San Francisco Giants fans are a pretty relaxed bunch.
We don't hate our crosstown rivals, or really any of our rivals except the Los Angeles Dodgers, but even that hatred was inherited from the New York days. While this could be an annual list for the New York Yankees faithful, it's taken 43 years to accumulate enough goats worthy of a top 10 list in San Francisco.
This is a fan base that dealt with the cognitive dissonance that is Barry Bonds for 15 years. A man who required his own barca-lounger, disrespected his teammates, verbally assaulted the media, pumped synthetic home run juice into his blood, lied under oath, and may very well be in jail by the time you read this.
But those splash landings were awesome weren't they?
Bonds is probably one of the top five most beloved Giants of all time. Go figure.
However, there are others whose crimes were unforgivable. Some of them accumulated ill will over many years. Others cemented their legacy with one soul-crushing mistake. This is not a list of the worst Giants ever. You won't find Todd Linden, Glenallen HIll or William Van Landingham. Those types merely amuse.
No, these are the guy who crossed us. The overpaid, the under-performing, and those who flat out choked. And forgiveness is slow to come. Here are the top 10 ranked in order of their atrocities.
Candy Maldonado was quite possibly the most average player in the history of baseball. He did very little to bring attention to himself. He was never good enough to sniff the All-Star game and just good enough to hit .250 for nine different teams in 14 years. Yet the Candyman had two defining moments as a Giant.
The first was a flying headfirst hay-maker aimed at Ozzie Smith in defense of teammate Will Clark after a hard slide at second base ruffled Smith's feathers.
Candy's second moment came in 1987, when the Giants were one game away from the World Series. In the second inning of Game 6 of the NLCS, Cardinals catcher Tony Pena lofted a dead duck fly ball to right. The Candyman lumbered in awkwardly.
However, unlike the Smith incident, this time Candy dove cleats first and the ball rolled past him for a triple. Pena would come in to score, the Giants would lose Game 6, 1-0, lose game 7 and Maldonado's graceful soccer tackle would live in infamy.
Justified or not, in fans' minds, Candy stands next to Felix Rodriguez, Jose Cruz Jr. and the Loma Prieta earthquake as reasons why the Giants did not win a World Series.
There are still runners on base at AT&T Park waiting for Edgardo Alfonzo to drive them in.
The Giants signed Alfonzo before the 2003 season to help replace the offensive output of Jeff Kent. His performance was in line with all other Brian Sabean signings. Underwhelming.
In seven years with the Mets, Alfonzo was one of the best hitting third basemen in the business, posting a .298/.380/.484 line. His performance with the Giants was, well, less than that. Even his.275/.338/.385 numbers must be adjusted for Bonds-inflation. And it felt much worse. Alfonzo was supposed to replace Jeff Kent, but instead invoked memories of a defensively challenged Bill Mueller.
Memories of Alfonzo are probably unfairly tainted by the fact that he led the Giants through a severe downfall between 2003 and 2006. He stands alongside other non-stars like Michael Tucker, Lance Niekro, and Dustin Hermanson as the faces of an awful era.
The Bobby Bonds for Bobby Murcer trade pulled off in 1975 between the Giants and Yankees left everyone feeling jilted. Hailed as the next Mickey Mantle by the New York media, Murcer was a Yankee at heart and would never quite forgive the Bronx Bombers for their betrayal.
Bonds, on the other hand, was one of the Giants' most popular players in the mid-1970s.
Murcer never fit in. He called Candlestick Park in the summertime "the worst place I have ever seen." Despite decent seasons, Bonds and Murcer did not last long with their new teams. As if to right a wrong, Bonds ended up back with the Giants as a coach post-retirement. Murcer migrated back to the Bronx first as a player and then as a Yankees broadcaster until his death in 2008.
The Bobby Murcer Giants era felt so unnatural that even Topps kept Yankee Stadium in the background of his Giants baseball card.
Rowand is my personal least favorite on this list. The other guys either provided amusement, were hard to dislike personally, or at least gave us some entertaining news stories. Rowand's tenure with the Giants, on the other hand, was just unredeemable.
Rowand was the unfortunate combination of a free swinger who couldn't make contact. During his Giants career, Rowand struck out one in every four at bats while getting on base at an awful .310 clip. He couldn't hit righties. He couldnt hit lefties. He couldn't hit batting practice. And he never met a slider he didn't like.
Last year, Rowand insulted the city of San Francisco and the whole Giants organization when he implied that he would rather be back in Chicago where wearing the pinstripes gave him "goosebumps." I guess $60 million to work two days a week and a World Series ring weren't good enough for him.
Jose Cruz Jr. played in 160 games for the Giants in 2003. I'm sure those games were nice. Then came Game 3 of the NLDS.
The Giants were up by a run in the bottom of the 11th with closer Tim Worrell on the hill to slam the door and give the Giants a commanding 2-1 series lead. Jeff Conine lifted a lazy fly ball to right. Over trotted Jose Cruz Jr., possibly the best defensive right fielder in AT&T Park history. Routine catch, one ou----
He dropped the ball.
Some other stuff happened and a few minutes later the Marlins won the game. The Giants lost the series in Game 4.
Thus ends the story of Jose Cruz Jr.
Johnnie LeMaster's stats are amazing. As a Giant, LeMaster batted .226 with 22 home runs and 229 RBI. Over 10 seasons! Giants fans put up with LeMaster and his .281 on-base percentage for 979 total games. If you think Miguel Tejada was tough to swallow last year, imagine putting up with him until 2020.
Granted, LeMaster was a great defensive shortstop in an era where shortstops often hit like pitchers. But at one point in 1978, Johnnie Disaster's play became so atrocious that fans at Candlestick started raining down their displeasure on a daily basis. In a legendary turning of the other cheek, LeMaster inscribed Giants' fans favorite chant on the back of his uniform. His reputation as been on the mend ever since.
The 1993 season really sticks in the craw of Giants fans everywhere. The Giants were 103-58 heading into the last game of the season and had to beat the Dodgers to force a one-game playoff against the Atlanta Braves.
21-year old phenom Salomon Torres took the mound that day and the Dodgers jumped on him. The game was never close and playoff dreams were crushed. There's a good argument to be made that Torres receives way too much blame. He only gave up three earned runs in three innings and left only trailing by two. Relievers Dave Burba and Dave Righetti came in to give up eight earned runs in 1.2 innings.
Nevertheless, Torres' name is legendary. He is the face of that forsaken season. Many believe that the wild card was instituted in 1995 to prevent another 103 win team from missing the playoffs. Tell that to a Giants fan over the age of 25 and there will be head shaking with people murmuring, "Oh yes, Salomon Torres."
Nothing more needs to be said.
Torres never panned out in San Francisco and was heckled for the rest of his career (which, surprisingly, only just ended in 2008).
In 2006, when told that he was linked to the Giants in trade rumors, Torres pleaded publicly "If I could beg, I would beg. Send me where you want, but not to San Francisco."
The feeling was mutual.
Armando Benitez and San Francisco never could get along. The relationship was treacherous from the start. As the closer for two-plus seasons, Benitez took the heat for some bad Giants teams in the middle of last decade. Along the way, he complained about everything from run support to announcer Jon Miller. Benitez was soft, and not just around the mid-section.
After blowing a save in 2007, Armando Benitez responded to reporters by saying, "I did my job." Not as crazy as it sounds. Blowing saves seemed to be Armando's primary occupation in San Francisco.
Benitez's Giants career came to a thrilling climax several days later at Shea Stadium where the ex-Met walked Jose Reyes, let him steal second and then balked twice to tie the game. Benitez, clearly rattled, allowed Carlos Delgado to plant the next pitch in the right field stands to end the game.
Benitez once blamed a ninth inning meltdown on his team not scoring enough runs. We can only wonder how Benitez would handle closing for the 2012 Giants.
The stats don't even matter. Ask any Giants fans how many saves Benitez blew during those years, and the answer will be that he blew all of them.
In 2006, the Giants signed the biggest free agent on the market. Four years later, the Giants won the World Series. Like clockwork, right?
It's not Zito the person that is the problem. It's the $20 million dollars the Giants are throwing overboard annually as a result of the signing. That contractual ball in chain is the reason the Giants can't afford to upgrade their offense this season or any season.
Why can't they afford it? Because they need the money to pay pitchers that have risen up to perform the ace role Zito was paid to fill.
The Zito signing is unanimously maligned. Giants fans everywhere are calling for a Zito refund as ticket prices go up and offensive production goes down. To his credit, Zito has withstood the criticism without so much as a snide remark. He's done nothing to hurt Giants fans but collect a paycheck.
The real blame here lies with management, but it's hard to boo the whole front office. They don't often walk the bases loaded.
And that World Series? No. 75 wasn't even on the postseason roster. Only two more years, Giants fans.
Everything about this acquisition reeks. Bad. The stink lingers six years after Pierzynski was run out of town on a flaming cable car. Here are three reasons:
1) The Giants acquired Pierzynksi in 2004 in exchange for "washed up" Joe Nathan, super-prospect Francisco Liriano, and spot starter Boof Bonser. Even Bonser for Pierzynski would have been unfair. This is one of the worst trades in Giants history. In an alternate universe, Joe Nathan slams the door on the Red Sox in the 2004 World Series and baseball history is altered forever.
2) "Double Play A.J.," as he was known in my household, couldn't get the ball in the air. He led the majors in double plays and thrown helmets.
3) According to urban legend, the frosted tipped backstop made Barry Bonds look like teammate of the year. The 2004 Giants led the league in anonymous clubhouse sources, who often called out Pierzynksi for alleged indifference to his pitchers and game preparation.
One widely reported tale claims that after being hit in the groin by a foul ball during a spring training game, Pierzynski kneed trainer Stan Conte in the groin when Conte asked him how he felt.
The whole fanbase felt that one, A.J.