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Ozzie Guillen and Baseball's 25 Biggest PR Nightmares

Zachary PeterselFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2012

Ozzie Guillen and Baseball's 25 Biggest PR Nightmares

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    Over the course of 100 years, baseball has had its fair share of public relations nightmares. 

    There have been volatile owners and managers who didn't know when to stop talking. Players have ruined the sanctity of the game with performance-enhancing drugs or other off-field issues. There have also been umpires who have made terrible mistakes on the biggest stage.

    There were too many events to cover with just one list, so if you see something missing, send me a comment.

    Here are 25 of the most controversial moments in baseball history.

Ozzie Guillen's Comments

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    Talk about a PR disaster.

    Ozzie Guillen's recent comments about Fidel Castro created the complete opposite type of buzz the Marlins wanted associated with their new team and stadium.

    With a big part of the Marlins' target demographic the Latin American and Cuban community, Guillen's comments offended just about all of their fans.

    Commissioner Bud Selig was quoted as saying, "Guillen's remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game," according to ESPN.

    Guillen has always been known for running his mouth, but he has never said anything this bad before. He received a five-game suspension and has a tenuous hold on his job for the foreseeable future. 

Mitchell Report

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    The title of the Mitchell Report:

    Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball

    This was just the cherry on top of the steroid era.

    U.S Senator George Mitchell created a 409-page report after a 21-month investigation that covered the history of the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs among MLB players.

    Some of the game's biggest stars—like Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Andy Pettitte and Eric Gagne—were mentioned, and it was a huge black eye for baseball. 

Pete Rose Gambling

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    Pete Rose is the greatest hitter in the history of Major League Baseball, but because of his gambling addiction, he has been banned from the game since 1989. 

    In 2007, Rose admitted on ESPN Radio that he bet on the Reds, the team he was managing, every night. 

    "I bet on my team to win every night because I love my team, I believe in my team," Rose said. "I did everything in my power every night to win that game."

    Rose has attempted to be reinstated but has not yet succeeded. 

Marge Schott Comments

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    From 1984 to 1992, when Marge Schott owned the Reds, she seemed like your everyday, typical baseball owner who was passionate about her team. 

    However, in the winter of 1992, the real Schott was revealed to the world.

    Tim Sabo, the Reds CFO in the 1980s, filed a wrongful-firing lawsuit in which he revealed that Schott made racist remarks about two Reds outfielders, Eric Davis and Dave Parker. She also reportedly kept a Nazi swastika in her home and made offensive remarks against people of the Jewish faith. 

    After an investigation, Schott was banned from running the Reds in 1993 and was fined $250,000. She made favorable comments regarding Hitler to Sports Illustrated and ESPN in 1996, and baseball banned her again from team operations through 1998. 

1994 Players Strike

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    The strike in 1994 led to the cancellation of the World Series for the first time since 1904, as baseball became the first league to lose a postseason because of a labor dispute.

    This strike set the game back many years, as it lost fans and a large portion of its television audience to the NBA and NFL.

    MLB still sits behind the NFL in terms of media attention and revenue in the United States. 

1919 World Series' Black Sox

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    This was so bad for baseball that even 70 years later, a movie—Eight Men Outwas made about how the 1919 "Black Sox" intentionally lost the World Series. 

    The actual story only fully developed the following season in 1920, when two of the big-name players in Eddie Cicotte and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson confessed to a grand jury in September of that year.

    The fallout from this incident led the owners of the league to appoint Federal Judge Kenesaw Landis as the first commissioner of baseball, and he banned all eight players from ever playing again.

Pittsburgh Cocaine Trials

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    The Pittsburgh cocaine trials were the worst thing to hit baseball since the aforementioned 1919 Black Sox. 

    Notable major league players such as Keith Hernandez, Vida Blue and Tim Raines, among others, were called before a grand jury. Seven men, including Hernandez, were found guilty and convicted of distributing cocaine. 

    Each of these seven players was suspended for a full year, but they were allowed to play again if they donated 10 percent of their salaries to drug-related community service, submitted to random drug testing and contributed 100 hours of drug-related community service. 

Ryan Braun Positive Drug Test

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    After another great season in 2011, in which he won his first MVP award—everything was looking up for Ryan Braun. 

    Little did we know, he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug sometime in late October.

    Baseball had finally begun cleaning up the game. The game's best were all clean and could be promoted as such. The league MVP testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs would have set baseball back at least a decade.

    Thankfully, Braun won his appeal, and this is all a thing of the past.

    However, for the two months between his test and the appeal results, this was as big a PR nightmare as the game has ever seen. 

BALCO Scandal

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    Continuing with the steroid era, we reach the BALCO scandal. 

    Victor Conte and two other men started a business, BALCO, that distributed a wide variety of PEDs until 2002, when a federal investigation of the company was launched.

    The results implicated two of the biggest players in baseball at the time in Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.

    Bonds' trainer Greg Anderson was sent to prison for refusing to testify against the Giants outfielder, and the book The Game of Shadows was written in 2006, profiling Bonds' use of performance-enhancing drugs. 

2002 All-Star Game Ends in Tie

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    This was not one of Bud Selig's better moments.

    Ending the All-Star Game in a tie? Who would have even thought that was possible? 

    However, at the end of 11 innings, with the score tied 7-7, the game was called because each team had run out of pitchers.

    In part because of this incident, baseball added some importance to the game, as the winner now has home-field advantage in the World Series.

1985 World Series Blown Call

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    Don Denkinger was a great umpire for many years, but to this day, he has never lived down a mistake he made more than 25 years ago.

    In Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, there was a slowly-hit ball in the ninth inning, and Denkinger called Jorge Orta safe. Television replays and photographs clearly showed that he was out.

    Even the announcers were saying that he was out on live television, but Denkinger refused to change the call. 

    The Cardinals were up in the series 3-2, but the Royals went on to win the game 2-1 and eventually the World Series in Game 7.

Roger Clemens Steroids

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    Roger Clemens had a lot of good moments on the baseball field, but when the steroid era took off, he should have gotten out while he could. 

    After a couple of down years with the Red Sox, Clemens joined the Blue Jays, and his career took off like no other pitcher of his age. He pitched incredibly well into his mid-40s, but then the allegations starting coming out about his PED use. 

    Clemens emphatically denied it, but more and more reports surfaced, and as of August 2010, a federal grand jury indicted Clemens on charges of making false statements to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs

1948 World Series Umpire Blown Call

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    In the first game of the 1948 World Series, umpire Bill Stewart's blown call on a pick-off play allowed the Braves to win Game 1.

    The following day, there was a media frenzy, which only escalated when the Associated Press printed photographs of the play. 

1957 All-Star Game

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    The 1957 All-Star Game was loaded with controversy, because the Reds and their fans voted in every player from their starting lineup except for one.

    This meant that stars such as Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were not going to be in the starting lineups, and back in the 1950s, All-Star Games were not played the way they are today.

    There weren't substitutions every three innings or so; the starters played the majority of the games.

    Major League Baseball refused to let this happen and substituted Aaron and Mays in for two Reds outfielders, stripping the fans of their voting rights. 

    It was not until 1970 when the fans were again allowed to vote the starters in for the All-Star Game.

Josh Hamilton's Relapse

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    Josh Hamilton had become one of the game's most inspiring stories.

    He went from being a former first-overall-pick bust and one of the worst draft picks ever, to a fan favorite around the league and one of the most talented players in the game. 

    Until this offseason's relapse

    Hamilton was all over SportsCenter for what seemed like days, and while he has since recovered and is back on the field, the positive aura that once surrounded his every move has been somewhat replaced with skepticism and fear of another incident. 

Armando Galarraga's Near-Perfect Game

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    According to MLB.com, only 20 pitchers have thrown perfect games in baseball history.

    Jim Joyce and the rest of us know that number should be 21.

    Armando Galarraga pitched 8.2 perfect innings against the Cleveland Indians.

    The 27th batter hit a weak ground ball to the first baseman, and as the picture and this video show (skip to the 21-second mark), Galarraga clearly beat him to the bag, and he should have been called out.

1957 World Series Shoe Shine

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    Nippy Jones sure was happy that he shined his shoes that morning in 1957.

    With the Yankees up 2-1 in the World Series against the Braves, Jones pinch-hit for Warren Spahn. He was brushed back with a pitch that the umpire called a ball, but Jones protested that it went off his foot.

    As he is showing Hank Aaron in the picture above, he showed the ump the scuff from his shoe, and he was awarded first base.

    Despite the Yankees protest, the Braves went on to win the game and eventually win that World Series. 

Red Sox 'Fried Chicken and Beer'

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    The Red Sox were the talk of the 2011 offseason.

    Type in "fried chicken and beer" into Google, and you will see that the first 10 results are about the Red Sox and their collapse this past year.

    Instead of focusing on the actual collapses of both the Red Sox and the Braves, the main media focus was on how Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey spent their time drinking beer and eating fried chicken

Jeffrey Maier Catch

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    In one of the biggest controversies in recent memory, Derek Jeter was awarded a home run when it is obvious to the television audience and the announcer Bob Costas that a fan, later identified as Jeffrey Maier, interfered with the play. 

    The Orioles protested the game, but there was nothing baseball could do, so AL President Gene Budig denied the appeal.

    The name Jeffrey Maier, much like this generation's Steve Bartman, is synonymous with poison for Orioles fans everywhere.

    For a video of the catch, click here.

Mets and the Madoff Ponzi Scheme, Frank McCourt Divorce

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    Yet another black cloud for two of baseball's biggest markets.

    While both of these incidents have seemingly been resolved, they left the Mets and the Dodgers in terrible shape for multiple seasons.

    Neither organization was capable of spending money, and until the Dodgers' recent sale, both teams were engulfed by bad news for years.

    Baseball has done everything in its power to keep these teams alive, but negativity has surrounded these two franchises.

John Rocker

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    John Rocker had his moments on the baseball field, but in an interview with Sports Illustrated, he sure made us forget about that.

    Some of the comments he made were considered racist, homophobic and sexist, and he was suspended for the first 28 games of the 2000 regular season.

    His comments were so out of control, both Jay Leno and Saturday Night Live did skits making fun of Rocker

61 in 61

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    As the 1961 season was unfolding, Roger Maris was approaching one of the greatest records in all of sports, Babe Ruth's single-season home run record of 60 homers.

    The only problem was that Ruth did it in 154 games, and by 1961, the schedule had expanded to 162. 

    What was baseball going to do?

    It decided that if Maris broke Ruth's record in 154 games or less, the record was his, but if he did not, he would receive an asterisk.

    Unfortunately for Maris and the baseball world, then-commissioner Ford Frick decided that because Maris did it in more games, his record would not stand against Ruth's.

Al Campanis Racist Comments

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    On the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Al Campanis made racist comments in an interview with ABC news.

    When Campanis was asked why there were no black managers in baseball, his reply was, "They may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager."

    There was a media storm the next day, and Campanis resigned soon after.

A-Rod's Women

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    Alex Rodriguez has a chance to become the greatest home run hitter in baseball history.

    For unflattering stories like this one to be published about a player with so much talent and such an important place in the record books is detrimental to the game. 

Derek Jeter's Women

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    Like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter is one of baseball's most well-known players. 

    While Jeter reportedly treats his women well, I'm sure that baseball would prefer if one of its biggest stars would settle down and only show up in the media for baseball-related news.

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