You may have noticed our new banner. This is in honor of my winning the Home Run Derby Contest. Each Lady picked a guy to root for and I picked Justin Morneau. My prize was that after the Olympics were over, I got to pick my banner. As you can see, I’ve chosen Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Rick Ankiel. Of course, since we just dropped to 6.5 out of the Wild Card, my Banner Mojo might be a moot point, but here it is anyway. And in honor of my real sports crushes, I’ve polled some of my favorite writers to find out about their Man Crushes.
JEFF ROSENFIELD, Bugs & Cranks
For the record, my man-crush is Jacoby Ellsbury. He’s young (which I’m not), fast (ditto), multi-talented and good-looking. I guess two out of four ain’t bad!
PATRICK SMITH, Bugs & Cranks
Jon Miller brought Orioles games to life on the radio for 14 seasons. The lousy years. The great years. A World Series. A record-setting losing streak. All were illustrated in the full color of Miller’s booming radio voice, instinctive baseball knowledge and perfectly calibrated sense of humor and candor. He made every game feel special and made me feel like we were best friends.
I’d see him around Baltimore from time to time and I’d have to stop myself from running up to him and emptying my head of reactions to everything he’d said since the last time I ran into him. “Huhhuh. Remember that game against the Rangers? When you told that story about that guy? Huhhuh. Yeah, that was funny.”
Of all Peter Angelos’s heinous crimes against fans, letting Miller go remains the worst. When Miller was still in Baltimore, I rarely watched his Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts on ESPN. I just couldn’t stand sharing my best pal with the entire country. And now … well, it’s just too painful.
I follow Miller’s work in the postseason, especially if he’s doing radio. I get out my little AM radio and sit outside my house, listening to Jon Miller tell me the story of the game, pretending he’s still doing O’s games, pretending we’re still best friends.
ANDY SMITH, Bugs & Cranks
I have a big-boy crush on Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth. Surprised? I am too, really. After all, he was nothing more than a reserve outfielder before this season, and as envious as I am of that flowing, surfer boy blond hair, reserve outfielders usually don’t do it for me. Things have been a little different this year though. In the starting line-up from day one, Nate’s hit for average, hit for power, been flashy with the leather at times, and shown enough speed to steal bases. What can I say, versatility in my outfielders makes me weak. Nate officially stole my heart in April when he hit a game winning home run in Los Angeles with two outs in the ninth inning. After touching home plate, he winked at a fan in the stands who had taunted him prior to his at-bat. Clearly, there’s a naughty side behind that sweet, impish baby boy face. It’s hot.
LANDON EVANSON, Bugs & Cranks
My man-crush on Livan Hernandez began in the fall of ’97 when El Caballo Cubano helped the Fish take the title but didn’t rage all ahead full until the big man inked a one-year deal with the Twins last winter. I mean, I almost let a girlish giggle escape my lips on a treadmill at the Y when I go the news so, not exactly my proudest moment. That said, it’s so much easier to stalk when the object of your misguided affection resides a short two-hour drive away because, I mean those trips to ‘Frisco and Phoenix were putting a serious dent into my drinking money. And now that he’s been released, all that saved dinero has allowed said booze to dull the “separation anxiety”.
TUFFY, Sports by Brooks and Deadspin
If we have to choose an athlete proper, we’ll take the newly-French Boom Tho. He listens to Regina Spektor. He gets nervous under pressure. He makes people laugh. He’s insightful. He survived the Dakotas. And he cleans glass like smudges killed his uncle.
However, our biggest sports mancrush is none other than Peter Gammons. He reinvented the sports column, reinvigorated television sports journalism (rather in the face of its demise), and plays in a rock’n’roll band in his spare time. Also, he beats strokes with the power of his brain. If Zero Mostel had abducted him instead of Flash Gordon, that movie would have been over in 20 minutes after Gammons subdued Ming the Merciless with bullet points. He’s the coolest and wonkiest badass nerd since Bill Buckley and Bud Selig should hit his arthritic knees every night and give thanks for him.
JACK HITTINGER, Bugs & Cranks
Curtis Granderson – I like how he wears his uniform. And also that he reminds me of Willie Mays Hayes.
Henrik Zetterburg – Just because he’s a badass. And had a sweet beard near the end of the playoffs.
Lance Berkman – I have no idea, really, he just seems like he’d be a cool guy to hang out with. I always liked the “Fat Elvis” nickname.
SPENCER KYTE, Bugs & Cranks
Roy Halladay – the dude is just sick. He’s one of the best pitchers in the business and a throwback to the guys from the old days, a pitcher who goes out and looks to finish what he started each time he takes the ball. On top of that, he’s a team guy who never draws negative attention to himself or his teammates and doesn’t bitch and doesn’t show anyone up, ever.
Albert Pujols – simply the most dangerous hitter in the game today. The Lidge Shot is still my favourite home run shot of all time.
Grady Sizemore – One of the best all around talents in the game, there isn’t anything that he cannot do.
Trevor Hoffman – Quietly gone about his business out in San Diego for years without any fanfare. The guy is one of the best relievers to ever take the ball late in the game, whether you want to accept it or not.
LLOYD the BARBER, Ghostrunner on First
A little background on my Mancrush criteria: I tend to enjoy tools-y players, with special attention given to defense. I mean Albert Pujols is awesome, and I appreciate him certainly, but he just doesn’t bring that elan to the field. A guy like Jeff Francoeur on the other hand, he brings excellent defense, an incredibly aggressive approach at the plate, and a <del>hose</del> <del>cannon</del> strong arm to right field. Add to that the ability to stand up to appeal-free cyborg A-Rod, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Ichiro plays a completely unique game offensively, and a unparalleled one defensively. He’s also strange and funny, using a interpreter with the press though he speaks nearly perfect English with his teammates. When the story of his profanity-laced tirades before the All Star game surfaced, I knew he was a mancrush for a good reason.
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I could not contain my excitement when Scott Rolen became a Blue Jay. A true defensive genius, with a professional approach at the plate and on the basepaths. Seeing someone that big play the kind of defense he does at third? Truly inspiring.
Of course, any discussion of my mancrushes begins and ends with Rocco Baldelli. What started as a harmless interest in a 5 tool kid from Rhode Island grew into an all-consuming fascination with his tragic story and subsequent rebound. So much bad luck yet so many tools. Early comparisons to Joe DiMaggio were obviously unfair, but it certainly got my attention. Watching him steal bases, dive around the outfield, hit home runs and generally be awesome is a pleasure.
I guess for me, being good isn’t good enough. I like players that can do something unique, can do something that most ballplayers can’t do. Chicks may dig the long ball, but defense will get everyone’s attention.
MARK TOWNSEND, Bugs & Cranks
I usually reserve my man-crushes for Tim Duncan and fantasy football — Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson. Past baseball man-crushes have included Dante Bichette, and most recently, Troy Tulowitzki. Currently, I’m developing a bit of a liking for Ian Stewart. Why? Because he’s a left-handed power-hitter that hammers left-handed pitching. That’s the type of stuff I look for in a man-crush.