Lists are among my favorite things in the world. I’ve extrapolated on this subject before and showed you my darker side while highlighting some of the best guys to come across the game we hold so dear. You know what a cad (new favorite word) I can be, but today is about figuring out who is the anti-Mike Trout.
There’s a special formula that goes into compiling any list: connection to the subject, does the subject trigger an immediate response and association to the theme, and the overall cultural relevancy to the topic at hand.
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Keep those elements in mind as I give you a rundown of 10 players that are going to fill the “hate hole” voided by the suspension of Alex Rodriguez.
Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. This is a huge part of sports, much like Richard Sherman has created a vitriolic response from some Americans — a response that no doubt has made the Super Bowl even more enticing — the piece of heart left void by the steroid-using, hair-highlighting, Madonna-dating turd that we know as A-Rod, is what makes sports even more fun.
Much like your sadness of seeing a guy like Todd Helton or Mariano Rivera retire, seeing a guy like Barry Bonds retire leaves a piece of you missing. Whose head are we going to make fun of now?
Losses make you appreciate winning, sadness makes you appreciate happiness and hate makes you appreciate love. With that said, let’s find out what 10 MLB players to hate in 2014.
10. Nyjer Morgan. Being a former minor league broadcaster, I’ve heard a story or two about Morgan and his antics. I was hesitant to put him on this list because, quite frankly, he isn’t good enough. I want a jerk who can back it up. Then again, I’m a sucker for a spark plug and clips like this. Or this. He’s extremely easy to hate. In my opinion, I kind of like this former hockey standout, but I’m the guy who rooted for Hollywood Hogan.
9. Yasiel Puig. Clearly, Puig was the darling of the past season; he was fascinating. From his meteoric rise to his hard play to his driving issues to his wall-to-wall coverage on ESPN, Puig was shoved down our throats. He plays hard and while I love the flash of his game, not everyone else does. Mix in the never-ending SportsCenter updates about his every move, and people started to turn on him. The talent is undeniable and there will be more polarizing moments in his career. No doubt there will be plenty of fodder for years to come.
8. Delmon Young. Once regarded as a can’t-miss prospect, the former number-one pick went from being impressive to a headache to impressive to an enigma. We all know how he tossed his bat at the umpire and got a 50 game suspension, which he served without complaining. We know that he is wasting his own talent and an opportunity to have a job we only can dream of. Though many might not know Young — and you can question his relevancy and if he should be on the list as he has signed a minor league contract — his anti-Semitic remarks are inexcusable. We saw how the media drew light to another Philadelphia idiot, Riley Cooper, but this one involved assault and unspeakable language. That’s enough to make you lose a job, and Young is lucky that he has enough potential to still collect checks.
7. Nick Swisher. Many believe, myself included, that Swisher coming to the Yankees was exactly what they needed to put them in line for a championship. His happy-go-lucky personality in the clubhouse mixed with intensity and patience in the batter’s box helped a very stuffy and pressure-packed squad in 2009. But that doesn’t stop most people from thinking Swish is a bit of a tool. Eric Goldstein explains this better than I ever could. Side bet for you degenerative gamblers: $10 says Swisher, unironically, says YOLO more than Drake.
6. Derek Jeter. If you’re a Yankee, you’re hated. If you’re the captain of the Yankees, you’re really hated. And if you’re a Teflon playboy who allegedly watches highlights of himself naked in his Manhattan penthouse overlooking the greatest city in the world before allegedly seducing the finest of women, calling out your own nickname then sending them on their way with a gift basket, there’s going to be a few effigy burnings.
5. Josh Beckett. This guy makes the list for a multitude of reasons. There was the dugout drinking rumors as the Red Sox fell apart towards the end of the 2011 season. Beckett nearly had a Randy Moss “I’ll play when I wanna play” moment when he said that his days off are his business, even though he was too hurt to make a start, but good to go on the links. However, there’s one that stands out. After the tragic passing of Nick Adenhart, there was dust up between the Angles and Red Sox. Bobby Abreu had a ball whiz by his head, which started the “Beckett is a headhunter” narrative, and the benches cleared. Headhunting is a huge faux pas in today’s baseball. Rightfully so, it set off Abreu. But the former and latter reasons aren’t why you should place Beckett in this category, it’s what he said after game in reference to the recent passing of Adenhart in relation to the series. Here’s an exact quote, “Obviously, there’s a lot of emotion in this series,” Beckett said. “Not only facing us, but the tragedy.” Disgraceful.
4. A.J. Pierzynski. I was going to have him on a different spot on this list, but there’s a rule I learned in college: Don’t split up drinking buddies. Well, not so much drinking buddies as kindred spirits (no pun intended) in the clubhouse drinking logic. I could save you some time and just put links here , here or here. But then I’d be a pain in the balls (get it!?). Here’s to the future commentator of the year.
3. Bryce Harper. What do you mean “will Bryce Harper be on this list?” Of course he is. That’s a clown question, bro. And you can get the tank top to prove it. Much like Puig, Harper is brash and oh so damn talented. He plays with swagger and I love it, but many, many more hate it. Any guy who can rock the John Randle eye black and the Miley Cyrus haircut are good in my book. Oh, and he plays the game recklessly. Love it.
2. Jonathan Papelbon. This pick is personal; I loathe this guy. It gives me an even greater joy that he is justifiably on this list. As a Yankees fan, it’s ingrained in me to hate him. Admittedly, he did have a few nice seasons. However, his failures were like eating sunshine with a side of rainbows and washing it down snowflakes that were candy bars and milkshakes. It was even better at the end of his Boston tenure that he imploded. Red Sox fans and Yankees fan united in their disdain of this loud mouth. Baseball folks are always talking about the “unwritten rules of the game,” well write this rule down: Suck it, Papelbon. What a goon.
1. Ryan Braun. Clearly, he’s public enemy number one. Braun has the stench of A-Rod: smug, condescending and talented. You could say he is, without a doubt, one of the top 10 players in the game. Or you could say he would be terrible without all the PEDs. That’s the debate that will rage on until he produces. If pressure wasn’t high enough after an MVP season, a season where Prince Fielder left for Detroit, Braun was able to beat his first PED charge on a technicality. From there, people were hesitant, until Biogenesis that is. Now, we have the power to hate a player who had so much going for him. He could have been what people love; a guy who could make exponentially more money elsewhere, but decides to stay in the small market. Not to mention, as a Jewish-American, Braun could have been endeared into the heart of his community. The “Hebrew Hammer,” as he is known, should have been the best Jewish hitter since Hank Greenberg (apologies to Rod Carew and Shawn Green). Alas, Braun is just the face of what fans wanted eliminated from the game and our top dog on this list.
A special thanks to all those who participated in my makeshift survey on Twitter and Facebook; I love hearing your opinions. Here are some dishonorable mentions from you: Fernado Rodney, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Hamilton, Aroldis Chapman and Hanley Ramirez.