The Pirates Projected Opening Day Lineup & Their X-Men Counterparts
You know what I love as much as baseball? Nostalgia. Spring just blooms the hell out of baseball and nostalgia, and what's more nostalgic than the X-Men? All these damn comic book movies that are over-saturating the market because (1) Hollywood lacks any sort of creativity and (2) they're trying to appeal to us thirty-something money-dishing dweeb demographic. Power Rangers, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Star Wars - this party will never end no matter how long in the tooth and us guests will never leave, so why not call back to the times of X-Men: The Animated Series to keep those member berries chirping? (thanks, Fox Kids Saturday - Bobby's World represent).
Well, surprise, I also love the Pittsburgh Pirates. So being comic book nerd that I am and Opening Day firing up this weekend, I took the liberty to find an X-Men counterpart to every Bucco in the 2017 Pirates' presumed batting order (nerds like me will try to connect everything with anything, no matter how nonsensical it may be). Scroll away at your enjoyment or disgust, but before you do, enjoy the awesome that is the X-Men theme song to get you in the mutant loving mood (that sounds weird).
1. Josh Harrison as Beast (Hank McCoy)
J-Hay is a ballplayer of many talents. He can practically play his entire way around the diamond (dude even takes the mound a time or two) and does it with intelligence and unexpected speed and agility. One Hank McCoy knows all about that jazz too. He may be a big, blue and furry Frasier Crane with enormous feet, but that cat is versatile and quick as all get out. Plus, he's got a Ph. D. and undoubtedly J-Hay has one of those when it comes to America's greatest past time. Both can fly under the radar as far as notoriety goes, but are intricately weaved into the fabric of their team more than any member.
2. Josh Bell as Cable (Nathan Summers)
Since Bell is an obvious piece to the Pirate's future Cable seems like the appropriate comparison. He is the future son of Cyclops, but he's a highly trained older version of Cyclop's son with some sweet lookin' cyboric anatomy which gives him a good dose of extra power and strength. He's also got heightened eyesight due to his left eye enhancement. Well our budding first baseman sure has the power potential and is known for his patience at the plate and drawing walks (almost like he too has a glowing left eye). He may not be great at defense but Cable is mostly all about blunt force anyway. He's saved the X-Men's ass on more than one occasion (see Messiah Complex) and here's to hoping Bell can do the same for the Buccos with clutch power hitting
3. Andrew McCutchen as Cyclops (Scott Summers)
This one's a no-brainer. Besides Charles Xavier, Cyclops is the stalwart (and active) leader of the X-Men. Scotty boy is the glue that holds the squad together and along with J-Hay's Beast, he is one of the original five members. Cutch has been with the Buccos through the several below .500 seasons and the two above. Despite the circling trade rumors and slump of a 2016 season, he is without a doubt the face of the franchise. You can't think of leadership and epitome of the current Pirates without thinking Cutch and the same goes for Scott Summers and his band of gifted mutants. And McCutchen may not be Josh Bell's actual pops, he can absolutely be a "Pops" Stargell mentor to him in 2017.
4. Starling Marte as Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner)
Marte's going to finally get his shot at center and it's with damn good reason. His ability to cover all that PNC green is uncanny (ha-cha) and his base stealing and cannon of an arm greatly reflects Nightcrawler's super badass teleportation ability. Nightcrawler is one of X-Men's best characters and Marte is for sure one of the Buccos' best players - not to mention a lot of fun to watch (Just check out X2 or X-Men: Apocalypse if you doubt the coolness of Nightcrawler, arguably the best parts of both films).
5. Gregory Polanco as Deadpool (Wade Wilson)
With it's groundbreaking humor and unprecedented violence for the superhero movie genre, the Ryan Reynolds' lead Deadpool film sure made it's impact on Hollywood in 2016, making the character one of the hottest commodities in comics and in showbiz. Gregory Polanco is indeed that hot commodity for the Pirates. Deadpool typically doesn't ride with the X-Men as he's known to get paid for his efforts and Polanco got just that last year in April with a five-year extension. Rest assured, El Coffee won't be wielding dual swords anytime soon, but his bat should hopefully make plenty of solid cuts over the next six months (hopefully seven), and instead of breaking the fourth wall like the "Merc with a Mouth" is notoriously known for doing, hopefully he'll be knocking dingers over the wall at PNC.
6. David Freese as Iceman (Bobby Drake)
Alright, obviously the name had a lot to do with this one, but the comparisons do not just begin and end with hokey dad joke wordplay. Much like a Bruin or Blackhawk on NHL ice, Bobby Drake is an X-Men original, but the character's prominence has cooled off over the years in favor of ones like Jubilee (whose power is shooting fireworks - devastating), but he always plays a big part in getting the job done when called upon. With Jung-ho Kang out for the immediate and foreseeable future, David Freese gets to answer the call at third base, and just like the wise-cracking Iceman, he's there when you need him, especially if you need a frozen rope from time to time.
7. Francisco Cervelli as Gambit (Remy LeBeau)
One may be Italian-Venezuelan and the other Cajun French, but both sure know about love and charisma. As a matter of fact, hypnotic charm is one of Gambit's powers, but what he's mostly known for kinetically charging up an object (more often than not a deck of playing cards) to knock down a wall or degenerate foe. Cervelli tends to charge up his teams with his hustle, heart and hitting both at and behind the plate. Also, Gambit's earlier trade before joining the X-Men was professional thievery (he still dabbles in it from time to time, dog will hunt as things go) and Cervelli, while not an expert base stealer, is known for catching runners in the act. In 2016, he ranked 2nd in the NL at throwing runners out and 3rd in the NL at putouts at home plate.
8. Jordy Mercer as Forge
Forge is one of the most underrated of the X-Men and the same could be said for the Pirates' starting shortstop of 2017. In the comics, Forge is a former shaman warrior of the Cheyenne Tribe, but his mutant abilities conflict that mysticism by having a heightened ability in technical invention. Need a hologram of Tupac? He can do that. A new leg? Dude made one for himself. Gotta have a portal to go somewhere? Forge got your back, baby. Jordy, an infield warrior in his own right, opens his own form of portals for his teammates and closing them for his opponents. In 2016, he ranked 2nd among NL shortstops at turning double plays.
9. Gerrit Cole as Wolverine (Logan)
Think I was gonna leave the most famous X-Man off the list? Awww hells no. Gerrit Cole is actually the perfect candidate for Weapon X. Being the lone man on the mound, he already encompasses Logan's loner vibe, but the ace of the Pirates has the intensity like nobody else on the team, just like that burly clawed Canuck and his "bezerker rage". Wolverine's the all-star of the X-Men and Cole will be the all-star of the rotation. Get out them claws, Gerrit.
Well there you have it. Think you have better suggestions? Hit me up on the Twitter (@DominicDeAngelo). I started this column off with one theme song and now I'm gonna end it with another hum dinger:
LET'S GO BUCS.