For most of the last decade, there have been some constant stars in the sky for Orioles fans to gaze upon and boo heartily. A number of those stars will wink out after the 2016 season. O’s fans will have to find some new players to receive their ire for years to come.
Sunday’s announcement by the Yankees of the upcoming release of Alex Rodriguez is only the latest example of one of those stars fading from the sky. The season-long retirement tour of Boston’s David Ortiz has gotten a ton of press as well, and let’s not forget the more recent news of a pending retirement for Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.
Two of those three guys have been around in the division for more than a decade. Hardly anybody among baseball fans likes Rodriguez, mostly because of stuff like this. The Vandal, David Ortiz, petulant whiner that he is, once destroyed a dugout phone at Camden Yards and suffered almost no punishment whatsoever because he is the Teflon of MLB. Nothing sticks.
Teixeira is not even worth the trouble of booing for any other fanbase, but, since he’s from Maryland and he signed a big contract with the Yankees, he gets mercilessly booed. This has been the case every game since his first as a Yankee, the Opening Day game in 2009.
If one wanted to be rational about it, there’s no real reason to hold a grudge with Teixeira over that whole thing. The Orioles supposedly offered “only” $140 million, so of course he went to the Yankees for another year and $40 million more.
It’s not like it would have been a good idea to blow that much money on Teixeira at that point in time, anyway. Imagine if the 2009 Orioles improved just enough that they were still very bad, but not so bad that they would have been able to draft Manny Machado in 2010. That would have been a disaster. But he spurned his home state for the Yankees, so the boos have never faded.
When these three guys are gone at the end of the year, who will be left for Orioles fans to dislike with such a fiery intensity?
For the most part, it takes some familiarity to breed such contempt. Players outside of the O’s division just aren’t seen enough to build a specific grudge against them. Sure, Bryce Harper has an idiotic-looking haircut and said some dumb stuff about Camden Yards that one time.
Yet as things stand with the current schedule, Harper and the rest of the Walgreens corporate baseball team only show up in Baltimore for two games a year. This sort of thing mostly rules out any non-AL East team, although of course, the lucky fluke Royals, enablers of Yordano Ventura intentionally hitting batters in retaliation, are plenty annoying.
Even the Royals, who sliced the Orioles to death with papercuts in the 2014 ALCS, don’t really have any one player good enough to be worth hating year after year, and unless a playoff rematch is coming, there won’t be many opportunities to build up that kind of bad blood. So that leaves the AL East opponents.
New York Yankees
The great villain of my adolescence, Derek Jeter, has now been gone for two years. When Teixeira and A-Rod are gone, will there even be any Yankees left who are worth hating? Brian McCann had his whole fun police thing in Atlanta, but that hasn’t been directed at the Orioles so much.
Brett Gardner has been around for a while, yet does he rise to the grudge level? Same with Jacoby Ellsbury, who, going from the Red Sox to the Yankees, would seem to be a prime candidate for dislike, but come on. Also, these guys aren’t still good. They’re not worth hating any more.
The Yankees as an institution are and will remain hated by all civilized beings in the universe. Until they’re good again, specific players may well be spared our ire.
Boston Red Sox
No one should go around punching other people in the face. Dustin Pedroia has the kind of face who makes you give some thought to punching other people in the face, though. He’s annoying, gets more attention than he deserves because he plays in Boston, and has been kinda good for a while... but is he really grudge-worthy?
Ortiz has been sucking up all of that oxygen for quite some time. And while the various young Red Sox players, like Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts, are good and will be annoying for years to come, there’s no specific reason to boo any of them, yet.
The greasemaster, Clay Buchholz, is about to be a free agent and probably won’t be around to hate any longer, either.
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Now we’re getting somewhere. Screw these guys, right? There’s Jose Bautista, who, speaking of people you want to punch in the face, actually got punched in the face. He is an irritating prancing peacock and he seems like he is incapable of experiencing joy. Remember that time he tried to throw out Delmon Young on a single to right field and hurt his shoulder?
Let’s not forget about Edwin Encarnacion and his ridiculous invisible parrot home run trot, either. I do not like either one of those guys... and yet, even then, both of them are free agents after this season. They might not stick around to be regularly booed by Orioles fans.
Ahh, but a new challenger arises. Also on the Blue Jays is Josh Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP. Donaldson was traded to Toronto with some existing baggage with Orioles fans, having been involved in the play that led to Manny Machado’s bat throwing incident.
Did Machado wildly overreact to the fact that Donaldson tagged him on that particular occasion? Of course he did. This is not the time for rationality, though. That’s not how this works. This is about having a guy to boo forever and ever, amen.
Donaldson would be annoying enough just by virtue of Oakland gifting him to the Jays just in time for him to win the MVP award. He’d be more annoying still because of Jays fans chanting “MVP!” at him even though he wasn’t actually the best AL player last year.
Also, he has stupid hair. My mom thought this haircut would look cool on me in 1990. It didn’t look cool on me then and it looks even worse on Donaldson in 2016.
I think we’ve found a winner. Unless something happens to change it between now and then, Donaldson will be Birdland Enemy #1 starting in the 2017 season.