With a tip of the hat to our man Blez over at a Athletics Nation.
Which players rub you the wrong way? Your reasons can be entirely rational or spawned from pure irrational disgust. Here are mine, please share yours in the comments section.
Catcher: Paul LoDuca
And it's not even close. He was the inspiration for this piece. He's the captain of the squad. From his barely-legal proclivities to his now hilarious "we'll be drinking the champagne in October" commentary, LoDouche-a sets an extremely high bar that can only be approached be a select few. Add the fact that he's continually puffed up in the press for his "gritty leadership" and we have a winner.
First Base: Dmitri Young
As easy as the catcher position was, this one was hard to select, and Young was just kind of the default "winner" by virtue of being morbidly obese. And the "pick a Met" strategy won't work here for me since I actually like Carlos Delgado.
Second Base: Jeff Kent
His reputation for being a bigger jerk than Barry Bonds notwithstanding, his corny early-80s porn 'stache and the fact that it always seemed like he raked the Phillies (corroborated by a .901 career OPS against them) gives Jeff Diggler the trophy in this category.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
And it's not even that I hate Jeter as much as I can't stand his fans, who clap and clap as if it will make Tinkerbell come back to life, who believe in unicorns and wizards and that Jeter is an Extra Special Winner, a True Yankee. I actually respect Jeter as a player but resent the way Alex Rodriguez, superior in every way shy of fist pumps and gritted teeth, takes all the flak for the Yankees recent postseason failures.
Third Base: Lawrence "Chipper" Jones, Jr.
An easy choice. Familiarity breeds contempt. His ceaseless bitching and moaning about Citizens Bank Park, balls and strikes, etc., are tiresome. The Hooters waitress stories are legendary now. And the frosting is his whining about David Wright winning the Gold Glove this year. Jesus, man, grow a pair.
Left Field: Juan Pierre
Sort of like Jeter in that it's not the player I hate, as much as it is his loyal sycophants in the media -- Chris Wheeler in particular. By all accounts Pierre is a terrific guy, a hard worker, model citizen, etc., but none of this changes the fact that he's a mediocre baseball player who has been turned into some kind of mythological beast by front offices and coaching staffs around the game. This worship led to Pierre's brain-scrambling 5 year/$50 million contract with the Dodgers last offseason. Not bad, Juan.
Center Field: Jim Edmonds
God I hate this prick. Have you ever seen a more sullen asshole on the baseball field? I could go into a deconstructionist essay on race (conventional wisdom says Edmonds: gritty and focused; Sheffield: bitter and ornery), but I've also never seen a player more overpraised for getting bad jumps on fly balls, then diving at the last minute to make a "spectacular" catch on a ball that a guy like Andruw Jones would have caught in a brisk trot. BOOOOO!
Right Field: Jeff Francoeur
A face made for slapping. This is an irrational choice but I'm allowed to because it's my article, so piss off.
Starting Pitcher 1: John Smoltz
The Chipper Jones of Pitchers. The King of the "Whine about CBP" Kingdom. Add in the fact that he's a bigoted homophobe and we have a completely despicable jerk.
Starting Pitcher 2: Curt Schilling
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH GEORGE BUSH BLAH BLAH WARCRAFT BLAH BLAH BLOODY SOCK PAY ATTENTION I'M CURT SCHILLING BLAH BLAH BLAH. I curse God every day for giving the blowhard know-it-all right wing asshole in my World Politics 101 class a Hall of Fame arm and a soapbox.
Starting Pitcher 3: Roger Clemens
Rounding out the geriatric trio is this turdmonkey. The coy little "will I come out of retirement?" game got old in 2005. And for unleashing the braying orgasmic ululations of Suzyn Waldman on the world this past season, he is doubly condemned. May you be forced to enter the Hall of Fame in a Blue Jays cap.
Relief Pitcher 1: Billy Wagner
Bahahahhahahahahaha!!!! Almost to be pitied because he doesn't know when to shut his mouth. Beating him is always extremely satisfying.
Relief Pitcher 2: Todd Jones
See John Smoltz entry. I find it really cute that two of the most vocal homophobes in the game are the owners of two of the sweetest, most neatly landscaped facial hair arrays I've ever seen.
Miscellaneous Pitcher: Honorable Mention: Brett Myers
Manager: Bobby Cox
See: Brett Myers.