Friday, July 22, 2011

Baseball Teams' Blind Spots and Burned Bridges

By Bill

On Twitter on Wednesday, a tweet (this one) from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien indicated that the Braves "could be close to making a deal for a [right-handed] bat," which started a ton of speculation about who it could be. And one thing quickly became very, very clear, if you didn't realize it already:

Braves fans (and bloggersreally, really hate Jeff Francoeur. Really.

On paper or in a video game, if you're the Braves and are looking for a right-handed outfielder (which the "bat" in question is assumed to be), you could do worse than Jeff Francoeur. He's not a good baseball player, but he can certainly be a useful one, with a .300/.344/.495 career line against lefties, .315/.357/.640 in 2011, and at least decent defense. It's not an exciting add, but considering the only righty outfielder on the team's roster right now is transplanted second baseman Martin Prado, who hits pretty well for a second baseman and has a .383 2011 slugging percentage against lefties, he'd be an improvement.

In the real world, though, the Braves would be risking an overwhelming fan backlash. Francoeur was the homegrown golden boy who went bad and left town and who really, really can't go home again.

And it occurred to me that for every team, there has to be one guy the fanbase just can't possibly be rational about -- whether it's irrational love, or irrational hate, or (in more cases than you'd think) healthy measures of both. No matter how much sense Francoeur might make for the Braves, it would never not cause a riot, and that's not just a Braves thing. I raised this on Twitter, and I got more responses than I'd ever gotten for anything, everyone chiming in with their pick for their own team. So, with a lot of subjectivity and heavily informed by my Twitter friends, here's your list:

NL Central
Cubs: Milton Bradley.
Alfonzo Soriano, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano are each irrationally loved and/or hated enough to lead the way on most teams, but the Bradley experience in the North Side is a whole 'nother thing. The whole comment thread here gives you a taste.

Reds: Adam Dunn.
.380 on-base and 270 home runs in his 4562 plate appearances as a Red, and all most fans could talk about was how he couldn't hit for average and took too many called third strikes. I couldn't find a great example of first-degree Dunn hate, but said hate is analyzed in the comments here.

Astros: Lance Berkman.
Though he was traded (entirely reasonably) by the Astros and then rebuffed by the team in his attempt to return, Berkman seems to have become kind of a pariah in Houston and was harshly criticized for his conditioning habits by team announcer Milo Hamilton.

Brewers: Craig Counsell.
Local boy. Scrappy, gutty, funny batting stance, apparently an all-around nice guy, nearly 41 years old. Batting .162/.258/.200. Nothing about how Brewers fans feel about Counsell, and nothing that keeps him in a Brewers uniform, has anything to do with what happens between the foul lines.

Pirates: Neil Walker.
I'm trusting my Twitter friend Pat Lackey for this one: "He's local and has a lot of RBIs, therefore: LOVE." Walker's a nice little player, but yeah, really not the kind of guy you fall in love with, analytically.

Cardinals: Colby Rasmus.
He's just 24 and still a potential superstar, but all most fans seem to see is a guy who makes bad decisions, is lazy and is timid in the field. For fun, check out this story and count the number of times the writer personally and overtly attacks Rasmus.

NL East
Braves: Francoeur, obviously.
One good way to be irrationally hated by a team's fans is to be irrationally beloved, and then (predictably) utterly fail to live up to their expectations.

Marlins: Hanley Ramirez.
Players who are ridiculously talented in every way but who aren't terribly vocal and/or don't speak English well and have dark skin are almost always going to be irrationally hated by large portions of their fanbase, and I think the jogging incident last season pretty well cemented Hanley's place here (Jeff Conine was a solid suggestion, but I'm trying to keep it a bit more recent).

Mets: Carlos Beltran.
Another great suggestion was Oliver Perez, but Mets fans' hatred of Perez is actually pretty darned rational. And: "Beltran is a lazy player. He's upped his game this year and refrained from dogging it with phony injuries, obviously because it's a contract year. Any team that signs him is going to get the perpetually injured Beltran again." 

Phillies: Ryan Howard.
This one isn't universal, as I think a lot of the stat-savvy fans appreciate Howard more or less fairly for what he is. But he's so wildly overrated by most Phillies fans that he's an easy choice here. Commenters here suggest he's better than Pujols (because RBIs, duh).

Nationals: Ivan Rodriguez.
Pudge is about four seasons past his expiration date, and his line in two seasons with the Nationals is .254/.289/.342 (72 OPS+), one of the worst in the league. Fans seem to love him anyway, on account of the all-time greatness thing and all that. In return, he's given them almost zero value.

NL West
Diamondbacks: Micah Owings.
Tough one. Fans are crazy about Owings based on the memory of his 4.30 ERA, 1.033 OPS rookie season, and that may well have played a part in the D-Backs bringing him back again in 2011. He's done well in 16 games in a swing role, but he's not particularly good.

Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez.
I don't know how it's changed now that he's (somewhat predictably) come back to earth, but by the end of last season Rockies fans were pretty well convinced that Cargo was Ruth plus Williams in Mays' body. The best example was this post by a Rockies fan at Bugs & Cranks, which demanded an apology of Rob Neyer for providing his readers with "misinformation" -- by which he actually meant facts -- rather than platitudes that agreed with that writer's own clearly biased opinions.

Dodgers: Nomar Garciaparra
I wish Paul DePodesta qualified, but alas, I'm sticking to players. I could also list Milton Bradley again, but I won't. This article breaks down the kind of dual irrationality with Nomar; as a Dodger fan, you either loved him or hated him, and his play probably didn't really deserve either.

Padres: Trevor Hoffman.
I'm sorry, I have to punt this one. I just can't find a reasonable fit; maybe Padres fans (such as exist) are the exception to the "everybody's irrational about somebody" rule.

Giants: Buster Posey.
I talk quite a bit about Posey's magical hold on Giants fans here. The very good 100 games happened to come at the same time as the Giants made a run that ended with a World Championship. He could probably openly run an exact copy of Michael Vick's dog fighting setup in San Francisco and be totally fine.

AL Central
White Sox: Ozzie Guillen.
Not a player anymore, but I think his time as a player plays into the rampant craziness regarding him. And I don't want to comment any further on this, because people (including TCM) would probably be angry with me.

Indians: Grady Sizemore.
There are a few themes you'll probably be able to identify here by now, and one of them is "injured = irrationally hated." Most fans seem to blame Sizemore for his inability to stay on the field (see here), but I think most of the others tend to irrationally hang onto the hope that he will be again what he once was.

Tigers: Miguel Cabrera.
This might be me overreacting to a few crazy people (like the guy on ESPN comment boards named ERAofMiguelCabrERA who finds a way to comment on nearly every article with something about Miggy), but I feel like Tigers fans tend to overrate Cabrera just a bit. The love isn't irrational -- there's a lot to love there -- but the willful ignorance of the many things he can't do on account of that awesome bat is.

Royals: Kyle Davies.
Here, SweetSpot's own Craig Brown actually says this, in all seriousness: "It is quite possible that every time Kyle Davies takes the mound we are witnessing the worst starting pitcher in the history of the game."

Twins: A.J. Pierzynski
You could make a case for Joe Mauer along the same lines as Sizemore, but they're most irrational about A.J., a player who not only left involuntarily, but the trade of whom brought back Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano; nevertheless, Twins fans have booed him relentlessly from the moment he set foot back in the Dome in another uniform. [Edit: I screwed up completely by not making this Nick Punto. A just-pretty-useful player who was both adored and hated with no one in between, he's pretty much the poster boy for this list.]

AL East
Orioles: Mike Mussina.
Here's the thing: if a player on your team gets offered the equivalent of what a 6-year, $88 million contract was in 2001 by another team, your resulting hatred of that player for taking that offer is wildly irrational. But yeah, Orioles fans were heartbroken when Moose left for a division rival, and never forgave him.

Red Sox: J.D. Drew.
So many good choices, but Sox fans have a whole forum for talking about how much Drew sucks. Smarter fans realize he's actually been great when he's been healthy enough to play, but I think you've got a case of overcompensation, where those fans might overrate Drew by undervaluing all the time he's missed.

Yankees: Carl Pavano.
Again, lots of possibilities (Javier Vazquez?), but Pavano takes it easily, and this photo by Amanda Rykoff captures it pretty perfectly. Brian Cashman considered bringing Pavano back in the offseason, an idea so infuriating that it caused a Times writer to type the phrase "most unlikeliest."

Rays: B.J. Upton.
This one, by comparison, is easy. Upton has been a brilliant player, but that he's not the offensive stud people were expecting and, again, a perception of laziness has ruined Rays fans' ability to really see him as a baseball player. Here's a bit of one side, and here's t'other (the post, but more the comments).

Blue Jays: Roy Halladay.
Probably the only player on this list who (a) is no longer on the team in question and (b) is loved rather than hated. You can understand why, since he was the only thing Jays fans could really get excited about for most of a decade. And Canadians are just too nice to do that "we hate you even though you left involuntarily" thing other fans do.

AL West
Angels: Garret Anderson.
One of those with competing, contradictory irrationalities. I'll let the excellent Sam Miller explain this one: "65 percent think he's got a legit HOF case. 35 percent think he was lazy and sort of hate him. No overlap."

Athletics: Jack Cust.
A's fans hated that guy. As our friend (and haiku contest contributor) Jason says, A's fans have "more hate for a .380 OBP guy than you could imagine." A fair amount of power, too. In this as in so many other things, he was kind of a poor man's Dunn.

Mariners: Adrian Beltre.
Tough choice, and I think I had a better one in mind earlier (if it comes back to me, I'll edit). Here's a very brief statement encapsulating the most common thought on Beltre as a Mariner, among both M's fans and the general baseball public. For a guy who was one of the team's best players and earned every cent of his large five-year contract, there was kind of a lot of vitriol toward Beltre in laid-back Seattle.

Rangers: Michael Young.
This (scroll down to the bottom) is by Murray Chass, not a Rangers fan, but it gets the same idea across in Chass' characteristically choppy, ornery, bloggy way. Young is loyal and gracious and selfless and a team leader and gritty and all that. He's incapable of playing any defensive position competently, has a career OPS+ of just 106 and about the same career Baseball-Reference WAR as Ryan Klesko, but don't even try to talk to most Ranger fans about that.


Robert Tyson said...

Funny thing... just a few weeks ago, a Philly scribe wrote an article about how Ryan Howard is so irrationally disliked by fans here. I might suggest the hatred for Brad Lidge here is far more irrational.

Bryan said...

"really not the kind of guy you fall in love with, analytically"
Love it.

What Ryan Howard is to RBI, Michael Young is to batting average. I wrote a piece about quarter-season All-Stars this yaer and never even gave Michael Young and his .9 (or so) WAR a look. Rangers fans asked if his exclusion was a joke. The guy has a sub-.800 OPS despite playing his whole career in Texas and Rangers fans think he's Eddie Mathews.

Great post.

Guy said...

Miguel Cabrera's one of the 5 best hitters in the game and he's overrated?!? Ok, let's focus on the things he can't do. Field? He's getting better. He'll never win a Gold Glove, but he's fully capable. Steal bases? Who cares? It's not like you expect that out of your cleanup hitter. Handle his liquor? Ok, I'll give you that one.

If there's a blind spot for Tigers fans, the list begins and ends with Brandon Inge. The local announcers will have you believe he's been screwed out of 5 Gold Gloves (he hasn't) and half the city believe that his "good guy" status outweighs his ineptitude at the plate.

I can't speak on a lot of the other teams, but you were way off on the Tigers.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Yay! What fun. The Padres could also have Tony Gwynn (for blind love) and Gary Sheffield (for blind hate). Sheffield could also make the Yankees' list.

Drew said...

Jays fans hate Vernon Wells in a pathetically obscene way. Very Beltranian without the, you know, Beltran level production.

Jake said...

Hating Carl Pavano is entirely rational. How do you not pick A-Rod for the Yankees?

Maybee said...

I don't think Twins fans really hate Pierzynski all that much. He's just a fun guy to boo (I think A.J. even likes it), and it's become more of an expected interactive game ritual.
Fans boo....
A.J. glares at the crowd....
Fans yell at A.J....
A.J. yells at the Twins pitcher...

I do recall Chuck Knoblauch being bombarded with hot dogs and beer bottles when he returned to play against the Twins at the Metrodome.

Bill said...

Know what? Brandon Inge would've been a much better choice. You're exactly right. That's why I did this, though, hoping to start discussions like that.

On the other hand, you've fallen into the "how can a guy who is good also be overrated?" fallacy Derek Jeter's supporters love so much. Willie Mays is probably the second or third or fourth greatest player of all time, but if you think he was better than Babe Ruth, you're still overrating him.

Cabrera's defense is awful. It just is, and at the least valuable position on the diamond, and he gives you nothing on the basepaths (which goes far beyond stealing bases). He's a very, very good player, and an amazing hitter. But he's never been all that close to being MVP, which Tigers fans (in my limited experience) think he is every year. So if you think he's an MVP based on his hitting line, you're overrating a really good player.

The Common Man said...

The Common Man's brother was ejected from Knobby's first game back when he was in LF, supposedly because his friends were throwing batteries. Not our family's proudest moment.

That said, I'm amazed that Delmon Young isn't on this list. There's still a long line of people who want to believe in Young because of his RBI and last year's hot month-and-a-half.

Bill said...

@Jake: I don't think the A-Rod hate is all that universal anymore, now that he's been in the World Series and everything. And no, the Pavano hatred is not rational. Understandable, definitely, but that's different.

@Drew: That's a good one too. I wasn't sure how much of that hate carried over after the ridiculously awesome trade.

Paul Zummo said...

As a Mets fan, I semi-agree about Beltran. There is definitely a goodly chunk of the fanbase that buys into the lazy meme, and of course there's always those that harp on the game 7 strikeout. But I have noticed more respect for the guy in recent years, and I'd say a majority even appreciate what a great player he's been.

Two better options might be Kenny Rogers and Armando Benitez. Frenchy is one that divides the fanbase. The non-SABR inclined irrationally loved the guy, and the rest of us - well, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Your list includes a mix of past/present players. In this case, the ultimate pariah for the COLORADO ROCKIES has to be: (drum roll)

Mike Hampton

Without a doubt, Rox fans can't stand him for utter failure to live up to a huge contract. 2nd place: Denny Neagle.

CarGo? We love him. Sure, his season thus far isn't what we've hoped for, but he seems to be a stand-up guy, and I (for one) think he's turning it around as we speak. We haven't run out of patience with CarGo.

Anonymous said...

For the PADRES (and I'm dating myself here):

Dave Winfield

He took his ego to the Yanks, leaving lots of bitter feelings with the Padres. I also remember Garry Templeton taking a lot of heat there.

Jim Atkins said...

For the Angels, the not-irrational widely hated player is: the now below Mendoza Line for his career, Scioscia man-crush object, utterly inexplicable Jeff Mathis! The guy is a not-so-hot catcher, throwing out only about 30% of baserunners, and the leading rally-killer on the team. During introductions, the applause STOPS when his name is announced. The radio post-game and the various blogs are full of Mathis denunciations, but Soth keeps him in the lineup. The only justification anybody gives is he handles the pitchers well, but nobody can actually prove it. Go figure.

mcgo said...

for the phillies, i think bobby abreu is also a good choice, especially if you want to focus on the irrational hatred side of the ledger. people can't stand him around here even though his production was borderline hall of fame worthy.

mcgo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Resolution said...

For the Rockies, it's gotta be Chris Iannetta essentially for the same reasons Adam Dunn is on this list.

jonny5 said...

Nice stab at it Bill. You had to know you'd strike some chords correct? lol...

Anonymous said...

Carlos Beltran is probably the best pick for the Mets, but he's also a good pick for the Astros. The fans there still boo him mercilessly seven years after he left town because they feel so slighted. Berkman is disliked now, but Beltran has been the target of their ire for far longer.

Anonymous said...

How is Yankee fan hatred for C Pavano not rational? He signed a big, four year deal and proceeded to miss half of the next four seasons. He was accused of dogging his rehab by his teammates, e.g. Mussina, and didn't report injuries to the front office for weeks, e.g. the car accident.

By contrast, our hatred of J Vasquez makes no sense. He was terrific in the first half, started the All Star game and then was injured in the second half but pitched through it and got bombed.

T said...

I'm sure this happens with players on other teams as well, but what I find so fascinating about those who pile irrational hatred upon Mauer and Punto is that it always has felt that their only rationalization they could offer for hating as venomously as they do was that they were doing so because "everybody else" irrationally loved them so.

And frankly, I never saw it. There are Mauer and Punto fans. Moreso Mauer naturally. But they commonly act as though any who don't agree to stoop to their level of hate is conversely that much more "in love" with them.

Mauer is likely the much better example for this, as that mentality has started to seep to the professional sports talkers. Even those guys felt that the Punto hate grew to hilarious levels of absurdity.

Bill said...

Most recent anon: it's irrational for the exact same reason that Braves fans' hatred of Frenchy is. I had Pavano in my intro initially and cut him out. By last fall, Pavano had firmly reestablished himself as a dependable, quality mid-rotation starter, which on paper was exactly what the Yankees needed, certainly a better fit than a Colon or Millwood.

So it's understandable that Yankee fans wouldn't like Pavano (to SOME extent: I do think it gets insanely overblown, injuries do just happen). But their reaction to the idea of his return had nothing to do with what he was likely to do on the diamond. That's pretty much the definition of "irrational" as I'm using it here (or one of them, anyway).

Jake Presley said...

The only recent Padre I can really think of is David Eckstein.

j40bob said...

You obviously do not know what's going on in St. Louis. Most fans still love Colby Rasmus and blame Tony LaRussa for messing him up. The irrationally hated player here is still J.D. Drew. He is the only former player who I have heard booed on his return.

ETR said...

I'm an Indians fan, and although there is some merit to the Sizemore argument, I'd more or less nominate Casey Blake as the Tribe's representative. There are fans who loved his "hard-nosed gamer"-style of play, and there are others who hated him, (like me), because, well, he was a utility player who started on a playoff team. Really no in-between with Blake.

Bill said...

Eckstein and Drew would've been fine picks for multiple teams. I wish I'd used Ecks for the Padres. I think Drew fits slightly better with the Red Sox and decided not to use anyone twice (or I could've gone to Milton Bradley like five times).

Anonymous said...

As far as your Blue Jays post goes, yes to irrational love for Roy. However, Al (Blisters) Leiter has to be hated unquestionably by Jays fans.
You said Canadians are too nice to do the whole hate thing. Just mention Vince Carter's name in Toronto...

Mark Alvarez said...

Great article . . . for the other teams. We Marlins fans tend to go the other way on Hanley, though -- there are a few Spanish speakers/not-white people in South Florida.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Rockies' blind spot is for CarGo, but that's for his bat, not his glove. The article linked to here referred exclusively to his glove and Rob Neyer's absurd assertion that CarGo is a mediocre defender. There was nothing blind about that counterargument. As for his bat, he's another case of absurd talent and a beautiful swing being held back by a bad eye and injuries.

Anonymous said...

That whole Hanley "assume most people are racist" bit was really out of place and uncalled for. Hanley's dogging it is the sole reason for his rep.

Riverfish72 said...

ummm... Jeter? Almost impossible to have a rational conversation about him, because the majority of fans fall into one of two categories: Yankees fans and those who despise everything about the franchise and by extension, the face of it. Ever suggest to a Yankee fan that Jeter might have a flaw? Keep a hand up when you say that...

Bobba said...

Jeez, the Phillies have a host of irrational love/hate candidates! On the 'irrational love' side, I'd say Howard does get a lot of irrational love, but for the most part, the fans are fairly split on that one so he wouldn't be my pick. In recent memory... Chris Coste was a rabbid fan fave while barely clinging onto a back-up catcher gig. There are a lot of fans who would still stick up for Dude and Pete Rose and there's a awfully large contingent of Valdez fans??? And no doubt there will be Utley fans defending him long after he's below replacement level. Nothing too crazy though. HOWEVER, on the hate side of the ledger, Phillies fans still boo J.D. Drew and Scott Rolen with a particular venom that goes beyond normal. Sure, both guys snubbed the team... but they really did stink up the joint back then, played in a terrible park and there was no real indiction any of it would change. Can you really blame them? And just look at the irrational hatred of Abreu, who just happened to have a remendous string of seasons with the Phils only to get traded just as they won their 1st division so people made the irrational assumption that Abreu provided the 'addition by subraction' spark needed to win the title. Huh? Maybe, but why the hate? Still, J.D. Drew had a 'D' Battery thrown at him during a game in Philly once. So he's gotta be the guy!

Anonymous said...

I expected jeter on there for the yankees. Irrationally loved! I'm a huge jeter fan but Yankee fans love him far beyond for Joseph past play as opppsed to the player he is.

Anonymous said...

It's not just that Francoeur failed to live up to expectations, but more his sense of entitlement. He pouted when they sent him to the minors for sucking and kept getting paid more and more through arbitration each year. But yeah, he is universally and viciously hated in ATL.

Jim C said...

I'm actually from Houston. Those of us who aren't Milo Hamilton don't hate Lance. He'll always be one of us. But Beltran years universally booed every time he's here.

What's the difference between Carlos Beltran and Willy Taveras? Willy knows what playing in a World Series is like.

The Dude Abides said...

The Dodger that so many fans irrationally hate is Jonathan Broxton. They hate him for the two heartbreaking losses in the 2008 NLCS (Stairs homer) and the 2009 NLCS (Stairs walk, Rollins XBH).

He had started to redeem himself in LA eyes by his 0.80 ERA for the first half of last season, but then Torre killed him by having him appear in four games in five days, while the one day he didn't appear Torre had him warm up hard in the bullpen for 20 minutes. That fifth day was against the Yankees, when Torre brought him in with a 6-2 lead in the 9th when other relievers were available, and after announcing before the game that Broxton wouldn't pitch because he had appeared in three of the previous four days and warmed up hard the one day he didn't pitch.

So that game against NY? His fastball velocity was off by 5 MPH, and Torre left him out there for 48 pitches! He gave up the lead, and his ERA for the rest of the season, including that game, was just under eight. He was never healthy this season, and isn't even throwing yet in his rehab. Dodger fans (and Bill Plaschke) hate him and call him names (fat, etc.), but he wasn't nearly as bad as his local reputation. Good job Joe!

GM-Carson said...

I like Ryan Howard, but thinks he's entirely overrated. His huge extension starts next year (5 yr/$125M) and he's declining offensively, so more hatred will come his way.

I never understood the Bobby Abreu hatred. The man was consistent. Hell, he's still getting on base a ton. Not his fault the Angels don't have a real RBI guy to drive him in.

Oh, Chase Utley being below replacement level is still seasons away. The man can just flat out play.

Geoff said...

Whilst I see your point on Buster Posey, I also think that given a couple more years (assuming he comes back fine from injury) the love will be justified to a large extent.

Maybe not anymore but a couple of years ago I would have suggested Matt Cain as being irrationally hated by Giants fans because "he didn't know how to win". Improved run support and a WS ring helps turn people round.

Anonymous said...

I would posit Alex Rodriguez as the most irrational feeling generator for fans of the Seattle Mariners (see: Mussina, Mike above).

HE LEFT US!!! HE LEFT US!!! We brought him through the minors, had him for a great run in the '90s, and then he up and left us for a bad division rival.

Bill said...

DAMMIT! That's the one I mentioned that I was forgetting. You're exactly right.

I was living in Seattle (well, Tacoma actually) at the time, so I well remember how it went down. I was planning to make it A-Rod from the moment I decided to write this post, and then the Mariners were way down at the end, and it slipped my mind. Thanks.

Lotaso said...

As an O's fan and a Tampa resident I can agree fully on both those picks, though I still love Moose. I don't know if I have ever met any Rays fan who didn't think Upton was the laziest player ever.
Speaking of lazy, I wonder if Andruw Jones could be another candidate for the braves?

Anonymous said...

Andrew Jones in Atlanta was the kind of player that would tick you off. Great power and defense, but his batting average, strike outs, and lack of hustle plays made him hard to watch sometimes

Tyler said...

Mariners fans loved Adrian Beltre. Especially those who actually knew something about baseball, like the M's blogosphere. There's even a guy in the stands who holds up a giant Beltre cardboard cutout head and now wears a Texas Rangers Beltre jersey when the Rangers come to town.

Tyler said...

I would say the easy choice for most hated player by Mariners fans is Alex Rodriguez. He gets loudly boo'd everytime he steps up to the plate at Safeco, ever since he signed that huge deal with Texas. Mariners fans will admit their hatred towards A-Rod is drawn out and maybe immature but he will always be boo'd in Safeco, which is probably one of the most laid back stadiums in baseball.

Anonymous said...

It has to be Abreu for the Phillies. I thought you were going to say hate, not love, for Howard, because talk radio here explodes with the haters every time Ryan strikes out. Like Howard, Rollins produces irrational love and hate with little middle ground. For truly irrational love, it has to be Aaron Rowand who some people still dream of bringing back... all because he broke his face on a fence.

Larry said...

Daric Barton for the A's and Khalil Greene for the Padres.