One of, if not the greatest, superhero teams of all time meets one of the best teams currently in baseball.
That’s right, today I’m taking Marvel’s Avengers with a Chicago Cubs spin on it. To keep it simple, I’ll only stick with Avengers that have appeared in the movies, versus the comics where literally everyone in the Marvel universe has appeared as an Avenger at one point or another.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Thor – Anthony Rizzo
Thor swings the mighty hammer named Mjölnir, just as Rizzo swings his bat pretty mightily as well. Both are well liked and respected by their teammates and hold themselves to a high standard. Both are also the strong silent type and while neither are looked as the “leader” of the team, their voices and opinions are highly valued.
Captain America – Kris Bryant
It doesn’t hurt that in the movies, Captain America and Thor are pretty good friends: on the Cubs, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are seemingly really good friends.
Bryant, like Captain America, might not have been one of the first people on board the team, but both are easily the face of their franchises. Both are clean cut, well spoken, well liked guys that get along with pretty much all of their teammates. Both are willing to make sacrifices to help their team: for Captain America that’s pretty much anything but for Bryant that can mean playing LF, CF and 1B on occasion. Finally, both are pretty good at what they do: Bryant at hitting the ball, and Captain America at, well, hitting people.
Iron Man – Jake Arrieta
Iron Man is a pretty controversial personality: I believe in every movie he’s appeared in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU), someone has had their hand around his throat. He’s a bit narcissistic – okay very – and his flair can rub people the wrong way. While that doesn’t exactly describe Jake Arrieta, he’s not afraid to back down from challenges, especially ones about PEDs.
Laughing is exactly what I will do. You continue to do your thing though. No one will undercut my hard work. @stephenasmith
— Jake Arrieta (@JArrieta34) April 27, 2016
Also, Arrieta has been bullish about his upcoming contract negotiations in 2017.
“If we don’t work out a deal here and I go to free agency, I will get six or seven years,” Arrieta said. “No doubt about that. I’d like to stay in Chicago, but if they don’t want me, somebody will.”
Now, Arrieta is one of the best in the game, much like Iron Man/Tony Stark is one of the most powerful superheroes that Marvel has. However, it’s easy to see how both can be disliked. Still Arrieta is one of the older Cubs as in he was here before the arrival of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jon Lester, Javier Baez, etc. Similarly, Iron Man was one of the founding members of the Avengers in the comic books and the one that basically recruits everyone in Marvel’s movie timeline.
Hawkeye – Ben Zobrist
I’ll be honest, the Cubs addition of Ben Zobrist this past offseason throughly confused me. I knew that they’d move one of Javier Baez, Starlin Castro or Addison Russell, but I thought it would be to get two consistent playing time.
In almost a total parallel, when I first saw the trailers for the first Avengers movie – this was before I became the comic book geek I sorta am today – I thought, “Oh, a guy that can shoot arrows. That’s…cool, I guess, sure?” But Hawkeye and Zobrist both bring their teams together in that they keep them grounded.
Hawkeye is who he is: a normal human being that happens to be really good at shooting a bow and arrow. Ben Zobrist is who he is: a 36 year old second baseman/utility player that can work the count, play solid defense and hit for average.
Sometimes, the glitz and glamor isn’t what’s needed to really bring the team together.
War Machine – Jason Heyward
When War Machine was first introduced in Iron Man 2, as someone that was somewhat new to comic books, I thought, “Oh, that’s cool, like a second Iron Man, okay, I wonder how they’re gonna make use of him.” Similar thoughts occurred to me when the Cubs signed Jason Heyward: “okay, let’s see what they do with him.”
Both Heyward and War Machine serve specific purposes – War Machine is a heavily armored version of Iron Man capable of carrying out similar missions, and Heyward is a defensive stalwart in the outfield that can get on base and hit for average with some power.
Black Widow – Javy Baez
It might seem a bit weird on the surface, but the comparison is pretty dead on. For the Avengers, Black Widow is a swiss army knife with her ability to play multiple roles as a spy, infiltrator, ambassador and fighter. Baez does the same with his ability to play second, third or shortstop at a high level, as well as being an impact bat.
Do the Avengers necessarily *need* Black Widow? In theory, no: they probably could’ve beaten Loki and Ultron without her. Do the Cubs necessarily *need* Baez? In theory, you could argue no, especially if the right deal came along: however, both teams run a LOT smoother with them on their squads.
Hulk – Kyle Schwarber
I mean, this is pretty simple, right?
Like…yeah. Schwarber can hit the ball a country mile and then some. The Hulk is…well, the Hulk. It doesn’t hurt that Schwarber is 6-foot, 235 pounds with huge upper and lower body strength. Also something that both have in common at the moment: missing in action. Schwarbs is out for the year with a torn ACL and Hulk is currently in limbo from the Avengers team at the end of Avengers 2.
Falcon – Addison Russell
It might not seem like the perfect match at first, but once you look at the fits on their respective teams, it makes a ton of sense. Although he’s a new addition to the Avengers team, Falcon’s ability to do multiple small things makes the team function a lot smoother.
Falcon’s ability to fly thanks to his wings, as well as conduct a covert search with his sidekick/droid Redwing makes Captain America’s job of defeating whoever he needs to a lot easier. Similarly, Russell’s ability to hit for contact and hold down the fort at SS takes the pressure off a lot of guys in the Cubs lineup. Knowing that he can work the count wherever he is in the lineup allows younger guys like Willson Contreras and Albert Amora to take bigger swings and more risks when they’re at bat. Russell’s range at short can allow a third basemen, say Kris Bryant or Javier Baez, to play closer to the bag, further back, closer to the grass or whatever risk he needs to.
The Cubs don’t *need* Addison Russell thanks to their depth, similar to Falcon, but if he was missing you’d notice because everyone would have to work a lot harder.
Sure, the Cubs could move him and play Baez at short and Bryant at third exclusively, but that’d put some strain on them, considering Soler and Schwarber are hurt right now and Soler wasn’t playing all that great anyways.
*BONUS* Vision – Joe Maddon
It might seem like a weird fit at first: Maddon certainly isn’t out in the field with his team like Vision is with the Avengers. But consider this: in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the team was disjointed and didn’t function like they should’ve. Once Vision arrived, they worked together with more cohesion, thanks in part to Vision’s foresight (duh, right?). Sound familiar? The Cubs we know today are not the same Cubs that they were pre-Maddon. It was Maddon’s ability to put the pieces in place that created the team that we all know today.
Any comparisons I missed/don’t agree with? Hit me up on twitter @JChapmani65