I like certain players. I hate certain players. Sometimes I like players because of the way they play the game. I don’t mean I like them for playing the game the right way (One rule is that I tend to dislike players who talk publicly about playing the game the right way). I usually mean I like the aesthetics of their game. But sometimes I like them because they’re just plain goofy on and off the field. Manny Ramirez, Rickey Henderson and Doug Waechter fit into this last category.
I also hate players. I hate them for various reasons. None of them are very good reasons. It’s not that I seriously hate these players like I seriously hate the guy who I accidentally bumped into exiting the library the other day, and who then called me a "worthless piece of sh*t" even after I had apologized. No, nothing like that. I hate them for stupid superficial reasons as you’ll see below. Still, maybe I’m not the only one who invests fandom with a certain personalized emotion. Maybe you have a list like the one below of players you like and hate.
- El Duque: I love him for obvious reasons. I like the fact that he and Jorge Posada used to have game-long shouting matches when he pitched. I love the fact that he created a system of signs that none of his teammates (including the middle infielders and catcher) understood when a runner was on second because he was so paranoid about the runner stealing signs. I like the constant fidgeting, the eephus pitches, the genius.
- Corey Hart: His name is enough. But then there’s his appearance, specifically the flowing blond locks. He was meant to be a professional wrestler, the next generation of the Hart Foundation, but baseball paid more.
- Manny: More than the crazy wackiness, I like him because he’s from Washington Heights, and we must root for those from our neck of the woods.
- Melky, Robbi and Hanley: I like these three for an idea they represent. Specifically, I like them for outperforming the expectations of stats-leaning prospect experts. They are and were more than their minor league numbers. We are all more than our numbers! Not sure where I’m going with that one…
- Jimmy Rollins: If had made it to the majors this is exactly the type of player I would have been. I would have been awesome like Rollins. In Inwood Little League, I played shortstop, was speedy, had pop in my bat, hit triples all the time, and was very very short compared to my peers. When Jimmy does something well, I think about what I could be doing on the field at that moment if I had not chosen to become a school teacher. Alas, the choices you make…
- Juan Encarnacion: He’s mediocre but my friend and I are convinced he’s going to have a break-out year one of these decades. We fancy ourselves scouts who see past the stats and understand a player’s true capabilities. Based on watching the way he plays every part of the game, we are convinced he is a 6-tool player with Ken Griffey Jr.’s upside. His home run a few years back against Ramiro Mendoza that landed in the left field bleachers was the greatest expression of physical talent I have ever seen. No hyperbole.
- Curtis Granderson: There is nothing better than a triple. Nothing. But you also have to understand something about Granderson, he is the most unassuming superstar (MVP candidate! Look at the stats.) you’ll ever see. I love Granderson primarily because the Tigers uniform is so cool and he wears it cooler than anyone else.
- Dustin Pedroia: To quote Dylan Thomas from A Child’s Christmas in Wales: "I hated him on sound and sight." This is an odd choice because Pedroia is so short and since I was once very short I usually root for players like the Sox rookie. The Thomas quotation is interpreted by some as a line actually targeted at himself (some think he’s looking at his reflection is a shop window when he says this), so maybe that’s the root of my hatred. Maybe I unconsciously hate myself…Not likely. I’m Jimmy Rollins! I just can’t stand the way the guy looks. I’m sure we’d hate each other if we met outside a library or something.
- Kyle Farnsworth: Fish in a barrel.
- Paul LoDuca: At a "Playing the Game the Right Way" convention, he would be the keynote speaker. Josh Beckett would give a PowerPoint presentation diagramming how to play the game the right way; while the Toronto Blue Jays would perform a one act musical titled "The Game the Right Way" scored by Trot Nixon, with music by Boomer Esiason (Yeah, that’s right I can’t stand Boomer so much that he’s included even though he plays football!).
- Todd Zeile: There will never be a more boring hitter in the history of the game.
- Don Baylor: Oh yeah, you were as boring as Zeile. My childhood, a period of wonderment, was made banal by your at-bats. Thanks for single-handedly pushing me to existentialist thought. Without you, I never read Camus and Sartre, and I never understand the nature of the Void. You make me nauseated.
All right. That’s my list. Simple enough. Am I the only one who has such a list? Share yours here if you also have one.