Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Marinerds 2006 All-Cute Team, Part 1: National League

(Note: I decided to forward-date this post so it'd be at the bottom of the November archives, so I can point to October as my "Fighters Postseason" archive. If this breaks your RSS, sorry.)

Welcome to the 2006 edition of the Marinerds All-Cute Team!

Last year, this all started after NGFT did his "all-jerk" team and his "all-fun-to-watch" team, and even ESPN had an "all-run-into-a-wall" team, featuring Eric Byrnes, of course. I'd been joking all year about some players, how "that guy'd make it onto my All-Cute Team for sure", and even filled out All-Star ballots of cute players so I'd bother to go watch the game at someone else's house. Well, now I have housemates and cable TV, so the motivations changed, but the scouting became much easier.

This year, rather than picking one guy at each position in each league, I figured I'd do three lists: a 25-man roster for the National League, a 25-man roster for the American League, and a 25-man roster for Nippon Professional Baseball. (The other two will be in subsequent posts.) I'd originally wanted to actually make alternate headshots for most players, as several really cute guys have really awful headshots, but in the end what happened is that their MLB headshots were used as the tiebreakers for cutting the last few guys from the roster. Yeah, if they didn't have a high enough SLG (Smiling Likeable Guy) percentage, I sent them down. Tough beans.

Even though I mostly finalized this year's rosters a month or two ago, I hadn't bothered to sit down and actually write the posts about it. So here you go!

Disclaimer as usual: This is my annual "I'm a girl, goddamnit" posting spree. If you're looking for baseball poetry or translations or serious stuff, scroll down. This list is entirely subjective, and while I tried to find cuteness of all varieties, it's true that I tend towards tall white boys with brown hair and blue eyes.

(It's amusing to look back at last year's post and see that half of the guys on my All-Cute team got traded, too. Anyway.)



#29 Chris Carpenter, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
#57 Zach Duke, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
#26 Jeff Francis, LHP, Colorado Rockies
#35 Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
#48 Aaron Heilman, RHP, New York Mets
#51 Noah Lowry, LHP, San Francisco Giants
#63 Ryan Madson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
#22 John Patterson, RHP, Washington Nationals
#44 Jake Peavy, RHP, San Diego Padres

Carpenter, Duke, and Madson are returning from last year's team. Carpenter's still damn adorable, though I still haven't decided whether his scruffy bearded look is good or not. Zach Duke has the most adorable pout when he's pitching and a great smile when he's not. Ryan Madson is so odd, because he scrunches his face into an ugly mess when he's throwing the ball, so action shots of him are terrible, but when he's just talking to people or smiling for the camera, he's the most gorgeous guy on the planet, no joke. When I was in Philly this May, these little kids were cheering him during his on-field warmups, and he paused a second, looked up and waved at them with this "Aww, cute little kids" look on his face, but to me, it was "Aww, cute little Madson".

Noah Lowry earned his way onto this list two ways: first, he was in the same Perry Ellis spread that Joe Mauer made famous via Bat-Girl; second, he pitched when the Giants came to Safeco in June. From behind the bullpen, at first I thought he wasn't all that great in person, he was so serious, but then he finished his warmup and smiled, and yeah.

Cole Hamels earned his way onto this list when I was in Philly and was standing about eight feet away from him and got him to sign my ticket stub. Holy camels, batman, he's cute. Great smile and deep blue eyes.

Jeff Francis is on here as part of the "Cute British Columbian Players Association". Aaron Heilman, well, I think he's sort of cute in the same way Billy Wagner is cute, only I don't want to punch him. Jake Peavy's been a borderline cute team candidate for a while, actually, and he got pushed over when I was reading a blurb about him in Sam Walker's book Fantasyland this summer. And John Patterson is actually more of a "whoa, that guy's cute!" remnant from last fall when my brother took me to a Nats game. Unfortunately, both JP's have had bad luck this year with injuries, so it's a good thing they're on this list before they smile too big and break their jaws or something.



#16 Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves
#26 David Ross, Cincinnati Reds

I have to first say that I really wanted to put Chris Coste on this list, but he didn't make it due to the inordinate number of Phillies I had already. Ten years in the minors didn't break his spirit, and you could always see Coste smiling and having a blast seeing his dream finally realized. Mike Lieberthal also suffered the "Too many Phillies" treatment here. Anyway.

Brian McCann's headshot is one of the worst ones of one of the cutest guys ever. So instead, how about this picture instead? I dunno. He's just such a cute kid -- as if it wasn't adorable enough last year in the postseason when he described hitting a home run off Roger Clemens by saying "it was really neat", it was even more adorable this year when I picked him up for my fantasy team because he was cute and then he proceeded to hit the snot out of NL pitching for the rest of the year. Great smile, great eyes, great everything.

David Ross has been one of my personal pet peeves for a while. When the Pirates traded Jason Kendall, I sort of hoped Ross would stay as the new backstop there, but no, he got way too many extra-base hits to be sucky enough for them, so they stopped playing him and traded him to San Diego. At the start of this year I said that I hoped he'd catch on with the Reds... and I'm pretty sure a .932 OPS with 21 home runs counts as catching on, so David Ross, *you* are my backup catcher on the team of the cutest players in the National League.



#7 J.J. Hardy, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
#6 Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
#1 Travis Ishikawa, 1B, San Francisco Giants
#16 Conor Jackson, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
#28 Lance Niekro, 1B, San Francisco Giants
#26 Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
#5 David Wright, 3B, New York Mets
#11 Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals

Yes, my team is full of first basemen. It's not my fault the NL doesn't have a Designated Hugger rule.

Chase Utley and David Wright are returning from last year's team, and if you have to ask why Chase Utley is on this team, then you have no idea how obsessed I used to be with him. First off, his name anagrams to "An ace homers cutely", among other things, which alone gives him lifetime membership to the All-Cute Team. Also, he's gorgeous, with deep blue eyes, thick wavy hair, and the best grin in the world (especially when avoiding talking about his hitting streak earlier this summer). Now, David Wright... it's funny, when I picked him for last year's team it was just like, "Dude, that cute third baseman on the Mets," and this year it's like "OMG DAVID WRIGHT11!!1!!1!" from half the female baseball fans in New York, or something (the other half are all "OMG DEREK JETER11!!1!!1!"). Okay, I'm exaggerating there, as I know there are fangirls for Mets of all shapes and sizes, even Cliff Floyd, but I digress. David Wright definitely seems to have gone overboard on the "trying to seem like a nice cute clean-cut kid" angle this year to the point that he's almost bland, but you know -- this list is about cute guys, and he does succeed in that.

JJ Hardy is on this list even though he spent most of the year on the DL, because I couldn't find another cute NL shortstop worthy of this list and I couldn't pick David Eckstein again with a clean conscience, even if he is the WORLD SERIES MVP1!11 and is a funny little dude who cracks me up. Besides, the Brewers were also lacking prospects in general (Derrick Turnbow's probably a good candidate for the "All-Scary Team"); Hardy's really good-looking, and it's just a shame about his ankle.

Ryan Howard actually has the best smile in the major leagues. And given his accomplishments this year, he had more opportunities to flash it than ever before. As a Phillies fan, it's really hard not to smile when Howard is smiling, both because it's a contagious smile and because it probably means he's kicking ass.

You know, I was torn between whether to kick Travis Ishikawa or Lance Niekro off the roster. They both were signed during that same Giants homestand here in June -- at the time, Ishikawa was filling in at first for Niekro, and that was when he had the crazy fielding escapades of diving over railings, fences, dugouts, etc to make catches in foul territory. So he caught my attention for his plays, and then afterwards for his face. But Niekro was at the stadium on the trip, and came out to chat with fans before the game, and he caught my attention for his smile. Then I learned that Lance's dad, Joe Niekro, passed away last week. And how can I possibly kick a guy when he's down? Thus, I suppose I effectively have two swoon platoons at first base. Oh well.

As for Ryan Zimmerman, this is also my brother-the-Nats-fan's fault. My brother went to UVA, so he wouldn't shut up about Zimmerman until I started paying attention to him. And in the process of paying attention, it was hard to ignore the fact that Zim's just a really cute kid; he just turned 22 and surely has a bright future ahead of him.

Oh, who's left, that's 7 out of... oh, Conor Jackson. Heh. He's cute, he shares my birthday, he spells his name with one n, he caused a hive of bees to attack the Oakland A's in spring training, and I thought he could represent the Diamondbacks (because I still can't put Eric Byrnes on this list in good conscience).



#15 Carlos Beltran, New York Mets
#5 Pat Burrell, Philadelphia Phillies
#25 Mike Cameron, San Diego Padres
#16 Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
#7 Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta Braves
#22 Xavier Nady, Pittsburgh Pirates

Pat Burrell returns from last year's team. Why? Because in building this roster, I don't really care about how much money he's making or whether he has any working feet left; this roster only requires that he's a dreamboat and that he looks good limping along in the outfield like that. Technically, Jeff "Frenchy" Francoeur also returns from the postseason cute list; he got on there by being a cute kid (seriously, last year him and McCann talking about going home to play XBox games after the NLDS games just cracked me up), and he stayed on there by continuing to be adorkable. In all honesty, his inability to take a walk sort of frightens me, but you know, he's kind of cute when he strikes out.

What the hell was I thinking not putting the classically good-looking Mike Cameron on the list last year? Oh, right, he wasn't particularly cute at the time, having had his face smashed in by Carlos Beltran. So this year I've just gone ahead and put them both on it, as they're now playing on opposite coasts and can't have any more of those collisions. To be honest, just like Wright, I feel a little guilty having Beltran on here, but he's really expressive and has a really nice face. I had vaguely debated between including both of Los Dos Carlos, as Delgado was actually also in that aforementioned Perry Ellis fashion shoot, but Delgado's headshot got him demoted off the roster. Also, it was just too many Mets for anyone's good.

And to add to the list of ex-Met outfielders, might as well have Xavier Nady in the mix. I know that if msb was making this list, she probably would have favored current Met Shawn Green over him, but again, too many Mets. Green would have probably been a better representative for the Snakes On A Plane than Conor Jackson, but ah well. To be fair, there were a few teams that ended up with no representatives on the roster because of the only candidate getting traded. Jeremy Affeldt, for example... I didn't feel like he outranked Jeff Francis (or Brad Hawpe or several others) on the Rockies, but he would have outranked pretty much anyone on the Royals except maybe Grudzilla.

And on that note, Andre Ethier's on this list because he's actually cute and most of the rest of his team doesn't really fit the "cute" mold, even though several of them are good-looking to some extent. None of them really seemed right for this list; maybe Russell Martin, but he was definitely blocked at catcher. So.

Hmmm, my roster has three #26's and three #16's. Weird.

I guess I'm missing guys on the Cubs, Marlins, and Astros. See, the Marlins have lots of young guys, and youth usually trumps other characteristics, but even their young guys are sort of funny-looking. (Dan Uggla: It's not just the name.) The Astros and Cubs is probably an oversight on my part; I might have to do some DFA'ing and callups down the line.

Anyway, there you go. Second installment of "Deanna has weird taste in guys" will hopefully be up tomorrow night.

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