Friday, June 22, 2007

The All-Time Red Sox All-Dirtbag Team



These are the good ol' days for Red Sox fans. Not only is the ball club a perennial contender well on its way to another compelling autumn, but it seems the ownership emphasizes character in its players. Oh sure, Curt Schilling is something of a blowhard, and we're still not really sure what happened with Julio Lugo in Houston. But for the most part, we can feel pretty good about rooting for this group of players. It's funny, a buddy of mine mentioned the other day that he likes the personality of this team even better than that of the World Series champs of '04. While I consider that statement borderline blasphemous - I ate up the Cowboy Up antics, Cabrera's handshakes, etc., and given the tense atmosphere in Boston at that time, I don't think they would have won without being so ridiculously loose - I certainly understand why someone would admire the professionalism (not to mention the starting pitching) of this crew. But our appreciation for these recent Sox teams got us talking (reminiscing certainly is not the right word) about the days when we didn't have it so good, when Dan Duquette annually failed chemistry and the clubhouse was populated with more Dirtbags than Dirt Dogs. Coincidentally, I also received an email Thursday morning from a reader suggesting I write about my least favorite Red Sox of all-time. And so, with all of this considered and the people demanding some negativity, we offer you this, our All-Time All-Dirtbag team. Try to enjoy it more than you did when these bums actually played here.

CATCHER
Jim Leyritz:
The embedded Yankee started the '98 season as the starting catcher, but griped and moaned his way out of town after losing playing time to some kid named Varitek. Good. Riddance. Honorable mention here goes to Rick Cerone, another all-talk, no-action type like Leyritz who was more interested in playing clubhouse lawyer than actually playing the game.

FIRST BASE
Tony Clark:
Bright, friendly, and respected, he makes our anti-team for spending '02 seeming more concerned with baseball's labor strife than with helping the Sox win some freakin' ballgames. With co-conspirator Grady Little's help, he deftly sabotaged the Red Sox offense in '02, hitting three homers in 275 at-bats for a whopping .556 OPS. (For perspective, that's two points higher than Cesar Crespo's career OPS.) Frankly, after what I saw that season, I'm shocked he's still in the bigs.

SECOND BASE
Jose Offerman:
Believe it or not, he's still playing, for the Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks, and as evidenced by this piece by ESPN's Jeff Pearlman, he's still in denial about the decline of his own skills. Says the perpetually sour Offerman, now 38: "A baseball player knows when his time is up. And I still have three years left in me." Say whaaaaat?

SHORTSTOP
Mike Lansing:
I suppose it's somewhat of a copout to put this All-Universe jerk at shortstop since second base was the primary place he stunk it up for the 2000-01 Sox. But he did fill in during Nomar's various forays to the disabled list, and there simply must be a spot on the team for a player who was so delusional about his own abilities that he once tore the lineup card off the dugout wall and shredded it in full view of the media after discovering his name wasn't on it.

THIRD BASE
Shea Hillenbrand:
Arrived in 2001 as a wide-eyed, gosh-I'm-just-happy-to-be-here kid, a ballplayer version of Opie Taylor. Departed in 2003 as a loudmouthed, overly entitled lunkhead with a vocabulary that would make John Rocker blush. Okay, maybe that's a little exaggerated, but honestly, I've never heard more horror stories about a player's public conduct than I have about Hillenbrand.

OUTFIELD
Wil Cordero:
You know the reason. Let's move on . . .

OUTFIELD
Carl Everett:
Our team captain, this dinosaur-doubtin', Kulpa's-melon-buttin', Globe-hatin' blockhead remains the epitome of the 2001 Sox, a collection of individuals so despicable (Manny, Pedro, Lowe, Varitek, and a few others excluded) that I actually quit watching baseball for awhile. God, I hated that team.

OUTFIELD
Dante Bichette:
By the time he loafed his way to Boston, this chronic whiner was more slug than slugger. (As you probably figured, he did keep himself in terrific physical condition after his playing days ended. Don't click here if you're still eating your breakfast.)

RIGHTHANDED PITCHER
Roger Clemens:
It's always about the money. And yet the disingenuous dope never fails to claim it's about everything else.

LEFTHANDED PITCHER
Matt Young:
As long as his decision to give three years and $6.8 million to Young, a jittery lefty with a phobia about throwing to first base and a career record of 51-78, remains on Lou Gorman's resume, his decision to trade this guy will continue to rank as his second stupidest transaction as far as I'm concerned. (Upon further review, this probably isn't entirely fair to Young, who was by all accounts a gem of a guy. But man, was he terrible.)

RELIEF PITCHER
Ugueth Urbina:
Depending on which version you believe, he got into either a heated argument or a rock-'em, sock-'em fistfight with Tim Wakefield over the volume of his stereo on a team flight in '01. Considering the dark developments in Urbina's life since then, Wakefield has to figure he was lucky Oogie didn't have his trusty machete on the plane with him.

DESIGNATED HITTER
Jack Clark:
Strike out . . . buy a Ferrari . . . strike out . . . buy a Benz . . . ground into a double play . . . buy a Caddy. No wonder he ended up bankrupt.

MANAGER
Joe Kerrigan:
All these years later, and I still can't believe he had the audacity to ask Manny to change his swing. I mean, he won eight games as a big-league pitcher - what the hell does he know about hitting? And of course he can never be forgiven for trying to make Pedro pitch meaningless September games with a shoulder injury, one so serious that he practically had the release point of Dan Quisenberry before, in a justifiable rage, he ripped off his jersey during a workout and announced he was shutting himself down. If ever I was going to go for the R rating on this blog, it would be to describe this backstabbing, incompetent weasel.

(Special shout-out to reader Jim Bell for suggesting this topic. Now let me know in the comments who I forgot.)

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