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Damn Yankees: Roger Clemens the Latest in a Long Line of Disgraced Bombers

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2011

Damn Yankees: Roger Clemens the Latest in a Long Line of Disgraced Bombers

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    So Roger "the Rocket" Clemens gets a pass until September because of a prosecutor who was either woefully inept, incredibly arrogant, or both.

    For those who don't know, the gist of Clemens' legal trouble is this: He is accused of being a cheater and a liar, doing the latter to a room full of...cheaters and liars.

    Wow.

    When you put it like that, seems like a pretty ridiculous scenario and waste of taxpayer money right there.

    But I digress.

    Unfortunately, Clemens is not the only player who has donned the pinstripes to have a tussle with the law.

    Some even managed to find their trouble during the season.

    After the jump, 10 more "upstanding citizens" and one arrest so ludicrous it needed to be included.

Luis Polonia

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    Outfielder Luis Polonia found himself in trouble with the law less than two months after being acquired by the Yankees from the Oakland Athletics as part of the trade that saw Rickey Henderson shipped out of the Bronx.

    On August 17, 1989, Polonia was arrested in his room at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee after the 15-year-old-girl police found in the room with him accused Polonia of sexual abuse.

    Police were there following up on a tip from the girl's mother as they searched for her as part of a missing persons case.

    Polonia would end up pleading no-contest to the charges, spending 60 days in jail and paying a $1,500 fine.

    During the 1990 season, Polonia would be dealt to the California Angels in exchange for Rich Monteleone and Claudell Washington, ending the first of three stints he would have with the Yankees.

Mark Whiten

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    On July 22, 1997, before their game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Yankees OF Mark Whiten was arrested by police.

    Where?

    You guessed it—the Pfister Hotel, the same hotel Luis Polonia was arrested in nearly eight years earlier.

    Whiten was accused of sexual assault, a charge the police came to after speaking with the 31-year-old woman who filed the initial complaint.

    In September 1997, Whiten would find the charges dropped against him due to lack of evidence.

    Whiten would find himself released from his contract with the Yankees on Aug.15, 1997, spending the remaining years of his career with the Cleveland Indians.

Mel Hall

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    Mel Hall enjoyed a fairly productive four-year stint with the Yankees from 1989 through 1992, hitting .273 with 63 HR and 265 RBI over that span.

    Fifteen years after leaving the Yankees, Hall would find himself in some serious trouble as he was arrested in Texas for sexual assault. A woman claimed Hall assaulted her in 1999 when she was under the age of 17.

    Additionally, another woman came forward and accused Hall of similar abuse when she was 12 years old.

    Hall was both women's coach on a youth basketball team.

    On June 16, 2009, Hall was convicted of three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and two counts of indecency with a child.

    The following day, Hall was sentenced to 45 years in prison for his crimes.

Darryl Strawberry

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    Darryl Stawberry was no stranger to trouble, having battled alcohol and cocaine addiction since his time with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers. Strawberry also found himself in trouble with the IRS in 1995, owing more than $300,000 in back taxes.

    With the Yankees, Strawberry seemed to have gotten his life in order, quickly becoming a fan favorite and source of power off the bench.

    Unfortunately for Darryl, his demons would rear their ugly heads again at the start of the 1999 season, when he would be arrested on April 14, 1999 for possessing cocaine and soliciting a prostitute.

    The arrest would come only months after he successfully battled colon cancer.

    Major League Baseball would suspend him for 140 days, and Strawberry would eventually plead "no-contest" to the charges and avoided spending time in jail, being sentenced instead to 21 months probation and community service.

    Since 2002, Strawberry has seemingly kept his nose out of trouble.

Jim Leyritz

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    Jim Leyritz, known for his clutch playoff performances as a Yankee during this last dynasty, was arrested the morning of Dec. 28, 2007 and charged with DUI and DUI manslaughter after the woman he collided with died.

    Leyritz was acquitted of DUI manslaughter charges, but was convicted on the lesser DUI charge.

    He would be sentenced to one year of probation, 18 days of time served, 50 hours of community service and a $500 fine.

Dwight Gooden

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    Like his former teammate with the New York Mets Darryl Strawberry, Dwight "Doc" Gooden battled his demons for years.

    With the Yankees, it seemed as if he had succeeded in his fight, staying out of trouble and pitching a memorable no-hitter on May 14, 1996, against the Seattle Mariners.

    After his career ended, Gooden's troubles began again.

    From 2002 through 2006, he would be arrested twice for driving while intoxicated, once for domestic abuse, and once for showing up at a meeting with his probation officer high on cocaine.

    During his seven-month prison stint in 2006, Gooden said: "I can't come back here," he said. "I'd rather get shot than come back here. ... If I don't get the message this time, I never will."

    Unfortunately for Gooden, the message was not received, as he would be arrested again in March 2010 in New Jersey, this time charged with driving under the influence of drugs, endangering the welfare of a child (his five-year-old son), leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, and DUI with a child passenger.

    In April 2011, Gooden would be sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to undergo outpatient drug counseling.

Hideki Irabu

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    Hideki Irabu, the Japanese import who failed miserably as a member of the Yankees, drawing the ire of George Steinbrenner, who nicknamed him some sort of fat toad, has managed to remain in the news after his playing days were over.

    In 2008, Irabu would be arrested in Osaka, Japan, for assaulting a bartender who told the inebriated pitcher that his credit card had been rejected.

    Irabu pushed the bartender against the wall, pulled his hair, and smashed nine bottles of liquor.

    Then, in May 2010, Irabu would be arrested in California for DUI, after he was unable to stay in his lane and nearly smashed into a parked car.

Joba Chamberlain

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    On Oct. 19, 2008, Joba Chamberlain was arrested in his home state of Nebraska for DUI.

    During the arrest, Chamberlain made sure to trash New Yorkers and even took a shot at Yogi Berra, telling the arresting officer: "No BS, he might not be as tall as the front of your car."

    After pleading guilty, Chamberlain was sentenced to nine months of probation and lost his driver's license for 60 days.

    You can watch the video of his arrest, should you care to, here.

Chuck Knoblauch

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    Chuck Knoblauch, the 2B who, well, couldn't throw the ball to 1B, was arrested in 2009 for choking his wife at their home and charged with assaulting a family member, which is a third-degree felony in Texas.

    Knoblauch would reach a plea deal, agreeing to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault in exchange for one year of probation, a $1,000 fine, and the chance to have the charge wiped from his record should he not violate his probation.

Joe Pepitone

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    Joe Pepitone, a three-time All-Star for the Yankees from 1962 through 1969 and a staple at Old Timer's Day, is no stranger to law enforcement officials.

    His first run-in with the police would be on March 18, 1985, when he and two other men were arrested in Brooklyn after running a red light. Officers found nine ounces of cocaine, 344 quaaludes, a pistol and around $6,000 in cash in the car with them.

    He would be convicted on two misdemeanor counts and spend four months as a guest at Rikers Island, one of New York's most notorious prisons. George Steinbrenner would arrange for Pepitone to become part of a work-release program, allowing him to spend minimal time inside Rikers Island.

    Pepitone would again be arrested in 1992 in a small town in upstate New York when he got into a fight with five men at a hotel lounge after they began calling him a "has-been."

    He would be released on $75 bail.

Dave Winfield

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    Dave Winfield was arrested in Toronto on Aug. 4, 1983, after hitting and killing a seagull with a throw during warmups prior to the Yankees game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium.

    After the game, Winfield was charged with cruelty to animals and released after posting $500 bond. Charges would be dropped the following day.

    Billy Martin reportedly said about the incident: "It's the first time he's hit the cutoff man all season."

Closing Thoughts

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    You may be wondering where Steve Howe and Billy Martin are in all of this.

    I chose to omit both, seeing as how their untimely deaths were a direct result of their struggles with their own demons.

    It just goes to show you—no matter how much money and fame one may have, no matter how elite of an athlete you are—nobody is immune to the human condition.

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