As good sports fans, we hate certain opposing players with a hatred that is more than hatred. The sight of them causes sebaceous hatred to ooze from every pore. Hearing their names makes us want to dash the nearest blunt object against something fragile. Jeff Francouer comes immediately to mind. Not only has he played for two of our most despised opponents, but when he came into the league in 2005, most of the rest of MLB was primed to anoint him The Next Great Player. The people who vote for Rookie of the Year got busy learning to spell his name, so they could inscribe it correctly on the award. Thankfully, Ryan Howard (and Willy Taveras) were there to say, "Suck it, Frenchy!"
On the flip side are the opponents that we have trouble hating, to the degree that we actually like them. Brian Wilson falls into this category, even if we hate the Fear the Beard nonsense. Yes, he just created an indelibly bad memory for us, but there's no doubt we'd welcome him with open arms if he ended up in red pinstripes.
But what about people we really should hate, but can't, and people we just can't bring ourselves to like, no matter what their merits? My thoughts after the jump.
Against all reason, and contrary to the feelings of just about everyone else on this blog, I cannot bring myself to hate Cody Ross. Yes, he just finished torturing the Phillies by playing way over his head, but he's a short, bald, funny-looking guy who can't keep a job but keeps plugging away with enthusiasm and optimism. My favorite students are the ones who work hard to overcome their various cognitive and emotional disabilities, and Ross reminds me of them. I cannot hate the dude.
It's harder to find someone I should like but can't, but my paradigm for this person is Lenny Dykstra, especially during his years with the Phillies. He was a critical piece of the tremendously enjoyable 1993 team, and he irritated other teams in a way that endeared him to much of Philadelphia, but I never liked him. I hated the drips of tobacco juice, I hated the stupid smile, I hated the Mets heritage, I hated the voice. I hated his overall character, which just felt wrong for a team I have loved all my life.
If you've got any thoughts along these lines, I'd enjoy reading them.