Today is a tough day to be a baseball fan:
Bud Selig is being immortalized with a statue outside Miller Park. I guess even Pol Pot had statues erected in earnest tribute.
Rob Dibble is mouthing off again, claiming Stephen Strasburg should quit his whining and pitch through the pain. Dibble also thinks that Holocaust survivors should stop bitching, and be grateful that they were given the opportunity to lose a few pounds.
And Deadspin has released leaked financial statements from several MLB teams, proving once and for all that Selig and his small-market compadres (I’m looking at you, Loria) have been swindling fans and a complicit sports media for years.
Like his longtime frienemy Bud, George Steinbrenner is being given the immortalization treatment, with a monument in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. I’m a Yankees fan, and I think Steinbrenner probably brought more good than bad to the team and the game, but a monument? Is Howard Spira going to have his number retired?
So, to mark this dark day, PCHA is counting down the top 20 douchebags in the game today. Players only…sorry, Rob, Bud and Tony LaRussa.
Baseball and basketball are more prone to douchebaggery than football. In the NFL, the helmets and facemasks lend an anonymity to the proceedings that keeps players’ personalities under a veil. Sure, you’ll find the occasional petulant quarterback or egomaniacal wide receiver, but most players on the field are unknowns.
In baseball, everything’s out there to be seen by a gaping public — every bitchy facial expression, every irksome quip to the umpire. And every player gets a moment in the spotlight, whether in the batters box or on the pitching mound. Everyone gets their Norma Desmond close-up a few times a game.
And we’re thankful for baseball’s open quality, because it allows to get to know the players, for good or for ill. And it allows us to compile libelous lists like this one. Without further ado, baseball’s 20 biggest douchebags (2010 version):
20. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
So young, so talented, so obnoxious. First, no guy with this facial hair is not a douchebag:
More to the point, Strasburg has already developed a reputation for being a dick to reporters and aloof to fans and teammates, despite accomplishing next to nothing in his big-league career. He carries himself with an arrogance that’s reminiscent of Randy Johnson, minus about 4,800 strikeouts.
19. Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets (?)
KRod has always been a drama queen on the mound, and now he’s a felon off it. But felony alone wouldn’t be enough to land him a precious spot on this countdown. Now, there’s a lot of felonies we don’t mind, and some we even support. But punching the grandfather of your children, and in doing so, injuring your pitching hand and ending your season? Welcome to the list, KRod.
18. C.J. Wilson, Texas Rangers
I’m all for sobriety (not really). If anyone doesn’t want to drink or take drugs, that’s just dandy (nope). But take it away, Wikipedia:
C.J. has the words “Straight Edge” tattooed along the length of his torso, Japanese characters on his shoulder that read “Poison Free” and “XXX” stitched on his glove as a straight edge symbol.
Ummm….yeah. Anyone who defines themselves as “Straight Edge” (let alone tattoos it upon their body) is also self-defining as a douche. Also:
17. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
I want to defend ARod as a person. I want to like him. But he makes it impossible. Everything out of his mouth is calculated and disingenuous. He’s had the misfortune to employ some of the worst advisors and PR wonks in the history of wonkdom, but if ARod had even one relatable human characteristic, he wouldn’t need all the spin. Ken Tremendous said it best on Twitter when Rodriguez hit his 600th home run:
‘Alex Rodriguez is my favorite baseball player of all time!’ said nobody.
16. Julio Lugo, Baltimore Orioles
Julio Lugo is an alleged wife beater. And let’s just say I’m not really buying the “alleged” part of that sentence.
15. Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Did you think we would forget, Manny? Being a moron doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a douche. Being a pathetic clown doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a douche.
And just because your worst behavior is some years behind you, that doesn’t mean it never happened.
14. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins
Well, we needed at least one representative from the most evil team in baseball.
Hanley Ramirez is a wonderful hitter. Unfortunately, an incident this season brought out his inner douche. Ramirez blatantly didn’t hustle after a ball in the outfield. “Not hustling” isn’t a strong enough term. He jogged. He lollygagged. He strolled, while Diamondbacks skipped around the bases.
It was a ridiculous play, but that’s not why Hanley makes the list. A lot of players don’t hustle from time to time. One play isn’t a huge deal. But Ramirez reacted to his subsequent benching like a spoiled, petulant child, taking potshots at manager Fredi Gonzalez and cutting off communications with teammates. Incidentally, Gonzalez was fired shortly thereafter because owner Jeffrey Loria is so busy making Hanley custom jewelry he must have missed the play in question.
13. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies
Victorino hides his dickishness under the mantle of “hustle.” So did one-time Phillie Pete Rose.
Additionally — check that, more importantly — the Flyin’ Hawaiian has his own clothing line, which reeks of Ed Hardy.
12. Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds
11. Jose Guillen, Kansas City Royals
The prototypical ne’er-do-well, Guillen has instigated confrontations with fans, players and managers.
Angry that Angels manager Mike Scioscia pinch-ran for him in a playoff game, Guillen once said, “Mike Scioscia, to me, is like a piece of garbage . . . He can go to hell.”
Guillen has also shown himself to be a lazy, mound-charging, steroid-taking…um…piece of garbage.
10. Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs
Teammate-punching, tantrum-throwing, middle relieving Big Z. The only reason he’s not ranked higher is because his act has grown boring.
9. A.J. Burnett, New York Yankees
A.J. Burnett’s favorite movie is “300.” He watches it before starts to psyche himself up. That’s really all you need to know.
8. Carl Pavano, Minnesota Twins
A list of Carl Pavano’s injuries after signing a 4 year/$40 million contract with the Yankees:
- Right shoulder tendonitis
- Rotator cuff tendonitis
- Bone chip in elbow
- Broken ribs due to car accident (which Pavano tried to cover up and lie about)
- Bruised buttocks
- Elbow strain (leading to Tommy John surgery by Pavano’s choice)
- “Left hip injury”
When teammates openly questioned his desire and fortitude, Pavano responded: “I think it’s more of a compliment. They’re frustrated because they know I can help them, and I haven’t been able to do that.”
Long live the American Idle.
7. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox
Wow. The 2003 Marlins pitching staff is really representing on our list.
Beckett has taken Chipper Jones’s place as MLB’s resident good ol’ boy. But he’s taken it up a couple notches. Chipper, especially as his career progressed, brought an element of class and professionalism to his hick persona. Beckett, though, is just a braying Southern jackass.
According to Red Sox blog Center Field, Beckett “owns his own deer hunting ranch (he once won the award for the largest deer shot during the TX hunting season, a 14-point, 245-pound buck). And always has a dip can in his back pocket.”
He’s a headhunter. He’s an instigator. He’s Roger Clemens 2.0. And, of course, he has the douchebag prerequisite of ridiculous facial hair.
6. A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox
When Delmon Young punched Pierzynski in the face during a play at home plate last week, he was striking a blow for the rest of the American League.
Pierzynski is the kind of guy whom opponents hate, and teammates hate behind his back. He’s the kind of dirty player who thinks being a constant irritant is the same thing as being a “gamer.” He’s also the kind of guy who appears on professional wrestling programming.
5. Dallas Braden, Oakland A’s
Ah, Dallas, righteous protector of baseball’s unwritten rules. Congratulations on your perfect game. Now enjoy the slow, painful ride back to obscurity.
At least we’ll always have Bradenia.
4. Milton Bradley, Seattle Mariners
Bradley is the poor man’s Gary Sheffield in that he’s the kind of player it would be easy to falsely impugn due to his race and his prickly, media-unfriendly personality — but who makes it impossible to do so because he’s such an ignorant asshole. To be fair, Sheffield could actually hit.
Even before his disaster of a season in Chicago, Bradley was a nightmare for every team on which he played. He went after umpires. He went after announcers. Now that he seems to be having a complete psychological breakdown in Seattle, it would seem we should have some sympathy for the nutjob. But a few tears doesn’t erase the years of damage in his wake.
3. Jeff Francoeur, New York Mets
During a recent stretch in which the Mets were not playing Frenchy as much as he might like, he got his lady agent involved:
“We want to play every day,” Francoeur’s agent Molly Fletcher said yesterday. “We prefer to play in New York. But if we’re not going to play every day in New York, we absolutely welcome the opportunity to play every day somewhere else.”
First of all — “we”? Second of all, check out Molly Fletcher’s website. Third of all — Francoeur has a .655 OPS, below such luminaries as Neil Walker, Michael Saunders and Eric Patterson. “They” most certainly do not deserve to play everyday, in New York or anywhere else north of Double A.
Francoeur is a selfish brute, completely unwilling to change his swing-at-anything approach despite years of mounting evidence that he needs to do so in order to be a viable big-league hitter. And he once said this: “If on-base percentage is so important, then why don’t they put it up on the scoreboard?”
There’s nothing more irritating than a terrible player pulling the “nobody believes in me” routine. There’s usually a reason for the lack of faith.
2. Brett Myers, Houston Astros
Brett Myers is an unrepentant wife beater.
Note to all wife beaters out there — when you say something like this in your defense, “”When you’re both heavily intoxicated, that stuff does stuff to you you’re not supposed to do,” — you are just reaffirming for the world that you like to punch girls in the face.
He also had this lovely exchange with a beat writer.
1. Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox
Every time Jonathan Papelbon comes in to close a game, he goes through the same routine each time he throws a pitch: He gets the ball back from the catcher. Then, he walks around behind the mound for a while, taking longer between pitches than any other hurler in baseball. Then, he steps on the rubber, takes a deep huffing breath, sets, and makes the Jonathan Papelbon Scary FaceTM:
It’s intimidating, you see.
As luck would have it, while conducting a Google image search for the Scary Face, I found more evidence that Papelbon belongs on top of this list. Like this:
Still not convinced? Then, how ’bout you take a quick glance at some of these quotes from Papelbon, presented without commentary:
“I thought today was a great opportunity for our bullpen to come show the league what we’re really made of. I think we answered that with flying colors.”
“Got a name picked out. Gunner Roberts. The significance? Nothing, man. Just a badass name, so we went with it.”
“Even a guy like me, just heading into my fourth year in the big leagues — if David Ortiz gets a little, you know — I’ll tell him what’s up! I’m not afraid to do that. I’m not afraid to put him in his place, because I think everybody needs that.”
“It’s like cancer. That’s what [Manny Ramirez] was. Cancer. He had to go. It sucked, but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us. And after, you could feel it in the air in the clubhouse. We got Jason Bay — Johnny Ballgame, plays the game right, plays through broken knees, runs out every ground ball — and it was like a breath of fresh air, man! Awesome!“
Papelbon is like the guy in the frat house who’s a little functionally retarded, has the emotional capacity of an 8-year-old, and still somehow finds himself in a leadership position.
There’s no bigger douche in the game.