Athletes Who Hurt Themselves Punching Stuff
There are plenty of available ways for an athlete to embarrass himself on any given day.
He can insult a teammate or a coach (accidentally or on purpose) during a news conference. He can miss a dunk. He can get caught texting inappropriate photos of himself to someone who is not his wife, or forgetting the names of one of his many children.
But there is perhaps nothing more embarrassing that can happen to an athlete than when he injures himself throwing a temper tantrum.
The tantrums are problematic enough, but when you put yourself on the DL or season-ending IR because you couldn't restrain yourself from assaulting a wall/fire extinguisher/other person over something as stupid as a blown call or a ball that should have been called a strike?
You deserve to be kept out of commission for that.
20. Gus Frerotte
Using your fist to punch a wall is one thing. Using your head to do it is entirely different but equally not encouraged.
Gus Frerotte was understandably excited upon the completion of this infamous play in 1997. On 3rd-and-1 against the Giants, he ran it into the end zone to put the Redskins on the board, and he celebrated by head-butting the wall behind the end zone.
Sadly, his celebration was short-lived because at halftime, he had to go get X-rays and thus had to miss the rest of the game.
Celebration dances in the end zone are much more highly recommended.
19. Carl Ikeme
If you are so mad that you have to punch something, you're the best off punching cardboard, right?
This is what Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Carl Ikeme told himself when he was frustrated after allowing an easy goal against Bristol City earlier this year. The only problem was that when he punched the cardboard tactics board, he didn't realize it was supported by a strip of metal.
Ikeme had to be replaced at halftime, and manager Dean Saunders put it best when he told The Guardian, "[He] will probably feel more stupid about it than anyone. I’ve spoken to him and he can barely talk, to be honest with you, he’s that disappointed."
Luckily for him, though, the Wolves still managed to win 2-1.
18. John Tudor
When most people see an electrical fan, they do everything they can to keep their extremities away from it. Usually, rapidly-revolving blades are not incredibly alluring, unless you're John Tudor.
The journeyman southpaw, who retired following the 1990 season, had one infamous temper tantrum in 1985. Tudor had a great season, finishing with a career-high 21 wins and a career-best 1.93 ERA, which certainly explains why he was so disappointed when he couldn't bring a championship to the Cardinals.
He was close, though—painfully close. He had perhaps his worst start of the season in Game 7 of the World Series, leaving in the third inning as the Royals claimed their only championship.
Filled with rage and disappointment after that terrible start, Tudor punched an electrical fan after the game and cut his pitching hand.
17. Pat Zachry
Much like Tudor, Pat Zachry was having a stellar season when it suddenly and inexplicably all went awry, and like Tudor, there was nothing he could do except throw a temper tantrum to express his disappointment.
In 1978, Zachry—who had been part of a trade package from the Reds in exchange for Tom Seaver—established himself as the Mets' ace. By the time the All-Star break rolled around, he had a 10-4 record, but the magic didn't last. On July 24, Zachry was pitching against the Reds and Pete Rose, who came into the game riding a 36-game hitting streak.
Zachry managed to stymie Rose until the seventh inning, when he singled to prolong his streak—and a few batters later, Zachry was removed from the game. And he wasn't happy.
He didn't punch anything, but he decided to embark on a kicking tantrum in the dugout. Sadly, when he reared back to kick a batting helmet on the dugout step, he missed and struck the concrete instead.
Zachry fractured his foot and missed the remainder of the season.
16. Alex Lawless
Why do players still punch walls when they're mad? It always goes wrong. Always. Every single time.
Alas, that didn't stop Alex Lawless earlier this month.
The Luton Town midfielder was mad that his team played so poorly in the first half of a game against York City, and he unleashed by punching a wall in the locker room. To nobody's surprise, the tantrum left him with a broken hand and will keep him off the field for weeks, according to The Independent.
And also to nobody's surprise, Luton Town lost that game 3-0.
15. Isiah Thomas
In recent memory, it hasn't been all that difficult to find examples of Isiah Thomas making a fool of himself.
And apparently, the case was exactly the same in 1993.
Punching an opponent is always a bad idea. Punching your teammate is immeasurably worse, especially when it's during practice and especially when it leaves you with a broken hand.
In November 1993, Thomas got into a fight during practice with Bill Laimbeer when Laimbeer elbowed him. According to the LA Times, Thomas was already wary of Laimbeer because at a practice the month prior, Laimbeer had elbowed him and left him with a broken rib.
So this time, Thomas wasn't having it. As soon as he felt the elbow, Thomas decked his teammate in the head and was left with a broken metacarpal bone, which came with a three-to-eight-week recovery period.
Way to show him, Isiah.
14. Mikhail Youzhny
Even tennis players lose it sometimes, too. But Mikhail Youzhny deserves recognition for accomplishing a rare feat when he managed to give himself a head injury with his own tennis racket.
In 2008, at the Sony Ericsson Open, Youzhny became so inconsolable after losing a critical point that he proceeded to hit himself in the head with his own racket three times, requiring medical attention.
In his defense, he didn't need to forfeit the match and in fact came back for the win, but still. Whenever you nearly concuss yourself during a temper tantrum, it's humiliating.
13. John Bale
If you're already on the disabled list, you have no excuse for throwing a temper tantrum. It's your job to sit back, relax and recover.
The Royals' John Bale missed the memo in 2008, when he was on the DL because of shoulder tightness. Though his condition appeared to be improving during a throwing session one fateful Friday, he felt terrible afterward and became so frustrated that he punched a door at the team's hotel, according to ESPN.com.
The next day, when he arrived at the ballpark, he told the team his hand hurt, and what do you know? It was fractured.
Bale's manager, Trey Hillman, was "not pleased" with the turn of events and wisely told ESPN.com, "Players [must] think before they do things."
12. Sean Rodriguez
Was Sean Rodriguez mad that he had been demoted? Was he mad because of an especially terrible at-bat?
The mystery remains. But whatever the reason for his temper tantrum in August 2012, it wasn't quite as unfortunate as the broken hand it left him with.
The infielder had recently been sent down to Triple-A Durham, and right before he was supposed to be recalled, he broke his hand punching a locker in frustration.
There was nobody more disappointed by the incident than Tampa manager Joe Maddon, who told USA Today that even if Rodriguez returned by season's end, it would be "no real great solace."
11. Randy Johnson
Sometimes, it's the littlest things that can do the most damage, while doing something like batting down a line drive with your bare hand doesn't leave a scratch.
Why Randy Johnson would ever attempt to deflect a line drive with his unprotected pitching hand remains to be seen, but he did so in June 1988. The Big Unit was playing in what was supposed to be his final minor league game before being recalled by the Expos, but when he was removed from the game after getting his hand on that line drive, he was enraged.
Once inside the dugout, Johnson punched the bat rack with his non-pitching hand. The bat rack won, and he would miss six weeks.
Of course, his pitching hand was fine.
10. Jason Isringhausen
Jason Isringhausen was once a star for the St. Louis Cardinals. But once his abilities began to erode, so did his judgment.
The relief pitcher had a long tenure as a lights-out guy for the Cards, but in 2008, he started slumping. Things reached a crescendo when he blew six saves in 17 chances and watched his ERA balloon to 8.00 that season.
One night, after Jason Bay victimized him for a three-run homer, Isringhausen couldn't take it anymore. In a fit of rage, he punched a TV, cutting his hand and signing himself up for a luxurious 15-day stay on the disabled list.
That season—his last with the Cardinals—Isringhausen would finish with a 5.70 ERA and a mere 12 saves.
9. Tim Worrell
Most pitchers don't enjoy being replaced by a pinch hitter after going just a few innings. There is no better way for a manager to say, "I have zero faith in you."
In 1997, San Diego hurler Tim Worrell got the message loud and clear. He was removed in the fifth after allowing five runs, and he was so unhappy about it that he disappeared straight into the clubhouse, where he attacked a wall.
Worrell, or course, was left with a broken hand, which is way worse than being replaced by a pinch hitter. Note to all MLB pitchers: Don't be like this guy.
8. Carlos Boozer
Happy people can break their hands punching things, too. It happened to Carlos Boozer.
Most of us were ecstatic to learn that the NBA lockout had come to an end in late 2011, but nobody was more excited than the Bulls forward, who—upon hearing the news—reportedly jumped so high in the air that when he simultaneously fist-pumped, he put his hand through one of his walls.
The fist pump-gone-awry, left him with a "boxer's fracture" and came with a six- to eight-week recovery time.
Teammate Taj Gibson, who witnessed the punch, was devastated by the unfortunate turn of events, telling TheHeckler.com, "The way Booz jumped up in the air, I would say he was in mid-season form. A double-double machine."
7. Latrell Sprewell
Terrible in-game performances aren't the only events that can provoke embarrassing self-inflicted injuries. Sometimes, when a guy pukes on your boat, you get mad and you have to put him in his place.
Latrell Sprewell isn't exactly known for being a saint, courtesy of an incident in which he attempted to choke and threatened to kill his coach. According to urban legend, though, that's not the only time his temper got him into hot water.
In 2002, the New York Post (via ESPN.com) reported that Sprewell had punched a guy on his yacht and broke his hand in the process. When he showed up to camp that year with a broken hand, without informing the team, he was fined $250,000 and suspended from the practice facility.
Sprewell still claims that he broke his hand when he slipped on the yacht, but the jury's still out.
6. Troy Tulowitzki
Troy Tulowitzki didn't exactly hurt himself punching anything; instead, he hurt himself punching the ground. With his bat. Anyway, it's still just as bad.
The shortstop was quickly becoming a legend for the Rockies during his rookie campaign in 2007. He led all MLB shortstops in fielding percentage, he hit .291 with 99 RBI and he earned a cult following when he turned the 13th unassisted triple play in the history of the game.
The next year, though, he was in for a bit of a reality check. First, he missed 45 games because of a thigh injury. Then, upon returning from said injury, he was so frustrated by one at-bat that he slammed his bat into the ground, which resulted in a cut on his hand that needed 16 stitches.
Tulowitzki would go right back on the DL, but this time, people weren't too sympathetic.
5. Bryce Harper
Fans who were familiar with Tulowitzki's freakish injury weren't all that surprised to see what happened to Bryce Harper when he engaged in a similar temper tantrum in 2012.
The 19-year-old Nationals phenomenon was quickly becoming one of the most popular players in the game, mostly for turning one of the league's worst teams into a contender but partly because of this.
We all knew Harper had a fiery personality, but we were unprepared for what happened one fateful day that May, when he was so enraged by an out he had made that he proceeded to enter the dugout and decimate his bat by slamming it against the wall.
Harper did not anticipate that the flying shards of wood would cut his face, requiring 10 stitches.
4. Ryan Mattheus
Let's not Harp too much on Harper, though. He's not the only member of the Nationals who suffers from self-inflicted tantrum injuries.
Earlier this month, Washington relief pitcher Ryan Mattheus became his own worst enemy when, infuriated by a terrible performance in which he allowed five runs to the Padres in a single inning, he entered the clubhouse and repeatedly slammed his glove—with his hand still in it—into a locker.
Unsurprisingly, the glove didn't provide enough protection for his hand, and it broke. Mattheus, however, didn't realize it was broken until the next day, when he tried to throw and his hand was so swollen that he couldn't, landing him out of commission for the foreseeable future.
3. AJ Burnett
AJ Burnett's tenure with the Yankees started off (somewhat) strong. The up-and-down former Marlin and Blue Jay won 13 games for New York in 2009 before helping them win a World Series.
But he certainly isn't remembered fondly by Yankees fans—partly because he went 11-11 in his final season with the team in 2011, partly because of his seemingly never-ending injury woes and partly because of the manner in which he sustained those injuries.
In July 2010, Burnett was so "fed up" with the Tampa Bay Rays that he attacked a clubhouse door in the third inning of his start against them, cutting his palms on the Plexiglass.
To make matters infinitely worse, Burnett lied to team trainers about how he sustained the injury.
Eventually, he owned up to his mistakes, and he didn't have to miss much time, but still—so embarrassing. Rule No. 1: When you hurt yourself slapping a Plexiglass door, don't lie about it. The powers that be will smoke you out.
2. Kevin Brown
There was a lot that went wrong for the New York Yankees during the 2004 postseason. But perhaps it was Kevin Brown who got the ball rolling in the wrong direction, once and for all.
Brown was a critical component of New York's pitching staff in 2004. The veteran hurler went 10-6 with a 4.09 ERA that year and figured to be a significant cog in the machine as the Yankees attempted to repeat as the American League's representatives in the World Series.
But things went awry when, in early September, Brown was so angered by an eventual 3-1 loss to the Orioles that he punched a wall in the sixth inning, breaking two bones in his non-pitching hand.
Brown would miss most of September only to return for two largely ineffective starts at the end of the season. He would not start in the postseason.
1. Amar'e Stoudemire
The absolute worst time you can sustain a tantrum-induced injury is during the postseason.
That brings us to Amar'e Stoudemire.
During the first round of the 2012 playoffs, the New York Knicks had just lost to the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the first round. Stoudemire was so enraged that in the wake of the loss, he punched the glass case around a fire extinguisher, shattering the glass and badly cutting up his hand.
Stoudemire needed stitches on the inside of his palm and would return for the last two games of the series, but it didn't matter. The Heat would go on to win the NBA title.
Who knows if history would have been altered had Stoudemire looked that fire extinguisher in the eyes and said, "Goodbye"? Probably not. But it's still fun to think about.