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The Most Beloved Scrubs in Sports History

Zack PumerantzAnalyst IIIDecember 21, 2016

The Most Beloved Scrubs in Sports History

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    Warming the pine is a role rarely respected in the sports domain. But professional benches have become the pinnacle of mystery, with the aged oak often hosting the most charismatic and utterly hilarious rear ends around.

    Popularity no longer just stems from talent and statistical success. Fans who dedicate their hearts and souls to franchises are emotionally drawn to the gritty backups (or atrocious starters) who constantly coat their teams with humor and humility. It's almost a love-hate relationship, as fans wish these players were better but can almost relate to their mediocrity.

    Some of these players have had crucial, yet limited roles, while others have simply stolen the hearts of cities with their colorful ingenuity.

    Let's see who made the cut as the most beloved scrubs in sports history. Those who won hearts over one fail at a time.

20. Jared Lorenzen, NFL

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    In three heavy NFL seasons, Kentucky southpaw Jared Lorenzen garnered three memorable nicknames and a boatload of inspired followers.

    The Pillsbury Throwboy, J-Load, Kentucky Fried Lorenzen. Call him what you will, he won't mind. Especially because he's a 300-plus millionaire with a cannon arm and a championship ring (with the Giants in '08).

    The former backup is now leading the Northern Kentucky River Monsters of the Ultimate Indoor Football League to promise. And taking no prisoners.

19. Mark Madsen, NBA

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    Forget his 2.2 points-per-game average, Mark Madsen has mastered the white-man shakedown and bakes fresh bread during his free time. Lakers fans fell for him at first sight, and were heartbroken when he left for Minnesota in 2003.

    Any baller willing to embarrass himself on the dance floor in front of an entire Los Angeles fan base is sure to garner respect. But it's his culinary prowess that we need to start detailing.

18. Aaron Rowand, MLB

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    Once among the coolest cats in baseball, hard-nosed outfielder Aaron Rowand is a "run into the wall now, ask questions later" type of guy.

    With a wad of chewing tobacco firmly entrenched in his left cheek and bloody bandages constantly gracing his face, Rowand has become the quintessential MLB tough guy. We'll never forget his broken-nosed catch in Philly.

17. Danny Woodhead, NFL

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    Since the day he was first given the moniker "White Chocolate," Danny Woodhead (or Woodcock if you're Joe Theismann) has been a beloved NFL icon.

    Naturally the scrappy tailback was picked up by the Patriots as soon as Gang Green released him. And while he's already conquered all odds, Woodhead's touches continue to diminish as opponents get bigger and he gets older.

    But the 5'8" tweener will always be an inspiration to undersized runners hoping to achieve their dreams.

16. Joe McEwing, MLB

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    Recognized as "Super Joe" during his nine years on the Major League diamond, utility superstar Joe McEwing preached hustle, energy and passion in the game of baseball.

    He only slugged 25 home runs in nearly 2,000 plate appearances, and hovered around .251, but McEwing served as a spark-plug for his teams and a mentor to promising youngsters, and displayed perhaps the highest batting leg kick we've ever seen.

    To compliment Mark McGwire's "Big Mac Land" (nickname for the upper deck at Busch Stadium), St. Louis fans quickly dubbed another section "Little Mac Land" during McEwing's one season with the Cardinals. The journeyman would find a comforting niche with the Mets for four seasons, his longest stay in one city.

15. Fred Hoiberg, NBA

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    Nicknamed "The Mayor" during his brilliant tenure at Iowa State, former sweet-shooting guard Fred Hoiberg dominated the NBA hardwood with a kind heart and clutch approach.

    In 2005, Hoiberg became the first player in NBA history to lead the league in three-point shooting percentage and not be invited to the three-point shooting competition. This league-wide rejection infused Hoiberg's popularity around the league.

    Perhaps the most beloved athlete in the history of Iowa State sports, Hoiberg is now coaching his old Cyclones. Optimism floods the Hilton Coliseum.

14. Crezdon Butler, NFL

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    Since being drafted in 2010, cornerback Crezdon Butler has secured one tackle with three teams and the attention of intrigued gridiron fans around the world.

    We're still not sure whether he does a better Mike Tomlin or Louis Armstrong, but either way Butler has the league on lockdown. Even if it's away from the field.

    Any Steeler would agree.

13. Nyjer Morgan, MLB

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    More of a legendary reserve than a potent starting outfielder (despite a solid .281 career average), Nyjer Morgan (along with his alter-ego Tony Plush) puts on a show for viewers every time a camera is present.

    The self-proclaimed "smooth operator" isn't afraid to speak his mind, and apparently dreams of fishing while he's fishing. Few athletes have ever displayed such weirdness, and for that we thank him.

12. Rafer Alston, NBA

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    Hailing from Queens with a deadly crossover and an undeniable flair for the dramatic, Rafer "Skip 2 My Lou" Alston naturally dominated the streets (essentially pioneering the AND1 Mixtape Tour).

    But when he arrived on the more fundamental NBA scene from Fresno State, Alston's freestyle prowess was contained by seasoned opponents. In 11 rotational seasons, Alston averaged a respectable 10.1 points and 4.8 assists per game, yet never quite found his niche after leaving the Rockets in 2009. 

    Of course, Common's "The 6th Sense" instrumental in the background has us just as inspired.

11. Logan Morrison, MLB

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    Tip No. 2: If you can't be yourself, be LoMo.

    A self-proclaimed Twittaholic, Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison owns a .250 career average and has inherited a bevy of loyal social media followers. And while Derek Jeter may have no idea who LoMo is, Morrison remains a curious baseball personality.

    Even praying mantises are intrigued with the outfielder.

10. Chuck Nevitt, NBA

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    He may be remembered best as that giant 7'5" center who won a championship with the illustrious '85 Lakers, but Chuck Nevitt had quite the rapport with fans of every city he joined.

    During his time in Detroit, a write-in campaign for the NBA All-Star ballot was created in his honor, a Nevitt trivia contest was popularized on a local radio station and a pizza place gave away 12 free pies for every one of his blocked shots.

    Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak kept it real in describing his former player. "But you know, maybe if he wasn't so nice, he'd be a better player. Sometimes I wanted him to get mad, get meaner. It's a double-edged sword. He's a good guy to have on a club because he's so nice, but his niceness makes him expendable."

    But it was those same traits that helped the "Human Victory Cigar" win over fans' hearts.

9. Elio Chacon, MLB

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    A reserve infielder with the NL Champion Reds of 1961, crafty Venezuelan Elio Chacon soon found himself starting at shortstop for the expansion Mets. It was in New York where his legend was scripted.

    During the '62 season, the popular Chacon and center fielder Richie Ashburn would often collide on short pop-ups. With Ashburn screaming "I got it! I got it!" and Chacon only speaking Spanish, miscommunication was a constant issue. As a brilliant team player, Ashburn then learned to say "Yo la tengo" ("I got it" in Spanish), the problem only temporarily solved.

    Later in the season, Chacon and Ashburn made their approach and Ashburn screamed "Yo la tengo," with Chacon naturally backing off. As Ashburn prepared to catch the fly ball, confident he'd conquered the language issue, he was immediately derailed by left fielder Frank "the original" Thomas. When asked why he didn't back off, Thomas said "I don't speak Spanish."

8. Peyton Hillis, NFL

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    Scrub may be a stretch, considering the man called "Juggernaut" is a truck at tailback and looked like a promising superstar only one season ago. However, after last year's nosedive, Peyton Hillis now finds himself the distant thunder to Jamaal Charles' lightning.

    With a bruising nature and some promising comedic timing, Hillis continues to be revered by NFL fans around the world. He's 250 pounds of pure determination.

7. Dave Schultz, NHL

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    Ringleader of Philadelphia's "Broad Street Bullies" during the '70s, Dave "The Hammer" Schultz was a constant force to be reckoned with. While he did record a shocking 20 goals during the 1973-74 season, Schultz was never more than a bruising protector (legend Bobby Clarke was grateful).

    Perhaps the most beloved enforcer in the history of the NHL, Schultz recorded 2,294 penalty minutes during his journeyman career and still holds the record for most in a single season with 472.

    Schultz threw fists, asked questions later.

6. Sal Fasano, MLB

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    Beloved for his horseshoe mustache and respected for his mean-looking-nice-guy nature, catcher Sal Fasano exemplified hard work and respect during his 11 years on the Major League bench.

    But when it was all said and done, Fasano was thankful for the loyal support (here thanking Philadelphia's Sal's Pals). Sports Illustrated's Jeff Pearlman put it best:

    "When I think of Sal Fasano, however, I think of greatness. Not of Willie Mays or Ted Williams greatness, but of a uniquely excellent human being who, were class and decency the most valued standards of a career, would be the easiest Hall of Fame inductee of all time."

5. Paul Bissonnette, NHL

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    With a twitter following that exceeds 300,000 and a "Sauce Hockey" clothing line that allegedly features the shirt "I'm not a player I just tweet a lot," Phoenix Coyote rebel Paul Bissonnette is quickly becoming the most intriguing entertainer ever to skate the professional ice.

    Known simply as Biz Nasty, the left bench-man has totaled five goals in 135 games and a boatload of arbitrary tweets regarding life, love and lethargy.

    Embracing his below-average hockey skills is Bissonnette's most renowned activity. The dude bleeds humor.

4. Marv Throneberry, MLB

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    From feared minor league slugger to cherished Major League scrub, the legend of Marvelous Marv Throneberry's is among the most quirky the diamond has ever seen.

    Despite being a measly .237 hitter with 53 home runs and 170 RBI in 480 games, Throneberry was a storied icon with New York fans. The starting first baseman on a historically abominable '62 Mets club that lost 120 games, Throneberry was often involved in possibly exaggerated stories and a constant joker around the clubhouse.

    "If I do for Lite what I did for baseball, I'm afraid their sales will go down," said the hilarious infielder. They surely did not, and don't call me Shirley.

3. Tim Tebow, NFL

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    Gator enthusiasts everywhere might be fuming with the selection of Tim Tebow on a list of scrubs, but when it comes to NFL status, the feisty southpaw should expect to have his fanny partially entrenched on that New York bench all season (excluding punt-team duties of course).

    And if it wasn't for Skip Bayless glorifying the son of God's armpit hair on a daily basis, we'd all root a lot harder for him.

    Yet the spiritual and determined signal caller has never been more revered, or scrutinized, for his competitive and humble nature. A heroic human being, a vicious football player, a mediocre quarterback.

2. Brian Scalabrine, NBA

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    Epically dubbed "The White Mamba," recently retired NBA rock star Brian Scalabrine was an iconic bench warmer during his 11 seasons in the league.

    Assumed to be 99 percent legend and one percent ginger, the 2008 NBA Champion finished with averages of 3.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in limited opportunity.

    It's been said that allowing this airborne competitor to play regular minutes would rival Sandy Koufax pitching to little leaguers in his heyday.

1. Bob Uecker, MLB

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    A comical genius on the baseball field, Bob Uecker is best recognized as intoxicated broadcaster Harry Doyle from the Major League series, yet he was far more quirky away from the press box.

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Uecker was a journeyman catcher who actually secured a world title with the '64 Cardinals. But when it came to making contact, or any impact, he hit .200 and totaled 14 home runs in six seasons.

    "I led the league in "Go get 'em next time," said Uecker. Yet every appearance was a highlight for his fanbase.


    Follow me for more legendary failure.

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