MLB Power Rankings: Baseball's Top 20 Biggest Trash-Talkers and Agitators
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With the induction of Dennis Rodman into the basketball hall of fame, it seemed appropriate to look back at baseball's all-time bad boys. Some of these guys were big trash talkers that could back it up. Others were agitators who could back some of it up but usually didn't.
Undoubtedly, there will be omissions so chime in and give your bad boy some love.
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"Rickey is fast". In recent memory, very few players identify themselves in the third person as Henderson did. "Rickey" made sure you knew he was coming and that there was no way you were going to stop him. Arguably the greatest lead off hitter of all time, he also comes across as one of the most arrogant.
The Georgia Peach was anything but on the baseball field. Often sliding spikes up and known for his racists comments, Cobb not only irritated his own teammates, but often the people around him. Stories are told of how his dislike for Babe Ruth made him change the way he played the game (going from a base hitting, base stealing machine) to a power hitter like Ruth was. In some ways, that story sounds a lot like Barry Bonds animosity towards Mark McGwire during the 1998 season.
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In an interview with sports columnist Robert Ward of SPORT magazine, Reggie Jackson dropped the line that separated himself from management and his team, "This team, it all flows from me. I'm the straw that stirs the drink. Maybe I should say me and Munson, but he can only stir it bad." Jackson was a lightning rod of controversy and his encounters with then, and again and again, manager Billy Martin are legendary but this quote show what type of player Jackson was in his prime.
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The aforementioned Billy Martin will go down as one of the most polarizing figures in baseball history. His epic battles with his players (Reggie Jackson) and management (George Steinbrenner) made Billy public enemy number one and fan favorite.People loved when Billy would argue with the umpire after a close play, kick dirt, throw caps, whatever was needed to get his point across. He will also be remembered for the "pine tar incident" in which he called out George Brett after a home run in the Bronx in 1983.
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Where to start. He's played for eight teams since 2000 not staying with one team more than three years. To say he's volatile is an understatement. He's been suspended for bumping umpires, benched for not knowing situations and sent home for throwing tirades in the dugout. It's no wonder nobody got seriously injured when Bradley played for the Cubs under Lou Pinella in 2009 but I guess he's just "misunderstood".
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Cut from the same mold as Bradley we have Carl Everett. He was punished for an obscene gesture towards pitcher Jamie Moyer after a home run, and had numerous run in with the Boston media who questioned his "injury" while he was on the disabled list. He also was known for his temper tantrums at home plate after being rung up by numerous home plate umpires.
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I'm putting Pete Rose on this list only because of what he is banned from baseball for: gambling. People appreciated his hustle and the way he played the game, but he lost a lot of that when he did everything but admit he bet on baseball. Still today, people think he has served his time and that because of his stats deserves to be in the hall of fame. Whether he's in the hall or not, Rose is still a polarizing figure even today.
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Jealously or arrogance is why people don't like A-Rod. Regardless, the guy can play and has always been able to play. When it comes to this topic though, the stunt he pulled last year on Oakland A's pitcher Dallas Braden is a case of where actions speak louder than words. The unwritten rule is you don't run across the pitcher's mound on the way back to the dugout. A-Rod broke this rule and Braden lost it. After the game, A-Rod went on to explain that he didn't hear Braden and was shocked to hear that from a guy who had a handful of wins. Right or wrong, A-Rod sweats agitation.
"Sweet" Lou Piniella
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"Sweet Lou" has done it all in his baseball career. He's won world championships (3), he's been an all-star (1972) and he's been selected manager of the year in both leagues. So what makes him a trash talker or agitator? His tantrums on the field. There are only a handful of times, usually with Carlos Zambrano, where Piniella has gone off on his players. Most of his theatrics were geared towards umpires who "missed calls" during games.
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'Boomer" did most of his damage with the Yankees. He had been called out for not pitching through a bad back in the playoffs and things that were written about the Yankees in his book: "Perfect I'm Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball". In his book, he states he threw his perfect game while hungover and strengthened his arm by throwing rocks at homeless people. Still, people in other parts of the country appreciated his "honesty" and being more like an everyman to mainstream America.
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Bonds is another polarizing figure even in his own clubhouse. Stories are rampant about Barry doing his own thing and having two or three lockers to himself in front of his leather chair while other teammates "make do" with what they have. The biggest knock against Bonds is of course his alleged steroid use which makes baseball purists loath with hate towards this potential hall of famer. The sad part is, he would have been in the hall with the numbers and accomplishment he did prior to juicing, allegedly.
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After doing some research on Morgan, it doesn't come as any surprise that he once played minor league hockey. That may explain the throwing the baseball at a fan during a 2010 game in Philadelphia or the on field fight between Morgan and Marlins pitcher Chad Volstead. The fight was in response to Morgan separating Marlins catcher Bret Hayes's shoulder. I guess the chant of "red ice" was storming down on him from the fans in Philadelphia and Miami.
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In 2007, Rollins confidently predicted that the Phillies would win the NL East much to the dismay of Mets fans. The "call" was all over the New York media and it quickly made Rollins the poster boy for anger against the rival Phillies. The Phillies would win the division that year and the same prediction would be made in 2008. This time Carlos Beltran, lauding the addition of Johan Santana stated the Mets would indeed be the team to beat. Unfortunately for the Mets, the Phillies not only won the division but they won the world series as well.
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Manny being Manny is now gone. Ramirez "retired" last week after having an issue with the MLB drug policy. It's not so much that Manny was a trash talker or even an agitator, but it was his attitude towards the game that upset players and fans. "Manny being Manny" was just accepted throughout the course of his career but eventually it became a tired act and he quickly came out of favor with teammates and fans alike.
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Pierzynski has been described as a great teammate and a guy you hate when you are playing against him. Case in point. In 2006 when the White Sox were playing the Cubs, Pierzynski tagged up from third on a sacrifice fly and laid out Cubs catcher Michael Barret where he then proceeded to slap home plate. Barret took exception to this and punched him in the face. A bench clearing brawl ensued where Barret and Pierzynski were ejected. He's been accused of stepping on players feet while running to first base and kneeing former Giant trainer Stan Conte in the groin, allegedly.
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The meltdowns in the dug out and on the field make Big Z quite an agitator. When we last saw Zambrano, he was yelling at then teammate Derrek Lee about a ground ball that Zambrano thought should have been fielded. He was sent home by manager Lou Piniella and then spent the better half of the summer in anger management. He has made a quiet comeback and is still in the Cubs rotation.
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Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose...Jose. Jose Guillen played for 11 teams so far in his career although his career is quickly winding down. His "hustle" around the bases isn't really what he's known for as much as it is his run ins with management and is most known for his blow up with manager Mike Scioscia with the Los Angeles of Anaheim. Scioscia suspended Guillen the final two weeks of the 2004 season in which Guillen was hitting .294 with 27 home runs and 104 rbi. Guillen responded by exploding on Scioscia in the media after he had been traded to the Washington Nationals.
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Jeff Kent had his share of run ins with teammates during his career. He came to blows with Barry Bonds (not a good move) during a 2002 game. He called out then teammate Milton Bradley (another not so smart move) about running balls out during a ball game and has numerous times spit on and argued with umpires. Kent completely ruined his career when he hurt himself in a motorcycle accident in which he said he hurt his wrist "washing his truck". Must have been a monster truck.
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His media battles are epic. In 2005, Rogers refused to talk to the Dallas media as they published an article saying Rogers would retire if a contract extension wasn't reached. Later on in his career, he shoved cameramen, and was forced to take anger management classes.
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It's all kind of coming back at the Rocket these days. Like Bonds, Clemens has been linked to PEH and in the minds of baseball fans is guilty until proven innocent. Like Bonds also, Clemens had become a polarizing figure in his later days with the Yankees and with the Astros. He was also accused by manager Lou Piniella of being a "headhunter" during the 2000 ALCS. During that same year, he also had an altercation with Mets catcher Mike Piazza in which Clemens threw part of Piazza's broken bat at him. Clemens is another case of being a first ballot hall of famer if his ego and actions wouldn't have got the better of him.
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Rocker's 2000 comments in a Sports Illustrated article put him at the head of the class of not only baseball's bad boys but also social outcasts. His tangents about people on the New York subway were cruel and spewed so much hate that even Rocker's own teammates didn't know how to react. To say this was the end of his career is an understatement as he never regained the form that made him an elite closer in 1998 and 1999.