By Joseph Myers, Review Staff Writer; Alvaro Balderas, Review Intern; and Evan Jacoby, Review Intern
I hope Donna Summer can forgive my title’s use of poetic license. Here we are again, back to spew vitriol at our despised athletes. I welcome a third voice to the conversation, that of intern Evan Jacoby. He joins with me and Alvaro to bring you our second list of those who rile our sensibilities. Alvaro and I had a head start on our Villanova University pal, so while he and I give you our picks from all sports other than basketball and football, Evan is giving you his entire hated figures. Rest assured. We admire many athletes and their names are coming, just not today!
Joe’s hated baseball list:
As the sport I have followed the longest, baseball has, strangely enough, not given me many players to dislike. Knowing that ball players spend so much time away from their families has a knack for making me forget how exorbitant their salaries are and how they are often able to ply their trade in daylight. A 162-game season should give me many opportunities to loathe, but, as my list will show, only cheaters and annoying presences irk me.
1. Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals
Take your 583 home runs and shove them, Big Mac. This clown was only three years into his career when I began to follow baseball in 1989. He gave me 12 years to build my rage, a force that was nowhere near comparable to the ‘roid rage he likely experienced. His 1998 breaking of the single-season home run record bored me, as I suspected something other than 81 games at Busch Stadium was helping him. He admitted to steroid use last year. Enough said. Cheater.
2. Rafael Palmeiro: Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles
This phony stumped me for some time. I had thought he was clean, but the steroids he used could have made his mustache curl. His hit and home run totals, 3,020 and 569, are hard to overlook, but I care as much about them as he cared about playing by all the rules.
3. Barry Bonds: Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants
Something irked me about him the minute I saw him. For a person to make a ten-year-old irked takes a special kind of jerk. Bonds was that kind. I understand the pressure to perform and could not imagine what it is to have an entire city depending on my skills to be happy. Regardless, this egomaniac is another cheater. I hated his breaking the single-season all-time home run mark more than McGwire’s breaking it, and to me, Hank Aaron is still the game’s all-time leading deep fly swatter. He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next year. In or out, he will continue to inspire my dislike, as he sullied the national pastime with his irrational pastime of allegedly using steroids.
4. Manny Ramirez: Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays.
Anyone who has read a few of my posts knows I am a huge Red Sox fan; however, I loathed Ramirez when he loafed around left field. Could the Sox have won the 2004 and 2007 World Series crowns minus his big bat and mouth? I think so. Stifle any laughter. He is a huge hitter, but his arrogance, unkempt manner and selfishness disturb me. Thank God he has left the National League. His signing with the White Sox united him with the strangest personality in the sport, Ozzie Guillen. May his time with the Tampa Bay Rays further accelerate the franchise’s return to the days of last-place finishes.
5. Ozzie Guillen: Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays
The new clown prince of baseball played with Palmeiro in Baltimore in 1998. I would like to think each was an individual with less anger than is evident today. The man was a decent player, and I recall no drama when watching him. As a manager, however, he seems to have made his crusade the quest to be as outspoken as anyone who has ever constructed a lineup card.
From a 2008 incident where he hurled a derogatory comment at a columnist to last year’s off-color reflections on the Arizona illegal immigration issue, he has consistently shown his marbles do not always travel with him.
6. Alex Rodriguez: Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees
Having spent seven seasons playing for the Yankees could be enough for me to dislike Rodriguez, another steroid fan. This figure has always seemed to feel he is bigger than the game. He will likely pass Bonds atop the all-time home run list, dumping Aaron to third. If he does, all that will matter to me will be his February 2009 admission that he used enhancers over three seasons. His reason for cheating? He felt “an enormous amount of pressure to perform.” If God does not give it, Alex, do not go chasing it, homeboy.
7. Sammy Sosa: Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles
It seems that along with using performance-enhancing drugs, most of my guys share geography! In his shattered English, Sosa often claimed that baseball had been very, very good to him. He should never have been very, very bad to it. Mr. Corked Bat was about as tolerable as a wart, and he desecrated baseball like any wart would tarnish stellar skin. Many people loved this cheater. I am glad I do not align with many people.
8. Jose Lima: Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets
I know Jose Lima is resting in peace, having succumbed to a heart attack nine months ago. I almost left him off this list, thinking he deserved for baseball fans only to remember his zaniness. I then remembered that I disliked that zaniness and decided to spare him until the end.
Mr. Lima infuriated me with “Lima Time,” his nickname for his pitching performances. Aside from two great years, Lima Time usually meant “home run derby” for the opposition. He retired with a horrific 5.26 ERA and an even greater 10 on my dislike scale. Rest in peace, Jose, as you certainly never calmed down your act on earth.
Al’s hated baseball list:
Evan’s NBA/NFL List:
Joe and Al have already waxed poetic about their least favorite athletes on the court and the gridiron (https://southphillysports.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/irky-jerky/), so it’s time to catch up and reveal mine. Each person on this list has a different reason for inclusion, but I do have one general criteria for hating an athlete: If you don’t leave it all on the field/court every night, you might make my list. It’s that simple. Athletes get paid millions of dollars to play a game and stay in shape. Fans pay hundreds of dollars to watch them play live, and kids and young adults all over the world look up to them. Yet, somehow, some guys don’t feel the need to compete on a nightly basis. Here’s who cracked that list, as well as some others I hate for other reasons. See the brief description after each player:
1. Vince Carter – The player once known as “Half Man, Half Amazing” put on an unforgettable show at the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest; ever since, pick your own name for this perennial softee. “Half Man, Half Effort” and “Half Man, Half A Season” both apply to this guy who let his talents go to waste with a lack of effort and toughness, game after game.
2. Kevin Garnett – Effort isn’t his issue, and you’d love him if he played on your team. But he’s not on mine, and I think he’s a punk. Cheap shots, name-calling, and disrespect are well-publicized staples of Garnett’s game.
3. Stephon Marbury – The supposed Knicks’ city “savior” did nothing but set the franchise back 6 years, with his lack of consistent effort and horrendous leadership qualities.
4. JaMarcus Russell – My first NFL guy checks in here and could be higher – is staying in shape that hard to ask of a #1 overall draft pick??
5. Jay Feely – Why am I hating on a kicker? Feely built up a reputation as one of the NFL’s smart guys and Twitter must-follows, until he said some things about deceased Bengals WR Chris Henry that I simply cannot forgive. He’s said some other offensive things, as well, and has lost my respect.
6. Reggie Bush – The Texans were criticized for passing on him at #1 in the NFL Draft – I guess they were the only ones who realized this glorified 3rd-down back would spend more time chasing down Kardashians and TV time than rushing records.
7. Taylor King – For those who don’t know of him, King was a 5-star basketball recruit from California that attended Duke University before transferring to my beloved VillaNova Nation. In year 1 in a Nova uniform, King was benched for a lack of effort and has since transferred TWICE to other schools.
8. Eddy Curry – See #4. Curry is one of the NBA’s top-five highest paid players this season and hasn’t played a game in over a year – it’s just so hard to stay in shape when you’re making $20 mill a year!
9. Terrell Owens – I couldn’t make a Top 10 without T.O. – wish he would have put more time into film study and route running than complaining and show-boating. Could’ve been one of the best ever; now he’s a perennial loser.
10. Vince Young – All the physical tools, but another guy who can’t get his act together and improve his game on the field.
Al’s soccer list:
Joe’s hated hockey list:
1. Jeremy Roenick: Chicago Blackhawks, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks
J.R. was often a J.O. I vividly recall his statement that certain fans should kiss his rump because they felt the 2004-’05 lockout revealed that players were spoiled. Exactly how many times did he sip from Lord Stanley’s Cup? What, none? I thought his ego would alone have won his teams a slew of four-game sweeps and parades. Oh, wait, the game is not all about one player?
2. Chris Pronger: Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers
Pronger may help the Flyers to win the Cup this year, but he will always seem like 78 inches of brute boredom. He has a Cup from his Duck days, and I would certainly attend a parade for the Flyers, but Pronger will not receive my applause. He strikes me as a dirty player and seems about as popular around the league as Hosni Mubarak does in Egypt.
3. Ron Hextall: Philadelphia Flyers, Quebec Nordiques, New York Islanders
Hextall, Hextall! I always wanted to be a member of the opposing crowd to serenade the goalie with this reminder of his surname. He always worried me when he had the puck and too often seemed as if he wanted to be a fourth-line fighter instead of a #1 goalie. Ask Chris Chelios about his netside manner.
4. Sidney Crosby: Pittsburgh Penguins
The NHL’s posterboy, Crosby inspires dislike because he carries himself as such. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux conquered fans’ hearts by simply adopting the task of marketing the league and giving it a pulse in North America. One would think Crosby would pick up tips from Lemieux, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ owner, but the young man, especially with his name on the Stanley Cup, possesses confidence that doubles as arrogance. Though I am not happy he is injured, I do rejoice in not having to see his dives and flops. He has NHL referees wrapped around his fingers. He has his entire body of work being cozy with my hate.
5. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Kane is able to draw my wrath because he is a fan of mullets. I rest my case on this Billy Ray Cyrus-wannabe.
Evan’s Other Sports List – The same values apply for my list of hated athletes in other sports. Here it goes:
1. J.D. Drew – As a die-hard Yankee fan, it’s bad enough that this guy is a Red Sox and kills NY, but he also is the softest 5-tool player in baseball. Shows no emotion and never improves his game.
2. DaMarcus Beasley – The USA soccer product hasn’t improved a single aspect of his game since I first saw him at the 2002 World Cup, and, despite world class speed, he rarely looks like he’s going his hardest after the ball.
3. Tony Stewart – If NASCAR had any shot at grabbing my interest, it totally lost it when one of its biggest stars (Stewart) was nothing but cruel to student reporters at a NASCAR media event I attended. He acted like we didn’t exist and refused to answer our questions at a press conference.
4. Barry Bonds – The holder of sports’ greatest record is a cheater and admitted steroid user. I don’t think this one needs any more explanation.
5. Roger Clemens – Always came off as a mean guy, and now we’ve learned that he, too, helped reach his historical milestones with the aid of steroids. Several years of my childhood baseball memories of Yankees World Championships are ruined because of this guy & friends.
6. Zinedine Zidane – His headbutt at the 2006 World Cup is the single most classless act I’ve ever seen during a sporting event, and it may have cost his country a shot at the Cup.
7. Jonathan Papelbon – First off, he represents everything I hate about the Boston Red Sox. He also is the absolute worst at mound showboating, and his numbers greatly dipped last season in the prime of his career. There could be a correlation there.
8. Tiger Woods – It’s easy to hate when he did off the course, but now he’s clearly lost his mind on the golf course, as well. Potentially the greatest golfer ever will now finish nowhere near his potential, and my generation’s greatest athlete leaves a tarnished image.
Joe’s hated tennis list:
Tennis is my obsession, but I have no love for American professionals. I would generalize and place them all on this list, but I will blast only my unholy trinity.
1. Andy Roddick: Oh, my Lord, do I despise this stiffest of stiff volleyers! For the last decade he has been thumping huge serves and losing huge matches, mostly to my boy, Roger Federer. He always expects his missiles not to come back, but when they do, he is in deep feces. His forehand is suspect, his backhand is weak, and his net game is worse than mine, which is saying something. His consolation is that his wife is quite endowed; it’s a shame his trophy case is not as plentiful.
2. John McEnroe: The “bad boy” of tennis is, even at 52, the biggest whiner the sport has ever seen. He is so lucky to have come of age in the 1980s because guys would stomp him with ease today. Not as if most of them need it, but he gives New Yorkers a bad name with his brash attitude and “me, me, me” stance. His role as a commentator is even more grating, as it seems he has a love affair with Rafael Nadal instead of being neutral. I understand that both are left-handed, but McEnroe needs to keep the bromance in check.
3. Serena Williams: The loon of all loons. She plays when she wants, invents ailments, and slaps down the race card whenever she sees fit. What she calls fashion is actually a blatant example of color blindness. What she calls plausible reactions to bad calls is irrefutable intimidation. She has been out since July but has to return to play Fed Cup to be eligible for the Olympics. What are the odds she will return? If something involves her benefit and not that of the fans, she is all over it.