26 June 2006

The hardest spot to fill on the field is...

I thought we might take a break from the world-cup breakdowns, and other ruminations, to have a run at a wide-open topic:

What is the hardest position to fill to have a successful team in each of the major sports?

Your categories are:

Baseball -
Basketball -
American Football Offense -
American Football Defense -
Hockey -
Football/Soccer -

I don't think i'm leaving anything out in the cold, major team sport wise.

Have a crack at it in the comments...


At 4:20 PM, Blogger S.A.W.B. said...

I'll throw mine out here first...

Baseball - 3rd Base - It's near impossible to find a guy with the reflexes and range to play the hot corner, and have him hit for average or power.

First base you can fill with a semi-sluggish guy who mashes, or a masher with a good glove who can't throw.

You can put defensive whizzes up the middle who can't hit their weight and still win a championship.

The outfield is where guys who couldn't throw accurately enough to play infield end up, and nobody expects anything out of a catcher but defense.

Basketball - Point Guard - Is this really up for discussion? Name for me the last team that won a championship, college or pro, that didn't have one guy up top running the show, and making the offense go? The lack of a decent point guard is one of the main reasons for the continued downfall of the Hawks.

American Football Offense - Blindside Tackle - Left tackle for a righthander, Right tackle for a lefthander, but he's the lynchpin for the entire offense. If the guy protecting the quarterback's blindside can't block, you'll be drafting high again. (See: Cardinals, Arizona. Browns, Cleveland.)

American Football Defense - Defensive Tackle/Nose Tackle - Name for me the last team to win a championship that couldn't stop the run up the middle at the point of attack.

Hockey - Center - If you can't win faceoffs, or pass the puck, you won't win. Ever.

Football/Soccer - Striker - I've put a lot of thought into this, and after watching the first round of the world cup, along with an obscene amount of English Premiere League games last season, I've come to the conclusion that without a lethal guy up front, you're not going anywhere fast. Thierry Henry is a big reason that France is in the tournament still. Same with Andiry Schevechenko of the Ukraine. Brian McBride is better suited to wide midfield rather than striker, which might illustrate why the US is home now...

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Dante said...

Baseball - Starting Pitcher. While there are rarer finds than a good starting pitcher, you need at least 3 good starting pitchers and 3 mediocre ones to have a successful bullpen. That to me makes it the hardest position to fill.

Football Offense - Fullback. If you asked me this question 15 or maybe even 10 years ago, I'd probably have a different answer and that answer would involve the o-line. O-line is important but it's not hard to to garner a good o-line as long as you're willing to do without primadonnas at QB and RB. On the other hand, the fullback can be just as important but has the tendency to be incredibly lazy. Many of them block one and quit on you. Dominick Davis had a pretty darn impressive year in Houston two years ago. Shawn Alexander had a pretty darn impressive year last year. What did they have in common? Mack Strong. That guy will go out there and knock down two or three guys every play. In a 11 on 11 game, those extra guys are crucial. I can think of maybe 4 great fullbacks in football right now. That's not many to be spreading over 32 teams.

Football Defense - Defensive End. There are good Defensive Ends in the NFL and almost every team has one but you need two. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a current team with two excellent DEs. A good DE takes a lot of pressure off your entire secondary. A good DE keeps you from having to put a lot of guys in the box. A good DE makes a better secondary behind him. There just aren't 64 people in this country who are fast enough to cover 15 to 30 square yards of field and strong enough to power through 400lb linemen at the NFL level.

The other sports would require me to take more time than I currently have to write about.

At 6:07 PM, Blogger Laddi said...

Baseball - Catcher has to be mentioned. Pitcher is the real answer because you need more of them , and catcher may not be the most important, but I believe it is really hard to fill. You can find some player and convert him to 3rd baseman or shortstop, but a good catcher is hard to find, much less develop. Otherwise, you've got guys stealing on you all day, pitches flying by, and a guy with sore knees praying he can go home soon.

Basketball - Point guard. Obvious.

Football Offense - Quarterback. Not the absolute of a winning team, but no other player has more responsibility in regard to ability plus knowledge needed. You can't just throw anyone in there.

Honorable mention: Center.

Football Defense - Nose tackle in a 3-4 (followed by middle linebacker). In a 4-3, defensive end.

Hockey - A top 4 Defenseman. The guy who will hit, block shots, play end to end, and can clear the space in front of the net? A rare breed. Yeah, you can throw any guy back there, but you'll lose more times than not and especially in the playoffs. (see: Thrashers, Canucks).

Soccer - I have to agree with Andy: finisher. I would like to think center defense, but it seems the ability to score is much more difficult than the ability to clear space and win the ball on a short field.

At 10:55 PM, Blogger Dante said...

I thought about putting QB for football offense but the fact that Trent Dilfer is a Super Bowl winning QB made me think otherwise.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Patrick Armstrong said...

Baseball: Pitcher. I watched the Braves go to something like 20 years of playoffs based on the quality of the bullpen, though apparently you have to have more than a pitching staff to win it all.

Basketball: They have positions in basketball?

American Football Offense: The O-Line is the most important unit on the offense, so I must add my vote to blindside tackle, the most important individual on the most important unit on the field. Honorable mention: Slot Reciever. It takes balls to cross the middle of the field.

American Football Defense: Linebacker. They are the most important part of a defense. You can have a stellar dline & dbacks, but if your linebackers aren't on point, West Virginia is going to run for a million miles on you.

Hockey. Goalkeeper. Because it takes balls to stand their, even under armour.

Football. Striker. Exact reverse of Hockey. You have got to have a guy (or girl) who can put the puppy in the net, otherwise you just had 7 guys or gals run 80 yards for nothing and that is no way to win 90 minute game.

I wonder if Sprout is going to show up and argue about the most important individual on the Ultimate [Name removed for Copyright Reasons] field?

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Dante said...

"the most important individual on the Ultimate [Name removed for Copyright Reasons] field"

I think that would be the stoner.

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Laddi said...

While "stoner" may be the most important position, it's the easiest to fill.


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