Watching today's Chicago White Sox/Tampa Bay Rays game got me thinking. If you were starting a team of players everyone loves to hate, who would be in the starting lineup? If you didn't catch the game today let me give you a quick recap: Last night AJ Pierzynski slid hard and late into second base, spiking Ben Zobrist of the Rays squarely in the shin. There's about one unwritten rule for players when sliding into second base, don't try and injure the opponent. Do what it takes to break up the double play without injuring the opponent. AJ doesn't heed to the unwritten rules. He plays by his own set. The Rays responded properly in today's game by plunking him in his 1st at bat. Message sent, but not received. AJ took exception to this and I suppose he felt slighted. I mean its not like he's ever tried something bush league like this before versus the Rays. Oh wait, what about this?? Later in the game, with Pierzynski behind the plate he called for Ben Zobrist to be hit by rookie White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana who is trying to earn a spot in the rotation with John Danks out injured. The White Sox led 3-1 when this occurred and after Quintana missed Zobrist, throwing behind him he was ejected. There goes your win rookie. There goes another chance to prove you can pitch in the big leagues. More than likely a 5 game suspension is ahead for him as Danks should be healthy by the time that is over. Thanks a lot AJ, you selfish prick. As a rookie, there's no chance that Quintana would ignore the maniacal wants and needs of his veteran back stop. I just hope it doesn't send him back to the minors quicker.
Obviously AJ Pierzynski earns the starting catchers spot on this team.
CATCHER: AJ Pierzynski
Outside of the example above who could forget this lovely play? Sorry for the lack of video, but the internet was too embarrassed by AJ's actions to keep it viewable.
FIRST BASE: Albert Pujols
There aren't a lot of bad guys playing first base right now in the majors, but Albert earns the nod because of his departure from St. Louis and his wife. He was supposedly only offered $130 million over five years to stay with the defending champs in St. Louis and apparently Pujols doesn't do hometown discounts. He took the money and ran west to California as the Angels backed the Dan Snyder truck up with a 10 year, $254 million deal. The angriest member of the Pujols family was his wife Dierdre who went on the radio (a Christian station nonetheless) and blamed God for this. Yup, you read that right, it was God's fault they god such a horrid offer and that was a sign to play for the Angels. Praise the Lord for all that money!!
SECOND BASE: Dustin Pedroia
I get it, he's 5' 9" in cleats, 170 lbs covered in dirt and he's really, really good (for his size at least...HA!). Nobody will ever be able to take away his MVP trophy and I doubt Pedroia would allow you to wrestle it away from him. He's plays with the heart of a pit bull and doesn't hide any of his emotion. He wants you to remember he's only 5'9" and still beating you. He talks about it, even when you're done listening. He's earned the right to talk, but enough is enough. And no, I'm not going to the 'laser show.'
SHORTSTOP: Hanley Ramirez
Wait, he's not a Shortstop you say. That's right, because he was deemed not good enough to play there anymore and was shifted to 3rd to make room for Jose Reyes. Some people will say it makes sense to acquire a talent like Reyes and move HanRam to 3rd. It does, but Ramirez forced the Marlins hand by being one of the laziest players on the field. Ex-Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez even benched Ramirez because of lazy play in 2010. Gonzalez is gone from Florida, Ramirez isn't, case closed. We'll always have that stylish bleached blond look though.
THIRD BASE: Alex Rodriguez
This is an easy one, especially for an Oakland Athletics fan like myself. After watching ARoid...err ARod own the A's 18 times a year when he was with Seattle and Texas, Rodriguez earned HOF status in my book with his run in with future perfect game thrower Dallas Braden. Braden obviously went overboard, but Rodriguez bluntly stated: "He just told me to get off his mound. I was a little surprised. I'd
never quite heard that. Especially from a guy that has a handful of wins
in his career ... I thought it was pretty funny actually." Couple that awesome attitude with two $100 million contracts, plenty of October choke jobs, steroid usage and being on the Yankees...well you get the picture.
LEFT FIELD: Alfonso Soriano
Ever since Barry Bonds left this spot vacant, Soriano has done everything possible to lay claim to this title. Yet another athlete blessed with immense talent, he let his skill set all go to hell after turning Wrigley Field into his own personal ATM. The Cubs bought the rights to Soriano from the Washington Nationals following a career best 46 HR/41 SB season. In the first six years of his career, Soriano amassed 205 home runs while swiping 208 stolen bases. That's future Hall of Fame numbers right there folks! In the 5+ years with the Cubs (sorry Chicago) he has hit only 139 homers and stolen only 55 bases. It must be all the money he carries around in his back pocket that is slowing him down.
CENTER FIELD: Nyjer Morgan
Nyjer Morgan aka T-Plush earns captain status on this team with multiple douche bag incidents. Whether it be his brawl with the Nationals with his WWE-esque exit or his alter ego post game press conferences as T-Plush, Morgan has entrenched himself onto this team. This dude is crazy and not a good crazy.
RIGHT FIELD: Jeff Francoeur
I have nothing against the man, but that's probably because I'm not a fan of any team he's been on. After storming out of the gate during his rookie season with the Atlanta Braves, Sports Illustrated dubbed the five tool Francoeur 'The Natural' in reference to the movie starring Robert Redford. In just short of half a season in 2005, he hit 14 home runs with 45 RBI and a .300 batting average. Coupled with a world class throwing arm, everyone assumed he'd be then next big thing to keep the Atlanta Braves playoff streak alive. Starting in 1991 through 2005, the Braves won their division every year (1994 ended in a strike which would of snapped it because the Expos were just too damn good, but that rant is for another day). In his first full year with the Braves, Francoeur did okay, but Hank Aaron incarnate he wasn't. Hell he wasn't even a poor man's Dale Murphy. He has never hit .300 for a full season and only topped 20 home runs once in his career. He is also a devout and outspoken Christian which adds to the Tim Tebow like backlash he receives. For failing to live up to the unfair and ridiculously high expectations and for ending the Braves playoff run you earn a spot on the starting lineup Jeff. Enjoy Kansas City where careers go to die, I hear they have great BBQ.
STARTING PITCHER (Left Handed): Cole Hamels
Mr. Old School earned his spot on the team long before teaching Bryce Harper how the big leagues function. Maybe it was marrying money grubbing, silicone enhanced, reality show whore Heidi of Survivor fame. She stripped naked for chocolate and peanut butter on the island and then did the same for money off of it. That's the attitude of a woman after Coles' heart. I mean they are just such a cute, money grubbing, couple, aren't they? If he wasn't such a good left handed pitcher he'd have no redeeming qualities in life.
STARTING PITCHER (Right Handed): Derek Lowe
I'm getting personal for this one so apologies in advance. Derek Lowe struck out Terrence Long with the bases loaded to end the decisive Game 5 in 2003 ALDS ending yet another season of heart break for me. His hand gesture around his man parts towards the Athletics dugout is what sticks most with fans. He was exuberant and decidedly so, but it looked bad and was received worse. The Athletics had plenty of chances to win that series, but with a terrible base running play/call by Miguel Tejada and the umpires in Game 3, an injury to Tim Hudson and a blown 8th inning lead in game four to stranding the winning runs on base in the 9th in Game 5, it was a series to forget. The 'crotch chop' was the proverbial cherry on top and I for one will hate Derek Lowe forever.
CLOSER: Jonathan Papelbon
Take your pick: The stare? Stupid The eight minutes in between each pitch? Ass The dumb dance he does after recording 3 whole outs? Juvenile Everything adds up to a spot on the team. I hate the New York Yankees, but I respect Mariano Rivera who after a save does nothing to draw attention to himself. He's a professional. Not a back woods, country hick (too mean?? sorry Southerners) who acts like a frat boy on the mound. Act like you've done your job before and shake the hands of your teammates before chugging your post game six pack.
That's my list, I'd enjoy hearing about who I missed.