is part roller derby, part jai alai, part lacrosse and, um, part BMX? The rules are designed in such a way that no one player can emerge as a superstar and yet, listening to the chanting. Jon-a-than! Jon-a-than! Jon-a-than! Even if he weren't already the best player in his sport, the fact he may well be the only player in his sport by the time the championship is over makes him an obvious pick.

Gallo, Pick 3: Racing -- Jean Girard, NASCAR/F1 -- "Talladega NIghts"

It's time to admit that Jean Girard is the better racer than Ricky Bobby. He has won on both the F1 circuit and in NASCAR, and he's far more reliable than his American rival. Consistent production is what matters in fantasy. So admit it: Girard is better than Bobby. And now admit that you love crepes, too.

MANAGER/COACH

Gallo Pick: Jimmy Dugan, Rockford Peaches -- "A League of Their Own"

If I could pick just one fictional person to be fantasy manager, I'd go with "S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent" from Avengers: Endgame. Yes, Matthew Berry. He would make sure his players focus on what matters: fantasy points; not worthless wins. But if I have to go with a coach from a sports movie, I'm picking Jimmy Dugan of the Rockford Peaches and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. His hands-off, falling-asleep approach is perfect for fantasy, unlike the awful, rah-rah "play like a team" approach adopted by so many successful movie coaches.

Mass pick: Mr. Miyagi, Miyagi-Do Karate -- "The Karate Kid"

What's better than a hands-off approach to mentoring your charges? It's being hands-off while also getting them to do all of the handiwork around the house that you don't want to do yourself under the guise of training? Not only that, but this karate master actually earned a Medal of Honor in WWII while Dugan was sleeping away his days and trying his best to ignore "All the Way" Mae's constant requests to sing the national anthem before games. Not only did he take a useless case like Daniel LaRusso and turn him into a virtual killing machine, but when push comes to shove, he can single-handedly embarrass and humiliate any sensei who dares overstep his bounds.