Who were the Red Sox's biggest villains in the last decade?
Winning is great, but nothing captures the imagination like a good villain. Sometimes it's hard to tell whom Red Sox fans are harder on — opponents or their own players.
In that spirit, here are 10 villains from the past decade, including four former Red Sox, because nobody eats their own like we do.
10. Marcus Stroman
Some "villains" deserve the air-quotes treatment, because they're players Red Sox fans love to hate, with full respect. Stroman fits this bill. The demonstrative right-hander loved pitching in Fenway Park — he had hoped to be traded here at the 2019 deadline — but he also had no qualms about exulting in his success with flexes or shimmies or fist pumps, much to the ire of the Red Sox dugout.
When Stroman quick-pitched Michael Chavis in May, he got an earful from Chris Sale but made no apologies, instead suggesting that manager Alex Cora was just mad that Stroman chose Team USA over Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
9. Chris Archer
Archer made enemies of the Red Sox in 2014 when he served up a mammoth three-run homer to David Ortiz and then complained about the future Hall of Famer's bat flip and leisurely home run trot. Archer quoted then-Rays teammate David Price that Ortiz thinks he's bigger than the game, and added that he acts like he's the show.
Only problem? Videos that immediately surfaced of Archer doing things like kissing his biceps after a big strikeout of Daniel Nava, like the unwritten rules only apply to everyone else.
8. Pablo Sandoval
It's one thing to underperform a big contract. It's another to do so in a way that makes people believe you don't care.
Sandoval's struggles with his weight has been a lifelong issue, and much of the criticism directed at him was not rooted in fairness — his body type is his body type. But Sandoval didn't help matters by slamming his bat during a confrontation with a reporter, going after a blogger who said he looked heavy, or liking Instagram photos during a game.
He hit only .237 with a .646 OPS with the Red Sox, pathetic production for a $90 million player.
7. Bobby Valentine
Oh my God. Where to begin?
We knew things wouldn't work out for Valentine during one of his first press conferences of spring training, when he spoke at length about why Carl Crawford would be taking a few days off without swinging, only for Crawford to saunter out to a batting cage in the distance with a bat while Valentine spoke.
Players hated him, coaches were paranoid he considered them snitches, and he exhibited a Trumpian relationship to the truth. John Farrell has never been so popular as he was the first day of spring training in 2013.
6. Tyler Austin
This may have been a one-off, but the April brawl Austin started in 2018 not only made a folk hero out of crazy Joe Kelly, it galvanized the greatest team in Red Sox history.
Austin started the fun in the third inning by spiking Brock Holt on a reckless slide, causing the benches to empty. When Kelly drilled him in the seventh in retaliation, Austin slammed his bat on the plate, only for Kelly to wave him out as if to say, "Let's dance."
The ensuing melee brought back memories of the good ol' days of Red Sox-Yankees, and so for that, we should thank him.
5. Jeff Luhnow
We have to give it to someone from the Astros, and why not the ruthless, smug, condescending general manager?
With MLB preparing to bring the hammer down on Houston's use of a camera and trash can to steal signs and relay signals to the batter, Luhnow stands for all that is wrong with an organization that until recently employed screaming misogynist Brandon Taubman.
Add the fact that the Astros ended Boston's season in 2017, and they can't lose enough.
4. David Price
Also pulling off the rare two-fer of being a World Series hero and clubhouse malcontent is Price, who has never embraced Boston after committing the cardinal sin of chasing money rather than happiness (Lackey and Carl Crawford know the feeling).
From screaming at a reporter to ambushing Dennis Eckersley to disrespecting "Manager John" Farrell to complaining about Fortnite coverage, Price has made himself a consistent distraction, and for no good reason.
Add his pre-Red Sox complaints about David Ortiz while pitching for the Rays, and that's a nice villain, despite his herculean efforts in the 2018 postseason.
3. Josh Beckett
Great in 2007 when the Red Sox won it all, Beckett was well on his way to becoming a detriment in 2011 when he started sharing beers with other starters in the clubhouse during games.
Whereas Jon Lester and (kind of) John Lackey apologized, Beckett stayed defiant to the end. Add controversies over things like, "my off day is my off day," and deciding he didn't want to work out between starts anymore, and dumping him on the Dodgers in 2012 felt like the first, long overdue step in a necessary purge.
2. Alex Rodriguez
They should probably name this award after A-Rod, who spurned the Red Sox in 2003, slapped Bronson Arroyo's glove in 2004, and watched his people insult David Ortiz when the slugger was about the only friend he had left in baseball.
Rodriguez's multiple PED violations will haunt him, but at least he can be content in the knowledge that Red Sox fans didn't hate anyone more.
1. Manny Machado
Dustin Pedroia says hello. The second baseman might still be playing if Machado hadn't come in needlessly high, and late, on a 2017 slide.
The resulting spike to Pedroia's knee started the former MVP down a road of misery that will stick with him long after he's retired; he already says a knee replacement is inevitable.
I suppose it's not Machado's fault the Red Sox couldn't drill him for retribution, but his histrionics made him Public Enemy No. 1, and watching him drop to one knee for the final out of the 2018 World Series felt like poetic justice.