Since I was a kid, I've always been drawn to the badass athlete. While girls tend to flock to the "badboy" boyfriend who typically turns out to be a super asshole, I think it's a fair assumption that guys have a soft spot in their heart for the "badass" ballplayer that screams "douchebag" to the opposing fan, or at least I know I do.
I'm thinking a little more Dick Butkis or Ronnie Lott than Milton Bradley or Mike Tyson. A guy who is so passionate and fiery that it overtakes them, without being so crazy that they're not lovable. Sure, Derek Jeter makes the ladies melt and gets along with all the guys, but it's too much of lovey dovey admiration for me. I want to cheer for some grit, not a role model for high class like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
So what makes one a badass? A few things, but let's start with a name. If you're a running back about to plow through the line, what sounds scarier? Going to toe-to-toe with Ray Lewis or prancing up to Donnie Edwards? Osmond jokes aside, Ray Lewis takes the cake. I've talked about this at length with fellow blogger, Matt Clapp, and we've pretty much agreed that the Major League trilogy had the best badass names in all of sports movies. While I get chills at the name Carlos Liston (Major League III), Clapp gets weak at the knees for Pedro Cerrano. Put one of those names on the body of an Adam Morrison or Patrick Kane, and we got problems.
Secondly, the position matters. Other than the meanest punter I ever saw, the Chiefs' Louie Aguiar, a kicker just doesn't have the hardware to be badass. Linebackers, safeties, closers, and sluggers practically own the moniker. Ryan Theriot and Dustin Pedroia just can't be badasses, they can't.
Lastly, a badass needs the tenacity and a mean streak to make you love them, and have everyone else hate their guts, see Carlos Zambrano. He perfectly fits the role of "guy I'd like to have on my team," because I know for a fact, if he didn't wear Cubs blue, I'd hate his guts. There's just something about that snarl that makes Zambrano, Jack Parkman, and Brian Cushing(above) that makes you rosy red at the cheeks when they play for your team, and bitter like George Constanza to Lloyd Braun, if they play for the other guys.
Ah, do I love me a badass, if we only had more Nick Swishers and Francisco Rodriguezes in the world, I'd want one on my side. As long as my team doesn't get Sean Avery, I dig the signing of the "bad" one.