The annals of baseball history are stuffed with stories about great players and even greater scandals. From managers to owners to the players on the field, every franchise has moments it wishes never happened.
However, it is these moments that give us the most controversial quotes—moments like the steroid Congressional hearings, managerial rants, and generally anything involving the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. These quotes help redefine the game as we know it, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively.
And if it seems like most of these are fairly recent quotes, that's because they are. That's what we get for having a 24-hour news cycle.
It may be possible to populate this entire list with Ozzie Guillen quotes, but we’re just going to start with one of his more head-scratching comments. Last year Arizona passed a law that stripped basic rights from illegal immigrants, and Guillen sounded off.
“Most (immigrants) are workaholics,” Guillen said. "And this country can't survive without them."
"There are a lot of people from this country who are lazy. We're not. Prove me wrong. A lot of people in this country want to be on the computer and send e-mails to people. We do the hard work. We're the ones who go out and work in the sun to make this country better."
Guillen would know—he’s from Venezuela. Although I’m not sure that’s exactly an excuse to stereotype millions of people. At least he was nice about it, kind of.
Carlos Zambrano is another guy who has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth and then swallowing.
Last week the Cubs’ opinionated pitcher blew up again following a tough loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
"The problem wasn't (Albert) Pujols," Zambrano said. "The problem was the previous at-bat. We should know better than this. We played like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing, embarrassing for the team, for the owners, for the fans. Embarrassing. That's the word for this team. We should know better than this, we should know better than we did on the field. We should know that Ryan Theriot (notes) is not a good fastball hitter. We should know that as a team. We should play better here. We stink. That's all I've got to say.”
In Zambrano’s defense, he’s right. The Cubs really do stink. Although with a 4.40 ERA in 14 starts this season, maybe Big Z shouldn’t be talking.
Jose Canseco deserves a lot of credit for telling the world about the rampant steroid use in baseball, even at the expense of his own legacy.
“The players and owners disagree on most things, but when it comes to making money, they’re on the same page,” Canseco said in front of Congress in 2005. “This is a 25-year cover-up. The true criminals are Gene Orza, Donald Fehr and Bud Selig. Investigate them, and you will have all the answers.”
Nothing ever really came of the comment as all three still remain gainfully employed with MLB. However, Canseco isn’t the type to blow smoke when there’s no fire, so there’s probably some substance to what he’s saying.
After all, home runs do sell.
Virtually everyone in the baseball community knew Mark McGwire was on something during his major league career.
In 2005 McGwire had a chance to tell the truth in front of a Congressional hearing about steroids in baseball, yet Big Mac had other priorities.
“I’m not here to talk about the past,” McGwire said when questioned about his steroid use.
It was a bold-faced lie and everyone knew it. However, McGwire did later set the record straight when he joined the St. Louis Cardinals as a hitting couch. So he was eventually honest, although he still maintains that the steroids didn’t help him hit home runs.
Bret Boone is a pretty soft-spoken guy, but he raised some eyebrows when asked by reporters if he had ever used steroids after gaining 25 pounds before the 2001 season and subsequently hitting 37 home runs (his previous career high was 24).
"Who is to say someone's wrong for doing it? I don't know if they're good or bad. If you abuse anything, there are going to be effects down the road," Boone said. "If steroids are done in moderation, done correctly and safely, it might be an option."
If it sounds like Boone is openly endorsing steroid use, it’s because he is. But he’s not alone.
There’s obviously a reason why steroids were so popular and part of that reason is that players simply didn’t see the downside. MLB has since instituted a stringent drug-testing program, but it may need to add a code of ethics too.
Pedro Martinez thinks awfully high of himself and it’s easy to see why: He’s really, really good.
But in the aftermath of the much-publicized Don Zimmer incident, Pedro said something that made Yankees’ fans even angrier.
"I don't know if you realize this, but because of you guys in some ways, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium,” Martinez said.
There have been a lot of big names in Yankee Stadium, from Babe Ruth to Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle, so that’s a pretty heady statement to make. However, if anybody’s going to make it it should be Pedro. The righty has a 2.95 ERA in 16 career starts at Yankee Stadium.
Not too many people can say that.
Jay Mariotti covered sports for the Chicago Sun-Times for 17 years and earned himself a reputation for ripping players and coaches, but never actually spending any time in the clubhouse.
Ozzie Guillen got fed up with Mariotti’s behavior, and in 2006 called him a “derogatory term for a homosexual” (click the link for the actual word).
Guillen was fined by MLB and had to take sensitivity training, but he may have gotten the last laugh. Less than a year ago Mariotti was arrested after a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.
He’s awaiting trial for three felonies.
MLB’s drug testing policy has come a long way over the last decade, and at least part of that success is thanks to Mark McGwire.
The former home run champion sent shock waves throughout the league when asked by a reporter what a bottle of androstenedione was doing in his locker in the midst of his home run chase with Sammy Sosa in 1998.
McGwire’s response was: “Everybody I know in the game of baseball uses the same stuff I use.”
True, the steroid was not actually banned by MLB, so McGwire was technically playing within the rules. However, the real revelation is how widespread performance-enhancing drugs were in baseball.
Pedro Martinez isn’t the type of guy who backs down from anybody or any team, but he did make one very controversial exception: the New York Yankees.
After losing 6-4 to the Yankees in his final start of the 2004 regular season, Martinez spoke to the media and said the last thing any of us expected to come out of his mouth: “What can I say? I tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.”
Whether he was joking or serious, we’ll never know.
However, it’s interesting to note that Martinez really struggled in 13 innings against New York in the ALCS, surrendering nine runs and nine walks.
"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure, felt all the weight of the world on top of me to perform and perform at a high level every day," Rodriguez said. "Back then, it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young, I was stupid, I was naive and I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth, you know, being one of the greatest players of all time.”
A-Rod previously denied using steroids multiple times, but had little choice but to come clean in the aftermath of the Mitchell Report.
We’ll have to wait and see if it impacts his Hall of Fame chances.
Jacoby Ellsbury was one of more than a dozen Red Sox players who missed time with injuries during the disappointing 2010 season, but Kevin Youkilis didn’t seem to support Ellsbury’s decision to rehab in Arizona away from the team.
“As a player, it doesn't matter if you're hurt or not," Youkilis said. "You should be out there cheering on your team.”
The quote created a riff between the Red Sox and Ellsbury and prompted lots of trade rumors.
Ultimately, the Red Sox made a good decision to hold on to Ellsbury. The outfielder is having a career year so far in 2011.
Sammy Sosa was one of several players asked to speak before Congress during an official hearing on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
There was only one problem: He supposedly couldn’t speak English.
A quote doesn’t exist because Sosa spoke through an interpreter and he repeatedly denied taking drugs. However, how somebody can play 18 seasons in the major leagues and not learn English is a head-scratcher.
Sosa has never been officially linked to steroids and at this point he probably never will be, but he’ll always be remembered for flat-out lying to Congress.
The season-ending injury to Buster Posey earlier this month raised questions all over the league about the dangers of home plate collisions. But one comment stood out above the rest, and it came from none other than Giants’ GM Brian Sabean.
"If I never hear from (Scott) Cousins again or he never plays another game in the big leagues, I think we'll all be happy," Sabean said.
Cousins is the Marlins outfielder who barreled into Posey and broke his leg. However, it was obviously an accident and Sabean was way out of line blacklisting a young player like that.
Sometimes it’s best to think before you speak.
The Black Sox scandal is still one of the worst things to ever happen to the game of baseball.
A day after the trial, Kenesaw M. Landis, the first MLB commissioner, handed down a severe punishment for the perpetrators.
“Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked ballplayers and gamblers, where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball."
A total of eight players received lifetime bans, including the great “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who forfeited his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.
There a lot of words you could use to describe Pedro Martinez, but the one that most often comes to mind is “fearless."
No Red Sox fan will ever forget what Pedro accomplished in Boston, and they won’t forget his most famous quote.
“I don’t believe in curses,” Martinez said. “Wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I’ll drill him in the ass.”
Somehow I don’t think he’s kidding.
Plus, Pedro did actually break the curse, helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004.