When the going gets tough, get after that Haterade. These athletic pariahs deserve what’s they’re ’bout to get: vitriol.
Nathan: Sean Avery
This pick is for Avery’s annoyance factor. He’s probably not a horrible person, but he is 100% jackass. This clip alone would get him on this list for me. Hockey players are supposed to be tough. They are supposed to destroy each other with brute force. They are supposed to draw blood and injure each other. And they are supposed to do it without all the cheap shots. They are not supposed to wave their sticks around like that dork kid you decided to take pity on and let into your pick-up game.
Travis: Gary Bettman
The NHL’s commissioner hijacked Canadian teams and overreached in trying to bring hockey to the American Sun Belt, allowed the labor situation to get so bad an entire season was lost, and by the time said season was lost, no one really cared because the play had gotten so slow and dirty that it made some of the game’s greats just up and quit. The NHL has a great chance to increase its visibility with the NBA labor troubles, but since it’s in Bettman’s hands, it surely won’t.
Tyler: Tiger Woods
Tiger is the anti-Jeter. Where as Derek Christ has spent his Hall Of Fame baseball career moonlighting as a Hall Of Fame bedder of beautiful, beautiful women, nobody judges him, because he never had the gall to hide his antics behind, say, a two-child marriage to a Nordic goddess whom Travis once rightfully described as “sculpted out of alabaster.” Hitching your life to a lovely lady remains a sacred cow for me, even if you wanna open that shit up. Not for me, that, but marriage ain’t easy, so I don’t judge whatever anybody’s gotta do to keep it real.
Eldrick didn’t keep it real. While Elin was home with the kids, he was texting floozies from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, and engaging in salacious antics that might fluster the latest, craziest incarnation of Kanye West. Dear Tiger, I loved you, man. Now I hate your fucking guts. You’ll never take a swing so pretty as the one your wife laid on that SUV.
Nathan: Jerry Jones
When you give your players comp NFC Championship tickets before getting out of the second round, you should be scorned by all.
It was great to see the Lions make a miracle comeback earlier this year. It made it that much better to know that they did it in Jerry’s house.
Travis: Mike Krzyzewski
If there’s one thing the sports world should hate, it’s someone who has a reputation for “doing things the right way,” because they most likely aren’t. Coach K is the poster boy for this, but if he’s really concerned with being a beacon of light in college basketball, why does he allow hot prospects to go one-and-done to the NBA, and why does he send his players out to break the noses of rival stars? If Coach K’s so clean, how come his most prized protege, Quin Snyder, ended up being dirty enough to set the Missouri basketball program back a decade over a juco transfer more apt to drag a girl down the stairs by her hair than hit a game-winning shot? Give me John Calipari, Bob Huggins and Rick Pitino—at least we know where they stand.
Tyler: Chris Carpenter
When my O.G.-love Toronto Blue Jays cut Chris Carpenter loose in the late-’90s after a string of injury-crippled seasons, I glanced at his healthier stats and thought “Hey, maybe my N.G.-love Cincinnati Reds should take a flier on this guy.” Thanks to the expertise of superbad pitching coach Don Gullett, at-the-time Reds GM Jim Bowden made a career out of “reclaiming” dead arms (as well as siphoning money from dirt-poor Latin American prospects, presumably to fund his cigar and cattle-skin trouser habits), so it seemed an obvious choice.
Apparently not. The Cardinals (more on another of them in a bit) snatched him up, and Dave Duncan (super-Gullett) made him into a star. But y’know what? GOOD. As the years have gone by, Carpenter’s pitching ability has risen concurrently with his reputation as a complete and utter dick/asshole/I could go on forever. Whether it be chewing out a teammate in the dugout, forever bitching about, say, the level of the pitching mound (or the weight of the ball, or the prevailing wind current, or the alignment of the stars), or just being an all-around mouthy prick, he ain’t a cat I want anywhere near Cincy’s other arms.
Nathan: Rasheed Wallace
“Sheed” was a fighter and an integral member of the ’04 and ’05 Pistons teams. His passion made him difficult to hate at times, but Rasheed Wallace is the epitome of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde player. When Larry Brown could keep him in check, Wallace looked like a basketball genius. Without Brown, Wallace had an impeccable knack for letting bad “Sheed” out of the bag at just the wrong time. I’d guess that with a solid, mentally stable player in his place the Pistons could have made one or two more Finals appearances.
He’s too whiney to be a “Bad Boy,” you realize, watching a Brown-less Rasheed Wallace a giant baby run up and down a basketball court.
Travis: Joel Quenneville
Hockey has a serious problem, because it is a tough sport, in overrating “grit.” None of the other three major team sports are as “scrappy” (read: white) as hockey, and that means that tough players who play in the trenches are needed to win. That’s all well and good, but when coaches prize grit over skill, they end up costing their teams. Before he finally won a Cup with the Blackhawks, Joel Quenneville coached some of the most talented rosters my hometown St. Louis Blues ever put on the ice, but he didn’t let his skill players play. Instead he installed ill-fitting defensive systems and rewarded talentless grinders like Tyson Nash with far too much ice time. The reason he was finally able to win in Chicago was that the team was too good for him to fuck up, though he tried, time and again, throughout their Stanley Cup run, to remain the Marty Schottenheimer of hockey.
Tyler: Mike Brown
Bengals owner Mike Brown received a once-in-a-career popularity bump two weeks ago when his prior refusal to trade hold-out QB Carson Palmer culminated in a devastating swipe of two high draft picks from Oakland in return for the former franchise signal-caller, whose continuing abilities (even before a rough mid-game debut raised fan and media cackles across the board) were in question.
No matter. Under Brown’s twenty-two year inherited tenure as team-owner/GM, the Bengals have been one of the worst teams in football–in sports–making the playoffs but twice, and losing more games than I care to tally. A litany of horrid draft picks, atrocious player relations, and wan team facilities made Cincinnati a Siberia for high-profile free agents, unless they were enticed by Brown’s trademark overspending, after which those superstars would invariably tank (Michael Westbrook, anybody?). Things have improved–moderately–under long-time head coach Marvin Lewis, but we Bengal fans are in a constant state of tension, always worrying what disaster might occur next. We’re 5-2 now, sure. I won’t believe a damn thing ’til I see it.
Nathan: Claude Lemeiux
Hockey is a dirty, bad sport. That’s what I love about it. Players (non-Sidney Crosby players) don’t often whine to the media about how they were treated this way or that way. If some bullshit is going down on the ice, it gets dealt with on the ice. The cleaning up of the game is recent years has been something of a disappointment for me. Why?
Because sometimes Claude Lemeiux does this.
I will always despise you, Claude Lemeiux.
Travis: Wayne Gretzky
How could the well-loved Great One be one of my most hated sports figures? Imagine how Washington Wizards fans feel about Michael Jordan, and you’re just about there. The Blues traded for Gretzky in 1996 when Mike Keenan was coach, and the idea of teaming the greatest playmaker in history with one of the greatest pure goal scorers in history, Brett Hull, was hard to resist. But Gretz underperformed, bickered with Keenan, and hightailed it out of town right away after his only iconic moment as a Blue: being one of the three future Hall of Famers in frame (along with Hull and Al MacInnis) as Steve Yzerman blasted a slapshot past John Casey to kill the Blues’ playoff hopes yet again.
Tyler: Ben Roethlisberger
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Ben Roethlisberger is a Smoke Monster. Or, y’know, just a monster.
Nathan: Matt Millen
Is Matt Millen the worst GM in this history of sports? Probably not. I don’t pay close attention to every GM in every sport, and so I can’t say for sure that Matt Millen is the worst GM ever. I can’t state it as a provable fact, but when you work in the same town as Ken Holland and Dave Dombrowski, your flaws will only be magnified. So, yeah, maybe you can use some nifty stats to prove to me that some other GM in some other sport was actually worse than Millen.
Provable facts do not matter on this site, though, and as far as I’m concerned no one even approaches Millen’s level of ineptness at the GM position. And, you know what? I could forgive ineptness. Some people just aren’t good at their jobs and that’s the way things are. What really pisses me off about Matt Millen is that he had the gall to run the Lions into the ground for a decade, and then, when he rightfully lost that job, he started parading his football expertise on TV. NBC hired this dude to give us all some pregame knowledge before Super Bowl XLIII. It was like listening to a rapist proffer lovemaking tips.
Travis: Bill Belichick
Until this year’s Cardinals run, the most exciting team in St. Louis in my lifetime was the Greatest Show on Turf Rams, whose time in the sun was ended by Bill Belichick’s Patriots. At the time, it seemed like a nice little underdog story, with the Patriots coming out introduced as a team instead of as individuals, in direct opposition to the star-powered Rams. Spygate and a later-outed strategy to interfere with the Rams’ receivers on every play, knowing that officials wouldn’t slow down the Super Bowl with penalty flags, put the kibosh on all that feel-good, and the Pats became one of the most hated teams in football. I could probably have a Five for Friday made up entirely of Patriot scum, from dirty defenders/annoying TV commentators Tedy Bruschi and Rodney “I’ll take some HGH and break your fingers” Harrison to their Boston racism-approved cadre of white, scrappy, scrappy, white skill players like Danny Woodhead and Wes Welker, to family values Republican and baby-mama-dropping UGG model Tom Brady. But I’ll go with their leader, he of the hoodie and robotic press conferences, the Tony La Russa of football, whose every move is renowned as genius, even when it’s obviously wrong. He hasn’t won a playoff game since the Giants perfectly ruined their perfect season—can we stop calling the Patriots a dynasty yet?
Tyler: Jim Edmonds
I just gritted my teeth. And again.
I fucking hate Jim Edmonds. Once, this hatred was due simply to the fact that he’d lay out ballerina-style for routine flyouts that could’ve been nabbed on foot with just a little hustle and, y’know, proper positioning on the ball. (If Edmonds were to read this, I’m sure he’d do it in unnecessary downward-dog pose.) After all these “highlight-reel” catches, of course, he’d jump around, bat those eyeshadow lashes and grin like the awkward eighth-grader who managed to hit a three-pointer at the end of regulation. I saw this happen more than once when I was in college as the Cardinals routinely crushed the hapless Reds, which made it all the more offensive (and made me all the more bitter.)
Then, Edmonds became a Red toward the end of Cincinnati’s division-champion 2010 season. What did Jimmy Drama do? Ended his career on a homer, pulling an Achilles’ and limping around the bases one last time. Nice moment, right? Not so much. Maybelline James then turned around in the offseason to blame the Reds’ medical staff for the end of a career that had been lurching to a halt for three seasons running. Class. Pure class. It was tough, even for six weeks, to accept that Hollywood Jim was a Redleg. In the end, he went out the way he should have. Despised.