Harnessing the hate
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Hate is a strong word. So Ian Kinsler used "sleazeball" instead.

"[Jon] Daniels is a sleazeball," Kinsler said of his former general manager. "He got in good with the owners and straight pushed [Nolan] Ryan out."

Okay, so Kinsler and Daniels have beef. Surely that can't mean Kinsler hates everybody in Texas ... right?

"To be honest with you, I hope they go 0-162," said Kinsler in an interview with ESPN Magazine.

Tell us how you really feel, Ian.

The Rangers traded Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder a few days before Thanksgiving. And Kinsler couldn't have been happier.

"It was not the same personalities, not the same players, not the same chemistry. To be traded, it was refreshing to start new."

Times change and so do our perceptions of people. For instance, a few days ago Kinsler (.277, 13 HR, 72 RBI, 15 SB last season) was just a regular second baseman. Now he's the bad guy.

I'm not complaining. We need guys like him.

Let me show you what I mean. Barry Bonds, at least statistically, is probably the greatest player of all-time. But his personality is pricklier than a porcupine on a cactus. His ego's so big that it has its own ego.

And Bonds thrived off the hatred. I mean how else do you explain the fact that he hit .349 over a four-year span from 2001 to 2004?

Okay, there might be ONE other explanation but you get what I'm saying. Many athletes, especially baseball players, embrace being the villain.

Boston has been a breeding ground for players like this. Rick Porcello didn't throw at Kevin Youkilis' head because he liked the guy. And what about Pedro Martinez? He knocked over Don Zimmer and didn't even feel bad about it. Zimmer was 72 at the time.

That's why it made perfect sense to me when A.J. Pierzynski signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox this offseason. We all know the famous Ozzie Guillen quote. But just in case you don't, here it is one more time, "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less."

Sure A.J. isn't the cuddliest guy on your fantasy team but he gets results. Among catchers, only Matt Wieters and Wilin Rosario have hit more homers than Pierzynski over the last two seasons (44).

But if you really want people to hate you, do exactly what Johnny Damon did. He left Boston ... to play for the Yankees.

That rates pretty high on the scumbag scale but I'm sure fantasy owners didn't mind one bit. Damon averaged .285, 19 HR, 74 RBI and 23 SB during his four- year stay in New York.

Believe it or not, Damon isn't the only one who's tried the "I want everyone in Boston to hate me" route. Manny Ramirez burned a lot of bridges on his way out in 2008. After the Dodgers traded for him on July 31st, he hit .396 the rest of the season with an OPS somewhere in outer space.

This list wouldn't be complete without Reds starter Johnny Cueto. Nothing says "I'm a great guy" quite like kicking a dude in the face (Jason LaRue is the "dude" I'm referring to).

My philosophy has always been, if your ERA's under three, you can kick whoever you want. Cueto just made the cutoff at 2.82.

For all his kicking and screaming (but mostly kicking), Cueto isn't even close to being baseball's most hated human being. I think we all know who that honor belongs to.

Alex Rodriguez finally got what he deserved this offseason when the league banned him for his involvement in Biogenesis. But that doesn't take away the decade and a half of fantasy brilliance he provided us. 2011's 16-HR campaign ended a string of 13 straight 30-HR seasons for A-Rod.

Of course, the villain label doesn't suit everyone. If Carl Everett (.271 lifetime hitter) had spent more time in the batting cage and less time alienating teammates, he may have had a longer career. And Milton Bradley, though excellent in spurts (his 2008 season was one for the ages), was always held back by his violent temper.

However Kinsler decides to handle it, he'll certainly have plenty to prove after the way he performed last season. The 13 HR he produced were his fewest since 2010. His 15 stolen bases were also down from the year before (21).

Josh Hamilton knows just how Kinsler is feeling. Rangers fans annihilated him for bolting to Anaheim last offseason.

"At least I won't be the only villain in Texas now," Hamilton said after Kinsler's remarks.

Kinsler returns to his old stomping grounds on June 24. Until then, say goodnight to the bad guy.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.