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The 15: Baltimore Sports Villains

October 17, 2016
October is a time for horror movies, ghastly haunted house characters and dressing up like monsters for Halloween. In no other month are bad guys (and gals) celebrated more than October. 

It just so happens this October also comes at the end of the careers of some athletes Baltimore sports fans view as bad guys. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has certainly been viewed as a villain by many; some Marylanders remain peeved Mark Teixeira spurned his hometown Orioles in favor of the Yankees; and recently retired Yankees star Alex Rodriguez has been vilified by just about everyone. 

So for "The 15" this month, I'm taking a look at the top Baltimore sports villains -- both now and all-time. 

1. Former Colts owner Bob Irsay
It's a disdain passed down from generation to generation in Charm City. Some 32 years ago, Irsay committed the unpardonable crime of taking the beloved Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis. His name will forever be mud in these parts.

2. Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier
Twenty years ago, a 12-year-old boy stuck his glove over the right-field wall at old Yankee Stadium and turned a Derek Jeter fly out into a home run. It would help launch the most recent Yankees dynasty, and Orioles fans still haven't forgiven him to this day. 

3. Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward
Yes, Ward was a very good football player. But he was to dirty play what John Waters is to dirty minds. And then there was that sh*t-eating grin. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs openly admitted his hate for Ward. He speaks for an entire city. 

4. Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue
A finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame induction this year, Tagliabue led the charge for Jacksonville to receive an expansion franchise in 1993, which prevented the return of the NFL to Baltimore at the time. He rubbed salt in the wound by suggesting the money raised in the city's pursuit of football could instead be spent on a museum. 

5. Former Duke guard J.J. Redick
No more fitting portrait of the prototypical Duke basketball player existed than Redick, whose greatness as a 3-point shooter was matched only by his stunning lack of self-awareness as a college student. He was an unlikeable punching bag but has embraced his detractors and largely changed his public perception as a pro. Just not among Terrapins fans. 

6. Former Broncos quarterback (and Colts No. 1 pick) John Elway
Elway's "villainy" in Baltimore stems from his (and his father Jack's) refusal to come to the Colts when they selected him with the first-overall pick in 1983. Would his presence have saved the Colts from moving to Indianapolis? Not likely. But Baltimoreans took this personally and have not forgotten. 

7. Former Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston
When the Orioles play the Blue Jays these days, the phrase, "Cito Sucks," will pop back up, with a younger group of Birds fans having little-or-no memory of why it ever began. The American League skipper inexplicably never put O's ace Mike Mussina into the 1993 All-Star Game at Camden Yards despite the AL's 9-3 lead, forgoing him for his own closer Duane Ward instead. The furor reached such a fever pitch Gaston claimed to fear for his safety when visiting Camden Yards later in the year. 

8. Former Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke
As Redskins owner, Cooke didn't want to see football return to Baltimore. Cooke conspired with other NFL owners (and Tagliabue) to prevent Baltimore from receiving an expansion team in 1993, threatening litigation in the process. "I … Want … It … All" was the phrase he used to describe the Maryland market in a 1994 meeting with Orioles owner Peter Angelos and late congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley. Cooke would later flirt with the idea of building a new stadium in Laurel, Md., to try to get the Baltimore market to embrace the D.C. franchise. 

9. Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista
Briefly an Oriole himself in 2004, Bautista -- the most modern villain on the list -- is disliked by fans throughout baseball. His antics seem to particularly rile up Orioles fans, from stare downs to bat flips to jawing with just about anyone he can. Oddly enough, Bautista is a free agent this offseason and may be available at an affordable price after a down 2016. With Mark Trumbo likely to get big money elsewhere, the thought of Bautista in orange and black is a conundrum Baltimore fans hope to avoid. 

10 & 11 (tie). Former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff and wide receiver Lee Evans
Much like "Ravens fans" and "conspiracy theories," these two just can't be separated. When the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, I suggested on the radio these two be pardoned, saying the heartbreak of the previous season's AFC Championship Game in New England helped build that title team. Fans weren't having it. The anger toward Evans never seems to include any credit for the Patriots defender (cornerback Sterling Moore) who knocked his would-be game-winning touchdown out. The Ravens seemed content to let Cundiff, who missed a 32-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining that would likely have sent the game to overtime, rewrite his Baltimore history a season later, he was just outperformed in the preseason by an undrafted rookie you may have heard of named Justin Tucker. 

12. Former Steelers LB Joey Porter
I considered plenty of other figures from the Steelers-Ravens rivalry. The other most prominent names seemed to be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, head coach Mike Tomlin and former head coach Bill Cowher. It just seems more Baltimore sports fans have garnered some level of respect for the moxie of the Steelers' gunslinger (who managed to get much of the public to forget about a checkered past). Perhaps Tomlin's Thanksgiving "trip" of then-Ravens return man Jacoby Jones has not been forgotten since 2013, but even he seems respected among the more reasonable Ravens fans for his ability as a coach. Porter, however, does not appear to be forgiven for the cheap shot delivered to former Ravens tight end Todd Heap in 2004. Heap had injured his ankle a play earlier, and as then-quarterback Kyle Boller spiked the football, Porter shoved the tight end to the ground. The duo eventually became teammates in Arizona and made peace. Baltimore fans do not share in the forgiveness. 

13. Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski
Even the most hardened Duke hater would have to admit at least a portion of the reason "Coach K" is viewed as a villain is because of jealousy. But Krzyzewski's petulance, shrill voice and seeming belief he should govern the sport of college basketball have also rubbed fans of many teams -- not just Maryland -- the wrong way.

14. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
Much like Krzyzewski, jealousy plays a factor here. Brady is an easy target for hate due to his good looks, success with women, smarmy persona, excessive whining to officials and much more. Hatred from Ravens fans nearly exploded when he suggested the team "study the rule book" after a gadget play resulted in a 51-yard touchdown pass by wide receiver Julian Edelman in New England’s 2015 postseason win. This came just eight days before the NFL investigated Brady for (maybe, potentially, who knows?) intentionally deflating footballs or having them deflated. Hey, pot, do you know kettle?

15. Former Orioles slugger Aubrey Huff
For some reason, this one was more personal for me. The travesties Orioles fans suffered from 1998-2011 are sometimes forgotten because the team was so bad fans largely became numb. But Huff calling the city a "horsesh*t town" in a 2007 interview with Bubba the Love Sponge was completely unforgivable to me. The team wasn't good enough for me to give any player the benefit of the doubt. I was furious. The transgression has largely been forgotten (like just about everything else from that era of Orioles baseball), but I wasn't ready to leave him off this list, even if it meant I wouldn't have room to include guys like the aforementioned Teixeira, Ortiz or Rodriguez.