If there’s one thing about professional baseball that I truly enjoy, it’s the cast of characters involved. Really, anything from a crazy wind-up to a dashing mustache can create a character for a player.
In the game today however, there seems to be a distant lack of characters (I call it Vince Vaughn Syndrome). Gone are the days of the “The Big Hurt” Frank Thomas, “The Ironman” Cal Ripken, “The Big Unit” Randy Johnson, and Mike “Moose” Mussina. However, despite the quantity of characters diminishing, there are still some great individuals left. Here are the top 5 at this point in time:
Ah, Nyjer Morgan, what would we do without your mediocre baseball talents and your incredibly obnoxious mannerisms. Morgan famously dropped a ball in the outfield and threw his glove down in disgust because he thought it was a home run despite the ball laying right next to him. “AAAAAHHHH GOTTA GO!” is his catchphrase on Twitter. He also has a cat named “Slick Willie.” Yep that’s fits him to a “T” which he makes with his hand every time he reaches base. He’s also thrown a ball at a fan and been clotheslined by Gaby Sanchez. What a guy.
4. R.A. Dickey
R.A. Dickey has been this year’s feel good story. Sporting top stats in many major pitching categories, he has definitely been the biggest surprise of the season. This is a born-again Christian who was essentially forced to perfect a pitch that no one uses anymore in order to sustain any kind of career in the big leagues. And right now he’s kicking ass and taking names…well mythical sword names like Orcrist (The Hobbit) and Hrunting (Beowulf) which he lovingly refers to his bats as. And this past off-season, he climbed Mount Kilamanjaro to raise awareness for human trafficking in India. Pretty much the polar opposite of Nyjer Morgan on the awesomeness scale.
3. Ichiro Suzuki
I really didn’t think of Ichiro as much of a character besides that Japanese, crazy-good, hits-machine thing he has going on. Until I realized, he’s a very underrated quote as noted here:
“To tell the truth, I’m not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to,” Ichiro said. “If I ever saw myself saying I’m excited going to Cleveland, I’d punch myself in the face, because I’m lying.”
Hilarious as that is (and through a translator nonetheless!), it gets even better courtesy of this Yahoo article. Here are the good excerpts about Ichiro’s All-Star game antics:
Every year, after the AL manager addresses his team, Ichiro bursts from his locker, a bundle of kinetic energy, and proceeds, in English, to disparage the National League with an H-bomb of F-bombs, stunning first-timers who had no idea Ichiro speaks the queen’s language fluently and making returnees happy that they had played well enough to see the pep talk again.
And when asked how much he believes the speech has contributed to the AL dominance that has stretched more than a decade now.
“I’ve got to say over 90 percent.”
There’s no reason not to like him.
2. Brian Wilson
“Fear the Beard” has entered our vernacular as a result of the runner-up on our countdown. As a player, he’s the best character in the game (not to give away the number one): Great wit, charisma in front of people, fashion conscious, and a seemingly down-to-earth guy. Plus, he plays the most pressure-packed position in baseball with an orchestrated amount of energy and power. His Holy Trinity gesture after his saves has become a signature of sorts. Oh, and he was fined from the MLB for having non-conforming shoes or as he stated, “Having too much awesome on my feet.”
1. Ozzie Guillen
Ozzie Guillen is probably the most un-politically correct baseball personality alive currently. Ozzie is a guy that hasn’t necessarily been a bad guy throughout his whole career but there is a gradual build-up that I insist upon pointing out.
2005: Refused a trip to the White House for political reasons. No biggie.
2006: Called Jay Mariotti a “fag.” Haven’t we all wanted to at some point?
2010: Stated that illegal immigrants keep America alive with all their hard work. I mean hey, he’s kinda right. There’s aren’t many people who want to do more work and get paid less.
Also in 2010: Stated that Asian ballplayers have translators and are treated better than Hispanics and Latinos. Another valid point….I’m noticing a trend here.
2012: Told Time Magazine “I love Fidel Castro … I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherfucker is still here.” Ok Ozzie here’s the line….andddd you crossed it.
Still despite all of these offensive things (except the Jay Mariotti one. That’s hilarious. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an Around the Horn episode and actually agreed with anything he has said), he’s still a pretty good manager who has won a World Series title with the White Sox. For his complete disregard for political correctness, congratulations go out to Ozzie for being the number 1 character in baseball.
There you have it. Beards, pitches, alter-egos, quotes, and more make these guys the best of the best.
What I really would like to see is an older, seemingly cool, swarmy, wise-guy who’s always making the same jokes. Too bad Vince Vaughn can’t play baseball…