Chicago White Sox: A.J. Pierzynski Continues to Give Fans a Reason to Love Him

Matthew SmithCorrespondent IIIAugust 13, 2012

Pierzynski admires his opposite field home run Sunday against the Oakland A's.
Pierzynski admires his opposite field home run Sunday against the Oakland A's.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Most fans of the Chicago White Sox remember Game 2 of the ALCS in 2005.  A.J. Pierzynski ran to first base after L.A. Angels catcher Josh Paul “dropped” strike three in a tie game.

After much discussion, the umpires called Pierzynski safe at first and three pitches later, Joe Crede doubled in pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna to make the score 2-1 and even the series at a game apiece.

On May 20, 2006 Pierzynski may have lingered a bit too long over a fallen Michael Barrett which led to one of the 25 most pathetic fights in MLB history

In no small part do plays like these contribute to Pierzynski’s reputation as the “most hated player” in the league according to a poll of his peers.  He gets under the opposing team's skin in a way that few other players can.  He does it in a number of ways—one of them being his gift for gab—but the biggest reasons have to be that he always seems to be in the right place at the right time and he takes advantage of what the other team gives him.

That can be truly annoying.

He did it again Sunday.

In the seventh inning against the Oakland A’s, Pierzynski took off from first base on a 3-2 count.  Shortstop Alexi Ramirez hit an infield grounder that the A’s turned into an episode of Keystone Kops.  Shortstop Cliff Pennington and third baseman Adam Rosales ran into each other, catcher Derek Norris broke late to cover third and the pitcher failed to cover home. 

Pierzynski took advantage of the mental gaffe and scored all the way from first.  White Sox announcers Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Steve Stone said on the air that neither one of them could remember a player scoring from first base on a ball that stayed both in the infield and on the fair side of the foul line.

Smart, heady baseball from the catcher everyone seems to have an opinion on.

David Brown from Yahoo Sports call Pierzynski a “classic major league bad guy.”  Tim Keown of ESPN called him “more mischievous than mean.”  Cubs fans pepper him with insults and references to the Barrett melee.

Sox fans, on the other hand, love what Pierzynski brings to the table every night.  He is tenacious and driven.  He is not afraid to hold others accountable just as he holds himself to a set of higher standards.  Most importantly, he takes advantage of what he’s given, never missing an opportunity to help the Sox win ballgames.

Oh, he is also batting .299 with a career-high 23 home runs, 67 RBI and a .910 OPS.

What’s not to love?