One of my friends has been pestering me to compile this list, and since we've got some down time today with the Twins' first official spring training match-up set to take place tonight, now seems like as good a time as any.
It seems that every team in the league has that one player that especially grinds on us as Twins fans, one that we really loathe seeing at the plate or on the mound. Sometimes it's because that player always seems to perform particularly well against the Twins, and sometimes it's because he simply rubs us the wrong way. Whatever the case, I've compiled my list of the top player from each of the 13 other American League teams that I love to hate as a Twins fan. If you have any additions or changes in your own mind, feel free to let your feelings be known in the comments section.
BALTIMORE - Nick Markakis
Markakis wins this spot solely because of his performance against Mr. Carlos Silva in an August 22 match-up against the Twins last season. Not a power hitter, Markakis went deep in three consecutive at-bats against Silva. On the season, the rookie hit .382/.417/.706 against the Twins, with an overall line of .291/.351/.448.
BOSTON - David Ortiz
Of course, we all love to hate Manny Ramirez. And in truth, few of us probably hate Ortiz. Still, it is always painful to watch the former Twin repeatedly make the ESPN highlight reel with his home run heroics, and it's always gut-wrenching to see him come to the plate when the Twins play the Bo-Sox. Since moving to Boston, Ortiz has exacted his revenge against the Twins with a ridiculous .362/.500/.702 line in 47 at-bats, by far his best numbers against any opposing team. The Ortiz currently on the Twins roster is not quite as good.
CHICAGO - A.J. Pierzynski
This one was pretty easy. When Pierzynski played for the Twins, we all loved his snide attitude and his ability to get under the skin of opposing players. Now it bugs the hell out of us. (It seems like this trend is consistent with the attitudes of his former teammates.) At least we all love A.J. for one reason... getting rid of him brought back an All-Star starting pitcher, an All-Star closer, and perhaps the No. 2 starter in the rotation this season.
CLEVELAND - C.C. Sabathia
Sabathia hates the Twins, so we hate him too. Indians fans probably hate the fact that the hefty lefty can't seem to put his cap on straight.
DETROIT - Craig Monroe
Monroe, career vs. all opponents: .263/.310/.461
Monroe, career vs. Minnesota Twins: .320/.373/.547
This guy always seems to kill the Twins.
KANSAS CITY - Mike Sweeney
Can we really hate anybody on the lovably inept Royals? Forced to choose, I went with Sweeney, who has bashed Twins pitchers to the tune of .330/.392/.555 over the course of his 11-year career.
LOS ANGELES - Bartolo Colon
Not that it's his fault, but I'll never forgive Colon for stealing Johan Santana's Cy Young in 2005. Besides, he used to play for Cleveland, and by trading him the Indians were able to acquire Grady Sizemore, who is sure to be a thorn in our sides for many years.
NEW YORK - Hideki Matsui
Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez would have been too easy. Matsui made his Yankee Stadium debut against the Twins in April of 2003 and proceeded to hit a grand slam in his third at-bat against Joe Mays. I can forgive, Hideki, but I never forget.
OAKLAND - Nick Swisher
There's just something about Swisher that really bugs me... maybe it's that cocky smirk that's always plastered on his face. Or maybe it's the fact that he holds a career 1.309 OPS against the Twins. Last year, Swisher came to the Metrodome in early April and blasted two home runs off of Silva--a sad preview of things to come.
SEATTLE - Ichiro Suzuki
This one might be obvious but I couldn't resist; Ichiro has hit .526 against the Twins in 38 career ABs.
TAMPA BAY - The ghost of Travis Lee
The choice here would have been Lee, who refused to sign with the Twins after being drafted in the first round in 1996 and went on to have a satisfyingly mediocre career, but the Rays cut him last September after watching him hit .224. The Nationals picked him up in the off-season, making him an NL player and thus technically ineligible, but I simply had to put him on this list. Plus, it would be just plain mean to hate anyone on the Devil Rays with the way the Twins have consistently manhandled them the past few years.
TEXAS - Kameron Loe
I had to put Loe on this list because he reminds me of the height of the Twins' offensive ineptitude during the 2005 season. As you may recall, the Twins' entire lineup had a tendency to randomly disappear for games a time that season, often against mediocre (or worse) opposing pitchers. Loe is a perfect example; he made two starts against the Twins within a span of a couple weeks late in the season, and didn't allow a single earned run. Loe went 2-0 on 13 scoreless innings over those starts, over the rest of the season he was 7-6 with a 3.99 ERA. Last year he didn't get a chance to face the Twins, and as a result went 3-6 with a 5.86 ERA before dropping out of the Rangers rotation in June.
TORONTO - Frank Thomas
Thomas has everything going for him to make this list. He has a reputation as a jerk, he used to play for the hated White Sox, he's hit more home runs against the Twins (47) than any other opponent over the course of his career, and last year his two moon-shots in Game One of the ALCS set the tone for a thorough wipe-out by the Athletics.