Albert Pujols to LAA Angels: Ranking 5 of the Biggest Traitors in Baseball
Looks like we know who's aiming for the "Biggest Spenders During Hot Stove" award will be this year: the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim. While last year the crown might have gone to the Boston Red Sox for managing to grab both Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, the Angles have managed to break the bank today on a blockbuster.
Though millions of Angles fans are now rejoicing at the potential of an immediate World Series contender and finally a west coast team to take on the American League East, the St. Louis Cardinals' legion can have nothing but a bitter taste in their collective mouths.
Granted, this isn't the first time a high profile and beloved player has made the jump to the enemy, but it doesn't make the hurt any less.
Here are five other big-name baseball traitors who left their longstanding teams.
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After 12 years with the Boston Red Sox, three Cy Young Awards and an American League and All-Star MVP, former pitcher Roger Clemens shocked Red Sox Nation by refusing to re-sign with Boston and opted for the Toronto Blue Jays. He then added insult to injury by signing with Boston's arch rival, the New York Yankees once his tenure in Toronto was up.
Then GM Dan Duquette had famously remarked that Clemens was "in the twilight of his career," and suffered a backlash for years as Clemens went on to win four more Cy Youngs and two World Series championships.
Roger Clemens spent time with the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros before returning to New York in 2007. Currently, Clemens has been fighting allegations of performance enhancing drug use and perjury charges stemming from it. Turns out maybe Duquette was right after all.
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Perhaps an even more traitorous departure than having "The Rocket" Roger Clemens jet off to Toronto, was seeing beloved "caveman idiot" Johnny Damon depart the Boston Red Sox in 2005. After the historic World Series win in the 2004 season as well as the epic comeback in the ALCS against the New York Yankees, Damon was on a high.
Famously quoted in May 2005 as saying,
"There's no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they're going to come after me hard. It's definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It's not what I need."
Damon signed a four-year, $52 million deal with them six months later; he now has his own definition in the Urban Dictionary.
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For the best part of 10 seasons, from 1984 to 1994, starting pitcher Dwight Gooden was the New York Mets ace in the hole. He racked up a World Series championship, was a Cy Young Award winner, Rookie of the Year, four-time All-Star and even won a Silver Slugger award in 1992.
His career with the Mets ended on a low note, as off-the-field controversies and substance abuse issues took a toll on his performance.
Gooden then signed with cross-town rivals the New York Yankees, and only briefly showed flashes of his old self, going on a 10-2 stretch through the middle of the season until injuries took their toll again.
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In a seven-year span from 1996-2002, Thome hit .290 and averaged 40 home runs and 108 RBI per season. Thome’s best season with the Indians was in 2002 when he compiled a .304 BA, a franchise-record 52 home runs, 118 RBI, an American League-leading 122 walks and a league-leading .677 slugging percentage.
Thome's departure to the Philadelphia Phillies left many in the Tribe with a bitter taste in their mouths, but a forgiving fan base, they welcomed Thome back in 2011 as part of a trade with the Minnesota Twins. They would see him depart at the end of the season for Philly, again.
He has amassed nine All-Star Game appearances, two World Series rings, three National League MVPs, two Roberto Clemente Awards, one Hank Aaron Award and grabbed NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2001. Consistently leading the league in batting, he is one of the top power hitters in all of baseball at 31 years old.
With negotiations stalling during the 2011 preseason and regular season, many fans were starting to get a bit nervous at the prospect of their slugger heading out of town. However, at this point, the most pressing issue might be what's going to happen to Pujols5, the first baseman's St. Louis eatery.