It’s the worst time of year in sports. Football is just about over, baseball has not started yet, and basketball is not at the peak of the season yet. Off-seasons are always filled with what-ifs and crazy scenarios, so the writers at Sideline Warning decided we would partake in those crazy scenarios. We decided to draft a dodgeball team out of current professional athletes.
- Snake Draft
- Can only draft up to two players from a single sport
Odell Beckham, Jr.
Here’s a team-by-team recap of the draft:
Let me start by saying that I know absolutely nothing about real life dodgeball strategy. If you’re watching this crap on ESPN 8: The Ocho every Thursday night then I’m concerned about where your life is headed but I don’t want to hear your expert opinion. Using previous dodgeball experience and common sense, however, I was able to come up with what I considered to be a solid list of scouting criteria. Arm strength, obviously, is a plus, but I would rather have someone who was used to throwing while moving than someone who needs a windup or crow-hop to throw. Next up are good hands and athleticism/elusiveness. Getting opponents out is fine, but we need some athletes to stay alive on the dodgeball court and to get our big arms back in the game if they get hit. Lastly, I wanted to avoid very tall players if at all possible. I mean, it would be pretty hard not to hit Boban Marjanovic on a dodgeball court. I decided to go away from the obvious choices (pitchers, quarterbacks) in favor of more athletic options. The left side of the infield in baseball seemed like the best bet hit all of my criteria, so I decided to start there.
Andrelton Simmons seemed like the clear front-runner for our hypothetical dodgeball team. The best defensive shortstop in the MLB (by decent margin) was drafted as a pitcher and threw 98 mph from the mound when he was in the minors. Those are Syndergaard numbers. Just off of the eye test, it doesn’t look like he loses a lot of velocity when he makes a throw from the hole, either.
Manny Machado was my second pick. I was between a couple of choices here, including Nolan Arenado and Jacob deGrom (the Mets’ fireballer was a minor league shortstop) but settled on the Oriole’s third baseman. Machado has an elite arm and the quickness to play shortstop in the majors. Simmons and Machado should be a solid foundation to start the team.
Westbrook was a pure athleticism pick. He might very well be the most athletic human being on the planet, and I’m not sure there’s anything he couldn’t do. He’s the best bet on this team to stay alive late into the game.
Now I need a hands team. The biggest momentum shifter in dodgeball is the 2-player swing that comes from catching a ball the other team throws. I’ll get those big plays from Antonio Brown, who I’m taking with my first NFL pick. Great hands, quick feet, and at 5’10” he’s much shorter than most elite receivers. To complete the hands team, I broke my height rule and drafted Kawhi Leonard in the 5th round. Yes, Kawhi is tall but he is extremely agile for such a big guy (let’s not hold the recent Golden State game against him) and have you seen the guy’s hands? It’s like he has a natural first baseman’s mitt.
My last pick came around and I was looking at taking either a wide receiver or a goalie. Russell Wilson was off the board and I didn’t want to take a Matt Stafford type quarterback – great arm but not much in the way of quickness. So, while deciding that
Team Mahaffey the First (Will)
Drafting superstars for any reason is ridiculously fun and unnecessarily stressful. There are so many to choose from. And there are so many to choose from.
I wanted guys who can throw and catch. Shocking strategy isn’t it? I also wanted athleticism and the whole “if you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball” ability too. This led me to these picks:
For my first round selection, second overall, I picked up Russell Wilson. Like (almost) any other NFL quarterback, Wilson has a strong and accurate arm. However, two things set him apart from the rest: his agility/speed/mobility and his smaller-than-average-QB size. The smaller and shifter you are, the harder it is to get hit.
In the second round, I selected Yasiel Puig. Outlandish character. Outlandish arm. Puig almost led the league in outfield assists in 2014 with 14. He is athletic and fearless. Fearlessness is obviously a necessity in dodgeball.
Third round I went with with Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald just doesn’t drop anything. Great hands means he will catch anything in his direction.
Fourth round was a bit of a curveball, but hear me out. Manuel Neuer, arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, has great handling abilities, and goalies have to throw the ball plenty – and a soccer ball is most similar to the dodgeball than any other ball in the sports we are pulling from.
For my fifth round pick I went back to the MLB and picked up Pirate flamethrower Gerrit Cole. Cole tops 100 MPH a couple times every year and I can only imagine what he could do with a dodgeball in his hand.
Last but not least I went to the NBA to pick up John Wall. For this reason:
Team Mahaffey the Better (John)
Odell Beckham Jr
When the idea for a piece about which athletes would make the best dodgeball team was pitched, I immediately said yes because it sounded like a lot of fun. However, once I began thinking about what a great team would look like, the concept grew a little more complicated. Sure, I spent hours in fierce competition in the McConnell Middle School gym trying to peg the poor kids on the other side, but that doesn’t make me a dodgeball expert. So after hours and hours of intense research and experimentation, I determined the ideal strategy for a six-man dodgeball team.
- All players should be fast, agile, and hard to hit with a dodgeball
- 3 “throwers” who can throw dodgeballs hard and accurately
- 2 “catchers” who can catch hard thrown dodgeballs
- 1 “wild card” all around athlete who can do anything
Under these scientific guidelines, I have drafted what is clearly the best team at Sideline Warning. Lets break it down by position:
My first round pick was the Hail Mary expert himself, Aaron Rodgers. As one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks he has proven he has the arm strength, accuracy, mobility, and leadership to lead my team into battle. If he can hit a receiver anywhere on the field while avoiding the blitz, he can be extremely effective on the dodgeball court (arena, rink?). You know what they say- if you can dodge a linebacker, you can dodge a ball.
My second round pick was the should-be back-to-back-to-back-to-back AL MVP, Mike Trout. With the athleticism to run down any ball in center field and rob even the hardest hit homers, coupled with the arm strength to to nail any runner on the base path, Trout is an obvious choice for my team. Just watch this MLB commercial and tell me he wouldn’t be a force to be reckoned with on the court. Simon says peg some people.
To round out the throwers I selected a Cy Young winner who has been arguably the best pitcher of the last decade, Zack Greinke. A guy who can consistently hit 95 with the accuracy needed for a career 3.35 ERA would be a dominant dodgeball thrower. Additionally, with back to back Gold Gloves and a .328 hitting season to his name, he clearly has the agility and athleticism to stay alive on the court. And if he does get hit? If you can bounce back from Carlos Quentin you can surly bounce back into the game when one of the next two guys catches an opponent’s ball.
Odell Beckham Jr. was the obvious choice to headline this position. I would tell you more, but if you’ve had access to television or the internet over the last two years, which you do have since you’re reading this article, I don’t have to. Any opponent who has the audacity to throw near him will be committing dodgeball suicide.
Another NFL receiver would be ideal for this spot, but since my NFL quota was full I had to get creative. So what athletes need to have the best reaction time and be able to catch anything near them? Soccer goalies! To be honest I don’t really know any keepers, but Slappey and Will recommended Mr.Courtois, and a quick Google confirmed that the Chelsea keeper is indeed one of the best.
The Wild Card:
Steph Currey, because, duh, what can’t he do? Think you’re safe hiding near your baseline avoiding throws coming at you? Wrong. Steph Curry just launched one across the court that will arch undetected towards you and splash down on your head. Game over. I win.
I put way more thought into this than I should have. My strategy was to pick two players from the NFL, NBA, and MLB. For the MLB, I wanted players that had the strongest arms in the game. Since you can revive a player every time you catch a ball, I wanted my NFL players to be receivers. My NBA picks were picked based on athleticism since arm strength and hands are not necessarily key skills in basketball.
Chapman to me was an obvious first pick. He’s the world record holder for fastest pitch in MLB history at 105 MPH. I know a baseball is going to be thrown harder than a dodge-ball, but you have to think Chapman hits at least 80 MPH.
Yoenis Cespedes was a great pick due to his arm strength and accuracy. There are multiple highlights he has created due to his ability to throw runners out at home from deep left field. Cespedes’ knack for gunning down runners makes him a perfect fit for a dodgeball team.
Julian Edleman was my wildcard pick. As we have seen over the last few seasons in New England, Edleman has great hands and is one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets. You may not know this, but Edleman was a high school and college quarterback. He was a three-year starter at Kent State, throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Edleman also amassed over 2,400 rushing yards in his college career. His arm strength, elusiveness, and catching ability made him an easy pick for this draft.
My intent was to pick Odell Beckham Jr. with my fourth pick, but John picked him right before me. Instead, I went with his college teammate and best friend Jarvis Landry. Though Odell may have more incredible catches in the NFL, I have seen enough incredible catches from Jarvis at LSU to select him for my team. He also returns punts for the Dolphins so I know he has evasiveness.
Once it got to my NBA picks, I was solely focused on athleticism. Russell Westbrook was already taken, so I went to the second best athlete in the league, LeBron James. Sam makes a great point about not selecting tall players, but with LeBron, you get a player than can jump up and fall down with ease. He has a vertical leap above 40 inches and flops more than any other player in the NBA. He also was an all-state wide receiver in high school so we know he can add catching to his dodgeball skill set.
I originally picked Chris Paul, but decided to release him and sign free agent Kyrie Irving. Kyrie is one of the most athletic players in the NBA and would be dynamic on a dodgeball court. His ability to shake defenders and overall speed would be fun to watch.