This week, two great baseball teams – the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers – will face off in the World Series. Now, you may be asking, what does any of this have to do with Magic: the Gathering? Aren’t most gamers not really all that into sports? Well, first of all, there are many of us out there who dork out about baseball just as much as we dork out about Magic. Second of all, here at Card Kingdom, we strive to ask the unasked questions, to push the envelope of critical thought. Therefore, I invite you to come along with me as we answer one of the most important MTG questions of our era:
What position would all of the Planeswalkers play if they were on a Major League Baseball team?
We start off by looking at the starting rotation – the five pitchers who will begin each game for this collection of star talents. The all-MTG rotation is anchored by Jace, a left-handed pitcher who throws a curveball so sharp, it leaves the opposition swinging at the air as if the ball were an illusion. Tezzeret is second in the rotation, racking up the strikeout totals with his surgically-repaired right arm. Sorin also finds a home among the starting pitchers, gaining strength as the game goes later and later, practically draining the life out of opposing lineups as they flail feebly at his pitches. Koth is a stable #4 starter – not flashy, but able to show up for each game and get the job done with his hammer of a breaking ball. Rounding out the starters is the enigmatic Ashiok. No one is quite sure how Ashiok gets their results on the mound, but whether it’s through deceptive movement or lulling the batter to sleep with a slow changeup, Ashiok has proven time and again to be a nightmare for other teams.
Of course, starting pitchers can’t pitch a complete game every time out. They will need relievers to come in out of the bullpen. The highlight for this team is their closer, young Chandra Nalaar, and her blazing fastball. After a brief, ineffective stint as a mid-rotation starter, Chandra has transitioned nicely into being a player who can close a game out quickly and decisively. Backing her up is the left-handed Vraska. Vraska may not be able to get many batters out per game, but if there’s one troublesome slugger (or artifact or enchantment) you need to get rid of, she’s the gorgon to call on. Her right-handed compliment among setup pitchers is Ral Zarek – he throws lightning, but he’ll need a bit of luck to really take over the game.
Rounding out the bullpen is an assortment of fresh faces and specialists. Dovin Baan is a master of control – his astounding command ensures he won’t issue any walks, but does he have enough stuff to avoid getting hit hard by aggressive hitters? Samut and Huatli are rookies, just called up from the minor leagues, and the team is eager to see what they can bring to this high-octane roster. Finally, we have Tibalt, the designated long-relief/mop up pitcher. If you see Tibalt enter the game, something has probably gone horribly wrong.
Playing center field and batting leadoff, we have Liliana Vess. One of the most consistent and aggressive Planeswalkers around, Liliana is most comfortable in the limelight, making flashy plays and helping her team win games. Joining her in the outfield are Sarkhan, who covers so much ground in right field you’d think he can fly, and Nissa, a well-rounded player who can contribute to each game both offensively and defensively. The big sluggers of the team include first baseman Garruk Wildspeaker, who aggressively hunts for pitches while at the plate and blasts them out of the park. However, even his power pales in comparison to that of Karn, the designated hitter. When Karn makes contact, baseballs end up removed from the game entirely.
The middle infield in anchored by fan-favorite Gideon Jura, playing shortstop. Combining power and athleticism, Gideon is famous for being the “iron man,” never missing a game due to injury, to the point where some consider him indestructible. His double play partner at second base is Domri Rade, who saw many seasons of success alongside his old buddy Xenagos, before the satyr was sent to the disabled list with injuries that appeared career-ending. Kiora has settling nicely into a home at third base, where her exemplary defense and powerful throwing arm would have you swear she has eight limbs out there on the field. Finally, the veteran leader and catcher for the team is Ajani, a respected mentor to the younger Planeswalkers on the team, who can still bring some serious damage with the bat.
On the bench, we find four reserve and backup players. Tamiyo is the team’s second catcher and has been learning much from Ajani, with whom she shares a close friendship. Saheeli, no stranger to powerful combos, can play either shortstop or second base if needed. Arlinn Kord brings extreme versatility to the roster and can play any position on the field, due to her abundance of natural athletic abilities. Finally, Narset of Tarkir backs up all three outfield positions; she claims that having the vast outfield to patrol helps her focus on the game at hand.
COACHING STAFF AND MANAGEMENT
This outstanding team is managed by the wise dragon Ugin, who, in his own time, was more than capable of ending games with prestigious power. His coaching staff includes bench coach Daretti (still contributing even after his injuries), hitting coach Ob Nixilis (ever the enthusiast on the subject of hitting things), pitching coach Kaya (a former closer so good she earned the nickname “Ghost Assassin”), first base coach Dack Fayden (the greatest base-stealer in the multiverse!), and third base coach Nahiri (who has strong feelings about home plate and people’s homes in general).
A few former star players are unfortunately sitting out on the disabled list. Elspeth used to be one of the last things you wanted to see in the late game, but the former all-star closer has been out for several seasons now, with many wondering if she’ll ever return. The team is also without the talents of second baseman Xenagos and tricky starting pitcher Venser (opponents reported the movement on his fastball was so great, it appeared to teleport across the strike zone).
Finally, Nicol Bolas is the general manager of the team, pulling the strings and determined to win the pennant each season at whatever cost.
Thank you for taking this journey with me, readers! As always, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @Simon_V_Irving. And go Astros!
Header design: Justin Treadway
Original header image: “Deploy the Gatewatch” by Wesley Burt