Guys you like to dislike
Jonathan Papelbon? You just made the list, buddy. Sometime between fist pump Nos. 2 and 3 of about five following his striking out the side to preserve a victory Sunday night against the Rays, the Red Sox closer solidified his spot on our list of the people Tampa Bay sports fans like to dislike. You know the guys, the ones who get under the skin of the bay area sports fans for something they've said or done, and, usually, because they're so darn good. So here's the latest in the ever-changing list:
Jonathan Papelbon .
The Red Sox relief ace ran his mouth after last year's bench-clearing brawl with the Rays, saying, "Payback is a (expletive).''’ That came, seemingly, after the score had been settled and tensions had calmed. Then came Sunday and his flurry of fist pumps for getting out of a nasty jam that he created.
The NHL's best player was involved in two incidents that put him on Lightning fans' spit list. The first: a shady hit from behind on Lightning defenseman Jamie Heward on New Year's Day that put Heward on a stretcher with a concussion. Then came Ovechkin’s 50th goal celebration on March 19 at the St. Pete Times Forum when he drew the ire of Lightning coach Rick Tocchet and goalie Mike McKenna, both of whom thought the Capitals wing was showing up the Lightning.
Crisp has moved from the Red Sox to the Royals, but memories of last year's brawl with Rays pitcher James Shields remain fresh. Crisp was upset with Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett blocking second base. Then he took a hard slide against the innocent Akinori Iwamura even though Crisp later told the Rays if they had a problem they should go after him and not his teammates. Shields plunked Crisp on the behind and Crisp charged the mound and charged right into the category of disliked opposing players for Rays fans.
Hey, another former Red Sox player. Back in 2005, Schilling ripped the Rays organization and, in particular, manager Lou Piniella, calling Sweet Lou an "idiot.''’ Oh, but suddenly the Rays were good enough to be on his list of teams that he would consider pitching for this past offseason. To be fair, because of his constant need to be heard, Schilling is on the disliked list of most teams, maybe even Boston's.
They might wear the home team's uniform, but these days the Rays bullpen is taking heat from the locals. Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, Troy Percival and even J.P. Howell are hearing it from fans as they struggle to meet expectations raised from last season's solid performances. Percival, especially, seems to draw the ire of Rays fans even though he converted 28 of 32 save opportunities last season and is a perfect 5-for-5 this season. The bullpen is not alone. B.J. Upton, Gabe Gross and Dioner Navarro also have their names kicked around on local talk radio.
He is one of those guys who just grates on everybody, even his teammates. He was involved in an infamous incident last season when the Rays lost a key game after he faked getting interfered with during a rundown. The umpires butchered the call, yet it was Pierzynski and his reputation that somehow took the hit for the play. Maybe that's because it seems the White Sox catcher is always involved in those type of plays.
Judging by Monday's town hall meeting, Lightning fans aren't too happy with owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie and GM Brian Lawton. They took a last-place team, fired its Cup-winning coach, made a mess of the next coach, promised playoffs, had the No. 1 pick in the draft who turned out to be a pretty good player and still finished with fewer points than the year before. Now they're talking about trading Vinny Lecavalier. No wonder the natives are restless.
Gator football fans in these parts can't wait to run up the score on Lane Kiffin, and he hasn't even coached a game at Tennessee. Do you think before he started running his mouth about Urban Meyer Kiffin knew that the next meeting between the teams was in Gainesville and not Knoxville?
Not only does he own the Evil Empire Yankees, he can't help but rip into the Rays. Remember last season when the Rays finished in the playoffs and the Yankees did not? Somehow Steinbrenner talked about subsidies as if he wanted some credit for the Rays making the postseason.