SB Nation had a Marvel theme this week, with each site making a post connecting the Marvel Cinematic Universe to their team or sports in general. For the Oakland A’s, that task is easy, because they have their very own real-life superhero in Matt Chapman, aka Chaptain America.
The concept of Marvel’s Captain America is that he’s a super-soldier at the peak of human ability, though we’ll leave out the part where Steve Rogers got that way from an experimental serum (not the best sports analogy!). Chapman is the baseball version of that, standing out in every area from fielding to hitting to running to throwing to plate discipline to all the various intangibles, like leadership ability and quick instincts and baseball IQ. All of that adds up to make him one of the best players in the game and a perennial MVP candidate.
Captain America’s signature is his nearly indestructible vibranium shield, and similarly, Chapman’s calling card is his nearly impenetrable defense, which has earned him two consecutive Platinum Glove awards as the best fielder in the league among many other major accolades. Cap can also throw his shield with incredible effectiveness, turning it into a weapon, which is reminiscent of Chappy’s own cannon of an arm.
The other hallmark of Captain America is his leadership. He’s an expert tactician and commander, and famously serves as the leader of the Avengers. Over in Oakland, Chapman has proven to be a natural leader himself, whether it’s standing up for his teammates against Angels catcher Juan Graterol in 2017, or making a public plea for more fan support in 2018, or earning the Team Captain award from the Athletics Nation staff for the last three seasons in a row.
Khris Davis says Chapman showed what kind of leader he is. "He may be a rookie but he's a natural at it."— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 6, 2017
Unfortunately, there’s one more parallel between the two captains these days. Just as Captain America was frozen in a block of ice for decades after WW2, unable to do his thing and fight for his country, Chapman’s career is currently in its own state of suspended animation due to the coronavirus pandemic. This was supposed to be his age-27 season, generally considered the peak year for a baseball player, and he’s healthy and ready to go and coming off two monster campaigns, but he can’t get on the field because the entire sport is postponed indefinitely.
But just as Cap was eventually unfrozen and resumed his heroics, someday (hopefully this summer?) baseball will return and we’ll get to watch Chapman again. Then Chaptain America can resume his own battle, trying to help the A’s avenge more than three decades without a championship.
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