A brief analysis of ESPN’s Star Wars sports lineups
In a masterclass of cross-brand promotion, Disney-owned ESPN made a bunch of sports lineups using characters from the Disney-owned Star Wars universe. And not only is this cross-promotion rather craven, some of these lineups are poorly thought out.
Here is a brief analysis of some of those lineups:
ESPN has a basketball starting five of Luke Skywalker at point, Kylo Ren at the two, Lando Calrissian on the wing, and Han Solo and Chewbacca down low. I’m sorry, but you’re not winning a title with Ren and Solo in the starting lineup. You know Ren is stopping the ball every single time he gets his hands on it. Also, he’s most likely evil.
Solo is maybe a solid bench player on an above-average team. But a starter? Please. He’s an energy guy at best. And this late in his career, he’s best served coming off the pine. That guy moves like he’s frozen in carbonite. Not to mention his combustible attitude makes him a liability on the court.
The cricket lineup is mostly fine, but it’s not without its issues. I’d much rather have Qui-Gon Jinn opening alongside Chewbacca than Han Solo. Jinn and Chewy are both loyal players capable of forming a long-lasting partnership. Chewy’s streaks of intensity make him the perfect kind of wild-card as an opening batsmen—think Virender Sehwag in his prime. Jinn is the Yin to Bacca’s Yang, happy to play a defensive shot instead of recklessly playing for the boundary.
Darth Maul is a pretty fierce opening bowler, conjuring memories of a hard-throwing Shoaib Akhtar. But the unsung star here is Emperor Palpatine, whose longevity on the pitch is reminiscent of Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan.
The Blackhawks have proven you can still build a juggernaut in the salary cap-era, and this Star Wars squad is taking it to the next level. Coach Kenobi will have no worries about defense with Phasma and Fett on the blue line and Vader filling the net. The offense is slightly less spectacular but with a steady veteran paring of Chewbacca and Han Solo paired with a speedster like Kylo Ren, Hoth Ice Arena will hear its share of sirens.
You could make the claim that every team in the league could use some help on its offensive line, but putting a lightweight like Qui-Gon Jinn at right guard is a recipe for backfield disaster. Vader’s refusal to block and lumbering gait renders him a non-factor at tight end. Darth Maul and Boba Fett are still a strong tandem at wideout but Han Solo’s deep ball ability is fading by the week. This team could lumber its way to the postseason, but don‘t bank on fans packing the Mos Eisley Cantina for a long playoff run.
Listen, players have feelings too and we are not in the hatchet job business, but this is a garbage squad. R2-D2 and Yoda could get outrun by Jabba the Hutt, to call Luke Skywalker light-hitting would be a complement at this stage in his career, and the outfield’s defense could best be described as awful. If you want a pennant this summer, these are not the boys you are looking for.
All things considered, the soccer lineup is pretty solid. Chewbacca has the size to play goalie, if not the quick reflexes. Plus, how can you pass up a guy named Solo to play goalie? That’s downright un-American.
Yoda at striker is a curious choice, though. ESPN points out that he’s got the speed and sneakiness to slip behind the back line, but he doesn’t have the height to battle for high balls in the box.