This past Friday, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder/designated hitter Manny Ramirez abruptly retired. He had been batting .059 in six games. It was later revealed that he had once again tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was facing a 100-game suspension. Instead of going through with the suspension, the controversial outfielder chose to end his career.
All in all, this was just another episode in the long-running series of "Manny Being Manny." In a career that was marred by incidents of lackadaisical play, a prima donna attitude and multiple clashes with team management, this second positive test seemed to be the only way Manny Ramirez's career could end.
Yet, love him or hate him, Manny Ramirez's personality is one of the most interesting we will ever see. From the long dreadlocks to the pointing into the opposing team's dugout after a home run, baseball will simply not be the same without "Manny Being Manny."
As a tribute to this entertaining outfielder, here are the 10 biggest nutjobs in baseball history.
Wade Boggs is a former third baseman best remembered for his years spent with the Boston Red Sox. In 18 seasons spent with the Red Sox, New York Yankees and then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Boggs amassed 3,010 career hits along with a .328 career batting average. He won a World Series ring with the Yankees in 1996 and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005, his first year of eligibility.
Yet, while a great player, Boggs was also known to be one of the quirkiest players of his time. He ate a full chicken dinner before every game, always took batting practice at the same time (5:17 PM), and always began his sprints at the same time (7:17 PM). During fielding practice, he only took 100 ground balls, exactly.
It's debatable as to whether or not Wade Boggs is indeed a "nutjob," but how many other baseball players have such strict pre-game rituals? With a Hall-of-Fame career and a Hall-of-Fame personality, Boggs is the perfect man to kick off this list.
As I mentioned before, Manny Ramirez's career was marred by incidents that could all be episodes of a TV series called "Manny Being Manny." That being said, where do I begin?
In 2003, as a member of the Boston Red Sox, he claimed to be too sick to play in a series against the New York Yankees. Yet, he was spotted drinking at a hotel bar with some friends that very night.
After butting heads with manager Terry Francona in 2005 and 2006, he requested to be traded during each of those seasons. Then, he backed off and said he was happy to be in Boston.
Ramirez's situation in Boston came to a boiling point in 2008 when he sat out games with "knee soreness" despite MRIs showing no damage, and rarely ran out ground balls anymore. Combined with his low efforts in the field, team management had had enough and traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Controversy followed him to Los Angeles, as he tested positive for steroids in 2009 and was suspended for 50 games. He had three separate stints on the disabled list in 2010 before being placed on waivers and sent to the Chicago White Sox for practically nothing.
All of these incidents combined put Manny Ramirez in the nutjob category of "head cases." He was a very talented player, but his ego always got in the way of his success. The numbers are there, but the steroid allegations will haunt him forever.
Bill Lee, known throughout his 13-year career as "The Spaceman," was a pitcher who played for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos from 1969-1982. To sum up his personality, there is only one way to put it. Imagine the character known as "The Dude", from the hit movie "The Big Lebowski," but as a baseball player. That is a fairly accurate portrayal of Lee's personality.
He was notorious for being brutally honest with the press. He supported Maoist China, advocated Greenpeace, and was pro-population control. On top of that, during the 1975 World Series, he threatened to bite off the ear of an umpire who made a call he didn't like. He even called for America to write letters to the Commissioner's Office asking that the game be replayed!
Yet, what puts Lee at No. 8 on this list is his relationship with marijuana. He smoked it throughout his career and even sprinkled it on his pancakes. The latter action earned him a $250 fine, yet he continued to do so. With his carefree personality and refusal to submit to "The Man," Bill Lee earns a spot on this list.
Brian Wilson is the scariest-looking man in all of baseball. His "Fear the Beard" t-shirts sell like gangbusters, and the very beard itself gives him a very intimidating presence on the mound. Then, you watch interview footage of him, and instantly want to be his best friend.
Despite his physical appearance, Wilson comes off as very laid-back and friendly. On top of that, he is brutally honest. He doesn't care what he says in the interview, just as long as he is satisfied with the answer.
The rest is fairly hard to explain, so watch the video at the left.
Just take a look at Carlos Zambrano's face, and you can tell he's a scary individual. The man is well-known for having a short fuse, and it has gotten him into trouble more than once during his tenure with the Chicago Cubs.
In 2009, he was ejected from a game for arguing with the umpire over a play at the plate. Yet, he did not go out quietly. Zambrano threw the ball into the outfield and then tossed his glove.
Once he returned to the dugout, he proceeded to destroy the Gatorade cooler with a bat. His actions earned him a six-suspension and a $3,000 fine. But wait, there's more!
Last season, after giving up four runs in the first inning of a game against the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox, Zambrano got into a shouting match with teammate Derrek Lee. The two had to be separated by then-manager Lou Piniella as well as the coaching staff, and Zambrano was removed from the game. The next day, he was suspended indefinitely by team management.
He ultimately underwent anger management and returned to the team, but the man known as "Big Z" still earns a spot on this list. At an intimidating 6'5" and 270 pounds, along with his previous anger issues, Carlos Zambrano is someone around whom you tread softly. One wrong move, and he could simply go off.
After the Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005, manager Ozzie Guillen made an interesting comment to ESPN about the team's catcher, A.J. Pierzynski:
"If you play against him, you hate him," said Guillen. "If you play with him, you hate him a little less."
On top of that, during his turn at the microphone during the World Series victory parade, he thanked team personnel for "putting up with me."
Yet, what puts A.J. Pierzynski on this countdown is not his personality, nor his legendary fight with then-Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett. Rather, it is his history with professional wrestling.
Pierzynski has appeared on "TNA Impact!" twice, once in 2005 and again in 2007. In 2009, he appeared on "WWE Raw." How, let alone why, is a professional athlete in his 30s appearing on staged professional wrestling shows? As entertaining as it may be, that's the sign of a pure nutjob right there.
Ever since becoming manager of the Chicago White Sox in 2004, Ozzie Guillen has always seemed to find himself embroiled in controversy. He is ejected from games fairly regularly, and his brutal honesty often gets him into trouble. Most recently, he went so far as to say that Asian players receive better treatment than Latino players.
Yet, while there certainly have been some outspoken managers in the past 20 years, Guillen is probably the only to go so far as to use slurs in an interview. In June 2008, he used a homophobic insult when talking about Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti. He apologized for the remark, but continued to lash out at Mariotti.
With his lack of a filter and his devotion to being brutally honest no matter what the consequences, Ozzie makes No. 4 on this list. For more treats from him, follow him on Twitter, @OzzieGuillen!
Where do I begin with Jonathan Papelbon? First off, he looks like someone you would want to avoid in prison. Besides that, according to an interview he had on The Late Show with David Letterman, he took the ball that recorded the final out of the 2007 World Series and gave it to his dog, who then destroyed it.
Yet, what puts Papelbon at No. 3 on the nutjob list is his love for the song "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" by Dropkick Murphys. This song blasts at Fenway Park whenever he enters the game, and he even has a little dance to go with it.
The most notable performance of this dance occurred following Game Seven of the 2007 ALCS. If you're in the mood for a good laugh, watch the video at the left. The action starts at around 25 seconds.
At one point, Francisco Rodriguez was an elite closer. He set a major league record with 62 saves in 2008 while with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and then signed a three-year deal with the New York Mets that offseason. Since then, he has only amassed a total of 61 saves over three seasons and his tenure in Flushing has been marred by off-field incidents.
During the 2009 Subway Series with the Yankees, Rodriguez got into a verbal altercation with then-Yankees reliever Brian Bruney after the latter called out Rodriguez for being a "tired act" with his enthusiasm after getting a save. Teammates separated the two before any punches could be thrown.
In May of 2010, he got into a shouting match with his bullpen coach before entering a game.
Yet, what makes Francisco Rodriguez the No. 2 nutjob in all of baseball is his arrest for assault last summer. He got into a heated exchange with his girlfriend's father and assaulted him, tearing a thumb ligament in the process. The Mets suspended him and put him on the "disqualified list," meaning that they didn't have to pay him until he was physically ready to perform again.
The man known as "K-Rod" is back with the team this season and is looking alright thus far. Hopefully he can put his demons behind him and help the Mets become contenders again.
John Rocker first appeared in baseball as a late-season call-up for the Atlanta Braves in 1998. He impressed enough to be named the full-time closer in 1999 and he seemed to have a bright future. Then, he agreed to an interview with Jeff Pearlman of Sports Illustrated, and it all went downhill.
In the January 2000 issue of the magazine, Rocker made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks based on his experience pitching in New York while the Braves were playing the New York Mets. He was then asked if he would ever play for the Mets or Yankees.
"I'd retire first," Rocker said. "It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing... The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?"
Now this is what I don't understand. John Rocker agreed to an interview with Sports Illustrated, a magazine that has a huge audience, and still made those comments. Did he think that people would just brush them aside??
Either way, his career went downhill from there. His remarks earned him a suspension for most of spring training and the first 14 games of the 2000 season. He got off to a slow start and was eventually sent down to the minor leagues after threatening a reporter, ironically the same Jeff Pearlman who wrote the article that initially got Rocker in trouble.
Rocker's struggles continued in 2001 and the Braves sent him to the Cleveland Indians, where he continued to be ineffective. He had two unproductive stints with the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2002 and 2003 before retiring. As of 2008, he sells real estate in Atlanta.
Simply put, John Rocker could have been a great pitcher. Yet, he let his emotions get in the way of his effectiveness. To this day, he still defends his words. Thus, he wins the top spot on this countdown.