With Halloween just a few weeks away, it’s time to reflect on the best showers of all time.
On the big screen, it could be Michael Myers or Norman Bates. For others, it could be Jason Voorhees, Freddie Krueger or Pennywise. In comics, it’s the Joker or Lex Luther.
Major League Baseball postseason has had its share of villains – from Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees to the entire Houston Astros team … OK, maybe the quirky Zack Greinke or old-school manager Dusty Baker are the exceptions.
In case you missed it, Chapman tossed a quick ball off Tampa’s Mike Brosseau’s head during a game in September. On Friday, Brosseau beat a game-winning home run in the eighth round against (you guessed it) Chapman to win the American League Divisional Series.
Astros turned out to have cheated earlier, especially during the 2017 and 2018 post season. To the dismay of most, the 29-31 Astros passed Twins and A and entered the American League Championship Series this year. The Rays can suddenly be everyone’s loved ones if they can annoy Houston in the ALCS.
With that in mind, there have been a number of villains in MLB history – boys who came under the skin of fans, the media, opponents, leaders and even teammates. Sports need villains to make revenge so much more poetic.
Here are some of my most memorable:
The former catcher did not make many friends with his opponents, and he may be particularly despised by both Bay Area franchises.
While with the twins, Pierzynski hit a groundbreaking homer in Game 5 of the 2002 ALDS vs. As reliever Billy Koch. Pierzynski ‘is said to have shouted «Booyah! when he crossed the home plate. You may remember that 2002 was As’ Moneyball “year where they won a record 20 games in a row in the regular season, but Oakland was eliminated by Pierzynski’s Twins.
So before the 2004 season, the Giants’ then general manager Brian Sabean switched pitchers Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano to Twins for Pierzynski. His period could not have gone much worse.
In a story that went on in the Oakland Tribune, Pierzynski was not well-liked by anyone on the Giants pitching staff. One player said they did not mind if the giants switched him. Another called him cancer. Several pitchers questioned Pierzynski’s work ethic.
Two years later, when Cubs catcher Michael Barrett searched for Pierzynski during a fight at home, it was probably around the game that he felt some redemption.
Like Pierzynski, Puig had a rap park with irritation when it came to opposing teams, management and even his own teammates.
His story with the Giants and Madison Bumgarner is well written, but Puig has many other incidents that raise red flags.
In Molly Knight’s book, Puig mentioned Greinke’s part of the story. During a road trip in Chicago, Puig stopped the team bus by looking through the trunk. After several requests, Greinke jumped off the bus, took the suitcase in front of Puig and threw it on Michigan Avenue. Puig went against Greinke and was dominated by reliever JP Howell.
Dodger’s clubhouse manager allegedly gave Puig No. 66 in reference to the 666 animal number. No, it was not because Puig was a big Iron Maiden fan.
Still late for the ballpark, Puig was continually fined and sent down to Triple-A by the Dodgers as a wake-up call. He was eventually switched to the Reds.
While Rose has been the game’s success leader all along, he was not one of the game’s most popular players or managers for a number of reasons.
As a player, Rose ran the bases with wild abandonment that changed A’s catcher Ray Fosse’s career. During the All-Star Game in 1971, Rose first ran her head into Fosse to break up a game on the plate. Yes, this was a star game, an exhibition. Fosse said he is still in pain due to the incident.
A series of Sports Illustrated stories revealed that Rose bet on baseball, including his own team, the Reds. After years of denying the indictment, Rose admitted it in her autobiography – not exactly a way to win back public opinion.
“Charlie Hustle” remains outside the Hall of Fame, but it is a topic for a separate column.