There are good reasons to dislike crummy players — they're crummy, that's usually reason enough. But sometimes you just can't stand a player for reasons having nothing to do with his on-field performance. Sometimes it's irrational.
This is actually challenging, because the prompt asks for a target of irrational hatred, hatred unrelated to performance, and not only do I not really hate players on sports teams, but the closest I come to hatred is generally reserved for those with lackluster performances. I mean, I don't think I've ever hated a Mariner the way I hated Carlos Silva, but Carlos Silva was f***ing terrible.
The name I'm going to put out there is Jarrod Washburn. I just never got on board with the whole Jarrod Washburn thing. I didn't like Ryan Franklin at all, because I don't think we'd get along in person, but he was mostly inoffensive. I didn't like Miguel Batista at all, but he didn't perform and he also took forever to pitch. Hence Washburn. Washburn posted a 104 ERA+ as a Mariner so he wasn't a bad pitcher, but I remember hating the contract at the time, I remember hating the message of the contract, and I remember thinking that Washburn came across as a real douche. Plus, there were accusations of some unseemly off-field conduct that I don't feel like getting into but that no one to my knowledge has ever categorically denied. But these aren't irrational reasons! I had rational reasons for not liking Jarrod Washburn! Is it too late to say "pass"?
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Texas Rangers — Nobody?
I’ve given this some thought, and I can’t really come up with any Rangers player that I just irrationally hated. There are players whose tenures with the Rangers still make me cringe and say obscene things, but even for those players there is a particular motivation behind the loathing. Chan Ho Park, for example, was a disaster as a Ranger, a guy who was signed to a big-money (at the time) contract to be the Rangers’ long-desired ace, and was hurt and terrible while here, and I celebrated his departure, but that antipathy was performance-related.
Similarly, Roy Oswalt this past season left a terrible impression, and I can’t wait until he’s gone, but it is because he’s been lousy and a grouch. Joaquin Arias might be the closest thing to a real choice here, but even with Arias, the frustration was over the fact that 1) he was the “prize” of the Alex Rodriguez trade when we paid the Yankees to take the best player in baseball from us, 2) the Rangers could have taken Robinson Cano instead of Arias, but preferred Arias, and 3) the Rangers kept him around despite not having any discernible baseball skills.
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Many A's fans will always have a special place in our hearts for Bobby Crosby. Unfortunately, that place is where all the things we loathe go. Crosby burst onto the scene as the A's shortstop of the future in 2004. It was his presence that allowed the A's to not pursue league MVP and fan favorite Miguel Tejada, even though Tejada had publicly said that he wanted to return to the A's and would even give them a hometown discount. Crosby softened the blow of losing Tejada, and at the start it looked like he might meet the lofty expectations set for him. He won the AL Rookie of the Year award in his first season, albeit with a rather mediocre season as far as ROYs go, and without much real competition for the prize. It was the following year, however, that Crosby's fate was ultimately sealed.
Crosby performed marvelously in 2005, putting up a .349 wOBA, which is a pretty big deal for a shortstop. But there was a catch: Crosby would be a frequent visitor to the disabled list and would wind up with only 371 plate appearances. Crosby then followed his great partial season with four worse-than-mediocre seasons. He was bad. Very bad. And yet, time and again he would land himself on the disabled list, giving false hope to fans who hoped Crosby would return to his once-great self when he was finally healthy.
Good health eventually returned for Crosby in 2008 when he finally made it through a full season. Unfortunately for Crosby and the A's, he was also horrible, so much so that fans were actually hoping for an injury so that, well, anyone could take his spot up the middle. Crosby's healthy season drained all hope anyone had left for the guy. Crosby played a partial season with the A's in 2009, but by that point it was clear that he was going to be gone sooner rather than later.
The hope that Crosby generated at the beginning of his career while replacing the jettisoned star and fan favorite Tejada placed considerable expectations on him, expectations which he simply couldn't deliver on. It was that feeling of letdown, of betrayal of expectations, that led Crosby to become one of the most hated A's players in recent memory.
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I have always held an irrational hatred for former Angels great Jim Edmonds. Watching him sitting in the stands in 2002 instead of being on the field was my most satisfying moment as a spectator. When he won a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 2006 I was not happy, although that feeling was mitigated by David Eckstein and Scott Spiezio receiving their rings.
My hatred of Edmonds stems from reports in the LA Times after the 1998 season of how he selfishly ignored suggestions that he become more enmeshed in the clubhouse during that season's September pennant chase. The Angels were very close very late, a rare thing for them then. Reports about his selfish nature leaked out and spread like wildfire. It was the rare instance of the mainstream media actually doing some reporting on the inner sanctum to which they alone had access.
Of course, the goal of trading Edmonds and not suffering a public relations blow may have inspired Angels management to green-light these reports. I am not under any delusion that the quid pro quo between press box seats and kissing ass to team management are anything less than the norm. Regardless of the source, the detailed coverage of Jimmy Showboat's selfishness on and off the field enraged me. When he was traded for Adam Kennedy I took an unusually passionate advocacy of the trade and of Kennedy himself. Over the years Jimmy Showboat's ego has betrayed his public persona enough times that the small tarnish on his legacy leaves me satisfied that my emotions were in the right place.
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