Fans hate A.J. Pierzynski just a bit too much.
I recently wrote this article: The Biggest A-Holes in Chicago Sports History. The article highlighted some of the biggest jerks in the history of Chicago sports. Players featured in the article did things like:
-Tried to run over teens with their car.
-Cause segregation in baseball.
-Throw the World Series.
-Commit crimes like battery and D.U.I.
And yet many people who read the article were outraged that A.J. Pierzynski was not featured next to those guys.
The article received comments such as:
“It is revisionist history to pretend that AJ isn’t regarded, by teammates and opponents alike, as a MAJOR douchebag.”
“Why isn’t AJ Piggy on the list? he is a jag.”
“AJ is a jag. He punched a trainer in the nuts and also stomps on cleats. He also cheated in 2005.”
“NOT include the multi-time winner of “most hated man in baseball” AJ Pierzynski, is just silly.”
“AJ is a RENOWNED asshole, known all over MLB as one of the biggest pricks in the game.”
It just doesn’t make any sense why fans hate the man this much. He isn’t even in Chicago any more. They act like A.J. punched out their grandmother or something.
No one knows why they don’t like A.J., they just don’t because everyone else doesn’t.
The answer is always the same, A.J. is an a-hole because A.J. is an a-hole. It’s circular reasoning. And it’s not just the fans.
A.J. was voted the most hated player in baseball in 2012 by other players: USA TODAY
A.J. is hated that much more than Alex Rodriguez?
So why is he so hated? Let’s attempt to find some reasoning behind this madness.
The Giants Trainer Incident
There is a story floating around baseball that Pierzynski kneed Giants trainer Stan Conte in the groin during a 2004 Spring Training game. It’s hard to say what happened as the story didn’t even come out until a year after it happened. Conte and the team never made an issue of it. A.J. denies it ever occurred stating:
“Don’t you think if something like that happened, in spring training, you would have heard about it? I would have gotten in some sort of trouble?”
He’s right, no one heard about it and he was never punished. This is the AJ-Haters biggest piece of ammo as they treat Conte like he was their own defenseless child. And they aren’t even sure if it actually happened.
2005 ALCS Dropped Strike Incident
Fans (especially Angels fans) curse A.J.’s name because he advanced to first base on a dropped strike three in game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship. He swung at a strike three pitch, umpire Doug Eddings half signaled strike three, the ball hit the ground without Angels catcher Josh Paul realizing it and A.J. advanced to first base. Umpires ruled in favor of A.J. and the Angels threw temper tantrums.
Fans cried “cheater”.
A.J. is a catcher and knows what to look for on a low strike. He made a LEGAL play, perhaps backup catcher Josh Paul should learn the rules. If you want someone to blame, blame the umpires.
The ball clearly hit the ground, you can see dirt flying up in the video when you watch in slow motion.
A.J. is known to slide hard. The A.J.-Haters always cry that he is trying to intentionally hurt or “spike” players.
He slid hard into Ben Zobrist and was accused of spiking him. He slid hard into Justin Morneau and was accused of spiking him too.
And then there was the Michael Barrett incident. A.J. slid hard into home plate knocking Cubs catcher Michael Barrett down in 2006. And then this happened:
Notice that Barrett slugged A.J.? He didn’t even fight back nor did he take part in the bench clearing brawl that followed:
So A.J. slides hard. You know who else slides hard? EVERY PLAYER.
If Mike Trout, Joe Mauer, David Ortiz or any other player that fans want to make out with slides hard, no one cares. But if A.J. does it, everyone loses their minds.
There has also been much talk about A.J. being a “bad teammate”, even though the Twins and White Sox kept him around for a long time.
One pitcher (who was never his teammate) had this to say in a Men’s Journal interview:
“He likes to talk a lot of sh**, and I’ve heard he’s a bad teammate. He’s been a prick to guys on his own pitching staff. Basically, if you haven’t got five years in the big leagues, he treats you like you’re a peasant. He’s that kind of guy.”
So this non-teammate “heard” stuff. And because A.J. doesn’t give rookies tours of the facilities like he was the mayor’s wife and isn’t a best friend to everyone, he’s just an a-hole I guess.
A.J. has been known to be hard on pitching staffs, but apparently it works.
Red Sox teammates were mad because he wouldn’t console pitchers after bad starts and would spend a lot of time looking at his phone in the locker-room. He was eventually designated for assignment after teammates tattled to Red Sox management like 2nd grade teacher’s pets.
I guess it’s a catcher’s duty to be a grief counselor? When did professional athletes become such wusses?
So basically A.J. is hated because he may have had an altercation with a trainer, was in the middle of a controversial play, slides hard and isn’t best friends with every teammate.
But let’s look at the other side of A.J., the side that the fans and haters don’t see.
The Other Side of A.J.
A.J. has been married to Lisa Pierzynski since 2003, they have two children, Ava and Austin. The family was featured photo-shoot for Chicago Family.
A.J. was heavily credited with revitalizing the White Sox pitching staff in 2005. He was good friends with Aaron Rowand and Joe Crede, they affectionately called themselves “The Three Stooges”. He lasted eight seasons on the White Sox and is still an active player on the St. Louis Cardinals at age 38.
Now it’s a party.
A.J. also helped raise money for Movember Foundation which funds health issues like prostrate cancer and depression.
So is Anthony John Pierzynski really this evil villain or just a hard-nosed veteran that wants to win? If he was such a bad dude, then why do teams keep on signing him? And why do Sox fans keep asking for his return?
He is definitely a character and a bit of a misfit. He’s also a very easy target. The Sox haters always rage against the easiest targets whether it is A.J., Ozzie Guillen or The Hawk.
And like ex Sox manager Ozzie Guillen says:
“If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”
But Ozzie also said:
“A.J.’s been great for me. He’s worth the work because he always shows up for you.”
So maybe he isn’t going to win the congeniality award, but the dude plays hard. What more can you ask for?
A.J. knows what he is, he even thanked his teammates and the Sox fans for putting up with him in 2005.
Maybe it’s time to get over the hatred.
So whether you like him or not and whether you think he is an a-hole or not, remember one thing:
A.J. doesn’t care what you think about him.