These are always fun debates to have amongst our fellow fans: which player is the most hated or reviled player to have ever worn the uniform of our beloved hometown teams?
There's always a number of arguments that can be made. Maybe the player just sucked while he was with your team. Maybe he made a critical error that cost the team a chance at the World Series or the playoffs. Maybe he personally insulted your wife and kids at a game—really, the reasons can be endless.
While these debates are fun, I have to admit that I am at a disadvantage trying to find the most hated player in each franchise's history. After all, I have not been present in every major league city throughout the entire century-plus of professional baseball. I don't share the same passion as many of you for your hometown teams.
So forgive me if I name your favorite player rather than your most loathed player. I based my search off a very inexact science, which was what I was able to find in message boards and blogs. If you disagree with one of my picks, or all of them, put your list in the comments section and let's see if we can come to some sort of a consensus.
I have a problem putting Eric Byrnes on this list...
Being from the Bay Area where Byrnes started his career with the Oakland A's, where he was a fan favorite, it's hard to imagine that anyone had a problem with his all-out style of play.
Fanster.com had a vote though asking who was more hated, Byrnes or Kobe Bryant?
Wow, guess he rubbed some of you Arizona fans the wrong way.
Not hard to figure this one out.
John Rocker was/is an outspoken racist who embarrassed the city of Atlanta as well as Major League Baseball.
I'm not actually sure if the fans of Atlanta truly hated Rocker while he was playing for them, though. Maybe it's just convenient to say so now that he's long gone.
Sidney Ponson became unpopular with Orioles fans during his second stint with the team when he re-signed with Baltimore in 2004.
Off-the-field issues combined with his poor play on the field turned the fans and eventually the organization against him.
Armando Benitez's failures in clutch situations (really throughout his career, not just in Baltimore) were enough to wear down the Baltimore fans and push him into a tie in this slot for the most hated Oriole of all time.
Calvin Shiraldi is the pitcher who cost the Boston Red Sox the 1986 World Series by his performances in Games 6 and 7 (0-2 with a 13.50 ERA).
Need much more of an explanation than that?
Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens are also reviled by Red Sox nation it seems, for the same traitorous action of wearing Yankees pinstripes later in their career, but they were loved while they were on the team.
Milton Bradley barely edges out Carlos Zambrano to earn the title of the most hated Chicago Cub, although Steve Bartman was in contention as well (and he's not even a player).
As for Bradley though, what makes him the most hated? Well, let's see...he underperformed while collecting an unjustifiable contract and had massive anger issues that labeled him a clubhouse cancer as well as all-around jerk (censoring myself from the word that truly describes him).
He was definitely a very talented player, he was just never able to get out of his own way.
I find it a little hard to slot Juan Uribe here, but as was the case with Eric Byrnes, the message boards tell me a different story than my own perception of the player in question.
As a commenter wrote as a reply to this article on Hardball Talk (go to the bottom of the fourth page of comments):
For the White Sox, the most hated player of all time has to be Juan Uribe. Sure, Uribe played an important (but brief), role in the White Sox 2005 championship season, but that (CENSORED) always swinging from his heels for the fences thinking that he’s Albert Pujols quickly became a very frustrating and lame act.
In fact, when the White Sox re-signed Uribe after he hit free agency the first time, reportedly hundreds of season ticket holders cancelled their tickets right after the announcement in protest.
Seems the all-or-nothing approach of some players is not always appreciated.
Sorry Juan, I'm hoping for some rebuttals on your behalf in the comments.
Reggie Sanders certainly had a fine eight-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, but his performance in the 1995 playoffs earned him this spot by losing the respect of his fanbase.
In the playoff series against the Dodgers and Braves, Sanders struck out in 19 of his 29 at-bats.
Needless to say, the Reds were knocked out of the postseason and Sanders' lack of productivity was one of the main contributing factors.
Albert Belle doesn't earn this spot for failing to produce for his team, that's for sure.
He was just a very unlikeable person who was caught cheating at one point during his prime with the Indians (corked bat).
Basically, he was Milton Bradley before Milton Bradley was Milton Bradley. (How many times can I use Milton Bradley's name in a slide that isn't even about him?)
Mike Hampton is one of the prime examples of fans disliking a player who can't live up to the terms of their contract.
He came to the Rockies with one of the worst contracts in baseball and failed to produce in his two years with Colorado.
The fans of the franchise, and likely many of his teammates, grew to dislike his 6.15 ERA and inability to keep the ball from flying through the thin, mile-high air of Coors Field.
I hear the collective cheers when Juan Gonzalez turned down the massive contract extension Detroit offered him, were far louder than any cheers he ever received while wearing a Tigers uniform.
Gonzalez was injured much of his season with the Tigers and ineffective when he was on the field.
If you check out this fan-forum, which is just one of many available, you will see that it was pretty much a unanimous pick that Juan-Gone was the most reviled Tiger in this lifetime.
For those who would like to argue Ty Cobb, I'd like to state for the record that while I did consider him, he was not hated within the Detroit Tigers fanbase. His teammates certainly had their issues with him, as did most of baseball and opposing fans, but the Tigers fans loved his play according to most internet accounts.
Hanley Ramirez is certainly one of the most talented players in the majors, and likely the best all-around shortstop in the game, when he tries.
And there lies the problem with Ramirez and the reason he drives at least a portion of the Marlins fans crazy.
For all his talent, Ramirez is widely considered a lazy player. He's been called-out by former Marlin Jeff Conine, as well as teammate Logan Morrison and former teammate Dan Uggla.
This is another player I have a problem putting here.
I know a lot of people don't like Joe Morgan due to his post-player career as a broadcaster, but he was a star for the Astros before he became a Hall of Famer for the Reds.
Morgan managed to get on the bad sides of Houston fans for continually complaining following his trade and trying to play the role of the victim, taking stabs at the city of Houston itself, team management and even the weather in Texas.
Although I don't personally recall him carrying his grudge as recently as 2005, reports on the Astros official team message boards paint that picture quite well. (Click here to read for yourself.)
Neifi Perez was acquired by the Royals when they traded away star player and fan favorite Jermaine Dye.
On top of underwhelming with his play during his tenure in Kansas City, he was also discovered as a liar, having forged his birth certificate to make himself appear two years younger to help sign a pro contract.
It's pretty understandable why Royals fans have such poor memories of Perez.
Jose Guillen is pretty much public-enemy No. 1 in Anaheim for his meltdown in the 2004 season.
He wound up getting himself suspended the remainder of the year for his outburst directed at Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
The controversy became the scapegoat for a late-season collapse, capped off by being swept from the ALDS by the Red Sox, that cost the Angels a chance at postseason glory.
I really wanted to go with Milton Bradley for this slide and make him the first two-time loser, but I just couldn't do it when I remembered Jose Offerman.
Offerman was initially held in high esteem with the Dodgers before terrible defense led to him eventually becoming a journeyman player, bouncing around the majors before finally retreating to Independent League baseball.
I don't know that his now-famous on-field assault in an Independent League game contributed any to his hate in L.A., but it certainly would not have won any of those fans back.
It's hard to argue with the amount of hate expressed on this page when mentioning Gary Sheffield.
Sheffield had Hall of Fame talent, but also had an attitude that rubbed fans the wrong way. His exit from Milwaukee sealed his fate as a hated ex-Brewer, although his interactions with the fans while still there had already helped to build that growing hatred before it spilled over.
Chuck Knoblauch went from loved to hated when he demanded a trade and took swipes at the city and organization in the process.
Stating that you don't know why anyone would want to play in Minnesota is not any way to endear yourself to the very fans who have been supporting you for your entire career.
Well, I am pretty sure he's still not welcome in Minneapolis anytime soon, and that's good enough to earn him this spot.
Carl Pavano was the definition of "bust" during his New York Yankees playing days.
He was merely a shell of the standout pitcher he was while playing with the Marlins prior to the Yankees signing him to a big contract that went totally undeserved.
Pavano would make just 26 starts during his four years in the Bronx.
Now, however, he is pitching injury-free and looks effective again, pitching for the Minnesota Twins.
I'm going to take a bit of a controversial (I'm sure) stand here and choose Bobby Bonilla over Vince Coleman.
I know Coleman's production slipped and he threw a fire cracker into a crowd of fans, but it didn't appear that Mets fans held that against him as much as they did the financial handcuffing that Bobby Bonilla put on the Mets organization following his signing from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bonilla was a great player with the Pirates, and not so much with the Mets.
In the media spotlight that is New York, that will get you booed and overall disliked by your own fans pretty fast.
Bobby Crosby is the easiest recent-memory selection for the most hated Oakland A's position.
The A's let fan-favorite and MVP Miguel Tejada leave via free agency because they had Crosby waiting in the minors.
While he did win the Rookie of the Year award, he failed to follow up that season with anything worthy of appreciation from the hometown crowd.
He spent the rest of his time in Oakland being booed for spending time on the disabled list (seemingly annually) and overall underwhelming with his bat at the plate.
Dick Allen earned his hatred in Philadelphia basically by being a grumpy player who was rude and short with teammates, the press and fans.
He also got in a fight with his own teammate, Frank Thomas, basically proving that the dislike and hatred that surrounded him amongst his fans was also felt by those on his own team.
For what it's worth, though, Allen was a great player who is arguably worthy of induction in Cooperstown.
You saw this one coming, right?
Actually, I have to admit that seeing his name pop up as often as I did kind of surprised me. I think the public view is largely skewed by the events of his later career when he became a universal villain in baseball outside of San Francisco.
Either way though, Bonds certainly was not a very likable player during his career.
According to this account, Bonds' own teammates on the Pirates would ask opposing pitchers to throw at him during the games.
His demeanor with the media has become legendary for his surliness, which could also be a contributing factor since people do tend to base their opinions off what is written about a player.
Once again I had the opportunity to insert Milton Bradley's name, but once again I must refrain. Phil Nevin prevents it.
Nevin actually seems to be one of those love-him-or-hate-him-type of players. He definitely has a strong following of supporters to counteract his haters, but there are plenty of them too.
The biggest strike against Nevin appears to be his seemingly constant complaining, primarily about PETCO Park, among other things.
Speaking from my experiences as a fan, it certainly does get under your skin when you have to hear and read about a player on your team constantly complaining about where they play.
Here's another guy you knew you'd see sooner or later, right?
The thing about A.J. Pierzynski that makes him hard to include on a list like this is that he actually isn't typically hated by his hometown fans. Everyone else hates him, but not his own fans.
That's different in San Francisco though.
The Giants gave up a ton of talent (Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser) to the Twins to acquire him, and then he underperformed while basically proving he was a clubhouse cancer (at least with this particular team).
Nothing worse than giving up franchise-changing talent to acquire a bust and a bad guy all wrapped into the same person.
As Jim Moore of The Seattle Post Intelligencer states in this article, Bobby Ayala likely edges out Chone Figgins for the distinction of most hated Mariner, but it's close.
Essentially, Ayala was the definition of un-clutch. If he pitched with the game on the line, he was almost assured of coughing up the lead and giving the opposition the victory. As Moore points out, the problem is that he was put in these situations regularly, and almost never failed to break his fans' hearts with a devastating loss.
For the record, and not to break trend, here's another team that Milton Bradley could have been slotted as the most-hated. If it seems I am piling on "poor" Milton, I AM, because the guy just manages to prove over and over again that he could be in the running for worst-person-in-sports with stories like being arrested for swinging a bat at his wife.
Tino Martinez was either a victim of his previous success, or living proof that the rest of the country hates the New York Yankees.
After several great seasons in New York, and a few World Series rings to show for it, he failed to repeat that success with the St. Louis Cardinals and was booed for most of his two seasons with the Cards.
Rafael Soriano falls into our crybaby category, reportedly complaining about being used in non-save situations repeatedly while pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The above linked story states that Soriano routinely threw "hissy fits" that caused most within the Rays organization to hate him.
I am not positive if that hatred spilled over to the Rays fanbase or not. Perhaps some of our Tampa Bay fans can set the record straight below?
I don't know how anyone other than Alex Rodriguez could possibly be considered for this spot?
After signing a record $252 million 10-year contract that would set the franchise back even after his trade (since the Rangers had to pick up a portion of the remaining balance), there was no doubt that A-Rod would become the most hated figure in Texas.
He signed a deal that was only about money—then, tired of playing on last-place teams, asked for a trade. He was even willing to rework his deal and take less money when it meant a potential exit from Texas to join Boston (before he was ultimately dealt to the Yankees and shifted to third base).
I'm sure there are plenty of places that would like to punch A-Rod in the face if given the opportunity, but none more so than Texas.
"The ship is sinking," and so did Shea Hillenbrand's popularity in Toronto.
Hillenbrand wrote the above statement on a clubhouse message board in 2006, in the midst of his complaining about having to share playing time.
The Jays organization and their fans could not have been any happier to have Hillenbrand leave town.
Tony Plush, the alter-ego of ex-Nationals player Nyjer Morgan, almost makes me forget that he was considered a "thug" player while with Washington.
Morgan was unable to back up his on-field antics with actual productive stats, but that certainly did not stop him from becoming one of the sport's ultimate villains while with Washington.
He was suspended for throwing a ball at a fan and hitting her in the eye. He built a reputation for purposely hitting opposing players when crossing the plate, and he seemingly wanted to fight everyone.
The guy also cursed at his own fans during games!
And yet, despite being arguably the most unpopular player in Washington Nationals (and Montreal Expos) history, he has brought "Plushdamentals" to Milwaukee this season and become wildly popular with the Brewers fans and the Twitterverse via his alter-ego's Twitter account: @TheRealTPlush (easily one of the best "follows" on Twitter).