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How to Field a Baseball Team with Dog Breeds

It’s a deep-rooted love affair we’re eager to renew each year.

Batter up – baseball season is here. The crack of the bat and roar of the crowd evoke a canine-like level of enthusiasm. The game of baseball, often synonymous with spring’s arrival and unadulterated happiness, never ceases to win us over with its brilliant simplicity. It’s our national pastime complete with fresh-cut grass, organ music, hot dogs, and home runs.

A long-held tradition, baseball has enjoyed widespread popularity that has stood the test of time. There were nearly 73.8 million attendees at Major League Baseball games during 2015, with millions upon millions more spectating or playing the game in some other capacity. It’s clear that “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” represents a way of life in addition to being a famous baseball anthem.

Thankfully, professional baseball has become increasingly accepting of our canine companions in recent years. While many teams host an annual “Bark at the Park” event, the Arizona Diamondbacks are taking this concept to the next level for 2016. The team has partnered with PetSmart to create the first-ever season-long canine-friendly ballpark, enabling dog-loving baseball fans to bring their pooches to all 13 of the Diamondbacks’ Sunday home games this season.

But what if the dog days of summer played out at the ballpark even more literally? What if baseball were truly for the dogs? Let’s go around the diamond and determine how to field a winning team with beloved canine breeds:

Pitcher = Great Dane: One of the world’s tallest dog breeds, the Great Dane possesses a rare combination of physical and mental attributes making this pooch ideal for toeing the rubber on the pitcher’s mound. Much like the pitchers that baseball scouts seek to find, Great Danes boast height and strength as well as courage and dependability. They’re an intimidating presence on the mound for opposing batters, yet also have the agility necessary to maintain their balance.

Catcher = English Bulldog: Calm, cool and collected – the English Bulldog has the perfect temperament to be a leader on the field, helping to keep his pitcher at ease. Plus this breed’s short, stocky build and barrel-chest will prove useful for blocking wild pitches thrown in the dirt and for withstanding collisions at home plate.

First Base = Saint Bernard: Since this position requires a large target to whom fellow infielders can throw the ball, the Saint Bernard fits the bill nicely. These gentle giants also possess the patience necessary to deal with errant throws to first base, rescuing the baseball in the spirit of the rescue missions this breed used to perform in the Alps.

Second Base = Golden Retriever: Extremely athletic and intelligent, the Golden Retriever boasts the proper physical and mental skills to help control the middle infield and convert double plays. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that this friendly breed absolutely loves to play fetch with a tennis ball.

Third Base = German Shepherd: Third base is known as the “hot corner” because right-handed hitters tend to hit the ball hard in this direction. Still, this position is no problem for the German Shepherd, given the breed’s remarkable intelligence and physical prowess. A preferred breed for many lines of work including military and police service, the German Shepherd helps solidify the infield.

Shortstop = Jack Russell Terrier: Shortstop is widely considered the most demanding position in baseball, but the Jack Russell Terrier is up for the challenge. This nimble breed offers dashes of energy and hunting instincts that will translate well to demonstrating excellent range while fielding grounders. When you combine quickness with intelligence the way this breed does, you have a canine that could make legendary shortstop Ozzie Smith proud.

Left Fielder = Australian Shepherd: This high-energy breed requires vigorous activity, thus there’s no better place to have the Australian Shepherd play than left field, where fly balls and line drives are routine occurrences. Intelligent and work-oriented, this breed with be able to snare the vast majority of balls that come his way.

Center Fielder = Greyhound: There’s a lot of ground to cover in center field, so speed matters. Enter the king of speed within the canine kingdom: The Greyhound. One of the fastest mammals when it comes to accelerating quickly over a short distance, this noble breed is said to be able to reach speeds in excess of 40 miles-per-hour within six strides, meaning batters will be robbed of hits.

Right Fielder = Basset Hound: Traditionally, right field is where you stick your weakest defensive player in little league baseball. In this case, that means the basset hound – an endearing, floppy-eared breed that makes up for modest athleticism with many other fine qualities. But be forewarned – if the ball gets hit to right field, chances are your basset will be too busy taking a nap or sniffing the dandelions to notice or care.