Thank you, Michael BarrettFor doing something the rest of the world has wanted to do for a long, long time.
In the 2nd inning of today's interleague game, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski bowled over his Cubs counterpart when only a slide was needed, and to add some of his token class, pounded the plate and stared at Barrett afterwards. Barrett, in a fit of keepin-it-real, got up, hugged A.J., and then...
POW! Coldcocked him. Right in the left jaw, a cleaner hit than in most baseball "fights."
The reason the world owes Michael Barrett a thank-you is because Pierzynski is widely known as the biggest asshole in baseball; the only man ever to play with Barry Bonds and yet be liked less by his teammates. Some stories from the towns A.J. was run out of (and even some where he still is):
1) "During a Giants exhibition game last spring, Pierzynski took a shot to his, shall we say, private parts. Trainer Stan Conte rushed to the scene, placed his hands on Pierzynski's shoulders in a reassuring way, and asked how it felt. "Like this," said Pierzynski, viciously delivering a knee to Conte's groin. It was a real test of professionalism for the enraged Conte, who vowed to ignore Pierzynski for the rest of the season until Conte realized how that would look." (Source: SF Chronicle)
2) White Sox GM Kenny Williams on A.J.: "We just have to remind him sometimes, 'Hey, A.J., this is the big leagues. Don't make fun of hitters after they strike out.'"
3) (from 2004) "The latest incident reportedly occurred before Wednesday's game against the Atlanta Braves, when two players confirmed to the Tribune that Pierzynski ignored starting pitcher Brett Tomko's request to go over opposing hitters. Instead, the players said, Pierzynski resumed playing cards for another 20 minutes."
4) "...according to two Giants players, the Padres' Phil Nevin said Pierzynski was criticizing (his own) pitchers while Nevin was at the plate."
The list could go on and on (and if readers have any good stories, pass them on and we'll put em up). The point is that Barrett may never get plunked again; he did something everyone else has been waiting to do.
UPDATE 1: Thanks to imjudyb, who reminded us of one we somehow left off: AJ running to first base during last year's ALCS. Hustle? Maybe. Rubbing it in later? Oh, so A.J.