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Boo this man: Each fan base's favorite nemesis

May 6, 2020

For every Major League fan base, there are certain rival players who incite an uncommon level of animosity. Whether it’s because they consistently excel, because they’ve done something controversial or because of how they carry themselves, some players have a knack for getting under an entire fan base’s skin, and

For every Major League fan base, there are certain rival players who incite an uncommon level of animosity.

Whether it’s because they consistently excel, because they’ve done something controversial or because of how they carry themselves, some players have a knack for getting under an entire fan base’s skin, and the bad blood can carry on for years or even decades.

These are the players each team's fans love to hate.

American League East

Blue Jays: Rougned Odor
Infamous for: Punching José Bautista
When a new rivalry was born with the Texas Rangers throughout the Blue Jays’ 2015-16 seasons and playoff runs, Odor immediately became the player that fans in Toronto love to hate. Things really boiled over in Texas in 2016 when Odor took exception to a slide by José Bautista at second base and sparked a benches-clearing incident by throwing a punch. Like any good villain, Odor has embraced the role and even says that he likes playing in front of the boos in Toronto, which remind him of playing winter ball in Venezuela in front of raucous crowds. Odor made sure to spark the rivalry again in late 2019, when, even with his Rangers down 17-2, he took some extra time to admire a solo home run late in a game at Rogers Centre.

Orioles: José Bautista
Infamous for: Bat-flipping and staring down O's pitchers after home runs
Orioles fans' hatred for Bautista runs deep, so deep that former O’s general manager Dan Duquette famously did not pursue Bautista in free agency due to the animosity. The Blue Jays slugger was often the subject of the Baltimore fan base's ire due in part to his longstanding feud with reliever Darren O’Day and a verbal incident following a home run in the summer of 2015. Orioles players often took exception to Bautista’s exaggerated at-bats, bat flips and stare downs of opposing pitchers. It didn’t help that Bautista often bested them during his career, hitting 30 homers with an .825 OPS vs. the O’s.

Rays: CC Sabathia
Infamous for: Hitting Jesús Sucre in 2018; trash talking
Over the past few seasons, Sabathia was at the center of multiple contentious incidents involving the Rays. In his final start of the 2018 season, Sabathia was ejected after hitting catcher Jesús Sucre in retaliation for Tampa Bay throwing a pitch over the head of Yankees catcher Austin Romine. As Sabathia walked off the field, he shared some colorful words with Rays manager Kevin Cash. That energy carried into the 2019 season as Sabathia and outfielder Avisaíl García got into it at Yankee Stadium after a strikeout. Sabathia found a lot of success against the Rays in that time, only creating more frustration. Across 2018-19, the big lefty had a 2.57 ERA in nine games (eight starts) against Tampa Bay.

Red Sox: Alex Rodriguez
Infamous for: Fighting Jason Varitek; slapping ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove
A-Rod was nearly traded to the Red Sox for Manny Ramirez in 2003, but the deal fell through at the 11th hour. Two months later, the Yankees acquired him instead, and Rodriguez emerged as persona non grata in Boston at a time the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was at its peak. Rodriguez's status as the ultimate villain was cemented forever on July 24, 2004, when Bronson Arroyo hit him on the shoulder with a breaking ball, leading to a memorable fight between Rodriguez and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. Three months later, in Game 6 of the 2004 AL Championship Series, Rodriguez hit a tapper down the first-base line. As Arroyo fielded the ball and tried to apply the tag, Rodriguez slapped the ball out of his glove. A-Rod was ultimately called out for his infraction, and the Red Sox won the game, the ALCS and the World Series. But Boston fans despised Rodriguez for the rest of his career.

Yankees: Pedro Martinez
Infamous for: Hitting batters; tossing Don Zimmer to the ground
Few have played the role of visiting villain with more relish than Martinez, whose presence on the mound at Yankee Stadium once prompted thousands of New Yorkers to gleefully chant, “Who’s your daddy?” Martinez was never shy about throwing his fastball high and tight, a trait which made him one of the pitchers Derek Jeter and his teammates hated to face. Martinez’s bad blood with the Yankees hit an apex in Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, when Martinez hit Karim Garcia with a pitch and then tossed 72-year-old bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground in the middle of a benches-clearing melee. Fittingly, the final two games of Martinez’s career were at Yankee Stadium in the 2009 World Series, including the decisive Game 6.

AL Central

Indians: Jonathan Lucroy
Infamous for: Refusing to waive no-trade clause to join Tribe
It was July 30, 2016, and the Indians were up 4 1/2 games in the AL Central, but they were missing their starting catcher, Yan Gomes, due to a separated shoulder. The club was looking for some help behind the plate and reportedly reached a deal to acquire Lucroy from the Brewers in exchange for prospects Yu Chang, Greg Allen, Francisco Mejia and Shawn Armstrong. However, Lucroy refused to waive his no-trade clause, which wasn’t well-received in Cleveland. Instead, he was traded to the Rangers and hit .276 with an .885 OPS, 11 homers and 31 RBIs in 47 games with Texas. Indians fans have yet to forgive him.

Royals: Robinson Canó
Infamous for: Not choosing Billy Butler for Home Run Derby team
Canó became an unlikely villain in Kansas City starting in 2012, the last time Kauffman Stadium hosted an All-Star Game. The second baseman was the captain for the AL’s Home Run Derby team and made the decision not to select Royals All-Star Billy Butler, which miffed Butler and Royals fans. Canó was booed loudly when introduced before the Derby, and fans cheered every time he made an out. In fact, Canó didn't hit a single home run, a year after winning the event in Arizona. Since then, every time Canó has returned to Kansas City, he has been booed. Royals fans don’t forget.

Tigers: Nelson Cruz
Infamous for: Postseason dominance of Tigers
Although Jim Thome made a Hall of Fame career out of crushing Detroit pitching in the regular season, Nelson Cruz has tormented the Tigers in October. His 29 career homers against Detroit include eight in nine postseason games. Six of those home runs came with the Rangers in the 2011 ALCS, including the first walk-off grand slam in postseason history in Game 2. Cruz then came back with the Orioles three years later and crushed two more homers in Baltimore's ALDS upset over Detroit, exacting some vengeance after Justin Verlander threw a fastball behind his back in the regular season.

Twins: A.J. Pierzynski
Infamous for: Joining White Sox after previously playing for Twins
The “Minnesota Nice” thing exists for a reason. Twins supporters probably constitute one of the less hate-filled fandoms in the game, and it wouldn’t exactly work to put down “every member of the New York Yankees” as the Twins’ entry on this list. So, we land on Pierzynski, who began his career with six seasons in Minnesota (fairly productive seasons, at that) before he was moved to the Giants in the franchise-altering trade that brought Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser to the Twins and cleared a starting spot for Joe Mauer. Pierzynski, who reputedly had one of the more prickly personalities in baseball, later inserted himself into the fierce rivalry between the Twins and White Sox and was the target of booing whenever he would return to the Metrodome or Target Field.

White Sox: Torii Hunter
Infamous for: Barreling over Chicago catcher Jamie Burke in 2004
Hunter's performance against the White Sox -- he hit .282 with 35 home runs, 44 doubles and 123 RBIs over 212 career games and also produced his fair share of over-the-fence, homer-stealing catches in center field against the South Siders -- was plenty frustrating for Chicago's fan base over the years. But the moment that truly made him a villain came on July 26, 2004, when Hunter, playing for the Twins, ran over catcher Jamie Burke while scoring on a sacrifice fly, even though it looked as if he had a path to score while avoiding a collision. It was somewhat representative of a stretch from 2002-10 in which the Twins went to the playoffs six times and the White Sox just twice, although the Sox won the lone World Series title of the two in 2005.

AL West

Angels: Mark Teixeira
Infamous for: Spurning Halos in free agency; barreling over catcher Bobby Wilson in 2010
The Angels acquired Teixeira at the 2008 Trade Deadline, and the first baseman absolutely crushed it for the Halos down the stretch. He also hit .467 in the ALDS against the Red Sox, but it wasn’t enough as they fell in four games. After the season, the Angels were confident they could re-sign Teixeira, only to see him join the rival Yankees as a free agent. As a result, Teixeira was booed heavily every time he played at Angel Stadium after that, and the animosity only increased after Teixeira bowled over catcher Bobby Wilson at the plate in a game on April 23, 2010. Teixeira led the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title, but the Angels got the last laugh: The compensation pick they received for not re-signing him was used on future three-time MVP Mike Trout in the 2009 MLB Draft.

Astros: Albert Pujols
Infamous for: Crushing Astros pitching for nearly two decades
No player has drawn the angst of Astros fans more than Pujols, who has spent nearly his entire career in the same division as Houston -- first as a member of the Cardinals in the NL Central and then with the Angels in the AL West. The veteran slugger has hit a whopping 65 homers in his career against the Astros (postseason included), which is most ever vs. Houston. In Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS, with the Astros on the verge of celebrating an NL pennant at home, Pujols belted one of the most memorable home runs in playoff history, taking Brad Lidge deep for a go-ahead, three-run blast in the top of the ninth inning. The Astros won two days later in St. Louis to advance to the World Series, but the Pujols homer is still a source of disdain for Houston baseball fans.

Athletics: Justin Verlander
Infamous for: Winning postseason elimination games at Oakland Coliseum in 2012 and '13
Verlander is 18-7 with a 2.34 ERA over 29 career starts against the A’s (postseason included), and he was directly responsible for eliminating Oakland from the playoffs in 2012 and ’13, throwing a combined 18 scoreless innings in back-to-back ALDS Game 5 wins at Oakland Coliseum. The right-hander also contributed to a third A’s postseason elimination in the 2006 ALCS. The Oakland faithful’s disdain for Verlander only grew once he joined the rival Astros in 2017 and helped his new team win the World Series, something the A's haven't accomplished since 1989. Oakland did get off the schneid last September with a win over Verlander that snapped his 10-game unbeaten streak against them.

Mariners: Alex Rodriguez
Infamous for: Leaving Mariners as a free agent and joining rival Rangers for $252 million
Rodriguez was the chosen one for the Mariners, the young superstar the franchise was going to continue building around after trading Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. So when a 25-year-old A-Rod spurned Seattle’s efforts upon reaching free agency and instead opted for a then-record 10-year, $252 million deal with the Rangers in January 2001, Mariners fans felt betrayed. And they unleashed their anger on Rodriguez in unprecedented fashion when he returned to Seattle for the first time on April 16, 2001, with a sold-out stadium erupting in boos as fake money floated through the air from the upper decks every time Rodriguez came to the plate. Rodriguez returned to Seattle numerous times in his three seasons with the AL West-rival Rangers and in 12 years with the Yankees, and while the volume gradually declined, he was booed each and every time he came to the plate.

Rangers: José Bautista
Infamous for: Bat-flipping, staring down Sam Dyson after his go-ahead homer in 2015 ALDS Game 5
Bautista hardly endeared himself to any opposing fan base, but he was Public Enemy No. 1 in Arlington after what happened in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS in Toronto. The Rangers had a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh, but they imploded with three errors, and Bautista slammed a go-ahead three-run homer. His post-blast bat flip and staredown of pitcher Sam Dyson especially infuriated the Rangers, and the tension was heightened the following May when Bautista got into an altercation with Rougned Odor after a play at second base. Odor clearly got the better of the brawl with a right hook to Bautista’s jaw, but that hardly mollified Rangers fans, and Bautista continued to be the subject of their wrath.

National League East

Braves: Bryce Harper
Infamous for: Swiping cleat on Braves logo behind home plate
Based on an informal Twitter poll, Braves fans haven’t forgiven José Ureña’s plunking of Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2018. Nor have they forgotten Eric Gregg’s questionable strike zone in the 1997 NLCS, or Sam Holbrook’s controversial infield-fly ruling during the 2012 NL Wild Card Game. But the most vilified figure in Atlanta is Bryce Harper, who has been booed loudly by Braves fans for most of the past decade. The slugger has hit 32 homers and produced a .927 OPS over 131 games in his career vs. Atlanta, and he truly drew the ire of Braves fans in 2014, when he swiped his foot through the team's “A” logo in the dirt behind the plate before multiple at-bats.

Marlins: Bryce Harper
Infamous for: Pine-tar incident with Ozzie Guillen in 2012
Harper has done his share of damage against the Marlins on the field, recording a career slash line of .293/.400/.548 vs. Miami with 92 RBIs, his most against any team, and 28 homers, his second most. The 27-year-old also has repeatedly found a way to rankle both the club and the fan base. In a game at Marlins Park, then-Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen complained to the umpires that Harper’s bat had too much pine tar on it. His next time up, Harper pointed a cleaner bat in Guillen's direction. After the game, Guillen called Harper's action "unprofessional.”

Mets: Chase Utley
Infamous for: Fracturing Ruben Tejada's right leg on a hard slide into second base
Long an expert at foiling the Mets’ plans, Utley hit nine homers against New York over 2007-08, helping the Phillies edge their rivals by the slimmest of margins for the NL East title both years. For fans, Utley’s personality -- often cold and standoffish in interviews -- made him an easy target. But Utley would have been just another Mets antagonist if not for what happened in Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS, when he slid late and hard into second base to break up a double play … and broke shortstop Ruben Tejada’s right leg in the process. The slide made Utley an instant villain, rocketing him past longtime nemesis Chipper Jones in the eyes of both fans and players. When the Mets returned home to Citi Field for Game 3, Utley stood stone-faced during introductions as boos rained down around him. He never publicly apologized, and Mets fans never forgave him.

Nationals: Bryce Harper
Infamous for: Leaving Nats as a free agent and joining rival Phillies for $330 million
As the first overall pick in the 2010 Draft, Harper was part of the Nationals organization from the very start of his career. It was in Washington where he established himself as one of the best players in MLB, winning an NL Rookie of the Year Award (2012) and an NL Most Valuable Player Award (’15), along with earning six All-Star selections. But Harper faced a crossroads at the end of the 2018 season -- free agency. The Nats made him an offer, but Harper signed a massive 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies after months of uncertainty. When Harper made his return to Nationals Park in early April, he didn’t get the same crowd reaction that had greeted him for the previous seven seasons; instead, he was met with a chorus of boos.

Phillies: J.D. Drew
Infamous for: Not signing with Phillies after 1997 Draft
Drew hasn’t played baseball since 2011, but is there any doubt that Phillies fans would boo him today? They never forgave him for not signing with the Phillies after they selected him with the second overall pick in the 1997 Draft. It remains a wild and crazy story, involving Drew, demands of a record-shattering bonus from baseball’s biggest agent, threats of lawsuits, a private investigator, rewritten language in the CBA and a few batteries hurled Drew’s way at Veterans Stadium. Drew re-entered the Draft a year later and signed with the Cardinals as the No. 5 overall pick. He played 12 games at the Vet and 21 games at Citizens Bank Park as an opponent and was booed heartily every time.

NL Central

Brewers: Manny Machado
Infamous for: Clipping Jesús Aguilar's leg at first base in 2018 NLCS
Reggie Jackson and the Brewers used to brawl at County Stadium, and Yadier Molina is no fan favorite at Miller Park, but Milwaukee’s more recent public enemy is Machado, who has been booed mercilessly by Brewers fans since tangling with first baseman Jesús Aguilar while running out a routine grounder in Game 4 of the 2018 NLCS. Christian Yelich called it “a dirty play by a dirty player,” and fans took to the cause when the series returned to Miller Park for Games 6 and 7, showering Machado with boos throughout every plate appearance. A new year and a new uniform didn’t do anything to quiet the crowd in 2019, when Machado returned to Milwaukee with the Padres in September and was jeered just as lustily.

Cardinals: Kris Bryant
Infamous for: Calling St. Louis a "boring" city
Bryant stung Cardinals fans in 2019 when he labeled St. Louis as “boring” during a Cubs Convention panel. “So boring. I always get asked, 'Where would you like to play? Where would you not like to play?' St. Louis is on the list of places I don't like to play. It is rough," Bryant said. John Brebbia jokingly pushed back at St. Louis' Winter Warmup that year, and Yadier Molina responded on Instagram, defending the city. Cardinals fans let Bryant have it during the Cubs first series at Busch Stadium last June, booing him in his first at-bat. Subsequent tweets from the Cubs -- “nice to give locals something to do” -- and Cardinals -- “nothing boring about that walk-off” -- added to the banter and to one of the oldest rivalries in sports.

Cubs: Yadier Molina
Infamous for: Excelling for the rival Cardinals for 16 years
There have been plenty of “Cub Killers” over the years. But, for this, the honor goes to Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who two offseasons ago called Kris Bryant a “loser” after the Cubs’ third baseman jokingly called St. Louis a “boring” city. The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is one of the best in sports, and Molina’s been behind the dish for St. Louis for 16 years of clashes. No active player has more games (216), at-bats (741) or hits (222) against the Cubs, who have seen the long-time catcher hit .300/.364/.432 against them (each mark above his career norm). Molina was in the middle of a bench-clearing incident with the Cubs in late September of last season, after he was grazed by a Cole Hamels pitch. And while St. Louis won the division, Cubs fans had to enjoy seeing veteran infielder Ben Zobrist -- in a rare pitching performance -- fan Molina for the last out of Chicago’s season.

Pirates: Ryan Braun
Infamous for: Violating MLB's PED policy
The Pirates have had plenty of nemeses across the field in recent years. That list includes Jake Arrieta, who ended their season in 2015; Joe Maddon, who added insult to injury as he flippantly referred to Jung Ho Kang having “plantar fasciitis” when he’d actually sustained severe season-ending knee injuries; Aroldis Chapman, who was unhittable when he wasn’t hitting Bucs batters; Yasiel Puig, who tried to fight the entire team last year; Amir Garrett, who also tried to fight the entire team last year; and Reds manager David Bell, whose actions in those fights made him an unpopular figure in Pittsburgh’s clubhouse. But nobody seems to anger Pirates fans quite like Braun, who has been booed consistently before every plate appearance at PNC Park since he was suspended in 2013 for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Braun has also given Pirates pitchers trouble, slashing .290/.366/.495 with 31 homers and 119 RBIs in 185 games against Pittsburgh.

Reds: Yadier Molina
Infamous for: Sparking lengthy brawl in 2010
The Reds fan base's dislike for Molina dates back to his fight with former Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips on Aug. 10, 2010. A day after making inflammatory comments about the Cardinals, Phillips led off for Cincinnati and tried to tap catcher Yadier Molina’s shin guard with his bat in a friendly manner, as he often did with many catchers. Molina wasn’t having it and pushed the bat away. A moment later, Molina stood up and the two exchanged words. The benches cleared, resulting in a lengthy and ugly brawl. Even a decade later, Molina often receives a round of boos when he is introduced at Great American Ball Park. The fact that Molina has hit .313 with an .844 OPS and 15 home runs over 108 career games in Cincinnati also hasn't endeared him to Reds fans.

National League West

D-backs: Ryan Braun
Infamous for: Dominating D-backs in 2011 NLDS; testing positive for PEDs
It’s been nine years, but D-backs fans have never forgiven Braun for what happened during the 2011 NLDS. In that tight series, which the Brewers won on a 10th-inning walk-off in Game 5, Braun blistered Arizona to the tune of a .500/.571/.889 slash line with four RBIs. Later, it was revealed that he tested positive during the series for a performance-enhancing substance. Then-manager Kirk Gibson made no secret of his distaste for Braun, both with public comments and the intentional plunking of the outfielder with a pitch. The boos may have lessened a bit, but they are still there when Braun comes to the plate at Chase Field.

Dodgers: Madison Bumgarner
Infamous for: Not appreciating slow home run trots
Being a Giant for more than a decade made Bumgarner easy to hate, and he hasn’t exactly done much to quell the Dodgers fan base’s animosity. Bumgarner exchanged words with Yasiel Puig on multiple occasions, at one point yelling, “Don’t look at me!” at Puig after the slugger grounded out. Last season, he didn’t take kindly to Max Muncy admiring his home run into McCovey Cove and let him know it. Muncy later said that if Bumgarner didn’t like it, he could “go get it out of the ocean.” Both on-field incidents became instant T-shirts and only added to the bitter rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers. Meanwhile, in 35 career starts against the Dodgers, Bumgarner has 15 wins and a 2.72 ERA, so there’s that too. The beef between Bumgarner and the Dodgers is poised to continue after the lefty signed a five-year deal with the rival D-backs in December 2019.

Giants: Yasiel Puig
Infamous for: Admiring his home runs
Puig's frequent clashes with Madison Bumgarner stoked the flames of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry for several years, and their feud continued even after Puig was traded to the Reds in December 2018. On Mother's Day last year, Puig crushed a solo home run on an inside fastball from Bumgarner, but the veteran left-hander ultimately got the last laugh. “He’s a quick study. It only took him seven years to learn how to hit that pitch,” Bumgarner quipped. Bumgarner is now with the D-backs and Puig is a free agent, so it's unclear if the nemeses will ever face off again at Oracle Park.

Padres: Pete Alonso
Infamous for: Overshadowing Padres rookie duo in 2019; bat-flipping
After Chris Paddack and Fernando Tatis Jr. missed out on the NL Rookie of the Month Award last April, Paddack took issue. He called out that month’s winner, Pete Alonso, before the two squared off at Petco Park. Then Paddack struck out 11 Mets, including Alonso twice. Alonso got his revenge a day later, hitting a mammoth game-winning homer and flipping his bat approximately 15 feet into the air. Later that season, the Alonso animosity only grew among Padres fans, when a tight Rookie of the Year race broke out between Alonso and Tatis. (Tatis’ season-ending back injury would decide that race prematurely.) Ultimately, the Paddack/Alonso/Tatis feud is the best kind of feud: There’s no actual bad blood. It’s merely a fierce but friendly rivalry among three of baseball’s most exciting young players -- and the whole sport is better off for it.

Rockies: Clayton Kershaw
Infamous for: His general dominance for the rival Dodgers
Before going any further, let’s face it: Rockies fans are noted for not hating anyone. As new Hall of Famer Larry Walker once said, “The fans don’t boo.” That’s accurate. However, there is plenty of envy and dislike for the Dodgers as a whole. The Rockies have never won the NL West and have finished behind the Dodgers every year but two -- 2007 and '10 -- since entering MLB as an expansion team in 1993. Kershaw embodies all that. He is 13-2 with a 1.90 ERA in 20 starts against Colorado at Dodger Stadium, including a no-hitter on June 18, 2014. But he is somewhat mortal at Coors Field -- 10-5, 4.60 in 22 starts. A grand day in Rockies history came on Sept. 7, 2019, when Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra homered off him in a 9-1 home-team victory in Denver.