Valentine’s Day – or “Hallmark Day” as this writer likes to call it – is upon us. The card stores are packed with men, frantically picking through the leftovers. The flower stands are flo
oded with 400% price markups. Televisions are littered with ads featuring horrifyingly cheesy jingles such as “Every Kiss Begins with Kay”. And truckloads of chocolates are consumed, later leading to men carefully answering that age-old question, “Does my butt look big in these pants?”
Meanwhile, the sports world is often left out in the cold on this holiday – that is, until today.
In sports, fans and peers alike show that they “love to hate” players, “love to love” players and have those individuals in sports that fall somewhere on the thin line in between.
The Thin Line Between Love and Hate in Sports (2010 Edition)
Players We Love to Hate
Manny Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers
The guy can flat out hit, there’s no doubt about it. But there are plenty of others in baseball that can rake, hustle and be a team player, instead of “stirring the pot” like Manny has been known to do. While fans of his current team will wear Manny wigs, it’s the opposing fans that often loathe his antics, recognizing him as the clubhouse cancer that he often can be.
Terrell Owens – Buffalo Bills An obvious choice – even if somewhat tame in Buffalo – T.O has always been a talented player that has hindered his career because of his attitude. Imagine how good this guy could have been if he didn’t rattle every clubhouse, letting his ego get the best of him. Everywhere Owens goes, a media circus will follow him until retirement.
Ron Artest – Los Angeles Lakers
Brawls, arguments, technical fouls and colorful statements are a few things that come to mind when a person mentions Ron Artest. Even though the drama has subsided somewhat in his veteran years, Artest remains a player that fans love to loathe.
Sean Avery – New York Rangers
Where do you start with this guy? He’s violated trash talking rules with players, ticked off player after player and even has a rule named after him. Yes, the “Avery Rule”, which was created after his goalie interference tactics. Sean Avery equals one step too far.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Vick, Alex Rodriguez, Rasheed Wallace and Pacman Jones
Players We Love to Love
Derek Jeter – New York Yankees
With the exception of Red Sox fans, Derek Jeter is the type of player fans love to love… and respect. If you were to look up “hustle” in the dictionary, you should see a picture of Jeter. The guy just puts his body up for harm on a regular basis, diving into the stands and leaping for line drives. Not only that, but Jeter has been a clutch hitter, a quality leader and very involved within the community.
Kevin Youkilis – Boston Red Sox Don’t worry Sox fans… we counter-balanced the list by adding a deserving Boston player. With his bald dome and trademark goatee that’s thick enough to hide small woodland animals, Youkilis may be themost recognizable player in Red Sox Nation. Equally as recognizable is his work ethic, which surpasses most in baseball. Youkillis can change the momentum of a game at Fenway Park sooner than a manic Boston fan can scream “Youuuuuuuk!”
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts
When you think of a hard working sports athlete, Peyton Manning should be the first that comes to mind. His off-the-field preparation is overlooked and his on-the-field knowledge is unprecedented. While the Saints spoiled his chance at a second title only days ago, it’s safe to say that Peyton and the Colts will be back to the Super Bowl sooner than later.
Honorable Mentions: Ben Roethlisberger, Larry Fitzgerald, Alexander Ovechkin and Chris Paul
Players On the Thin Line
LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
Maybe it isn’t fair to pick on LeBron – as many others in the NBA do the same – but King James often complains about non-foul calls. Plus, there were his avoidance of handshakes and the media during last year’s playoffs. Certainly, James isn’t alone – but seems to be a more frequent offender, likely due to how often the media highlights him. Still, for his size, his game, and ability to not just score, but also run the offense and get assists, LeBron is a unique talent that should be in the NBA for quite some time – and likely will go down as one of the best ever.
Brett Favre – Minnesota Vikings…or retirement… or the Vikings…
Favre was as “old school NFL” as it gets in today’s game. He got knocked down often, only to get right back up. He had a rocket launcher for an arm, and seemed like he was always having more fun than anyone on the field. There was just something admirable about Favre and his talents. Only, the recent drama with retiring, not retiring, and then getting traded… it got to be too much media overkill, eventually pushing Favre to the thin line in the eyes of many fans.
Tiger Woods – PGA Tour
He swings with ease, but hits the ball a ton. He’s fiery, he’s passionate and he’s a winner. Woods may want to win more than anyone on this planet – and one example of proof is how he managed to win a major in tough conditions, while playing on one healthy leg. On the other hand, his family man image is forever tarnished and he’s fallen out of the good graces of many after his long list of mistresses emerged, along with his sex addiction. What’s next for Tiger is still very much up in the air – but this writer bets he’ll be back in time for the 2010 Masters.
Honorable Mentions: Chad Ocho Cinco, Allen Iverson, Mark Teixeira and Jonathan Papelbon
Then there’s Kobe Bryant, who one could argue as a fit in every category. Where would you put him and why?
Who else makes your list?
** This is a rendition/sequel to a post that made its debut to KP’s Blog in February 2007 & 2009 **