Frank McCourt and the 15 Most Embarrassing Figures in MLB History
With the recent embarrassment Frank McCourt is causing himself, the Dodgers, Dodgers fans and Major League Baseball with how he has been running the Dodgers, it made me wonder, who else in baseball history was embarrassing?
I know what you're thinking: "Rich, didn't you basically cover this in your Top 25 Sleazeballs in Baseball History article from two weeks ago?"
My answer to that would be partially. Some of the people mentioned in that article were embarrassing, while others were simply sleazeballs. There will be some overlap between the two lists, and the ones that are mentioned in both will be forever known as "embarrassing sleazeballs."
What exactly would I consider embarrassing? That's a tough question to answer. An embarrassing person, just like a sleazeball, is tough to identify in words. They're both like porn—you know it when you see it. You just know who is an embarrassment either by their actions or their words.
Thus, here's a list of the 15 most embarrassing figures in baseball history, and they're not ranked in any particular order. I'm leaving it up to you to decide on the most embarrassing figure in baseball history.
Let's begin with the man in the title of this article, Frank McCourt.
Frank McCourt is an embarrassment for his ownership of the Dodgers.
During his divorce proceedings from his soon to be ex-wife Jamie, it was revealed that they basically used the Dodgers as their own personal ATMs.
He has allowed the once proud Dodgers franchise to be run into the ground. Attendance is basically at an all-time low. He even cut security (to add more money to his pockets), and that probably contributed to a San Francisco Giants fan being beaten close to death outside Dodgers Stadium at the beginning of the season.
In my opinion, that day can't come soon enough. Here's hoping the Dodgers and their faithful will have a new owner who won't embarrass the great Dodgers name.
Bud Selig has done one thing well for baseball in his tenure as MLB Commissioner: add the wild card. Outside of that, the rest of Bud's tenure has simply been an embarrassment.
From turning a blind eye to steroid use (but reaping the benefits by increased attendance, HR chases, etc.) to attempting to contract the Minnesota Twins when "his" Brewers were actually a worse overall team and making the All-Star game decide home-field advantage in the World Series, it just seems almost every action he makes is not the right one.
Bud Selig will be remembered as the commissioner that only instituted PED testing after Congress threatened the antitrust exemption that MLB enjoys, as the commissioner that saw the first World Series ever to be missed because of a players' strike and as the commissioner that allowed businessmen such as Jeffrey Loria or Frank McCourt to own baseball teams (and in Loria's case, several times) even though they clearly had no idea what they were doing, while at the same time doing everything in his power to ensure a sports-intelligent owner like Mark Cuban was kept out of baseball.
I'm sure if you were to ask any baseball fan who he or she thinks is the biggest embarrassment in baseball, Selig's name would at least be in the top three.
The Black Sox
The one thing that all sports have to keep paramount is the integrity of the game. Without the game having integrity, professional sports would turn into professional wrestling. If outcomes are predetermined, the fans will only watch if you can deliver story lines and hot women.
The members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox brought the integrity of the game into question during the World Series. Gambling and throwing games had always been an issue in baseball prior to 1920, but it was in the 1919 World Series when it hit its highest (or rather, lowest) moment.
When it was revealed that members of the White Sox were paid to throw the Series (whether or not they actually threw it is debatable, but the fact remains they took the money or at least confessed to agreeing to throw the Series), people had to wonder if all of baseball was fixed.
The members of the White Sox included all-time great Shoeless Joe Jackson, and they all received lifetime bans from baseball from commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Thankfully for baseball, prior to the 1920 season, the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and baseball was saved.
I firmly believe that if not for Ruth being in New York, baseball might have simply faded away because of the embarrassing actions of the Black Sox.
I've decided to let my colleague here at Bleacher Report, Matt Strobl, share his thoughts on the embarrassment that is Ozzie Guillen. Here's what Matt has to say about Ozzie:
Rarely has baseball seen such a character as Ozzie. What's truly amazing about his managerial career is that it has lasted as long as it has.
Now in his eighth season with the White Sox, Ozzie has been a nearly constant source of discord, putting the team in a string of humiliating situations. His profanity, his maniacal outbursts and his inflammatory opinions have been fodder for a endless series of of op-eds and YouTube moments.
Last year, Jay Mariotti, who maintains a longstanding feud with Guillen, inked this piece summarizing why Guillen should have been fired long ago. It fell on deaf ears. Since then, the circus has continued.
Ozzie has never been shy about giving voice to his beliefs, ranting about disadvantaged Latino players, cursing out radio show hosts, insulting the homosexual community and calling out his own fanbase as disloyal drunks.
Ozzie uses all the weapons at his disposal to shame himself and his club, up to and including modern social media. His outrage knows no bounds, and with today's 24/7 sports coverage, fans everywhere can fully appreciate every narrow-minded, derogatory remark that flies from his lips.
Ozzie might be funny if he wasn't so offensive and downright ridiculous. What's not funny is the stranglehold he has on his job.
The White Sox brain trust has been insulted and belittled countless times during his tenure, yet there have been few lasting consequences. Somehow Guillen has managed to create the public perception that he's a winner.
In fact, the numbers prove that his success is dramatically overblown. Winning the 2005 World Series was more about getting career years from four-fifths of his rotation than about any managerial talent he might have had.
Guillen is rude and crude, and while it may keep the White Sox in the news, no team should want that kind of publicity.
As you can see, Ozzie Guillen is an embarrassment and is probably the most embarrassing manager in the game today. Thanks for all the help on this one, Matt!
Roger Clemens was one of the hardest-working and most respected pitchers in the game.
That is until late in his career, when he started acting like a diva (and like Brett Favre, but without the sexting incidents, that we know of).
Roger didn't want to pitch until July each season and ensured it was in his contract that he didn't have to travel with the team if he wasn't scheduled to pitch.
There's also the alleged affair with country star Mindy McCready, whom he met when she was only 15 (she says nothing happened until she was "legal").
Finally, you have the revelations of his use of PEDs by his former trainer Brian McNamee. Roger said they were for his wife, blamed ex-teammates for "misremembering" and recently brought up McNamee's alleged involvement in a rape in Florida, all to distract the eyes of the public (and jurors) from him.
Roger had a chance to go down as a top-10 pitcher in baseball history but now will simply go down as one of its most embarrassing figures.
Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire formed one of the greatest home run-hitting duos in baseball history.
Turns out they both owed their success to steroids, and Canseco tried to profit from his insider knowledge regarding PED use in baseball with his book Juiced.
Granted, a lot of what he said in that book has been proven true, but that still doesn't mean Jose isn't an embarrassment.
Whether it was using his head to give up a home run in Texas, dating Madonna or his attempts at becoming a MMA fighter, instead of thinking of a player that almost hit 500 HRs in his career, we just laugh at what he has become.
Is there a more embarrassing owner in baseball history than Marge Schott? In my opinion, she's at least in the top three.
As the owner of the Cincinnati Reds, she kept prices low, was family-oriented and gave a lot of time and money to charities. However, whenever she opened her mouth, that's when she embarrassed not only herself but all of baseball.
I could repeat some of the things she said that led to multiple suspensions, but Rick Reilly, then of Sports Illustrated, covers them pretty well on page four of this article from 1996.
Needless to say, she apparently liked Hitler but didn't like members of certain races or ethnicities, and she constantly made those feelings known verbally.
Rafael Palmeiro is another example of someone who embarrassed himself by saying "No" while pointing his fingers or shaking his fists.
Whether it's a politician claiming "no new taxes" or that they "didn't have sexual relations with that woman," a denial with the finger wag usually results in something bad being revealed later.
This is what happened to Palmeiro when he testified in front of Congress on March 17, 2005. During his opening statement he wagged his finger while saying, "I have never used steroids. Period. I don't know how to say it more clearly than that. Never."
Well, five months later it was revealed that Palmeiro tested positive for steroids, and he was suspended for 10 days. Palmeiro continued to deny that he used steroids and blamed it on a B12 shot given to him by Miguel Tejada.
While Tejada was later listed in the Mitchell Report and would later plead guilty to lying to Congress in regards to steroid use, the fact that Palmeiro continued to blame everyone else for his positive test is simply embarrassing.
Palmeiro went from one of the best compilers in baseball history to another embarrassing casualty of the steroid era in baseball.
Sammy Sosa is another embarrassment from the Steroid Era in baseball.
Sosa, along with Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, among others, was testifying in front of Congress on March 17, 2005.
The reason Sosa makes this list is because during the testimony, Sosa never directly testified. Instead his lawyer "translated" for him because Sosa forgot how to speak English.
Yup, the same guy who was giving daily interviews in English during his chase of Roger Maris' 61 in 1998 all of a sudden couldn't speak the language.
Also, during his testimony, he basically said, "I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs," but it was later revealed that his name was on the list of positive tests from 2003.
The issue with Sammy's statement is that in the Dominican Republic, performance-enhancing drugs are legal and available over the counter, so as long as he only got his steroids from the Dominican Republic, he wouldn't technically be lying.
This is only provided he never once used them in the United States, and what are the odds of that happening?
Sammy Sosa may think he belongs in the Hall of Fame, but his actions will only land him in the Hall of Shame instead.
Milton Bradley makes this list simply because he was one of many players who thought they were better than their actual production on the field suggested, and his actions constantly reflected this ego.
Whether it was arguing with umpires, TV announcers, fans or teammates, everyone else was to blame for Milton's shortcomings—except, of course, Milton himself.
It was simply embarrassing to watch a player like Bradley play baseball. You just knew you were one call away from seeing him explode in anger.
Ford Frick makes this list for one reason: his treatment of Roger Maris in 1961.
It was well known that Frick was a huge Babe Ruth fan and even acted as his ghostwriter at one point.
During Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris' chase of Ruth's single-season home run record of 60, Frick announced that unless one of them hit the 61st HR in 154 games or less, they would get an asterisk in the record book because Ruth only played during a 154-game season, not 162 games like Mantle and Maris (not really an asterisk, but the records would be listed separately).
This probably only added to the hate Maris received once Mantle dropped out of the chase. When the commissioner of baseball isn't supporting a player, the fans sure won't.
Well, Maris did hit 61 home runs that season, but he did it in the 161st game (the Yankees did not play 162 that year), and Maris did have the single-season home run record until Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa broke it in 1998.
Harry Frazee owned the Boston Red Sox from 1916 to 1923, and it was one trade he made during this time that turned out to be an embarrassment and garnered him inclusion on this list.
Of course I'm talking about the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000. That's right—Frazee didn't get one single player in return for the player that would go on to become the greatest player the game's ever seen.
The sale of Ruth to the Yankees was final on Jan. 3, 1920. In May of 1920, Frazee was trying to buy Fenway Park (it was not part of the Red Sox; Frazee leased it so the Sox could play there).
In order to purchase Fenway, Frazee had to get a $300,000 loan from the Yankees, and he used Fenway Park as collateral. That's right—in 1920 the Yankees got Ruth from the Sox, and if Frazee couldn't pay back the loan, they would have gotten Fenway as well!
Jeffrey Loria is one of the most embarrassing owners in baseball history. Unlike other owners like Marge Schott who have embarrassed themselves verbally, Loria is an embarrassment for how he runs the teams he's owned.
Loria owned the Montreal Expos, but when he couldn't get a new stadium built, he basically whined and cried about being poor until MLB themselves purchased the Expos from him. In return, they also allowed him to purchase the Florida Marlins.
It is with the Marlins that Loria has become a true embarrassment to baseball. He routinely pocketed luxury tax and revenue sharing money he received from the league while still claiming to be "poor" and dumping high-priced players in the process.
When Loria tried to get a new stadium built for the Marlins, he did everything he could to get it funded by the taxpayers, and it worked.
However, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports points out, he basically funnelled the money for the new stadium into his own pockets.
For all intents and purposes, Tom Yawkey was a great owner for the Boston Red Sox. He bought the team in 1933 and restored that franchise to greatness.
While they never fully realized the success they had prior to the sale of Babe Ruth, Yawkey at least made them respectable once again.
However, the reason Tom Yawkey is an embarrassment to baseball is for how he handled the integration of baseball after Jackie Robinson began playing for the Dodgers in 1947.
While teams were slow in adding African-American players to their rosters following Jackie Robinson, it took Yawkey and the Red Sox until 1959 to add their first one.
It was 12 years following Jackie's rookie season and three years after Jackie's retirement before the Red Sox became the final franchise to have an African-American player on their roster.
For one of the most important franchises in baseball history, this was just a shame and an embarrassment.
In my opinion, Pete Rose was a bigger embarrassment to baseball than the Black Sox were.
While gambling on baseball wasn't illegal per baseball's rules at the time of the Black Sox, it was clearly against them when Rose was doing it.
While Rose's gambling itself wasn't an embarrassment (it is an addiction, after all), his decades of denial are what make it embarrassing.
Rose was told numerous times that to get reinstated he simply needed to publicly admit what he did. Rose simply refused to do so. Well, he refused to do so until he had a book he wanted to get published.
In that book, My Prison Without Bars, Rose finally admitted to betting on baseball, specifically only on the Reds and never against them.
The problem with that is he admitted that he didn't bet on every single Reds game, so that makes people wonder if he made decisions in games he didn't bet on that would affect a game that he did bet on.
For instance, did he use his bullpen differently or hold a starter back simply to use them in a game he had money on?
So what do you think? Did I leave someone off this list, or is there someone I included you believe doesn't belong? Please comment below.