On February 27, 1996, a video game hit Japan and sparked a phenomenon. Pokemon was released for the Game Boy, and it did not take long for fans to become hooked. Two years later, it came stateside in the form of Pokemon Red and Blue for that beautiful grey block known as the Game Boy. I was one of millions of kids to play these games (#Red4Life), and to this day, one of my go-to fun (?) facts is that I caught all 151 of the original Pokemon.
Since then, there have been numerous other games released with several more generations of Pokemon. Its company, Nintendo, even released a fantastic Super Bowl commercial commemorating the 20th anniversary. I don't play video games nearly as much as I used to, but there's still something awesome to me about the first lineup of Pokemon.
So because we're in the extremely early stages of baseball in 2016 and the first games came out 20 years ago tomorrow, this extremely important post exists. (Why should NCAA football have all the fun?) Which original Pokemon best describe the 2016 Yankees?
I limited this to just players on the 40-man roster, so Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, and others will not be listed (though Judge as Machoke is pretty perfect). Also, I didn't go through every single player there, simply because the post would be even longer than it is and I'm sure only the Torreyes family is dying to see which Pokemon matches him. Tips of the hat go out to Jason, Matt P., Greg, NoMahbles, and Kunj for helping make the judgments, and in Kunj's case, assisting me in creating the ridiculous Photoshops.
Okay, enough words. Onward. Who is Professor Joe Oak studying these days?
Masahiro Tanaka: Mew. Kicking it off with the most mysterious Pokemon, Kunj said Tanaka is Mew "Because they're adorable and I want to hug them both. Oh and they're hella powerful."
Can't argue with that.
Chasen Shreve: Porygon. The invaluable Bulbapedia says that Porygon is "made completely out of programming code," which is preposterous even for the wacky world of Kanto. So Shreve fits since, as Ken Tremendous has noted on Twitter, he is not a real person.
Luis Severino: Pichu. I mostly stayed away from non-first generation Pokemon, but I made a couple exceptions. Pichu works for Severino since the 22-year-old is leading the next generation of Yankees players like Pichu did for Pokemon Gold and Silver. Also, his stuff's electric! (Yes, that's going to be abused in this post.)
CC Sabathia: Kangaskhan. Snorlax would have been the slam dunk choice just a few years back, but since the big lefty isn't as dominant anymore, we land on Kangaskhan, the mother hen of the Pokemon family just as CC is a mentor to the pitching staff.
D'aw, look at baby Domingo Acevedo in his pouch. May you one day reach the height of CC's peak.
Michael Pineda: Onix. Enormous and strong, Onix can destroy several Pokemon simply by falling on them or using Dig, as Pineda can with his breaking pitches when they're on. Go into battle with the right strategy though, and it's not so hard against either.
Ivan Nova: Weepinbell. What the hell is Weepinbell's deal? What the hell is Ivan Nova's deal?
Bryan Mitchell: Drowzee. Every time Mitchell is in the game, I get tired or just wish I was asleep. Sorry buddy.
Andrew Miller: Articuno.
Aroldis Chapman: Moltres.
Dellin Betances: Zapdos.
The three legendary birds fit this three-headed monster in the bullpen. The fire of Moltres is an obvious fit for Chapman, Zapdos' glare and sheer electric power resemble Dellin on the mound, and Miller fits Articuno since he freezes hitters. Last year, Miller led the trio with 23.4% of pitches for called strikes according to Baseball Savant.
Nathan Eovaldi: Arcanine. "Nasty Nate" throws 100 mph heat like Arcanine's flamethrower, but like the big dog, he isn't quite as dangerous as he seems like he should be. Hell, he's already eovalved, so why isn't he better?
James Pazos/Nick Goody/Branden Pinder/Nick Rumbelow/Johnny Barbato: Zubat. The Yankees seem to have like 80 million relief prospects who throw hard floating around the high minors and they're all almost interchangeable. So they're all those pesky Zubat that won't stop bugging you in Mt. Moon.
"DAMMIT, I KNEW I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT REPEL FROM THE DANG STORE. STOP POISONING MY CHARMANDER, YOU MONSTERS."
Brian McCann: Marowak. A fierce competitor with a strong arm, Marowak fits the bill for McCann. Plus Marowak is totally the type of Pokemon that would get annoyed about "DISRESPECT TO THE GAME."
Gary Sanchez: Cubone. Yes, we basically just chose the Pokemon who wore headgear. Cubone is Marowak's de-evolved form with similar characteristics. Let's just hope that Sanchez becomes McCann minus the whole fun police thing.
Mark Teixeira: Exeggutor. Tex is big and awkward but can still launch blasts like Exeggutor's egg bombs. NOW BEHOLD THIS MASTERY:
Praise be to Kunj.
Greg Bird: Noctowl. Like Severino as Pichu, a bit of a cheat since Noctowl is second generation, but again it fits for what Bird represents. Plus he is the word and has enormous eyebrows.
And who is to say that Bird doesn't have psychic powers? I'm not about to doubt him.
Starlin Castro: Dodrio. Jason: "Castro is Dodrio because he has three heads, and Castro will play three positions." Works!
Rob Refsnyder: Geodude. Kind of a bro and has rocks for hands.
Chase Headley: Graveler. More evolved, but in 2015, also had rocks for hands. Sorry, guys. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Dustin Ackley: Ditto. With the ability to transform into any Pokemon, Ditto is certainly unique, much like how Ackley will be the super-utility man backing up at first, second, and the outfield. (I'd put money on him being the emergency third catcher, too.) Unfortunately, Ditto's imitations can't precisely match the powers of the authentic Pokemon, and neither can Ackley's defense at all these positions. Alas.
Didi Gregorius: Mr. Mime is an odd character, just like our dude Didi. The muscle emoji is a nice touch for those who know what an tremendous follow he is on Twitter.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Pidgeot.
Brett Gardner: Fearow.
Slade Heathcott: Machop. Both Machop and Heathcott are intense fighters who would accidentally hurt themselves rock climbing or trying to bench too much in the gym.
Mason Williams: Voltorb. Has the potential to do some damage, but often injuries himself in the process. Oops.
Last, but not least, the one who inspired it all...
Alex Rodriguez: Rapidash. Because duh.