Wednesday, October 18, 2006
2006 Stankeye's 10 Most Hated Players List
Before we get started, I think I should mention that there are two omissions that just about every Giants fan on the planet will disagree with me on: A.J. Pierzynski and Jeff Kent. With Pierzynski, the fact that he was the centerpiece of one of the most gawdawful trades in Giants history, and because he acted like a jerk-off while with the team, well, that would usually justify his inclusion on this list. As readers of this blog know, though, I was a huge fan of the guy when he was with the Twins, and I still enjoy his antics, so sorry, but I'll gladly sit by my lonesome in the A.J.-defending corner of the Giants universe.
As for Kent, well, he's a jerk, a horrible fibber, an incompetent car washer, and he couldn't stop ripping the Giants after he left town. However, I can't really say I dislike the guy after he put up Hall of Fame numbers as a Giant and helped lead them to three postseason berths and an NL pennant. Plus, he's the kind of hard-nosed, jerk-type player that I tend to love. Yes, he's a freaking Dodger, but I think production as a Giant trumps almost anything done off the field, and if there's one thing Kent did while in San Francisco, it was produce.
With that out of the way, let's start the hatin'...
10. Scott Spiezio There's one reason and one reason only why he's on this list, and I don't think you need more than one guess to figure out what that is. That's right, Game Six. Amazing how one swing of the bat can sour a guy on an entire franchise forever. If it weren't for that fateful home run cut, I'd feel pretty indifferent about the man.
After 2002, Spiezio fell off the face of the earth, hitting rock bottom last season when he OPSed .286 (!) for Seattle. He caught on with the Cardinals this year, found his bat again, and grew a really atrocious red soul patch that the media latched onto like a bunch of remoras on a shark. Since he's had a couple of big hits this postseason, media-types are suddenly remembering that he's this mad "clutch" hitter, and thus we have to relive his Game Six home run again and again and again. And I haven't ever heard a song by his band Sandfrog, but since I can't get over 2002, I'm just going to say they suck.
9. Jose Vizcaino I actually had fond memories of Vizcaino before 2006, based solely on his 1997 season with the Giants. That year Vizcaino played a serviceable shortstop for a team that won the division. Of course, those warm feelings of nostalgia were shot to hell when Sabean brought Vizcaino's charred husk in for a cool million to act as the top backup infielder this year. I just ate, so I'll refrain from running the nauseating numbers, but let's just say that you didn't have to be Nostradamus to foresee that Vizcaino would be a complete disaster. Of all the moves Brian Sabean made this offseason, signing Vizcaino may not have been the worst, but it was surely the most perplexing.
8. Salomon Torres Yes, thirteen years later, it still hurts. From his bizarre Manny Aybar infatuation to having Tsuyoshi Shinjo pinch hit in Game Seven, starting Torres on that fateful day in 1993 has to rank as Dusty Baker's all-time worst "hunch".
7. Livan Hernandez Still big, still fat, only this year he reverted back to his old, sucky pre-2003 ways, meaning that ruminating on his interminable tenure as a Giant is now only marginally less infuriating. One of the most perplexing myths in recent baseball history was this idea that Livan was "big game" pitcher, that the higher the stakes, the harder fatso bore down. We know now from Game Seven of the 2002 World Series that this was a bunch of baloney, but up until that moment when he imploded on the Angel Stadium mound, Livan was regarded as a big money postseason pitcher. This despite the fact that he had one, count 'em one, truly terrific playoff start, and that came only because Eric Gregg had a strike zone that spanned the entire Florida peninsula from coast to coast. His two 1997 World Series wins came despite a 5.27 ERA, his two starts in the 2002 postseason prior to the Series were shaky at best, and he got tattooed in Game Three of that World Series. Of all the times to really prove to everybody what an "unclutch" load he was, why did it have to be in Game Seven? Why? For that (and for mistaking an old man's head for a golf tee in the subsequent offseason) we'll never forgive him.
6. Jose Mesa He has a mug that makes Randy Johnson look like Brad Pitt, and he apparently sees fit to crank up the homicidal machinations whenever Omar Vizquel steps to the plate. After Vizquel called him out for blowing the 1997 World Series, Mesa threatened to hit Omar every time he faced him, and followed through on that promise until MLB finally said enough was enough and suspended him. Yes, Jose, maybe Omar was a little wrong for singling you out, but get over it. Dude, you suck, stop trying to kill one of our favorite players.
5. Pedro Feliz
People all over the world
Start a hate train, hate train
People all over the world
Start a hate train, hate train
With all due respect to the O'Jays, the Pedro Feliz Hate Train rolls right along. How about this. I promise I will never, from here on out, mention Feliz in a derogatory manner on this blog again...on one condition. If...if...he doesn't re-sign with the Giants and is not back in a Giants uniform in 2007. If I never again have to watch him hack at garbage in the dirt while wearing balck and orange, I'll lay off. If for some reason he's back next year, doing his usual thing, he's fair game. Sound like a deal? As a final shot, for those of you who still think Pedro's 22 homers and 98 RBIs amount to a hill of beans, here's Pedro's 2006 OPS compared to that of someone we'll call Third Baseman X.
3B X: .736
Third Baseman X is David Bell. Join hands. Join hands.
4. Brett Tomko I'd call Tomko a horse's ass, but that'd be an insult to the back sides of horses everywhere. Tomko is a lout of the first order, one of those players who walks and talks like a Hall of Famer, despite the fact that his record speaks hilariously otherwise. He also has a penchant for blaming everybody but himself for his own foibles. He sucked in the first half of 2004, and blamed it all on his already put-upon catcher. He sucked for pretty much all of 2005, blew a couple of key games down the stretch, and then accused the Giants of not respecting him. Yeeeahhhh. In a fitting example of the old adage "a man's character is his fate", he's now a Dodger. Ned Colletti apparently didn't know enough from Tomko's Giant years to keep from signing him to a two-year deal, but he was smart enough to get him the hell out of the starting rotation when he inevitably started stinking up Chavez Ravine. Unfortunately, the Giants didn't really get the chance to mop the floor with him, as Tomko did not start any games against them this season.
3. Armando Benitez Last seen on the Wrigley Field pitching mound, irately flipping the ball to Elizier Alfonzo in a childish display of defiance directed toward Felipe Alou, who was coming in to relieve Benitez in the middle of yet another one of his implosions. Benitez is third on my list but may well be the most reviled human being in the Giants universe. He moans, he bitches, he fails to hold three run leads against the Pirates.
At this point I would not be opposed to seeing the Giants just cutting Benitez and eating the rest of his salary. The man is done. There are few things in baseball less watchable than seeing Benitez stalk in from the bullpen, to some badass closer music no less, and give up a game-tying home run on a shitty split-fingered fastball, then stand there contorting his face in all sorts of strange ways as the batter circles the bases. A trade? Pshaw! There are some dumb GMs out there, but one dumb enough to take this guy, even with the Giants paying some of his salary? Not likely. The best option for all involved would be to just give the guy his walking papers and let him wear out his welcome in some other city.
2. Steve Finley I'm now more convinced than ever that Steve Finley was born simply to destroy the Giants. His record of absolutely killing the black and orange time and time again is well-documented. In fact, his last hurrah as a quality player was that slam he hit off of Wayne Franklin (a name that shall never be repeated from here on out) to close out the 2004 season. When the Giants got him, should we have expected him to produce, given his history as a Giant-killer? Of course not. He hit like the geriatric that he by all rights should have been four years ago, and the Giants paid him $7 million (and a $1 million 2007 buyout) for his services. Even Thom Brennaman, who has long had a severe man-crush on Finley, would have a hard-time suger coating his 2006.
Has there ever, in real life or in fiction, been an antagonist this consistently heinous to a symbol of good? Ican't think of one. Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes? Even Holmes threw him off a waterfall in the end. Nurse Ratched to R.P. McMurphy? Magneto to the X-Men? Khan to Captain Kirk? Bruce Campbell's right hand in Evil Dead 2? I think ol' Steve's got everybody beat. He just...won't...stop. Even if he retires, I'm sure he'll find some GM job within a few years, like with the Royals or something, and dupe Brian Sabean into giving him Lincecum and Villalona for John Buck. Resistance is futile.
1. Neifi Perez He ran over my dog. He surrendered West Point to the British. He sold nuclear secrets to the Soviets. He burned Edward Woodward alive in the Wicker Man. He was the second shooter on the grassy knoll. He canceled Arrested Development. He killed Jimmy Hoffa. He's responsible for Supermans III and IV. He's Rush Limbaugh's ghost writer. He cast Sofia Coppola as Mary in The Godfather: Part III. He sold weapons to the Contras under the Reagan Administration. He rigged the Florida ballots in 2000. He was the inspiration for the villain in Milton's Paradise Lost. And he's a really crappy baseball player.
(Note: Some of what you just read may be conjecture.)
Let's talk 2004. The Giants lost the division to the Dodgers by two games, and the Wild Card by one game. The Giants were certainly not a great team that year, but they were fun to watch, mostly because they could hit (second in the NL in runs scored) and they had some solid starting pitching. In fact, my utter disgust with their failure to make the playoffs that year was perhaps my number one reason for starting this blog in the first place. I needed some place to vent. As we all know now, the Giants were undone that season by an atrocious bullpen, but it's possible they could have won those two extra games without a certain historically bad-hitting infielder soaking up at bats for half a season.
Neifi Perez that year started the season as the starting shortstop and was awful...just awful. It took 319 at bats of .232/.276/.295 for the Giants to finally realize just how much he was killing the team. By the time the team cut him in August, it may have been too late.
My question to you is this: Could the Giants have made up those two extra games in the division if they'd have even had an adequate hitter at shortstop for the entire year? A hitter like, say, Deivi Cruz? We'll never know the answer, but I would have to guess that there's a good chance that the Giants could have won that division if Cruz, a scrap heap pickup, had been their everyday shortstop.
Cruz's line that year, in 397 at bats, was .292/.322/.431. No great shakes, but compared to Neifi, that's Alex freaking Rodriguez. Cruz's OPS+ in 2004 was 90, once again no great shakes. Neifi's OPS+ with the Giants that year? 47! That means Perez was exactly 53 percent worse than a league average hitter, yet he still got over 300 at bats. Unbelievable. According to BP, Cruz accounted for 3.7 Wins Above a Replacement Player in 2004, while Neifi contributed 1.4 (that just has to be purely defense...has to).
There you go. That's two wins right there. Those two wins tie the Dodgers for the NL West and win the Wild Card. Do you see where the hatred comes from? Every year Neifi does this to some poor team, yet every year baseball people all over the country develop some increasingly convoluted rationale for why he's on a major league roster. If Neifi had never come into San Francisco, I would probably not care, but the fact that he did that to the Giants in 2004, and that I had to sit through 647 interminable at bats in the span of a year and a half...well, that makes me care. Should I get over it? I can't get over it. Neifi and his ilk are a disease on baseball. If we don't find a cure they'll spread, and soon they'll take over your favorite team, and your will turn into the Kansas City Royals (apologies to Royals fans).
The King of the Most Hated List retains his well-earned place atop the throne.
I would only push hard for Kent --a proven liar who can't stop ripping the Giants, has a history of getting into fights with teammates and forced the Dodgers to trade Milton Bradley by getting Bradley worked up enought to accuse Kent of being a racist. Is there another player in MLB who's been accused of racism by a teammate within recent memory? I don't think so. Plus, there's the pornstache and the fact that he plays for the Dodgers. I rest my case.
As for the racist thing, it's not too uncommon, actually. I think Gary Sheffield accused like all of MLB of being racist a few years back. Dick Allen made an annual event of calling his teammates racist in the 60's and 70's, although in his defense most of those guys probably were racist.