Scott Boras and the 25 Most Controversial Figures in MLB
Test. If you don't recognize it, that's Shoeless Joe Jackson in the picture. He is among the most controversial ballplayers in history and might have been among the most talented, but the world will never know.
For this list, I tried to keep things contemporary, with a couple exceptions that simply could not be left out. Please feel free to comment on people who could be on this list as well. It is far from all-inclusive.
No. 23 Roger Goodell
How can the commissioner of the NFL be on this list? Because if his office, the owners and the NFL Players' Association cannot reach a new collective bargaining agreement, the late summer and early fall months that have most recently belonged to the NFL will find themselves back in baseball's hands.
The ramifications of a lockout would surely come out in baseball's August and September ratings, as it would be the only major sport running.
No. 22 Diedre Pujols
Baseball's most sought-after free-agent-to-be in history is a family man. He is happily married and you can bet your bottom dollar Mrs. Pujols will have as much to say about their future living arrangements as anyone in Albert's sphere of influence.
The money is one issue. The length of contract is another. But Pujols will ultimately make the decision that is best for him and his family. And while she might be under the radar, she has his ear.
No. 21 Justine Siegal
Siegal is believed to be the first woman ever to throw batting practice to a major league team, when she did so for the Cleveland Indians at their spring training complex.
The 36-year-old Cleveland native broke one major gender barrier when she was the first female assistant coach in college baseball, spending four years at Springfield College. She knocked down another wall when she was the first woman to coach first base on a professional team, as a coach with the Brockton Rox, an independent league team.
There are still those who believe women are better left off the field when it comes to professional baseball, but Siegal is breaking one barrier after another. What's next?
No. 20 Derek Jeter
"The Captain" has spent most of his career in positive light with both the press and fans, but this past offseason he was involved in a contemptuous contract negotiation that saw him still sign for double his market price.
Yankees fans even called for Jeter to be reasonable in his asking price, but Jeter felt like the Steinbrenners tried to lowball him, and he was upset when the negotiations were leaked to the press.
Coming off his worst statistical season, Jeter has some work to do to back up the talk and the millions.
No. 19 Tom Hicks
Hicks was recently forced to sell the Texas Rangers to a group headed by Nolan Ryan. He left the Rangers in financial shambles after a series of back-heavy contracts left the team in debt.
As an example of the poor decision making by the Hicks Regime, the Rangers still owe Alex Rodriguez between $25-30 million. While Ryan and Co. seem to have the Rangers headed in the right direction, they also inherit the pressure of a team whose on-field success only adds to the pressure of the off-field issues.
Rangers fans expect to win and Ryan will have to pay to make it happen.
No. 18 Curt Schilling
The famed "bloody-sock" pitcher now has his eye on Ted Kennedy's senate seat. Late in his career, Schilling was given to political rants on his blog and in interviews. This has carried over into his career in broadcast.
Additionally, there have been serious questions as to the legitimacy of the bloody sock and the injury surrounding it. If, indeed, the sock was a prop of sorts, there are also integrity questions to be considered before electing the three-time champion to office.
No. 17 Milton Bradley
The career .272 hitter has played for eight teams in 11 professional seasons. The movement is mostly because he seems to cop an attitude shortly after arriving at each new destination.
Most recently, on May 4, 2010 Bradley left the Mariners' game in the middle because the manager felt the need to remind him who was in charge. Those who know Bradley were not surprised. In 2008 Bradley attacked a broadcaster who made a comparison between him and teammate Josh Hamilton. He was restrained by coaches and teammates.
What will it be this year?
No. 16 Jose Canseco (Bash Brother Part 1)
Canseco is most well known for authoring the book "Juiced" in which he exposed the world of performance enhancing drugs in baseball and kicked off baseball's investigation into it with a bang.
Canseco was one of the great sluggers in baseball. He retired with 462 career home runs and he was the first player in history to hit 40 HR and steal 40 bases in the same season.
No. 15 AJ Pierzynski
In 2005 there were reports the White Sox catcher kneed a San Francisco Giants trainer, Stan Conte, in the groin during a game the previous year.
On May 28, 2007, Pierzynski ran inside the basepaths, once cleating Twins star Justin Morneau. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire exploded from the dugout and his tirade made highlight reels for weeks, but he was not ejected.
During the Sox 2005 championship parade, Pierzynski thanked ownership for "putting up with me".
No. 14 Mark McGwire (Bash Brother Part 2)
One of the most prolific home-run hitters in baseball history is also the most recognizable face of the steroid era.
McGwire averaged one home run per 10.61 at bats in his career, by far the lowest homers-to-at-bats ratio in history. Second place on that list is Babe Ruth with one home run per 11.80 at bats. McGwire retired with 583 home runs and he was the first to hit 70 in a season, which he did in 1998.
The St. Louis Cardinals brought the hometown hero back last year as their hitting coach.
No. 13 Carlos Zambrano
Between 2004-07, Zambrano was in the top five in Cy Young voting three times and looked to be one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball. Then the fearsome emotions that made him so intimidating betrayed him.
He's notorious for mid-game outbursts and inciting violence with teammates, most recently with departed first baseman Derrek Lee. He has been unable to keep his composure under pressure and he has plummeted from the rotation to the bullpen.
He showed some flashes at the end of last season, shockingly going 8-0 with a 1.58 ERA after the All-Star Break. There is still time to right the ship.
No. 12 Joe West
West drew ire from baseball fans last season when he complained about the Yankees and Red Sox taking too long to play a game.
It isn't often you see an umpire's name in the paper, but West has had several instances. In 2006, after working as the World Series crew chief, West was ranked fourth-worst umpire in a survey of Major League Baseball players.
West has also allowed his publicist to make him available for interviews, when umpires are supposed to stay behind the scenes.
No. 11 Miguel Cabrera
On October 3, 2009, Cabrera was taken in by the police for questioning after they were called to his house on a domestic disturbance. He had been out drinking and had begun fighting with his wife after getting home.
In Janurary, 2010, it came out that he had spent time in rehab for his alcohol problem and things seemed to be looking up. But just days ago, Cabrera was once again arrested for driving under the influence and he was brought into custody.
Once again, there are questions as to the slugger's alcoholism and he is likely to return to rehab at some point.
No. 10 Nyjer Morgan
On August 25, 2010, Morgan was suspended for throwing a ball at a fan. Only one week later, Morgan charged the mound after Marlins' pitcher Chris Volstad almost hit him with a pitch. He took several swings at the pitcher's head before being clotheslined by first baseman Gaby Sanchez.
After the altercation, he was suspended for eight games and fined $15,000. Morgan also has been known to refer to himself as "Tony Plush" which he calls his "Gentleman's Name".
No. 9 Pete Rose
It's impossible to have a discussion about MLB controversy without Pete Rose. The all-time hits leader was banned from baseball when he was caught gambling on games.
There have been arguments ever since about his inclusion into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, but there doesn't seem to be any change in status coming anytime soon as commissioner Bud Selig has repeatedly refused to reinstate Rose.
No. 8 Bud Selig
People want Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame. People want instant replay. These are just two of many decisions Selig's office has made that have been met with displeasure. Selig also made the problematic decision of making the All-Star Game decide World Series home-field advantage.
Since taking over in 1998, Selig has had the unenviable job of dealing with the eruption of baseball's steroid investigation, and he has handled it admirably. But there will continue to be controversy surrounding his office until the day he retires.
No. 7 Ozzie Guillen
His troubles started in 2008, with some negative comments about a homosexual columnist in Chicago. He gladly spoke out against the Arizona immigration reform and later in 2010 he said Asian players are treated better than Latino players.
His Twitter account has always been a lightning rod, as Guillen often spouts off about his everyday annoyances.
No. 6 Scott Boras
Scott Boras might be single-handedly responsible for the contract boom of the last decade. Boras negotiated the questionable contracts of Adrian Beltre and most notably the highway robbery that was Jayson Werth's new deal with Washington.
Boras was also behind the Rafael Soriano deal with New York and the Stephen Strasburg rookie-record contract. He is the enemy of owners, fans of small-market teams and arbitration courts everywhere.
No. 5 Fred Wilpon
Wilpon and the Mets are being sued for a $1 billion for losses in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme that was exposed in the past year.
According to accusations by the plaintiffs, Wilpon knew of the scheme and protected Madoff and his cash flow, believing it to be in the best interest of the team. Wilpon vehemently denies any involvement and he is still seeking legal council in the matter.
No. 4 George Mitchell
Mitchell will forever be synonymous with performance enhancing drugs. He was tasked by Selig to investigate steroids and report to the commissioner's office.
What resulted was a 409-page report that named 86 players involved in PED use in some way. The names have slowly been leaked since, condemning one after another to a lifetime of suspicion and dashing many Hall of Fame aspirations.
No. 3 Manny Ramirez
Manny will always be Manny. What else needs to be said? It's a futile pursuit to list off his questionable exploits over the course of a long career, but Ramirez is also one of the most talented hitters in the game, and his numbers speak for themselves.
If it wasn't for his recent steroid suspension with the Dodgers, he would be a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. Starting in 1999, Ramirez ran through eight years in a row of being among the top 10 MVP vote getters.
Have no doubt Rays' fans, Manny is still Manny, but he might help you this season anyway.
No. 2 Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez was already top 10 on this list years ago when he signed the biggest contract in the history of baseball. But on top of that, he admitted to having taken performance enhancing drugs.
A-Rod will forever be one of the most polarizing players in the history of the game. Everywhere the Yankees play, friends and enemies will flock to the stadium in droves. Imagine the media frenzy when he approaches the home run record in a few years.
No. 1 Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens denies lying to congress. He denies using performance enhancing drugs and he seems determined to fight this to the end.
The odds are stacked against him. Personal trainer Brian McNamee claims to have evidence of Clemens' involvement, and friend-and-teammate Andy Pettitte has also testified to his involvement.
Clemens says Pettitte "misremembers".
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