Back over the winter I asked a few baseball fans and writers about players they like to watch. I think of these guys as Maranvillains, but I’m not sure if that’s the best term anymore. Anyways, I suggested my famed Johnstone List for criteria, but I didn’t push it. A few answered.
Vince, a Chicago White Sox fan wrote: “Gordon Beckham comes to mind. I can’t stand him, but I could see Juan Pierre being sort of Maranvillean, what with the slappyness and the high pant legs. Maybe Mark Buehrle — for the pickoffs and the general quality of his defense and his craftiness as a pitcher. Jake Peavy’s got that really big wind-up and max-effort thing going… Maybe Bobby Jenks, too, because of his bulbous frame and weird hair (both top of head and facial).”
Brandon from Ohio came up with this list: “A few suggestions, all players I like to watch:
Can’t argue with that Zvada ‘stache.
Negro League researcher Scott Simkus had this to say: “I’m from Chicago and perhaps the only guy I’d pay to see is Carlos Zambrano. One of his kids goes to same Chicago parochial school as my friend’s child, so Carlos and I obviously have a deep cosmic connection. Plus: The guy is out of his mind, both with talent and his on-field antics. He seems to possess a deep-seeded hatred for water coolers.
Truth is: Carlos has never lived up to his potential. Or, prehaps it would be more accurate to say he’s never lived up the expectations the Chicago Cubs organization has placed on him. Those of us in Chicago can remember when he was considered the number 3 starter here, before Kerry Wood and Mark Prior fell apart. If they’d stayed healthy, Big Z was considered a great number 2 or 3 starter in the Cubs rotation. Doesn’t mean the frustrations we fans experience while watching him melt down aren’t real, or that we don’t hope he’d emerge as a legitimate 20-game winner. They are, and we do.
I’d pay to see Carlos pitch. And sometimes I’d pay for an opportunity to throw tomatos at him.”
Here’s Dayn Perry from FOXSPorts: “My nominee for shortstop is Brendan Ryan. He’s a great glove. He plays ridiculously deep in the hole, ranges well everywhere, and uncorks powerful–and occasionally wild–throws. At the plate, he talks to himself. There are also the exposed socks (far too rare these days), and last season I got the sense that, unlike his teammates, he grew that mustache–easily the best Cardinal mustache since Keith Hernandez’s–without a hint of irony. ”
A’s fan and all around good guy Shooty wrote: “I like side-armers and underdogs so Brad Zeigler of the A’s fits your requirement for me. Carlos Gomez, would fit. Kevin Youkilis because if his general repulsiveness and excellent batting approach fits for me. I might go to a game to root for Papelbon to blow a game. Chase Utley I’d go to see since I think he’s the most beautifully technical ballplayer going now. I’ll think about this some more.”
Ryan from Toronto, you’re on the air: “Of the Jays, the closest player I can think of to what you’re looking for is Aaron Hill – he flashes a periodically great glove, and his all or nothing hitting (36 HR/42 BB) makes him an interesting guy to watch at the plate.”
Last but not least, the great Josh Wilker (I finally bought his book!): “I don’t know if I can offer anything–like you, I’m so Red-Sox-centric I don’t really have much of a feel for players on all those other nonessential teams. I’m looking forward to Red Soxian matters exclusively, like watching Beltre at third on a regular basis, seeing if Lester can edge into Cy Young territory, and, as always, the unending fascination that is Tim Wakefield. If I had to argue for one Bosox player to be on your fun and exciting roster it’d probably be Youkilis at first. I love watching that guy.
Living here in Chicago, I tried to come up with some local guys who might make the fun and exciting list. The first name that came to mind was Gordon Beckham. He’s pretty exciting but not spectacular in any way except that though he’s young he seems completely unafraid of the spotlight. A Dustin Pedroia type.”
There you have it, The beauty of these lists is that there’s no right answer. Some people like some players. Other people like other players.