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Monday, August 09, 2021

Why Do We Love “Bad” Players?

I posit there are two parts to what makes these players fan-favorites. The first thing that makes a “bad” player beloved is the positive feeling they create for an audience, be it as a generally likable individual or as a spark-plug who is watchable because you don’t know if they’ll crack a joke or beat the tar out of a Gatorade cooler on any given day. The feeling these players inspire in us, the GIFs and videos that hit Twitter as a result, is part of establishing a mythos that has nothing to do with their stat line. Who among us hasn’t seen a GIF of Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Brett Phillips in “airplane mode” after his unexpectedly clutch walk-off in Game Four of the 2020 World Series and smiled?

The second part of the equation, in line with the Phillips moment mentioned above, are their heroics. These players are typically notorious for a handful of moments when their bat or glove came up clutch during a high-leverage situation. They are able to ride the goodwill of those events, often for the duration of their remaining tenure with their club.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 09, 2021 at 10:10 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: August 10, 2021 at 02:53 PM (#6033674)
Being mic'd up on Sunday Night Baseball last week was the first time I've ever thought Phillips was trying too hard. I hope he doesn't jump the shark.
   2. Adam Starblind Posted: August 10, 2021 at 04:57 PM (#6033702)
We never did settle on a metric to figure out who was a "lunch pail" kind of player and who was not. They were all white though.
   3. DL from MN Posted: August 10, 2021 at 07:38 PM (#6033733)
Willians Astudillo is the fan favorite bad player in Minnesota.
   4. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: August 10, 2021 at 09:51 PM (#6033763)
I'm partial to Bill Bergen.

Also AJ Pierzynski, although he's a different kind of bad.
   5. Howie Menckel Posted: August 10, 2021 at 11:43 PM (#6033778)
maybe because once you own like 8 or 9 Topps baseball cards of a player because he keeps showing up in pack after pack one spring - you root for him to be good?
   6. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 10, 2021 at 11:49 PM (#6033782)
Isn't Jeff Francouer pretty much the poster child for this? Dude had negative WAR in like half his seasons and everyone just loved this guy. Of course he fits the "white guy who hustles" mold perfectly.
   7. Howie Menckel Posted: August 11, 2021 at 12:34 AM (#6033783)
kind of.

but the only time I ever sat in RF at a MLB game in the first row, happened to be a game when Francoeur was playing.

this was late season, and the whole section clearly was all-in on this guy.

often 2 OFs play catch with each other between innings, and the third OF might toss to a bullpen catcher or whatever.

but Francoeur instead chose kids in the RF stands for his back-and-forth warmups. I never heard it mentioned on a Mets broadcast, and this is before a time where someone could claim it was some social media ploy. seemed like this was his routine, hence the crowd in the section.

if it was an act, then he could have made more money on Broadway than in baseball. each kid was over the moon (I would have been, too, as a kid).

if you watch that in-person and say, "Meh, his WAR is barely above replacement level this year" - then I don't know what to tell you.

as far as teammates go, I recall that he apparently was the Mets commissioner of their fantasy football league or some NCAA pool or whatever. diehard SEC guy.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: August 11, 2021 at 12:58 AM (#6033785)
Dude had negative WAR in like half his seasons and everyone just loved this guy.

I think everyone loved him because he was a legitimately good dude. Because he did things like this.
   9. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 11, 2021 at 02:31 AM (#6033787)
Sorry, I didn't mean to insinuate that there were no good reasons to like Frenchy as there are heaps of examples of him being a great guy. Not the best ballplayer around, but a guy everyone pulled for because of a host of other reasons.

   10. Zach Posted: August 11, 2021 at 08:19 PM (#6033929)
I always thought that a marginal player who wanted to stay in the league would do better to ignore the superstars and pay attention to Frenchy. The guy played five years after his last OPS+ greater than 100.

It wasn't just hustling, though. People just loved the guy and kept wanting to give him chances.

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