MLB: Power Ranking the Dumbest Players in Baseball History

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2011

MLB: Power Ranking the Dumbest Players in Baseball History

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    As far as sports go, baseball is often viewed as much more cerebral than most other major sports.

    However, there is plenty of proof to point to the fact that baseball players are no smarter than any other athletes, and in many cases, far dumber.

    Whether it is a bizarre injury, a horrible personality or career-destroying behavior, there have been some incredibly stupid baseball players through the years.

    So here are the dumbest players in MLB history, and the story behind exactly what makes them legendarily dumb.

Johnny Damon

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    A self-proclaimed "idiot" dating back to his days with the Red Sox, Damon will be the first to tell you that he is not the sharpest tool in the shed, and he has more than embraced that fact throughout his playing career.

    While he has shed the shaggy hair and beard that made him and his caveman look a cult hero in Red Sox Nation, he will always be an idiot at heart.

Bret Barberie

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    Barberie was better known for his marriage to Jillian Barberie than for his exploits on the field during his playing days. His claim to fame as a player is the fact that he recorded the first hit in Marlins franchise history.

    However, he is rivaled by few—if anyone—when it comes to stupid sports injuries.

    Prior to a game as a member of the Marlins, Barberie was cooking a meal and accidentally rubbed his eye after cooking with chili peppers. The result left him out of the lineup for the day, as his eyes burned, and he ripped his contact.

    Needless to say, there are better things to be known for, but this may be Barberie's most memorable moment.

Marty Cordova

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    Cordova surprised many by taking home AL Rookie of the Year honors back in 1995 when he had 24 home runs and 20 stolen bases for the Twins.

    He was even better the following season with a .309 BA, 11 HR, 116 RBI, 11 SB season. He went on to have a solid career with a .274 BA, 122 HR, 540 RBI, 57 SB career line over nine seasons.

    However, he may be best remembered for the freak incident he suffered late in his career while with the Baltimore Orioles.

    While most baseball players get more than enough sun during the course of the season, Cordova decided he was not quite tan enough, and hit the tanning bed. He then fell asleep, badly burning his face, and he was forced to miss a game.

    His teammates no doubt clued him in on what a moron he was in that situation.

Adam Eaton

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    Eaton pitched only 71 games over his 10-year big league career, and he never quite lived up to the potential that made him a first-round pick by the Phillies back in 1996.

    In one of the bigger "oops" moments in bizarre injury history, Eaton stabbed himself in the stomach with a paring knife while trying to cut the plastic wrapper off a DVD case.

    In his defense, those DVDs are packaged in a way that encourages you to grab the sharpest knife you can find.

    But come on Adam, cut away from your body for your own good.

Joel Zumaya

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    Zumaya has spent as much time on the disabled list as he has on the field in recent years, but he is still a force when he is able to take the mound with a fastball that can touch 104 mph.

    However, when the Tigers needed him most during the 2006 ALCS, he was not available due to an inflamed right forearm.

    How did it happen? Too much Guitar Hero.

    That's right, he played so much Guitar Hero that it cost him three games during the Tigers' postseason run. Luckily Detroit still managed to win the AL pennant without him, but it goes down as one of the dumber injuries on record.

Lenny Dykstra

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    Dykstra was revered for his scrappy play on the field, but he was far from a model citizen off of it, and it has caught up to him in recent years.

    His 1991 season was cut short when he hit a tree while driving drunk; he missed a good deal of time with injuries suffered in the incident.

    Since his playing days have wrapped up, Dykstra has found himself named in the Mitchell Report, as well as indicted on bankruptcy fraud charges.

    He was bailed out of jail by Charlie Sheen after he was arrested on the fraud charges. If the fact that he is close friends with Sheen is not enough to earn him a spot on this list, nothing is.

Fred Merkle

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    There have been a number of significant game-changing mistakes throughout baseball history, Bill Buckner and Leon Durham being two of the biggest.

    However, as far as sheer mental mistakes, no one holds a candle to the Giants' Fred Merkle, in what has gone down in history as "Merkle's Boner."

    In a crucial game between the Giants and the Cubs in 1908, the Giants came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied 1-1.

    With two outs and Moose McCormick on first base, Merkle singled to right field to advance the winning run to third base.The next hitter, Al Bridwell, singled to center field on the first pitch he saw, and McCormick scored what seemed to be the winning run.

    As fans poured onto the field, Merkle turned toward the dugout before touching second base, and the ball was thrown into second, where Merkle was forced out for the final out of the inning.

    The game was then called due to darkness. The Cubs eventually won the game and the pennant, thanks in large part to Merkle's gaffe.

Milton Bradley

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    When Milton Bradley joined the Cubs prior to the 2009 season, he was coming off an All-Star season where he posted a .321 BA, 22 HR, 77 RBI stat line, and it looked as though he had finally turned a corner in his volatile career.

    However, by season's end, he had been kicked off the team, and it was more of the same.

    Bradley is the definition of a clubhouse cancer, and he has absolutely no ability to control his temper.

    He also has one of the most ridiculous injuries of all time to his credit; he tore his ACL as a member of the Padres when manager Bud Black was attempting to hold him back while he was arguing a call.

    Bradley is a talented hitter who has never been able to get out of his own way and just play baseball, and it looks as though his career may be over, as no one has attempted to acquire him since the Mariners released him May 16.

Johnny Cueto

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    Cueto is among the best young pitchers in the game, and he had the best season of his career last season with a 12-7 record and a 3.64 ERA over 31 starts.

    However, his 2010 season will be remembered for the part he played in a late-season brawl with the rival St. Louis Cardinals.

    As the benches cleared, the pack of players moved toward the backstop, and Cueto found himself pinned between the crowd and backstop.

    Rather than wait things out, he instead threw a wild kick into the crowd and connected with the head of Cardinals backup catcher (and former Red) Jason LaRue.

    The result was a career-ending concussion for LaRue, while Cueto got a slap on the wrist with a seven-game suspension. Unacceptable behavior for a professional athlete, to say the least.

Miguel Cabrera

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    Outside of Albert Pujols, there has not been a better or more consistent offensive force in all of baseball the past eight seasons than Cabrera. He has all the talent in the world, and it is hard to believe he is still only 28 years old.

    However, he also has a problem with alcohol that has reared its ugly head more than once during his storied career.

    After letting his team down during their 2009 playoff run when he stayed out all night drinking before important games, Cabrera again let his drinking get the best of him this offseason, when he was arrested and charged with a DUI and resisting this past February.

    Cabrera has the tools to be a future Hall of Famer and put up some incredible career numbers. He is a fool if he lets his drinking get in the way of that.

Manny Ramirez

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    Call it flighty, call it funny, call it "Manny Being Manny."

    Whatever you want to call it, Manny Ramirez has come across as a moron on many an occasion.

    Whether it was ducking inside the scoreboard at Fenway Park, diving to cut off a throw from center field while playing left field or high-fiving a fan after making a catch with two outs, Manny has had his fair share of head-scratching moments.

    Then, to take things to another level, he tested positive for a women's fertility drug to earn a 50-game suspension and abruptly retired this season while facing another suspension.

    He is one of the greatest hitters who ever lived, but he is at the head of the class for stupid baseball players.

Rafael Palmeiro

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    Palmeiro is one of just four players with 3,000 career hits and 500 career home runs. He had a fantastic career and seemed well on his way to Hall of Fame enshrinement once he hung it up.

    Instead, he received a whopping 11.0 percent of the vote last season in his first time on the ballot.

    All it took were his infamous opening remarks during his testimony on steroids to sully his reputation.

    Palmeiro sat, pointed at the bench and state, "Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids, period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never."

    That was all fine and good on March 17, 2005 when the hearing took place, but it was less than five months later on August 1 when Palmeiro tested positive for steroids.

    Doing steroids is dumb, but making a complete ass of yourself while you lie to congress puts you in the conversation for the dumbest in recent memory.

Ben Christensen

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    It was April 23, 1999, and Wichita State was facing the University of Evansville.

    Pitching for Wichita State was their ace, Ben Christensen, who held a 21-1 college record and was expected to be a top-10 pick in the upcoming June draft.

    As Evansville third baseman Anthony Molina stepped into the on-deck circle, Christensen noticed Molina was timing his pitches while he warmed up. In what can only be described as, "horrible," Christensen uncorked a warm-up pitch right at Molina, who turned and caught it in the left eye.

    His eye was crushed, and he needed 23 stitches to close the injury. Christensen defended himself by saying pitching coach Brent Kemnitz had taught his pitchers to throw near batters who attempted to time them.

    Christensen dropped to the 26th overall pick of the draft where he was taken by the Chicago Cubs, and he was hit with a lawsuit, while Molina never played again.

    Truly as awful a moment as there will be on the field—and as dumb as it gets on the part of Christensen.

Barry Bonds

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    Bonds had it all—the complete package of power and speed like few had ever seen, and he was destined to go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game.

    Outside of Willie Mays, no one had ever been a more complete five-tool player, and he threw it all away.

    Sure he went down as the home run king, but at what price? He tarnished the most revered record in sports and put a black mark on what was already a storied career when he supposedly began juicing.

    Bonds got the attention he so badly craved and then some. While he is still loved in San Francisco, he is largely hated in the baseball world.

John Rocker

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    Rocker climbed up through the Braves' system after being drafted in the 18th round in 1993 to emerge as the team's closer in 1999. He saved 38 games in his first full season and posted an impressive 12.9 K/9 mark.

    For as much talent as Rocker had though, he had twice as much ignorance, and he quickly grew to be one of the most despised athletes in all of professional sports.

    With his constant racist and homophobic remarks, not to mention his penchant for flipping off fans, Rocker soon found himself in a position where no team was willing to sign him.

    Good for MLB for coming together to rid itself of the cancer that was John Rocker, one of the most ignorant and offensive players to ever set foot on a baseball diamond.

Yogi Berra

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    There is no doubt Berra was one of the most colorful characters in baseball history, and hands down, one of the most quotable athletes of all time.

    However, it was his knack for saying mind-bogglingly dumb things that often made him such a good interview. Here is a sampling of some of his better "duh" moments:

    "Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours."

    "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."

    "I always thought that record would stand until it was broken."

    "It gets late early out there."

    "He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."

    Those were just a few of what is a staggering amount of ridiculous quotes. So what did Berra have to say in his defense?

    "I never said most of the things I said."

    Well put Yogi, well put.

Vince Coleman

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    Coleman was an electrifying base-stealer from the get-go in the big leagues, swiping more than 100 bags in each of his first three seasons in the league as one of the game's top leadoff hitters.

    He was also one of the dumbest players to ever set foot on a baseball field, and three instances in particular back that statement up:

    Oct. 13, 1985: Before Game 4 of the NLCS, Coleman was warming up on the field when he did not notice the automatic tarp had been deployed, and he was subsequently rolled up in the tarp. The incident chipped a bone in his knee and ended his season, as he was unable to play in the World Series.

    April 26, 1993: While swinging his golf clubs in the clubhouse, Coleman clipped Mets ace Dwight Gooden on the backswing and injured the pitcher's shoulder, causing him to miss a start.

    July 24, 1993: At it again, Coleman threw firecrackers into a group of autograph-seeking kids and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

    Simply put, Coleman was a stupid, stupid man.

Darryl Strawberry

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    Strawberry seemed to be on his way to being the next great power hitter.

    He hit at least 26 home runs in each of his first nine seasons in the league, and he had 280 career home runs by the age of 29.

    However, it was when he turned 30 that his personal problems caught up with him, and his career quickly bottomed out as he battled drug and alcohol problems.

    He managed to end his career on a high note with the Yankees, beating colon cancer that cost him the 1998 postseason, to return and play down the stretch in 1999. He then hit two postseason home runs to help the Yankees to the title that year.

    Strawberry has had more legal problems since retiring, and it is hard to imagine the sort of numbers he would have put up had he focused his attention on baseball as opposed to his personal problems.

Dwight Gooden

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    Gooden was absolutely phenomenal right off the bat for the Mets, winning NL Rookie of the Year in 1984 with a 17-9 season at the age of 19.

    The following season, he posted one of the most dominant seasons in baseball history; with a line of 24-4, 1.53 ERA and 268 K's, Gooden won the pitching Triple Crown.

    By the age of 23, he had a career record of 91-35, and he seemed destined to be the game's next 300-game winner and Hall of Famer.

    However, the cocaine problem that earned him a suspension in 1987 again reared its head in 1994, and Gooden was suspended for 60 days. After testing positive once again while he was suspended, Gooden lost the entire 1995 season to suspension as well.

    He was never the same after the 1994 season, but he managed to go out on top with the Yankees, throwing a no-hitter and earning a World Series ring in his final season.

    He has since reverted to his old ways, though. Gooden has been arrested three times since his retirement, two of which were on DUI charges.

    Dwight Gooden was the definition of squandered talent and truly a waste of a gift.