As baseball gears up for the stretch run, and teams fight through nagging injuries and prolonged slumps to survive the dog days of summer, it’s time to revisit the douchebaggery that helps make the sport so resplendent. I come today not to disparage these douches, but to celebrate them, for baseball would be so much less interesting without them.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t hate their guts.
Last year, we counted down the game’s 20 biggest jerks. But things change. Douchebaggery isn’t a still construct. It morphs, grows and fades. It explodes on the scene with terrifying suddenness, or fades gently with age. Which is to say: it’s time for an update. Join me, won’t you, in celebrating the worst our beloved pastime has to offer.
Dropping off last year’s list:
20. Stephen Strasburg – Tommy John surgery and its necessary extended absence have removed Strasburg from the spotlight.
16. Julio Lugo – Barely hanging on as a 25th man.
13. Shane Victorino – He just hasn’t done enough to stay on the list this year. Maybe next year, Flyin’ Hawaiian.
11. Jose Guillen – Out of baseball.
4. Milton Bradley – ibid. Jim Hendry’s contract decisions look smarter every day.
On to this year’s new and revised list of baseball’s 20 biggest douchebags. Once again, this list is confined to players. No managers (sorry, Tony), owners (maybe next time, Frank) GMs, (looking at you, Mike Rizzo), or commissioners.
Just missed, bad genes department: Jered Weaver, Daniel Schlereth
Just missed, quota department: 60% of the Red Sox roster
Just missed, seems like a dick department: Chris Carpenter, Fausto Carmona
20. Hanley Ramirez (2010 Rank: 14)
Poor play seems to be humbling Hanley somewhat. How spoiled and selfish can you act when you’re putting up a .249/.338/.394 line? And not hustling for balls just seems cruels when your manager is 332 years old.
19. Bronson Arroyo (11)
Another case where ineffectiveness is causing a drop in the rankings. Arroyo has collapsed this year to the tune of a 5.57 ERA, which has kept him out of the spotlight. But he still looks like this:
So he stays on the list.
18. Dallas Braden (5)
Braden is also absent from the scene, having undergone surgery to repair a torn capsule in his shoulder. But as I said last year, we’ll never forget Bradenia.
17. Alex Rodriguez (13)
Oh, ARod. Only you would call Jose Reyes the “world’s greatest player” and say you “wish he were leading off on our team” right as the Yankees and Mets opened a Subway Series, and right as the focus on Derek Jeter’s poor output and chase for 3,000 hits reached a fever pitch. Nobody in baseball can put their foot in their mouth in quite the way you can. Nobody else can constantly try to be loved and yet remain so unlikable. Never change.
16. Chipper Jones (Unranked)
Laaaaarrrrry! Laaaaarrrrry! I fear that Mr. Jones is not long for this game, so we must give him so respect before he departs from our lives. Is there a more perfect fit between team and player than the Braves and Chipperoo? He’s a huntin’, cussin’, no-nonsense good ol’ boy playing for fans who do the Tomahawk Chop and once supported John Rocker. Hey, did you know that Chipper had a year-plus-long affair with a Hooters waitress? I suppose that even if you didn’t know that, you could have guessed. It’s also fantastic that in his bio on his webpage, he brags about playing for an undefeated Little League team.
He also once said this: “Honestly it’s a shame that I’ve got to go out and hit .400 for two months to make an All-Star team. It’s kind of depressing to me because I’ve had — to me — what I think are some pretty good first halves, what I think is a pretty good career, and I haven’t made an All-Star team since ’01. … But I’ll take it. Got to make a splash to get people’s attention? Got to make a splash.”
Amazingly, Chipper is not even the biggest redneck on our countdown. Not even close. Just hang out for a bit.
15. Bryce Harper (Unranked)
Oh, yes. Fresh, douchey blood. I couldn’t be more giddy with anticipation for Harper’s arrival in the big leagues. Just this year alone, he blew a kiss at a pitcher while closing out an interminable home run trot…
…got these tattoos…
…and bought this vehicle…
I think Bryce might be around on this countdown for a loooong time. And together with Strasburg, he could help form a douchebag nucleus that carries the Nationals right through this decade.
14. C.J. Wilson (18)
Straight Edge Johnny, still doing his thang.
13. Francisco Rodriguez (19)
KRod is still the same grampa-punching ass he always was, but this year he’s managed to make himself the center of attention through his ridiculous vesting option for 2011 and his alliance with the always-disingenuous Scott Boras.
12. Carl Pavano (8)
Wait a second. Wait one cotton-pickin’ minute. Do you mean to tell me that Pavano is underperforming after signing a contract in the off-season? Well, kiss my grits and shiver my timbers! Who ever could have seen this coming?
11. David Ortiz (Unranked)
Entitlement. That’s the problem with Papi. For years, he coasted by as the fun, harmless lug, the sidekick to evil, irresponsible Manny being Manny. But without Ramirez around to deflect attention, Ortiz’s dark side is coming to light. Over the years, Papi has become progressively more indignant when pitchers dare throw inside to him, while becoming progressively more ostentatious in his post-homer celebrations. When called out on his behavior, he says things like “Take it like a man. I’m done with that,” or “I got almost 370 bombs in the big league.”
Ha ha ha. What? Bombs? Really?
Everything came to a head this year when Kevin Gregg threw inside to Papi a couple times, and Papi acted like a bratty 13-year-old, not running out a pop up, then charging the mound and taking ridiculous, girlish swings at Gregg — which clearly weren’t intended to land.
Your day of reckoning is at hand, Papi. Welcome to the countdown.
10. Zack Greinke (Unranked)
Greinke doesn’t make this list for his anxiety disorder, his time away from baseball, or anything like that. He makes it for his trade demands, and moreso for calling out his former teammates after he left Kansas City. No class. As I wrote this spring:
Greinke pestered the Royals for a trade last year (asking on four different occasions), just one year after signing a long-term contract (presumably not at gunpoint). Then, this spring, Greinke implied his Kansas City teammates annoyed him. A lot of people claim they find Greinke’s honesty refreshing. Maybe it is. But honesty and decency needn’t be mutually exclusive.
9. Carlos Zambrano (10)
The Cubs are in such a sorry state that I almost don’t want to include Big Z for fear of piling on. But his track record of assholery is too long and comprehensive to let him slide.
8. A.J. Burnett (9)
7. Jeff Francoeur (3)
Frenchy (douchey nickname, btw) is just out there, doing his thing. Swinging for the fences, thinking he’s a superstar, fooling people who don’t know much about baseball. Keep on keepin’ on. “I’m
not the greatest guy when I sit on the bench. I have ants in my pants.” — Jeff Francoeur
6. Josh Beckett (7)
Suddenly, everyone loves Headhunter McGee because he’s having a great year. But this redneck, deer-hunting, soul-patched psychopath is a fixture on this countdown until further notice. You’ll have to pry this spot from his cold, dead heads.
5. A.J. Pierzynski (6)
A.J. moves up a slot because of flux, but he’s basically the same old jerk he always was.
4. Brian Wilson (Unranked)
A meteoric rise up the charts for the World Series hero and EA Sports poster boy. Fuck Brian Wilson, fuck his ugly, overrated beard, and fuck his ridiculous gesticulations after every save. He does some ridiculous cross and points at the sky, even if he enters a game with a three-run lead and no one on base. It’s to honor his late father — which yes, is sad, but you know who else’s dad dies? Everybody. And they don’t make asses of themselves on the mound after every game — and the Holy Trinity. So…umm…yeah. No player in baseball is more in love with himself than Brian Wilson. He’s infatuated with his own wackiness, like that kid in high school who insisted on wearing shorts in the dead of winter. Everybody chant along with me:
Regression to the Mean!
Regression to the Mean!
Regression to the Mean!
Regression to the Mean!
3. Luke Scott (Unranked)
Remember how I mentioned that Chipper isn’t even close to the biggest redneck on this list. Yep.
HELLLL YEAHHHHH! A man’s GOT to protect his home and his property, right y’all?
Anyone who throws banana chips at their brown-skinned teammates is destined for greatness.
“Here are my banana chips to remind him that whenever he acts like an animal, ‘Hey, that’s what other people are thinking. They’re just not telling you, but that’s what they’re thinking about. And I’m telling you so that you’re aware of that so you can make a cognitive decision to not behave like that.’”
Smart. Smart thinking.
Luke Scott is a birther, a racist and an asshole. I don’t believe much in instant karma, but maybe I’m wrong.
2. Brett Myers (2)
Still a wife-beater? Still a wife-beater.
1. Jonathan Papelbon (1)
Jonathan Papelbon is an old man. The wrinkles on his face tell the story of decades out in the sun, throwing the ball with mighty exertion. He no longer cuts the figure he once did. He’s hunched. Shrunken. A little withered. He struggles to his feet from his comfy, Archie Bunker-style recliner and calls his grandchildren to gather round.
“What is it, Granddad?”
“You all know I was a great closer in my time, right?”
“And that I was a two-time World Series champion in a wonderful baseball town?”
“Well today, I want to tell you about my proudest achievement. The honor that got me through my darkest hours, and my loneliest moments. You see, there have been a lot of great closers, a lot of World Series champs. Even a lot of Rolaids relievers of the year. But your old pop-pop, he accomplished something truly extraordinary in his day.”
He tousles the hair of his youngest granddaughter.
“You see, kids, I was named the biggest douchebag in baseball by Pop Culture Has AIDS for two consecutive years. I defended my title. Can you believe that?”
“No duh, Granddad.”