Last week, the Apple TV Series that was a phenomenon for three seasons reached its conclusion: Ted Lasso.
Rising to the point where you can buy AFC Richmond merch in Nike stores or even play as the fictional club on the FIFA video game, it centered around the “lovable losers” theme we’ve seen in other sports classics.
The iconic Lasso comes over from America with no idea what he’s doing coaching an English Football team in London; it was more than just a sports show- it captured the romanticism of belief, of relentless positivity, the magic of togetherness that galvanizes a group of characters that all play a different role, and things that simply can’t be accounted for when it comes to statistics on a spreadsheet or a salary cap.
We’re coming off of Lou Gehrig Day on June 2nd. One of the most relentlessly positive media members, Sarah Langs, who was honored by the Mets this weekend in her fight against ALS like Gehrig, has a trademark quote: “Baseball is the BEST!” whenever something unbelievably “Ted Lasso” happens in this unbelievable sport that has so many of those romantic moments.
Baseball IS, in fact, the best, Sarah, and is defined by the romanticism and those characters that make up a locker room like a fictional AFC Richmond.
So, with so many great characters in the league currently, let’s cast our own fictional Richmond using the personalities of the game today with the closure of the series.
Ted Lasso // Cleveland Guardians Manager Terry Francona
The relentless optimist, the believer in believe to pull off the impossible through people, the humble self-deprecator, this completely embodies the lovable Tito Francona of Guardians. He already cracked a curse by pulling off a miracle with managing the Boston Red Sox to their first World Series since the 1918 Curse of the Bambino in 2004. Now he’s taken the helm in Cleveland, another “sports-cursed” franchise, and even got them to a World Series in 2016 despite the Major League-ness of the organization, where they’re still a tiny market that rarely will spend money. Francona is third active wins amongst managers, and like Ted, he does it with his “aw shucks” charm, his loyalty to players, and his communication (like playing ping-pong with the guys in the clubhouse, something Lasso would definitely do).
And riding a scooter to the ballpark and having a social media phenomenon when it got stolen. It’s an episode of Lasso we’re surprised didn’t happen.
He’s undoubtedly the titular character in the league despite the Guardians’ recent struggles.
Coach Beard // Tampa Bay Rays Manager Kevin Cash
Beard, Lasso’s right-hand man that, never left his side, rarely speaks, always has a book in hand, studies as much as possible, and is poignant and knowledgeable when speaks up. He may or may not have a sketchy past, with nuggets you find out about him.
That embodies Kevin Cash. Even serving on Franconia’s staff in Boston from ‘07-08, he manages a Rays team very methodically by managing health, innings, fatigue, and substitutions as if he always has a book or computer at his side at all times. The two-time manager of the year is also a former catcher himself, though, and is someone you wouldn’t want to get into an argument at the plate with despite his “computer brain” that personifies Tampa, much like Beard’s wild side.
Roy Kent // Max Scherzer, New York Mets Starting Pitcher
Roy Kent: the grizzled veteran that was once a legend drops F-bombs like it’s a part of his everyday vocabulary but is still ultimately a softy family man that will get the hat tip from the crowd no matter the occasion, given his respect.
That’s Max Scherzer. The absolute psychopath on the mound that’s yelling and screaming to psych himself up after every heater that would be completely abhorrent if he wasn’t a World Series Champion, 3x Cy Young Award-winner, and an absolute workhorse that puts the team on his back with a fantastic locker room presence as well.
Now 38 and struggling this year, he’s in that “legend’s twilight” era you associated with Roy, where he’s still feared for what he did for his prime. Max even got a 10-game suspension this season because of sweat and rosin, to which the baseball community replied with, “He’s Max Scherzer. He’s a legend and not cheating at this point.”
You accept Max for his wolverine nature, similarly to Roy Kent. Max may even end up as a coach like him with how much of a locker room leader he is when it’s all said and done, and he’s in Cooperstown.
Jamie Tartt // Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies Outfielder
Possibly the most satisfying “heel-turned beloved figure” role we’ve seen in a long time. Jamie was the self-centered pretty boy on Richmond that needed to be humbled by flaming out after leaving for a bigger club (and having a run on some reality TV shows), losing, and learning under the tutelage of Roy and his ex, Keeley. He then turned his talent into what we all knew he could be as a cockney-accented supportive team leader that still kept his swag in the process.
It’s not that Bryce Harper was a villain of baseball when he first entered the league, but he certainly faced some of the most scrutiny in his first few seasons of any athlete in baseball history. He was the face of Sports Illustrated at age 16 and played against grown adults as a teenager. Deemed the “chosen one,” much like LeBron James, all eyes were on him and his flowing hair that he clearly spends hours and hours on as he ran across the basepaths and would tell reporters unbelievably fiery things like, “That’s a clown question, bro.” All eyes were on Harper, and it was up to him how he handled it and grew as a player.
Then, after signing a megadeal to join the Phillies, his team wins the World Series in their first year without him in 2019. This was your Jamie Tartt, “the grass isn’t always greener, huh?” moment for Harper.
However, Harper’s “HE PUT THE TEAM ON HIS BACK!” run from last year, taking the Phillies to the World Series despite how bleak it looked from his first start of the tenure there, has changed the mass public perception of him now that he’s a veteran (and has dad strength, too.). He’s rallying the team behind him by hitting nukes into the third deck and firing up the clubhouse. He’s playing through injury with a bionic arm brace and trying to learn a different position just to be on the field and contribute. It’s unbelievable how much he’s even matured in his decision-making and discipline at the plate.
He is the league’s, Jamie Tartt. We’ve been riding with Harper since he was just a prospect under a microscope in 2012, over-exerting himself with blissful unawareness, to seeing the highs of his talents as the youngest MVP ever at age 23, to now seeing him as the unbelievable team leader. That’s character development!
Sam Obisanya // Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners Outfielder
Sam is the face of the franchise. The eternal optimist. The leader of AFC Richmond on the pitch. Seen as the future and even recruited by a billionaire to be the next big thing of a new Nigerian football club.
Julio exudes that positive leadership and shiny, shimmering hope that Sam has on Richmond. The JRod Show that pops some bubble gum after making an acrobatic catch in centerfield has got that same glimmery smile. The top overall prospect for a franchise that was cursed prior to last year, his AL Rookie of the Year season in his debut netted him the same belief that Ted has in Sam from day one, as they’ve already given the 22-year-old superstar a 12-year extension worth $210 million. Sam also owns a Nigerian restaurant as a side hustle, not unlike Julio dipping his foot in the food industry water by launching his own cereal, that’s right, JuliO’s.
Julio and the Mariners are still trying to write that same “The Richmond Way” storybook with their first World Series title.
Dani Rojas // Francisco Lindor, New York Mets Shortstop
How could we not give Dani Rojas, the striker playing with as much joy as he has
with every “FUTBOL IS LIFE!” with Francisco Lindor, the man literally nicknamed “Mr. Smile”?
Lindor might not be smiling as much this year with the Mets’ early season struggles, but he’s still playing with that every day energy that Rojas brings to the park, one extravagantly colored hairstyle and cleat at a time. Rojas also had to overcome a curse of accidentally striking a dog during a PK. Lindor may have to overcome a curse of his own with the Mets somehow undergoing a “Mets-y” situation every season on and off the field, and just last year; he got into an animal-related incident like Rojas by fighting with Jeff McNeil in the clubhouse about whether an animal they saw was a rat or a raccoon. Only in Queens.
Isaac McAdoo // Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros Designated Hitter
Isaac is the swagged-out brick wall defender that was the angry captain on AFC Richmond that played the role of basically letting a Toyota Camry drive out on the field and truck scrawny strikers on the field and then wear shades and a coat in the locker room afterward. He’s an American football player that they just somehow allowed to play soccer, that was a king while doing so, but he also valued rallying the team in the process.
That’s Yordan Alvarez. Sure, he’ll play in the outfield every now and then, but he’s got one job: come up to the plate and hit an absolute nuke into the third deck. He does it so well that he’s an everyday player that got a massive extension for it, is your current AL RBI leader, and was probably the reason they were champs while doing so. His “skadoosh” swing that looks so angry and titanic is also just as cool as Isaac wearing his shades in the locker room.
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