hey shane, i just read your beckett piece, which i found spot-on. but i was just wondering where you put beckett in comparison to say...schilling or papelbon? because those are probably my least favorite baseball players, pretty much ever, and i think are bigger assholes than beckett (although beckett is ridiculously immature with that stupid fucking smirk, like you said). obviously, no rush to respond, im just curious about your opinion.
It's a hell of a question, and actually, I will rush to respond. It needs to be answered, and urgently. First off, I have to say that I agree with Jill in her selection of the most loathsome players. Schilling, Papelbon, and Beckett are the lowest of the low, the repugnant few that go above and beyond the call of obnoxious duty. Sure, big Papi can get on my nerves, but sometimes I succumb to that crazy charm. And yeah, Pedroia is a bastard of a creature, but I know that at the end of the day, you could put him in a cage with an exercise wheel and fetch a good price at most pet stores (what?). So those guys get a pass.
It comes down to three. But how to judge them? How to distinguish between their odious character and determine who is the absolute most vile Red Sock of them all? Considering this question, I asked myself how I usually judge people. The answer, of course, is a combination of height, weight, and hair length, with tall, extremely obese, bald people being the most valued.
But that doesn't really work here. So then I considered how other people judge. Typically, I'm told, it comes down to a few representative qualities. I took these, and added some sport-specific stuff to make it more relevant to baseball. To make my job easier, I came up with ten: looks, personality, intelligence, wardrobe, politics, talent, origins, other experience, and signature Yankee moment (positive and negative). We'll investigate each category, come up with a 'hate' number for each player in each one, and then assign them an overall hateability index (OHI) score out of 100. It's the only fair method.
HERE WE GO!
Beckett: He's smarmy, slightly effeminate in a villainous way, mean-looking, and has the worst smile in the history of smiles. He looks like the awful rich kid in your town who would get girls only because he had money, and had a speed boat that he'd use to splash respectable old men doing blue collar work on a dock. Hate score: 9 of 10.
Papelbon: He looks like a neanderthal. He's the kind of dude who would run around the hallways at school grabbing people's asses and guffawing like an idiot. He's got a wide, blank face, indicating a total lack of mental activity. Based on appearance, you would guess that he probably googles fart jokes for like 8 hours every day. He looks like someone who taps his foot nervously whenever he's forced to have a real conversation. The only saving grace is that you can laugh at him sometimes. Hate score: 7 of 10.
Schilling: As much as it pains me to admit it, Schilling looks like an old warrior. He could be an actor in a movie about a gruff, veteran ballplayer. There's warmth and wisdom and experience in his face. He's got a face you instinctively want to like. This is very painful to write. Hate score: 2 of 10.
Beckett: Total asshole, gets all petulant and vengeful when he fails. Only loses one point due to my suspicion that there may be a sensitive child somewhere in the past. Hate score: 9 of 10.
Papelbon: Idiotic wanker. Some moments of humility. Hate score: 8 of 10.
Schilling: Self-important douchebag. Every action is in the furtherance of his own image. Thinks success in baseball makes him some kind of guru and genius. Total egomaniac. Hate score: 10 of 10.
(It's more aggravating when someone you hate is smart, so high intelligence = high hate score.)
Beckett: Possibly an evil genius. Uses all his smarts for negative purposes. Even when victory is imminent, I still suspect he has some devilish plan. He's the Bill Belichick of baseball. Hate score: 9 of 10.
Papelbon: Dumb beyond reason. His idiocy is aggravating when he wins, but pitiable when he loses. He looks like a frustrated monkey trying to do a crossword puzzle. Hate score: 4 of 10.
Schilling: Has an instinct for self-promotion, and disguises his lower brain functioning with good-old-boy hucksterism. Overall not the brightest bulb, but sharp enough to succeed and piss everyone off. Hate score: 7 of 10.
Beckett: Hemp necklace. Hate score: 8 of 10.
Papelbon: Kilt. Not bad. Hate score: 3 of 10.
Schilling: Fake bloody sock. Hate score: 10 of 10.
Beckett: Mostly unknown, probably loves dictators. Has appeared in ads for the NRA (really). Hate score: 7 of 10.
Papelbon: Doesn't understand politics, or how to vote. Hate score: 4 of 10.
Schilling: Decided his World Series victory gave him the credentials to campaign for George Bush in 2004. Hate score: 10 of 10.
Beckett: Slightly overrated as a starting pitcher, and seemingly on the decline. Great in the postseason. Hate score: 7 of 10.
Papelbon: One of the game's best closers, but also possibly on the far end of his best years. Hate score: 6 of 10.
Schilling: Probable hall of famer. 216 lifetime wins, 3.46 lifetime ERA, mostly excellent in the postseason. Hate score: 8 of 10.
Beckett: Texas, home of Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan and people who think they should be their own country. Hate score: 8 of 10.
Papelbon: Louisiana and Florida. Eh. Hate score: 5 of 10.
Schilling: Alaska and Arizona. Respectable. Hate score: 3 of 10.
Beckett: Played for the Marlins. Had a key role in beating the Yankees in the 2003 World Series. That was one fall classic no Yankee fan expected to lose. Hate score: 10 of 10.
Papelbon: Whole career has been spent with the Sox. Hate score: 5 of 10.
Schilling: Played for the Phillies and Diamondbacks. Had a key role in beating the Yankees in the 2001 series. It was hard to lose that one, but it was a wonderful and memorable postseason, so the bitterness isn't as strong. Hate score: 9 of 10.
Signature Moment against the Yankees (positive)
Beckett: Has never pitched against the Yanks in the postseason with Boston, so this goes to game 6 of the 2003 series when he was a Marlin; a complete game, 5-hit shut-out. I watched this in Ireland, and was furious that we couldn't score any runs. I felt we deserved the World Series win after beating the Sox on Boone's home run. I didn't yet understand that I should hate Beckett with a fiery passion, but this is when it began. That game clinched the series for the Marlins. Hate score: 8 of 10.
Papelbon: Hard to identify a signature positive moment, since he's also never pitched against the Yanks in the playoffs. But he has 14 saves against us lifetime, and pretty all of them have been annoying. Hate score: 5 of 10.
Schilling: 2004. The fake bloody sock. Hate score: 10 of 10.
Signature Moment against the Yankees (negative)
Beckett: His past two years have been nightmarish. I covered his stats yesterday, but it's been one bad start after another. Even when he pitches well, he seems to be out-dueled, as in the 15-inning classic against Burnett last season. Yet even though we own him, I still find myself screaming at him through the television. And he's tried to make up up for his decline in pitching prowess with beanballs. Beckett is somehow equally detestable when he sucks. Hate score: 8 of 10.
Papelbon: All-Star game, 2008. Papelbon, when asked, said he should close the game instead of Mariano at Yankee Stadium. The New York media and fans jumped all over him, and things did not go well. He conceded a run late in the game (to the home crowd's delight, even though he was on their team) before Mariano came in and successfully closed things. He felt that his wife was threatened later on, and the ire of the fans clearly had a psychological impact. Even die-hard Yankee supporters couldn't help feeling a little sorry for him. Hate score: 3 of 10.
Schilling: Lost game 1 in the 2004 ALCS, but who really cares? Hate score: 7 of 10.
So how did it pan out? Let's check out the standings on the Overall Hateability Index (OHI):
1. Josh Beckett: 83 out of 100
2. Curt Schilling: 76 out of 100
3. Jonathan Papelbon: 52 out of 100
Wow! Beckett's score is astoundingly high, and it had to be in order to defeat an abhorrent self-promoter like Schilling. But it turns out Papelbon's score was surprisingly low. Who knew?
After this rigorous mathematical exercise, we can now settle the debate once and for all. The most hateable Red Sox player of all time is: