HRL 2019: Endgame

Nightmare’s Power Rankings Vol. 2 – Opening Day Edition

Did you feel that?  When you woke up this morning?  The tingle in the air.  The feeling that, after what feels like forever, that we are almost there?  On the edge of something truly magical?  I did, and I can hardly wait.  Only 4 days until Avengers: Endgame!!!  It is going to be truly amazing.  Also, opening day is today.  Yay.  I guess.  I’d much rather discuss the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) than the HRL, but this is for the wiffle site, not my MCU fan fiction site.

Anyways, NightMare’s Power Rankings, Vol. 2 will combine my two April 2019 passions: the HRL and the MCU, corresponding each team with their Marvel counterpart.

22.  The Incredible Hulk.  Technically, this movie is part of the MCU, even though they abandoned nearly every plot point, actor, and memory of the film.  Basically, they’re pretending as though this movie never happened.  Now, I’m not saying we should all overlook the Orioles (or the next team in my rankings), or pretend they don’t exist… but I will emphasize that I am only mentioning the Orioles because, technically (and for now), they are part of the HRL.  (Previous ranking: 22)

21.  Thor, The Dark World is arguably the worst movie in the MCU.  I only saw it once, and that was more than enough.  I wish I could have that couple of hours of my life back.  Similarly, my team (the Marlins) only see the Chihuahuas once and I think that will be plenty.  (PR: 21)

20.  Iron Man 3, the third (and worst) installment of the Iron Man series, is not good.  Almost forgettable.  The Rockies are now the Iron Pigs, and that is similar to “Iron Man.”  Like Iron Man 3, the Pigs (I do like calling them that) may not be very enjoyable.  I hope these guys (and gal) finally take a step in the right direction, but I won’t get my hopes up like I did for the Mandarin (the bad guy in Iron Man 3 that was totally wasted in this movie).  (PR: 20)

19.  Thor was like a Shakespearean drama.  It was fine.  Dry and kinda boring, but it was a decent introduction to Thor, and we’re all glad he’s around now, but this film was a bit of a letdown.  Similarly, Kong and his A’s are great to have around, and I’m sure down the road they make some sort of impact… but for now I’m going to wait and see if any of the Kong’s “Big Word Energy” translates to on-field performance.  (PR: 19)

18.  Ant-Man is likeable and stars everyone’s favorite guy, Paul Rudd.  Like Mr. Rudd, the Bears are beloved by all.  The Bears are like Scott Lange (Rudd’s character in the MCU whose name I had to look that up).  They are the Rudd of the HRL, beloved and fun to be around (and funny and charming), but I don’t think that necessarily translates into success.  I hope hope HOPE that Ant-Man and the Bears both play much bigger roles moving forward… especially Sully, who could make a leap forward, but for now, I’m just going to hold tight and see what comes of these fan favorites.  (PR: 18)

17. Iron Man 2 had Mickey Rourke playing a really angry Russian guy, and Sam Rockwell was in it and he was funny but kind of a jackass, and the internet says Peter Parker was in there, and Iron Man was a race car driver, and… it was all over the place and kind of a mess.  But I personally liked it kind of a lot even though it wasn’t objectively good.  My feelings towards Iron Man 2 remind me of my feelings on the 2019 Pirates.  Maybe not amazing, and just some cool guys thrown together, and I don’t not like them… but I don’t know what to do with them at this time and I can’t justify ranking them in the top half of the league… I just don’t know what this team will be this year.  (PR: 17)

16. Doctor Strange is about a doctor who gets injured, goes on a mystical journey, and becomes a super hero… and then just keeps his real name as his super hero name and moves into a museum.  Dr. K may or may not be an actual doctor, but he and the Giants will have the wisdom of the Ancient One to guide them this year.  Bliss is back!!  I apologize, I don’t mean to make you sound really old, but I am glad you’re back and I think you're presence makes this team (and the league) better.  (PR:16, I promise not all the ranks stayed the same)

15. All the Netflix Marvel Shows are better than the above-mentioned Marvel films.  I know they are not technically movies, and will likely have no impact whatsoever on the upcoming film(s)… However, just like the Netflix shows, this is where ranking teams gets gritty.  The next half dozen teams or so, starting with the Mariners, are all in the meat grinder middle, talented enough to beat any team any given week, but also having some talent gaps that could result in them losing to any team.  The Mariners and these other middling teams could really surprise people with how good they are… but also maybe they will fall flat.  I think the Trent and the Mariners, will be one of the teams that surprises, and finishes above their current #15 ranking.  (PR: 15)

14. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a movie I think will end up being important, like with the quantum this-and-that, but I’m not sure, it’s just a guess.  Similarly, I feel like the Lugnuts will be a team that is important, or at least one that is talked about a lot this season.  Maybe they end up a Wifflepalooza bracket buster, or maybe Shirls and Co. end up being really good all season long.  I’m not sure, but they’ll influence the league this year, call it a gut feeling.  (PR: 13)

13. Avengers 2 is where they had all the cool characters from the Avengers, but none of the awesomeness.  I’m not saying the Rough Riders won’t be awesome, but I am suggesting that they could struggle to be awesome.  I was hoping they’d have added another big name by now (like Jagr, sorry Pinky and Brent), but they haven't yet.  So… right in the middle of the pack for you.  (PR: 12)

12. Captain America: Civil War had almost all the great characters you could think of, and then introduced a couple more.  It was a who’s who of the MCU and it should have been amazing… if we based amazingness on name recognition.  However, what should have been an epic movie of super powered CGI greatness… really ended up being a great big super hero tickle fight without any real lasting consequences.  I am not saying the Whalers will be inconsequential, but it seems like they have almost all the dudes, and I’m worried all the Whaler hoopla will result in… an HRL tickle fight (actually, I'm hopeful that’s what happens).  (PR: 14)

11. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a movie about Spider-Man.  What can I say about Spider-Man that hasn’t already been said?  Like the Twins, he’s something we all know and… are ok having around year, after year, after year… (PR: 10)

10. Captain Marvel is a good movie.  I don’t want to say “surprisingly good” because when I do, people say it is sexist to be surprised that a female-lead superhero movie could be good…  So I don’t want to say it, but for this bit, I will.  Similarly, I predict the 2019 Kardinals will be “surprisingly” good.  I’ve been watching the Spring HRL Kardinals, and I’m not sure how many of these guys will be “real” Kardinals in 2019, but they are hitting the ball hard (not surprising) and pitching a little bit (a little surprising) and hustling some too (VERY surprising).  If this keeps up, watch out for the Kards… and look for a very cocky Tootin’ to verbally shred you and yours on the MB all season… (PS, this will happen no matter what).  (PR: 11)

9. Captain America was three hours of Chris Evans crushing Nazis just for him to get frozen in ice and wake up in an unfamiliar future.  The Braves used to crush fools back in the day, but maybe the future of the HRL (i.e. the teams that can’t buy beer) caught up with them… or passed them by?  I’m not sure, but Captain America looks set to go into full-on berserker mode in Infinity War, and I predict the Braves will bounce back as well and prove 2018 was a fluky down year and get back to crushing fools.  (PR: 9)

8. Captain America: Winter Soldier is highly underrated.  It abandoned (some of) the flash and spectacle of typical Marvel movies and was just a good, fundamentally sound movie that didn’t rely of flash to impress.  Likewise, the Americans, have been underrated and overlooked because they don’t have a bunch of guys hitting 30+ (or even 20+) HRs every year or a bunch of Cy Wiffle contenders mowing through opposing line-ups.  Instead, the Americans show with a bunch of guys who play very good (not great) wiffles.  I played a version of these dudes in the spring league and was genuinely surprised at how solid they looked (overall, the whole spring league is awesome and I can’t stress enough how fun it is and recommend you all partake next year).  They won’t be an easy team to beat this year.  And, heads up, Knooty Booty is looking like the Winter Soldier this spring.  That is, he’s pitching his ass… nay, he’s pitching his arm off!  He looked very good.  Unlike Lulu… who looked… broken.  Thoughts and prayers, buddy.  (PR: 8)

7. Thor Ragnarok is a very good movie, however, the earlier films in the series were… not so good.  Similarly, prior to 2018, Marlins teams… needed improvement.  I hope that (for my sake), the 2018 Marlins were not a fluke, rather a glimpse of their potential.  However, there is also a strong chance that last year was their peak and that, like Ragnarok, the Marlins will be more comedy than action…  The Fish are dropping a couple spots this week because early indications are that the team’s priorities lean towards fun (and non-wiffle things), nearly laughing Nightmare off the team when he (I) suggested we hold a practice… sigh…  (PR: 5)

6. Iron Man was the introduction to the MCU, a series of movies I didn’t know I needed, but now couldn’t live without.  As I’ve said this before, the Rubber Ducks are not a team I was familiar with last season, but I’m glad they came to be.  I spent some Spring HRL time with Stache, and I’m really starting to be convinced they could be a new… “powerhouse” seems strong, but they’ll certainly be very “solid.”  (PR: 7)

5. Black Panther is a pretty divisive film.  People either love it or hate it.  Just like the HRL’s very own Yankees.  Obviously, from my ranking them #5, I love Rocket, Torpedo, etc… deep down, I think I always have…  Anyways, like Black Panther, I expect there to be a few rough patches for the Yanks as they adjust to life after Hardball, but I think they’ll weather the storm of 2019 and end the season in the playoffs, just like they have for as long as I can remember.

4. The Avengers is a fine movie.  Not the best, but ranked highly because it is a “classic”.  It was amazing back in the day, and reminiscing, I have a lot of fond memories… but after all these years, looking back I ask myself, “is Avengers still good, or am I just thinking about how great it used to be?”  So, the Reds were great.  Don’t get me wrong, they are still very good.  And they WILL beat every single team/reader of this article this season.  However, I’m not sure they are still great.  The next three teams I’ve ranked higher have 2 or 3 guys who can pitch inning-for-inning with the Reds’ aces: Suess and Hardball (and Matty and M.V.Palp), but they also have 2 or 3 (or 4) guys who could each hit 30+ homeruns (and it wouldn’t be a surprise).  I don’t know that great pitching and small ball is enough anymore, but I guess we’ll see what happens.  (PR: 4) 

3.  Five years ago, only the nerdiest of nerds had heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  Yet, in the years since, this has become a fixture on the top of ‘best of’ and ‘favorite’ movie/superhero lists.  Similarly, in 2014 no one knew (or cared) who the Dodgers were… many still don’t care.  Yet, like the Guardians, you can’t talk about the best without mentioning this group of prepubescent wifflers (and Shandy).  The Dodgers drop a spot this week because reports from Spring HRL (last nod to this great experience) are that Epstein and Psych are struggling… I’m confident they’ll both bounce back and combine for 60+ HRs and an ERA below 2.00, but for now they lose their edge over… (PR: 2)

2.  Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, an even better film than the first.  This time, the loveable ragtag group of scoundrels is joined by Ego, the father of many, many, MANY children, including the devilishly handsome and charming Starlord.  Obviously, the second best team (right now) is the Mets.  Webby has a lot of children.  And JC is devilishly handsome and charming…  Also, I like to imagine Hondo is Groot, but instead of repeating, “I am Groot,” he goes through a whole series repeating, “I crush risers” (because he does, FYI).  Sigh… I am too proud of this analogy… (PR: 3)

1. Avengers: Infinity War.  Let’s all be honest, the Biscuits are the Thanos of the HRL.  They are the team to beat and if you don’t think so, you’re wrong.  They’re Darth Vader, Voldemort, and Hannibal Lector rolled into one.  They are the worst.  Like, not actually the worst, because they are the best, but the worst because they are awful.  If you’ve seen Infinity War, you know how it ends:  it’s a depressing mess that makes you really angry and sad, but it wasn’t surprising.  Similarly, I think a lot of us know how 2019 is going to end… Or is “supposed” to end.  But I am holding hope that the 2019 season will be full of surprises.  There are new teams and familiar faces in new places… Maybe one of these off-season moves, new teams, or new players proves to be the Carol Danvers of the 2019 HRL and can tip the scales of power in the league.  We’ll see, I guess.  (PR: 1)


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