On this Valentine’s Day, there is a lot to love about sports. The Super Bowl was an instant classic, LeBron James is breaking records, spring training is underway, and hockey is back. But, what makes sports great is that there is plenty to hate as well. Like any good superhero film, the villains are what make it interesting. Whether it’s Lance Armstrong lying, Sidney Crosby whining, or Tiger Woods cheating on everything but his scorecard – there are plenty of bad guys. Enjoy our picks for the top athletes we love and the top athletes we love to hate in sports today.
Andrew’s Athlete to Love
Cole Hamels could be my favorite athlete ever. He is the biggest reason I have seen a Philadelphia championship in my lifetime. Before he was brought up to the Major Leagues in 2006, there was a buzz about him being the next big pitcher in Phillies history. At that point, a big pitcher to me was Robert Person. In other words, I had never seen a true ace pitch for the Phillies. Unlike so many Philadelphia athletes over the years, Hamels didn’t disappoint.
Aside from his accomplishments on the mound, Hamels has been an outstanding ambassador for the game of baseball off of it. He co-founded the Hamels Foundation with his wife Heidi (previously of Survivor fame), which helps gives children in the United States and around the world a chance at a better education. He’s truly the ultimate professional. Cole also hates the Mets, so that trumps everything else.
Andrew’s Athlete to Hate
To keep with the theme of the day, my love of the Eagles is a lot like an abusive relationship. I continue to give more to them, I buy tickets, merchandise, devote time and they continue to hurt me by making terrible decisions. Meanwhile, my friends are in great relationships with Eli Manning and the New York Giants. In the big moments, when you need him the most, he comes through. With two Super Bowls in the last five years, Eli Manning is the worst thing to happen to sports in my life since Joe Jurevicius.
Although a bit fueled by jealousy (because Eli doesn’t seem like a bad person off the field), I love to hate Manning. The best part of the past sports year was the Eagles beating the Giants in week four. When NBC played Eli making the “Eli face” after Lawrence Tynes missed the game winning field goal, it was the happiest sports had made me in a long, long time.
Jason’s Athlete to Love
When it comes to athletes we love, it’s safe to say that Kate Upton is the complete package. The 20-year-old superstar is – wait, she doesn’t count as an athlete? Why is she always on the cover of Sports Illustrated then?
Well, if we have to pick someone else, we’d go with Roy Halladay. Halladay is the ultimate professional, and a perfect example of how hard work pays off. He has a reputation for being the first one at the ballpark on game days, and his impeccable work ethic continues into the off-season, too. Rumor has it he spends frigid January days running laps at Citizens Bank Park to stay in shape.
Halladay’s talent and dedication have earned him a perfect game, something that has only been accomplished 23 times in MLB history, and he also recorded the MLB’s second-ever postseason no-hitter. This eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young winner isn’t just great on the field, though. He’s also a heck of a guy off the field. He bought his teammates custom watches to thank them for their involvement in his perfect game, and Halladay also works on a number of charitable initiatives. He has been recognized for his philanthropy on multiple occasions, and “Doc” is a fan-favorite wherever he goes. The only thing Halladay doesn’t have is a World Series ring, and with a guy like Cole Hamels pitching beside him in 2013, that could be coming soon.
Jason’s Athlete to Hate
There are plenty of a-hole athletes, but few more terrible than former NHL player Sean Avery. Avery is a total disaster. From his immature antics on the ice that caused the NHL to institute a new “Avery Rule” to his suspension for making an inappropriate “sloppy seconds” comment about ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert to his appearance in the “black book” of a New York City hooker, Avery can’t seem to stay away from controversy.
So, sports fans…take a moment to reflect this Valentine’s Day. Who are the athletes you love, and who are your favorites to hate? Leave a comment below to let us know!