Wednesday, June 1, 2016
When "annoying" is a compliment
I wrote an awkward, uninformed post more than seven years ago here about 10 players at the time who I wished were Dodgers.
Out of those 10 players, four of the top five listed did eventually play for the Dodgers. The results weren't great for most of those guys who were once so desirous, namely Jim Thome, Josh Beckett and Jimmy Rollins. As a result, I'm a little less of a fan (although Thome can't be blamed).
There is one of player on that list, though, who I still like quite a bit. Perhaps more now than ever. And that player is the "annoying" Chase Utley.
Utley is "annoying" or perhaps even "evil" in the eyes of Mets fans, who were tormented by that player long before his slide into Ruben Tejada last postseason. He's made things miserable for Mets followers and done it with barely the hint of recognition, which I absolutely love. Those two home runs and the grand slam after Noah Syndergaard threw behind him (you can pretend that wasn't intent but you're just fooling yourself) was the highlight of my weekend, and keep in mind I discovered 1972 high numbers at a surprise card show last weekend.
Utley simply plays baseball well. And there is nothing I see in his game that's worth a complaint, certainly not the whining I've heard for the last six months. I definitely don't see anything in his game worth legislating. And I think a few people are seeing where "the Utley rule" is getting baseball. It's another "unforseen circumstances" piece of ordinance from the Let's Be Nice Cops of MLB.
Mets fans complained how annoying Utley was over the weekend and I laughed. The guy does absolutely nothing annoying except beat those fans' team. Utley wins games and starts rallies (as seen in last night's game against the Cubs). And he has gray hair, so you can't even call him a punk.
"Annoying" is a compliment when it comes from the opposition. Think of the players who fans of New York teams have complained about the most: Tom Brady, Pedro Martinez, Chipper Jones, David Ortiz, Reggie Miller, Michael Jordan. What do they all have in common? They're insanely talented, insanely good at their craft and insanely successful. If "annoying" is what it takes to be that successful, I'll be happy to irk a few people with my skill. Because these guys aren't going out and killing zoo gorillas (even Brady's "crime" is pretty lame and I don't even like the guy). They're simply beating the teams New Yorkers like. Repeatedly.
It feels pretty good to have an "annoying" guy on your favorite team. And when I view it this way, I can see it from the other side. There are certain players who I find very annoying, simply by what they do on the field (not their personalities or how they act, that's a different category). Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals and Hunter Pence of the Giants are exhibits A and B. Completely irksome. But they do very well -- for whoever is misguided enough to root for the Cardinals and the Giants.
For me, Utley is only annoying in the fact that it took me so long to obtain his 2016 Heritage card.
It arrived a week or two ago from The Underdog Card Collector in one of those Supertrader deals (technically it's not a deal yet as I haven't sent anything back).
The Underdog combed my 2016 wants and came up with several more Heritage cards to go with Mad Sliding Utley.
I admit Arrieta's a little annoying although the Dodgers broke his streak yesterday. Greinke could be annoying but he's giving up nearly 5 runs a game so I can't get too mad.
These cards give me all the Dodgers I need except for the Clayton Kershaw shortprint. And, yeah, that's a lot annoying, Topps.
Zach wandered into flagship territory to find another annoying player that I collect. Puig gets on people's nerves for other things besides beating the opponent. But I still like him.
This is a Berger's Best card, which is flat out annoying and it doesn't have anything to do with being good. It's just a crap insert.
The final card here is not a Dodger or anything I had on my want list. But I appreciate it, particularly for this post. Marvin Miller made himself famous by being annoying. Annoying owners. Annoying fans. Even annoying some players. He annoyed just about anyone with a job in baseball. But a lot of good came out of being annoying.
"Annoying" can come in handy in my job, too. "Annoying" sometimes has its purposes, sometimes is a means to an end, and sometimes means you're just good.
He's a world f---ing champion, you know.