Derek Jeter and 5 MLB Stars We Hate to Admit That We Love
Fans have strong feelings toward most teams and players in Major League Baseball, particularly the best and highest-paid. Whether it is because of the teams they play for, the amount of money they make or the personalities they show on the field, there are certain players that fans hate, or rather want to hate.
Some players—despite playing for a hated team or being paid exorbitant salaries—are just plain likeable (even though fans hate to admit it).
Here are five.
Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals)
When Bryce Harper was called up by the Nationals in April, fans were already well aware of the 19-year-old's reputation.
After being featured in Sports Illustrated as a high schooler, Harper was best known for the unusual eye-black he wore and his extreme power (he hit a 502-foot home run in the Rays' Tropicana Field as a sophomore in high school).
He's also been known for his arrogance and on-field antics, such as showboating after hitting home runs and blowing kisses toward a pitcher who surrendered one of his moonshots.
So, Harper already had a pretty negative reputation when he came to the majors. But Bryce has done a great job acting like a professional and handling on- and off-field distractions in a classy way.
In his first week on the job, Cole Hamels plunked him with a pitch as a "welcome to the big leagues" gift. Instead of charging the mound or getting frustrated, Harper responded by stealing home.
When asked by a reporter in Toronto if Harper, at 19 years old, would celebrate a good game with a beer, he simply responded, "That's a clown question, bro" and moved on.
Despite his negative perception, Harper has been about as professional as baseball players come since being called up. He's an incredible talent and plays the game the right way; it's hard not to like him.
Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)
The 2011 National League Most Valuable Player was the center of controversy this winter after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, but Ryan Braun then had his suspension overturned by an independent arbitrator.
If there's one thing baseball fans hate, it's a cheater. So fans tried to be up in arms about Braun's "illegitimate" MVP award.
But the fact is, Braun's a likeable player who has come back from his positive test/overturned suspension with another strong year. He's hitting .303 and leads the National League with 29 home runs.
As much as fans might want to hate Ryan Braun, it's hard to.
David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox)
David Ortiz was one of the key players in the Boston Red Sox's 2004 and 2007 championships, ending the "Curse of the Bambino" and forever cementing himself as one of New York's most hated rivals.
After never hitting more than 20 home runs in a season while with the Minnesota Twins, Ortiz broke out for 31 in his first year in Beantown (2003) before reaching a peak of 54 in 2006. There was suspicion about Ortiz's use of PEDs that was heightened after it was reported that he tested positive in 2003.
However, since that list has been destroyed and he has never been suspended for using, it's likely we'll never know whether he did or didn't dope.
The fact is that Ortiz has been a class act during his time in Boston, being a friendly clubhouse presence and an active member of the Boston community.
As a Yankee fan, I really want to hate Ortiz. But he's a tough player to dislike (except when he's playing New York).
Albert Pujols (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
Last winter, Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It rubbed some people the wrong way, with the Cardinals having just won a World Series and Pujols' name being synonymous with the St. Louis squad.
Plus, Pujols started his massive contract with a long slump; on May 14, he was hitting just .197 with one home run, which came on May 6.
But Pujols has been on fire since then. His average is up to .278, and he has 25 home runs.
Pujols is a great player, and I'm not afraid to admit that I enjoy watching him more than almost any other major leaguer. But there are many who dislike him, perhaps because of his mega deal, perhaps because he left his hometown team or perhaps because of simple jealousy.
But there is no reason to. He's an all-time great.
Derek Jeter (New York Yankees)
Everybody hates the Yankees. And everybody likes to say they hate Derek Jeter ("He's overrated!" or "He's overpaid!"). But at the end of the day, even if you hate the Yankees, you—at the very least—respect Jeter.
Jeter is a true professional and a great captain. He hustles on every play, is always on the top step of the dugout to congratulate his teammates when they do something good and only cares about winning.
Regardless of whether he "deserves" the high salary he receives, he is unquestionably one of the best hitters to ever play. On Saturday, he tied Hank Aaron for the most consecutive 150-hit seasons of all time with 17.
He's the first Yankee ever to reach 3,000 hits, and he's on pace to at least challenge Pete Rose for the most hits ever.
Even if you hate the Yankees, you can't hate Derek Jeter.
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