Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Top 10 Fictional Sports Teams

Most of the time, I start getting interested on a particular sport after witnessing its portrayal on animation, movie, or TV show (take basketball, for example).  And what make these portrayals interesting are the fictional teams that have been depicted engaging on these sports.  Here are my favorites:    


Battle Ball – or Go-Q-Choji-Ikkiman – is the name of the anime which features this team.  Battle Ball is all about a team of humans, the Blue Planets, competing against aliens in a game of galactic baseball.  It’s for the fate of the Earth, I guess.  Not sure.  What makes this high-tech innovation of baseball interesting is that different gadgetries and weapons – that are used as bats – are allowed in-game; attacking opponents are permitted in some instances (can’t remember the when).  It was pretty cool.  The players composing the team are not at all all baseball players.  There was even one human player – who, if I remember it right, was a soccer player prior Battleball – who bats (I think it’s the blonde man in the accompanying picture above) using his leg!  There is a basketball player, a hockey player, and a tennis player, too.  Also, I remember that the players had to wear “heart protectors” since getting hit by the heavy metal baseball was deadly.


Due to salary disputes, the players of the Washington Sentinels went on strike.  This prompted the management to recruit replacement players to play out the rest of the season.     The replacement players were made up of an interesting ragtag band of misfits – talented but flawed non-pro players.  There were four more games left in the regular season, and out of those four games, they would have to win at least three to qualify for the playoffs.  They lost the first one due to lack of teamwork, but gain chemistry afterwards to win the rest in close games.  It was never revealed what happened further after their qualifying win.           


Another American football team that interested me was the “Mean Machine” of the movie The Longest Yard (the remake, I haven’t seen the original).  It’s unique in this list for the team is made up of incarcerated convicts. 

Paul Crewe is a former NFL star quarterback who went on a high-profile, drunken driving rampage, in which he was sentenced for three years in prison.  In prison, he was tasked by the warden – a big football fan – to help out improve the prison guards’ football team.  Crewe was threatened additional jail time if he refuses to comply.  Fueled by the desire to have the chance to get back at the antagonistic guards and to embarrass the warden, Crew convinced him that what his team needs is a tune-up game against the inmates.  Hence, Crewe was tasked to assemble and train a football team made up of the prison’s inmates.  There were several obstacles and opposition – from the hands of the prison guards and co-inmates – during Crewe’s recruitment and training process.  But eventually, Crewe succeeds in winning all the inmates’ support and assembling a football team made up of a diverse and eclectic roster – from hardened veterans of solitary confinement to the prison’s community of athletic black basketball players.  And, finally, in their game against the guards, the “Mean Machine” succeeded in their collective goal: kicking the prison guards’ butts.             


I love all things Hanna-Barbera.  And Laff-A-Lympics is among my most favorite Hanna-Barbera programs ever for it put together in one show most, if not all, of Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon characters.   It features three All-Star teams of Hanna-Barbera characters competing in a couple of creative sport heats.  My favorite among the three teams was the Scooby Doobies.  I’m not really sure why I rooted for the Scooby Doo-spearheaded team back then, but I just found their roster and color motif as the cooler ones among the three competing teams.   Overall, the Scooby Doobies have the most first place finish throughout the show’s run.   


I am no soccer fan at all.  The sport bores me.  But if it’s even as half as exciting as how Team Shaolin does it, then I will surely be a fan.

 In his desire to make kung fu relevant in modern times, “Mighty Steel Leg” Sing partners with “Golden Leg” Fung (a former ace but disgraced soccer player) to assemble a soccer team which Fung would coach.  Sing saw it as an opportunity to advertize kung fu.  He went on to recruit his Shaolin brothers, and together, they formed a formidable soccer team as they make use of their respective kung fu techniques in the sport. 


I totally love the Mighty Ducks Trilogy.  Yes, they were not really awesome films, but those movies are probably the most entertaining hockey movies I’ve ever watched.   I adore the Mighty Ducks so much that a fourth Mighty Ducks film – a reunion movie – is one of the movies I strongly wish will get made.   I would even want to see that happen more than a Batman/Superman movie (nonetheless, I’m thankful it’s going to be made anyway).  Seriously.  I really, really, REALLY (can’t emphasize it enough) want to see the Ducks back together.  Read more about my “D4: The Reunion” fantasy in my second article of movies I want Hollywood to make (it’s at the last part of the article). 


Slam Dunk is a major reason why I started loving basketball; the anime taught me a lot about the sport.  And Shohoku High was the basketball team I rooted enthusiastically before I even started rooting for any real-life basketball team.  I was easily enamored by the team’s starting five, whose exciting talents defined to me, to a degree, how the five basketball positions are played. 


My fondness for Slam Dunk and Shohoku High has been longer than my fondness for Kuroko No Basket and Seirin High, since I’ve just encountered the latter this year.  However, I’ve already found Seirin having a more interesting roster than Shohoku.  My thrill for Shohoku’s line-up is limited on its starting five.  Outside of Shohoku’s starting five – and, maybe, to a lesser degree, the sixth man – Slam Dunk has not made the rest of the roster that interesting.  Kuroko No Basket, however, invested personality and uniqueness in all members of the team – even its coach (Riko Aida, who is a mere high-schooler like the players, and a female, but is a very capable coach with an eye for physical attributes) – and introduced, even if it’s only minimal, a particular aspect or talent about each player that contributes something to both the team and the story.  Every player is utilized at some point.  Hence, you would care for everybody on Seirin’s roster. 

Moreover, Seirin’s players’ skill set are fresher and different. 

The main character, Tetsuya Kuroko, has no permanent position and has below average skills.  However, he has so little presence that people fail to notice him.  This he put into advantage, making use of “misdirection” to make himself invisible on the court. Hence, he is able to put himself in the best position on the court, without any resistance, where he can effectively make brilliant passes to his teammates on offense or steal the ball when on defense.  He’s the X-Factor, providing significant “intangibles” to his team’s chemistry. 

Kagami Taiga (PF), the team’s ace, is a naturally brilliant basketball player with exceptional leaping ability – allowing him to make thunderous pro-level dunks.  He benefits the most from Kuroko for he is the one chosen by Kuroko to be the “light” to his “shadow.”

The captain, Junpei Hyuga (SG), is a talented three-pointer whose shooting accuracy increases with the increase in pressure during clutch time.  Most of the time, he is composed, but when the pressure increases, his real hot-headed, “hooligan”-like personality emerges.
The point guard, Shun Izuki, possesses a special ability called the “Eagle Eyes” which allows him to mentally picture the court from any point of view.  Outside of the center and power forward, Izuki the point guard is the only one that is capable of dunking among Seirin players.  I find this cool and different. 

And the center, the mild-manner Teppei Kiyoshi, is the team’s second best player.  His original position is that of a point guard, but had to start playing center due to the need of his team back in junior high, for it doesn’t have anyone that has the body size to play center.  Nonetheless, he is capable of simultaneously playing both point guard and center in-game, much to Seirin’s advantage.  His large hands allow him to easily handle and clam the ball, allowing him to change his decision – to pass or shoot – mid-way his play after his opponents had already made their decision and reaction. 

The bench players also possess respective specialties – like a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” skill-set (Shinji Koganei) and rebounding (Satoshi Tsuchida).  But the most notable is the sixth-man, Rinnosuke Mitobe, who specializes in hook shots and is a tough defender, especially in the post. 


Another American football team, but is far the awesomest among all.  This team is a rich assortment of varied personalities and talents; each member, though flawed or unmotivated at first, has a particular strength that proves to be an integral asset – whether small or big, but an integral asset nonetheless – to the team.   Put together, they make the Deimon Devil Bats a very interesting, talented, and deep football team.  Led and assembled by the twisted but brilliant Yoichi Hiruma, several of the team members were initially forced or blackmailed – including the main character, Sena Kobayakawa, the titular “Eyeshield 21” – by Hiruma into joining the team, but all of them eventually learned to love the game of American football.


This is definitely the greatest basketball team ever.  Composed of all those colorful, hilarious Looney Tunes characters, the team also has the legendary Michael Jordan, who most acknowledge as the Greatest Basketball Player Ever, in the team.  Moreover, don’t forget that the equally legendary Bill Murray played for the team, too!     

Most importantly, the Tune Squad’s captain is Bugs Bunny.  And it is a fact that Bugs always wins, always figuring out how to come out on top in the end  – more than Batman ever did.    

Hands down, this is the greatest sports team ever assembled in fiction. 

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