(un)watchable?

In one of the great threads ever at YFSF, Nick asked our readership who they most like to root for and against, and who they would trade to their rival or take from their rival if given the opportunity.  In a fit of unoriginality, I am taking that question and altering it slightly: who are the players you least like to watch or most like to watch.  This may be a subtle difference from Nick’s inquiry, but there are players I really dislike that I love to watch (late-career Roger qualified) and players that I like that I can’t stomach to view in action (Tim Wakefield certainly qualifies on that list, perhaps unfairly?).  There are many reasons for this "watchability factor": technique, form, visage, gutlessness, likelihood of implosion, etc.  So, who are they?  We want names and detailed explanations. It’s subjective, no judgments will be rendered.  At least not at first.

My starter list (Sox-centric, for obvious reasons), sure to expand, is after the jump.

Current players, "unwatchable"

Julio Lugo, Tim Wakefield, Tek (at the plate)

Current players, "watchable"

A-Rod, Papi, Manny, Paps

All-time "watchable":

El Tiante, Pedro (#1 of all time on my list), Roger Clemens, Will Clark (who doesn’t love to watch a brown-toothed smooth-swinging lefty first baseman? Seriously, who doesn’t love that?), Wade Boggs at the plate at his peak – artistry.

All-time "unwatchable":

Bob Stanley, Pete Rose (however great, he did everything ugly), John McNamara (if it is possible to find a manager  unwatchable), Dennis Eckersley (particularly in his Oakland days).

42 comments… add one
  • All-time unwatcheable:
    * Grady Little, the embodiment of human stupidity, at all times
    * Jim Rice in any double play situation
    * Eric Gagne, 2007
    * Matt Clement, post-ball-to-the-head
    * Papelbon celebrating
    Current watchable:
    * Whenever Jacoby Ellsbury gets on base
    * Big Papi in clutch situations

    Hudson May 7, 2008, 1:19 pm
  • Unwatchable
    -David Eckstein. Maybe it’s the fact that everyone calls his play “gritty” when I see it as “desperate”, or maybe it’s the 10-year-old face that he still has. In any case, can’t stand watching him play.
    -Derek Jeter, in the field. He’s got a gorgeous swing at the plate but in the field he makes normal plays look “flashy” by doing the backhand-and-jump thing he does. Just stop, plant your feet and throw damnit!
    -K-Rod. Super jerkey motion, idiotic celebrations even after blowing saves, I think just about everyone else on this site feels the same.
    Watchable
    -Nolan Ryan. He’s the sole reason I fell in love with baseball during a few years growing up in Texas. He had a fantastic, smooth motion with a high leg kick, and when I pitched up until highschool I tried to immitate him as closely as possible. I was present for his 5,000th strikeout, and 7th no-hitter.
    -Pedro Martinez. ‘Nuff said.
    -Manny Ramirez’s swing. Thing of beauty.
    -Alex Rodriguez’s swing. Thing of beauty.

    Atheose May 7, 2008, 1:33 pm
  • Does anyone outside his own family like watching Eckstein play?

    SF May 7, 2008, 2:05 pm
  • I wouldn’t mind it so much except that everyone treats him like an all-star, despite his career 88 OPS+. It eats me up inside that he has two rings, while hundreds of other deserving players have none. WS MVP in 2006? Shoot me now.
    Thank goodness FireJoeMorgan gets it right.

    Atheose May 7, 2008, 2:10 pm
  • In no particular order (except for Pete Rose):
    Pete Rose
    Jorge Posada
    Randy Johnson
    Bob Stanley
    Ken Holtzman
    Jose Canseco

    Disgruntled May 7, 2008, 2:13 pm
  • I assume that’s the “unwatchable” list, DG…

    SF May 7, 2008, 2:17 pm
  • Watchable:
    Obviously, Papi and Pedro, who have single-handedly (double-handedly?) provided nearly all my favorite moments as a baseball fan. Ortiz’s swing is beautiful, but aside from that, he can out up some incredible at-bats that reach the point where you can see him working the pitcher clsoer and closer to his wheelhouse. Yesterday was a perfect example. Martinez just electrified Boston like no player before or since — not even Papi. When he took the mound at Fenway, no matter the results, it was a must-see event.
    Wakefield. The results sometimes aren’t pretty, but when he’s on, following the flight of that knuckleball is simply astounding.
    Papelbon. Watching the optical illusion of the jumping ball that occurs at the end of his fastballs literally gives me goosebumps soemtimes.
    Coco Crisp in the field. I’ve never before had such supreme confidence that a player will get to whatever ball he’s chasing, regardless of where it’s hit.
    Unwatchable
    Seconding Varitek at the plate. Swings at balls he shouldn’t, takes or swings badly at balls he should hammer, but in the end, gets close to 20 home runs and provides above-average offensive output. I’m glad he’s our catcher, but it’s brutal watching him swing the bat.
    Keith Foulke any year after 2004.
    Roger Clemens the last eight months.

    Paul SF May 7, 2008, 2:19 pm
  • I realized I don’t have any older players on there, but when I was a kid, no player could do any wrong, so it’s hard to say they were unwatchable. In retrospect, Tony Pena at the plate, Butch Hobson doing anything or Kevin Mitchell in a Red Sox uniform were all pretty awful to see.

    Paul SF May 7, 2008, 2:23 pm
  • Utterly Unwatchable:
    David Eckstein – Look, Im sure he’s a nice guy in person, but I despise him. He’s like the poster child of the old head-up-your-butt anti-sabermetric crowd. He’s my nemisis – seeing him on the screen makes me MAD. I actually get angry. Also, watching him attempt to throw the ball across the diamond is just pathetic.
    Most Watchable:
    Pedro Martinez – Is there really any question? One of, if not the, greatest pitcher of all time. A guy who’s pitching performances were so beautiful that they could be poetry.

    Dionysus May 7, 2008, 2:28 pm
  • That’s an interesting observation, Paul, and I think I feel the same way. When you’re a kid you don’t cringe at the things you do now, perhaps because it was such a joy just to watch baseball. Nowadays we all analyze and overanalyze to the point where we notice things that we dislike, as opposed to just watching for the sheer joy of watching.

    Atheose May 7, 2008, 2:32 pm
  • Also, watching him attempt to throw the ball across the diamond is just pathetic.
    He puts so much arc on the ball that it’s a wonder people don’t beat out the throw more often!

    Atheose May 7, 2008, 2:34 pm
  • when I was a kid, no player could do any wrong
    Dude, you were one way-too-healthy kid emotionally. I grew up with an out-of-touch Ralph Houk managing the Sox, Matt Young, Jack Clark, and Jack Clark.
    Oh, I forgot: Pudge Fisk, my hero. Watchable, of course. And fearless Freddy Lynn, who was Coco before there was a Coco.

    SF May 7, 2008, 2:44 pm
  • I defy anyone to name someone more unwatchable than Julian Tavarez.

    MJL in L.A. May 7, 2008, 3:35 pm
  • MJL, if by “unwatchable,” you mean, “watchable,” then I completely agree. How can you not love the ridiculous point at his fielders?
    I did hate John Dopson growing up. Seemed like he did nothing but give up home runs. At one point, the afternoon talk guys from WTIC-AM in Hartford called toll booths on the Mass Pike and asked if they were ready for the onslaught of baseballs because Dopson was starting that night.

    Paul SF May 7, 2008, 3:41 pm
  • Dude, Jules is one of my favorite players to watch! He’s goofy, unique and funny. Rolling the ball to first base? Directing the players like a traffic cop? Hilarious.

    Atheose May 7, 2008, 3:42 pm
  • On the subject of Eckstein…
    Of all the reasons to hate that guy, and there are many, the one that really gets me is how he chokes way the hell up on him bat.
    Hey David, this isn’t little league, they can get a bat that fits you!
    I really hate that little punk.

    LocklandSF May 7, 2008, 3:57 pm
  • Choking up on the bat reminds him of the days when he was a kid, when he didn’t get made fun of because everyone else was the same size he was.

    Atheose May 7, 2008, 3:59 pm
  • just got home. This is a fun thread to be greeted with!
    Unwatchable:
    1. Craig Counsel: His batting stance just bothers me. That weird thing gives me the creeps for some reason.
    2. Kevin McReynolds: Okay, this is dated but his game was joyless. He was actually a good player, but when I saw him play I could only see how bored he seemed.
    3. Steve Traschsel: Come on, dude, pitch the ball already!
    4. Jason Giambi: Right now. At his peak, I didn’t enjoy watching his game, and he was spectacular. Now, he’s just a plodding, boring player.
    5. Jason Varitek: Over-hustles. Can’t stand that trait in a baseball player.
    There are more.

    Nick -YF May 7, 2008, 4:07 pm
  • The most watchable Yankee for me, both current and all-time, is Mariano Rivera. Not only is his presence on the mound a sign that a W is nearing, but he still, after all these years, looks so smooth and fluid and always hits his spots. I love watching him pitch. It’s like he’s throwing darts.
    The least watchable Yankee, for me, is Jason Giambi. Yeah, easy to pick on the team’s worst regular, but I felt he was overrated and overpaid from the moment they signed him and I’m looking forward to the end of his contract.
    The most watchable Red Sox player of all time for me was Pedro. That man could pitch. He was also my least watchable (LOL).
    I found Kevin Brown to be completely unwatchable, and on the flip-side I loved watching David Cone.
    On other teams, I’m ashamed to admit I don’t watch enough to love or hate watching anyone in particular, but generally speaking I enjoy watching the (former) Atlanta Big Three pitch. Guess I like good pitching.

    Chris May 7, 2008, 4:11 pm
  • most watchable:
    1. Mariano
    2. El Duque
    3. Will Clark: agree with SF here. He was just a cool player, the sweet swing, the game face, the brown teeth.
    4. Don Mattingly: Again, I loved his swing.
    5. Pedro
    6. David Cone
    7. Jim Edmonds in his peak.
    8. Dwight Gooden with the Mets, the early days.

    Nick -YF May 7, 2008, 4:19 pm
  • 7. Jim Edmonds in his peak
    Ironic that you cite Tek’s “overhustling”, considering Edmonds is one of the game’s greatest artful divers of all time, making decently tough catches into circus grabs worthy of the highlight reel. I hate/d Edmonds.

    SF May 7, 2008, 4:27 pm
  • Watchable/unwatchable doppelganger: Rob Dibble.

    SF May 7, 2008, 4:31 pm
  • watchable/unwatchable (player/retiree): Joe Morgan!!!

    SF May 7, 2008, 4:31 pm
  • Watchable:
    Wakefield: I keep trying to see if the ball is still or if it is turning slightly, and if so, whether that can predict where it will break.
    Not that I ever can, of course.
    Ichiro: SOMETHING always happens when that guy gets on base. Ellsbury looks to be similar.
    Pedro – see above posts
    Unwatchable
    Giambi: I think it’s his facial expression – I keep thinking of the guy in the Smucker’s commercial who asks over-loudly for the Jelly.
    Sheffield when batting: I’ve hated the bat-waggle ever since I saw Lee May do it many years ago. This has nothing to do with the fact that he used to be one of THEM.
    Jeter when batting: This one IS probably mostly sectarian prejudice, but I DETEST the expression on his face – makes me think of a camel who knows full well he is BETTER THAN YOU.
    Knowing that he is a pretty decent guy in real life doesn’t help at all.

    dabize May 7, 2008, 4:48 pm
  • SF, re: Edmonds-
    He may have been guilty of that, yes, but it wasn’t for nothing; he makes my list for being a terrific and eminently watchable fielder.
    My partial list, off the top of my head:
    Watchable (with the assumption we’re talking about their primes)
    Batting – Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr
    Fielding – Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Caminiti, the aforementioned Jim Edmonds
    Pitching – Greg Maddux, Roy Oswalt, Pedro Martinez
    Unwatchable
    Craig Counsell (exact same complaint as mentioned above), Gary Sheffield (also a batting-stance problem, nevermind the personality), Jeff Francoeur (the guy just bugs me for some reason).
    And any middle-aged, sort of flabby relief pitcher who strains to top out at 88 MPH; I don’t care what team they play for, it’s always painful to watch, especially when they’re expected to close games.

    FenSheaParkway May 7, 2008, 4:59 pm
  • guys, this might be the best thread i’ve seen since i’ve been participating…thanks for the entertainment…
    without bias or commentary, here’s my votes;
    most watchable:
    sox:
    oil can boyd
    yaz
    ortiz
    manny
    yanks:
    mantle
    tino
    guidry
    mo
    yogi
    unwatchable:
    sox:
    pedro [sorry]
    pap [sorry]
    tek [not sorry]
    any shortstop since nomar [sorry]
    dave [i was out] roberts
    unwatchable:
    yanks:
    farnworthy
    giambi
    celerino sanchez
    deion sanders
    there are many more in all categories, but i’m done reminiscing…

    dc May 7, 2008, 5:11 pm
  • I should add
    Bo Jackson (W) – not because he was great, but that because at any given moment he might do something never-seen, like that throw from the track to home, or his All-Star game homer.
    Oil Can Boyd (W) – thanks for that one, dc, a must. And especially watchable in post-game interviews.

    SF May 7, 2008, 5:15 pm
  • unwatchable:
    sox:
    pedro [sorry]

    How?!? How is this possible?!!? That’s like saying you find Christy Turlington to be a dogface, or the Beatles dissonant, or Shakespeare trashy, or…
    Seriously, Pedro unwatchable!??!

    SF May 7, 2008, 5:16 pm
  • Watchable:
    Curtis Granderson
    Mo
    ARod
    Halladay
    Curtis Granderson
    Mattingly
    Carew
    Whittaker
    Gwynn
    Ozzie (field only)
    Rickey
    Curtis Granderson
    Unwatchable:
    Eckstein
    Pedroia
    Zambrano
    Paul O’Neill (there, I said it)
    Youk
    Pujols
    Unit
    Eckersley
    Beck
    Balboni

    attackgerbil May 7, 2008, 5:56 pm
  • Wow, that’s some serious Granderson love, Gerb!

    SF May 7, 2008, 6:01 pm
  • Yeah, I’ve got a thing for him.

    attackgerbil May 7, 2008, 6:03 pm
  • Uh, Roberts was clearly safe. Trust me, I’ve got the DVD and watched the replay a zillion times.
    Also, I find the Beatles pretty much unlistenable. *ducks*

    Paul SF May 7, 2008, 6:31 pm
  • “Ironic that you cite Tek’s “overhustling”, considering Edmonds is one of the game’s greatest artful divers of all time, making decently tough catches into circus grabs worthy of the highlight reel. I hate/d Edmonds.”
    I should be more specific. I hate it when Jason Varitek runs into the dugout after an out, after a homer. I like Edmonds diving uneccessarily because, in a way, he’s trying to up our aesthetic enjoyment of the game. But the Pete Rose run to first after a walk is more a political statement. There is no aesthetic value in it.
    I also liked it when Rickey did the snatch catch.

    Nick -YF May 7, 2008, 6:35 pm
  • “Also, I find the Beatles pretty much unlistenable. *ducks*”
    I’m still throwing stuff at you for calling Nirvana the most overrated band ever, Paul! And that was, like, a year ago.

    Nick -YF May 7, 2008, 6:37 pm
  • Also, I find the Beatles pretty much unlistenable. *ducks*
    Shameful. No mincing words, this is a shameful position. Let me guess: Danzig is da BOMB?

    SF May 7, 2008, 7:26 pm
  • Hmmm, Danzig, no; Metallica, yes.
    I view the Beatles and Nirvana as similar bands, actually. They both are not bad, per se, but I feel they’ve been overhyped to such a ludicrous extent because of their positions at the juncture of various musical progressions. I think both were influential, the Beatles moreso, but they are both — in my opinion, of course — decent bands with a few good songs but a lot of stuff that is just not very good and did not take a lot of talent to produce (although I concede the Beatles at least had lyric-writing talent).
    Nirvana is even more annoying because their contribution was to dumb down rock music until it reached its natural progression/nadir in the mid-to-late 1990s, when the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were ALL THAT. Yuck. Then they get credit for driving rock away from the glam-metal shlock of the late 1980s when Metallica and Guns ‘n’ Roses deserve far more credit for that… If Cobain hadn’t killed himself, the band would have burned out or petered out like the rest of the movement. I continue to submit Nirvana is considered a great band because of that one factor more than any others.

    Paul SF May 7, 2008, 7:41 pm
  • Keep digging, Paul…

    SF May 7, 2008, 7:43 pm
  • The Beatles wrote more than “a few good songs”. In fact, some of their greatest songs are ones you might not even know. Glass Onion and other stuff buried on the White. Dear Prudence, a truly great song, probably doesn’t show up on many top 10 Beatles songlists. The scary thing about the Beatles is that they don’t have a Top 10, they have like a top 50. They were a staggeringly talented band. And yes, they were hyped, but their best work followed all the shrieking hype of the early/mid-60s.

    SF May 7, 2008, 7:45 pm
  • “…How?!? How is this possible?!!? That’s like saying you find Christy Turlington to be a dogface, or the Beatles dissonant, or Shakespeare trashy, or…”
    heehee
    ok,
    CT is hot, but there are hotter…
    shakespeare is a necessary bore, but a decent ;) writer…
    beatles are the best…paul and i disagree again, what a surprise, but they are clearly the most influential, talented, and versatile group of all time…their most revered status is quite deserved…
    and, pedro is still unwatchable…

    dc May 7, 2008, 8:25 pm
  • (Un)Watchable:
    *Manny
    *Any player who only DH’s.
    *Giambi (Placed on his own, even though he falls in to category above, simply to show emphasis.)
    *Shelley Duncan
    *Paul Byrd
    *Carlos Beltran (All that talent and very little drive and desire)
    Watchable:
    *Danny Haren (That hesitation in his delivery, the crispness to his pitches, he’s a stud)
    *Chase Utley (Easily one of the most complete swings in the game. Isn’t so hot on defense, but his game plan as a hitter is very enjoyable)
    *Don Mattingly (Smooth all around. Complete swing and magic with the glove.)
    *Lenny Dykstra/Eric Byrnes (Same player, different generation)
    *Jeter and Mariano (Better appreciate them before it’s too late!)

    John - YF May 8, 2008, 8:25 am
  • Carlos Beltran (All that talent and very little drive and desire)
    Are you trying to get Fire Joe Morgan on our case here? From FJM, in one of their standard disassemblies of a trad mediot describing “non-gamers”:
    Carlos Beltran – The Mets gave him $119 million to be the player they would build their team around. He’s been unreliable, frequently missing time to injury and playing poorly in the playoffs. The Mets have shifted their focus to third baseman David Wright – an up-and-coming gamer.
    This is just inexplicable. Carlos Beltran, on the whole, has been brilliant in the playoffs, with an overall OPS of 1.302 and a slugging percentage of .817! He hit 3 home runs in the 2006 NLCS for the Mets. Do Lowell Cohn and son remember the 2004 playoffs, when for 12 games Carlos Beltran hit like he was using Mjolnir for a bat? He hit 8 home runs in 46 at bats! This is the choker you’re complaining about?
    Also, games played as a Met: 151, 140, 144. Not perfect, but he’s not exactly Rich Harden, either. The last two years Carlos Beltran has been super-valuable for both his offense and his defense.

    SF May 8, 2008, 8:52 am
  • “Also, games played as a Met: 151, 140, 144. Not perfect, but he’s not exactly Rich Harden, either. The last two years Carlos Beltran has been super-valuable for both his offense and his defense.”
    Just because he was in the lineup doesn’t mean he was actually in the game. Beltran plays when Beltran wants to play. At the end of the season his totals hide the fact that he takes days off (mentally). Imagine if he actually used all that out of this world talent and ability.
    I will not be censored, LOL!!!

    John - YF May 8, 2008, 9:00 am

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