Today’s question is about hate. Well, maybe not HATE hate. I’m not looking for actual bile here. I’m not looking for you to name awful people — criminals or suspected criminals — or anything like that. No, I’m wanting to keep it on-the-field for that kind of “hate” one develops for a player for purely baseball reasons.
Maybe it’s because the guy is kinda dirty or snotty or something. Maybe it’s because you just don’t like the cut of his jib. Maybe — probably — it’s because he absolutely wears out the pitchers or hitters of the team you happen to root for and you have developed an ire for the dude because of it.
I don’t think I have anyone who fits that bill today. I’m not the sort of fan who gets as wound up in that kind of thing as I used to, I suppose. If a guy is a jerk I consider him content for this website more than I consider him my enemy, and content is good for a guy in my line of work. If a guy wears out the team I root for, well, I’m old enough now to realize that baseball primes are short and that, before too long, he’ll age and be humbled and then be out of the game and won’t be that kind of problem for me anymore. I’m a few generations of ballplayers into my baseball fandom so I realize now that you can wait ’em out.
That wasn’t always the case, of course. When I was a kid the stars of the day seemed permanent and the star who I absolutely loathed was George Brett.
There was no personal reason for it. I knew nothing about him, really, except for the fact that he was one of if not the best player in the American League when I was a young fan, that as a young fan I rooted for the Detroit Tigers, and that Brett seemed to absolutely wear out Detroit Tigers pitching. Really, if the Tigers were playing the then-dominant Royals, it seemed like Brett always got the big hit for Kansas City. Looking back at his career splits reveals that my impressions were not far off: he hit Tigers pitching better than all but that of two other teams in baseball during the course of his career.
When you’re young it’s hard to process that kind of thing, so you just autopilot to hate and I kinda hated George Brett then because of it. I grew out of that in due time. I think the Tigers winning the World Series in 1984 cured it and, in fact, I remember being quite happy for Brett and the Royals when they won it a year later.
But man, if you had asked eight-year-old me about that in 1981 or so, I’d have had a different answer.
How about you? Who do you — or did you — love to hate?