Maybe it’s all the sweaty close-ups. Maybe it’s all the times I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole that is basketball-reference.com and the headshots of players I’ve stared at while doing so. Maybe I’ve just become cynical since moving to New York. But one thing is for sure: there has never been a period in my young sports watching career where I’ve so often thought while watching games, “Damn, I’d really love to punch that guy in the face.” Sometimes a guy singles up the middle, rounds first and you’re like, “I wish I was the first base coach so I could just lay him out when he turns back to hand me his batting gloves.” It’s just part of being human. Either that, or there’s something wrong with me. Chances are it’s the latter.
First, I’ll lay some ground rules. This is more like a sibling-did-something-stupid-I-get-a-free-shot punch in the face than a fair fight. Surely, if I had to think about the ramifications, there’s a couple people I’d steer clear of sneaking on this list. So without further ado, here are the top 10 most punchable faces in sports today.
- Joakim Noah
Noah has been doin’ it for years. His awful hair/mustache combination has been boiling my blood since his Florida days, and it doesn’t help that he is one of the most die-hard grit and grind players the NBA has ever seen. It’s cool when he’s on your team that he wants to work really hard, rebound and play defense. But to the fan who has no allegiance to him, it’s pretty trite and over the top.
- Mike Moustakas
Okay, okay. Maybe this is a little hometown Mets fan bias. Moustakas doesn’t have the most punchable face in the world, but I certainly wouldn’t mind giving him a quick left jab right underneath the ear hole of his helmet. He didn’t help his case in the World Series when he was ready to fight Noah Syndergaard, who is currently the love of my life.
- Jayson Werth
Speaking of hometown Mets bias, here’s an old friend! I’ve hated Jayson Werth since his days as a Phillie, where he was notorious for being a Mets killer. I will say, against all odds, his caveman-look decreased his punchability. I mean, sometimes there’s nowhere to go but up.
- Rafael Nadal
Rafa is, admittedly, beautiful. I think that has something to do with this. There’s just something so smug about him. Also, this is totally unrelated, but have you ever noticed how much bigger that man’s left bicep is than his right? I’ll leave that there.
- Cristiano Ronaldo
Again, beautiful. And again, that probably bears some weight here. Ronaldo has mastered the art of looking cocky at all times. It’s almost like Ronaldo has a cell phone stuffed in his sock on the field and he’s just constantly texting your girl the eggplant emoji. The worst part? She’s replying with this.
- All Red Sox players, past and present
Theo Epstein’s checklist for signing players: Uber talented. Is ready to compete for a ring right away. Overpriced. Will shotgun beers with him in the clubhouse. Infuriates everyone who looks them in the eyes.
The dream scenario for every baseball fan, not just rival fans, is to line up Manny Ramirez, John Lackey, Josh Beckett and Dustin Pedroia and go Mike Tyson on them.
- Paul Pierce
Now that we’re in the Final Four of Punchable Faces, it starts to become really clear that these people not only have physically enticing faces, they have punchable personalities. Paul Pierce was one of the most infuriating players to watch in recent NBA memory if you weren’t a Celtics fan. If you shush everyone around you, listen and concentrate really closely you’ll still be able to hear Pierce complaining about a foul call he didn’t get in 2009. The only thing that can drown it out? The sound of him complaining that other players complain too much.
- Sidney Crosby
We’ve crossed the threshold into the most punchable personalities in the world. Yes, Sidney Crosby is the pride of Canada. Yes, he is the most talented hockey player I’ve been alive and lucid enough to watch. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a player that flops as easily as Crosby. He has a litany of cheap shots under his belt. And the only time he’s actually ever fought? He snuck up behind someone already being tackled and sucker-punched him. What goes around comes around kid.
- Jonathan Papelbon
I know I already named every Red Sox player ever, past and present, but Papelbon is his own special case. Punching Papelbon in the face has been at the top of my to-do list longer than proposing to Emma Watson. The best part about punching him would be that the stupid amount of chewing tobacco he’s always got stuffed in his mouth would go flying across the diamond.
- Eric Hosmer
Eric Hosmer takes the cake. He’s the champion. He is impressively punchable. I almost want to commend him. He’s like the perfect combination of Justin Bieber and that kid in your high school who got a tattoo before everyone and wore a surf necklace. You thought Ronaldo and Nadal looked smug? Hosmer looks like his parents bought him a $300 bat when he was eight and he smashed it into a pole because he struck out, and then cried until they bought him two more. That fantasy about being the first base coach and laying him out after a single has never sounded so sweet, and I had to sit through five games of it last October when they beat the Mets in the World Series. I’ve saved a special one for you, Eric.
Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]