Most Despised Milwaukee Brewers of All Time, NCAA Bracket Style
Most Despised Milwaukee Brewers: Eric Gagne Region (Round One)
Last year, I created the first version of The Most Despised Milwaukee Brewers Personnel of All Time, utilizing the NCAA bracket-style tournament to pit players and staff against one another in head-to-head matchups.
The beauty of being a fan is the raw emotion that swells up and pours out, both positively and negatively. We’re focusing on the latter with this exercise in cathartic remembrance of the franchise’s least enjoyable characters.
You can label a distaste for a player or staff member in a number of different ways – hate, irritation, loathing, dislike, frustration, etc. – so I tried to find a middle ground with “despised.” Basically, we all have players (or others) we couldn’t stand for one reason or another, so let’s figure out who the worst of the worst are, exactly.
Fans can despise someone for any number of reasons, including: failed expectations, lots of hype with little production, lack of hustle or effort, mental weakness, team-crippling contracts, arrogance, selfishness or plain old poor performance. Heck, it could have been one season, one game or one play that landed this person on your list.
Last year, the individuals included in the 32-person tournament came from friends, classmates, teammates, fan forums, radio shows and any other area Brewers followers expressed their opinions.
Then, the results of each matchup came from the votes of these same fans. For each pairing, people sent in their vote for which Brewers' member should move on in the tournament until we determined the champion. The “winner” of the first Most Despised Brewers title was, not surprisingly, Gary Sheffield.
The rest of the Final Four comprised of pitcher Eric Gagne, manager Ned Yost and catcher Johnny Estrada. These four individuals were formally added to the Brewers' Hall of Shame, removed from future tournaments, and now represent each of the four regionals in the 2014 version of the brackets.
Fast forward to the second annual tournament, and the field has expanded to a full 64 individuals thanks to nominations from the fan base. Seedings were based on a variety of factors, including performance in last year’s tourney, the amount of anger and disdain toward said personnel, and nominations leading up to its creation.
Your opportunity to vote begins in the Gagne Region, as he received the fewest amount of overall votes among the final four selections. In the slideshow, you’ll see each individual matchup and a short synopsis of each player’s inclusion. The final slide will show you a full breakdown of the 16 seeds in this region.
I’ll post the remaining regions individually as we move forward.
When you’re voting, keep in mind you’re voting for whoever you disliked more, and that’s the person you should pick to win the matchup and move on in the tournament.
You can submit votes in the comments section below, on Facebook, by tweeting @brewersblend or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The voting for the Gagne Region will remain open until 10pm (ET) on Friday, February 28th, so check out each matchup and get your votes in now!
#8 Jason Kendall vs. #9 Jaime Navarro
Jason Kendall had a great run with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he was a shell of himself in Milwaukee. Between his angry man routine, .305 slugging percentage and depleted defensive skills, Kendall drew the ire of many fans.
Jaime Navarro had a quick peak before plummeting to earth, getting hurt and moving on to the Chicago Cubs. Some questioned his work ethic and pointed to his quick weight gain as reasons for his struggles and injuries.
#7 Glenn Braggs vs. #10 Rick Manning
Glenn Braggs, known as "the Hulk," was a whole lot of flash and muscle with little return. After brandishing his power in the minors with a .561 slugging percentage, Braggs wilted to under .400 in Milwaukee. He was a big, second-round flop who wasted a ton of potential.
Rick Manning just couldn't do anything right. First, he came to the Brewers in a trade that sent fan favorite, Gorman Thomas, to the Cleveland Indians. Then in 1987, Manning contributed to the ending of Paul Molitor's 39-game hitting streak, becoming the only man we know of who was booed by the home crowd for driving in the game-winning run.
#6 John Axford vs. #11 Jimmy Haynes
Despite a franchise-record 46 saves in 2011, John Axford consistently heard boos the last two seasons as he struggled to find the plate and keep the ball in the park. Closers get almost no rope because of the propensity to go down in flames in the final frame. He didn't help himself with Twitter wars and comments about fans.
Coming off a season with an ERA over 6.00 with the Oakland A's, Jimmy Haynes (for some reason) was welcomed into Milwaukee and a spot in the rotation. In two seasons with the Brewers, Haynes posted a 5.10 ERA, lost 30 games and had a 1.58 WHIP, all while earning over three million dollars.
#5 Davey Lopes vs. #12 Corey Hart
Davey Lopes might have lacked talent when he "led" the Brewers to a 144-195 mark during his tenure, but he was a terrible in-game manager, entered into verbal spats with players and the media, and generally irritated every person he encountered. There was much rejoicing upon his firing 15 games into the 2002 campaign.
Corey Hart was in a love-hate relationship with the fans of Milwaukee. Able to get hot for stretches, Hart too often slumped for weeks, helplessly flailing at pitches not even close to the zone. His defense in right field was sub-par, he lost a whole season due to an injury, and then took off for the Seattle Mariners for a little extra coin.
#4 Ken Macha vs. #13 Bud Selig
Ken Macha, often referred to as grandpa by the frustrated public, may have been the worst fit for an energetic, youthful club. His sit back and wait philosophy and apparent sleepiness on the bench drove fans to insanity. Many see his two years at the helm as a wasted opportunity, despite some horrible starting pitching.
With the understanding that baseball may have never returned to or remained in Milwaukee without Bud Selig, he has still been taken to task for his time as owner. As spending went up across the league, people accused Selig of hoarding money for himself and investors instead of putting it back into the organization, creating an era of losing.
#3 Derrick Turnbow vs. #14 Ben Sheets
The lightning-quick rise and fall of Derrick Turnbow was something to behold. Once he "lost it," Turnbow flamed out at breakneck speed. His sloppy, goofy look fueled the irrational responses of fans as his epic collapses took him from rock star to "retired." In his final 130.2 innings, Turnbow put up a 6.13 ERA and walked 98 batters.
Aside from the ridiculous idea that Ben Sheets should be good enough to win games 1-0, he frustrated fans the most by failing to stay on the field. Another in a long line of injury-plagued starters, Sheets couldn't be the savior for the franchise on the disabled list. He had some terrific years, but some believe laziness led to constant ailments.
#2 B.J. Surhoff vs. #15 Jody Gerut
Catcher B.J. Surhoff was the first overall pick, but could never live up to the hype. He produced very little in Milwaukee, posting a .703 OPS. He was even moved out from behind the plate, which further lowered his value. He broke out at age 30 with an .870 OPS with the Baltimore Orioles (PEDs?). Off the field, he was a Hall of Fame jerk to media and fans alike to help him earn the two-seed.
I'm not sure why Jody Gerut received votes to reach the tourney, but here he is. It may have been his embarrassing routine of frantically swinging his hips like a salsa dancer to dig in the box, or the fact he hit for the cycle despite a .224 average in Milwaukee. Either way, he's a big underdog in round one.
#1 Manny Parra vs. #16 Julio Machado
Manny Parra personified the phrase, "million dollar arm with a 10 cent head." Flashing terrific raw tools, Parra displayed plenty of mental weakness as well. His look of pain and confusion, coupled with a knack for getting on the nerves of teammates, left Parra with few (if any) endearing qualities. Most were surprised when teammates pulled Prince Fielder off him during a dugout incident, as by all accounts, Parra failed to deliver as a pitcher and a person.
Julio Machado's inclusion is a result of WISN-TV sports director and 540 ESPN (Milwaukee) radio host, Dan Needles. While the bracket is for the most despised people, Needles felt a convicted murderer should make the list. Before his arrest in Venezuela, Machado had a 3.10 ERA and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings with the Brewers.
Gagne Region - Round One
Here's the full region so you can take a look at the potential matchups in the upcoming rounds. The person who makes it out of the Gagne Region will take on the winner of the Ned Yost Region in the Final Four. I'll reveal the rest of the regions in the near future and you can take a look at the whole field.
Once again, submit your votes by placing your choices in the comments section below, on Facebook, by tweeting @brewersblend or send an email to email@example.com. The voting for the Gagne Region will remain open until 10pm (ET) on Friday, February 28th!