When Texas Rangers fans got word that fan favorite Mike Napoli would be headed to Boston last summer, most of them were pretty bummed and many were left wondering how they would replace Napoli’s bat in the line up. When they learned that former catcher for the Chicago White Sox A. J. Pierzynski was headed to the team in his place, most weren’t too happy; after all, A.J. is one of the most hated players in baseball.
As polarizing as Pierzynski is (he draws boos from the crowd at nearly ever road game), perhaps his former coach, Ozzie Guillen, said it best when he said, ”AJ is one of those guys that when he is on another team, you hate him. When he is on your team, you hate him a little less.”
Rangers fans are finally starting to understand what that means, as A.J. is slowing winning over the hearts of Rangers fans.
Since joining the team, Pierzynski has become one of the ball club’s best hitters, batting .310 on the season with four home runs and ten RBI.
His ninth inning, game-winning solo shot in last night’s match-up with the division rival Los Angeles Angels after listening to jeers all night may have finally won fans over for good.
As Texas manager Ron Washington said after the game, ”That’s what A.J. is all about. He’s an exciting player. He gets excited about a lot of things. I love him. There’s a lot of people that hate him, but I love him.”
Texas Rangers fans are starting to agree with Washington. He shows up every night, he works hard, he gets it done, and his mere presence angers opponents.
Isn’t that everything a fan could want from a player?
Sure, it may be a double-standard, but when it comes to sports, a true fans don’t seem to care much about that–as long as he’s wearing their team’s colors.
And that’s exactly how it should be.