50 Most Brain Dead Moments in Major League Baseball History

Jeffrey BeckmannCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2011

50 Most Brain Dead Moments in Major League Baseball History

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    Major League Baseball has had its fair share of jaw-dropping, pull-your-hair-out-while-screaming moments throughout its storied history. Along for the ride have been a wide variety of characters, some of which you must see to believe.

    Any person can have a brain-dead moment at any given time, whether it be an owner, player, manager or even a fan. Baseball is what it is today because of these moments.

    While I stuck with individuals for the purposes of this list, I gave broad meaning to the term "brain dead." Anything from a botched play in the field to an idiotic occurrence off the field was fair game. 

    Here are the 50 most brain-dead moments in Major League Baseball history. Feel free to join in on the fun with any I may have missed.


John Smoltz Is an "Iron" Man

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    Not once in my life had I picked up an iron until around Day 3 of Marine Corps boot camp. Maybe I was lazy or maybe I had always assumed I'd find a wife to do the "busy work" for me. Either way, I was very wrong.

    Jarheads are known more for their brawn and less for their brain, but I can guarantee you that very few have ever tried to iron their uniform while physically wearing it.

    That's precisely what John Smoltz did, although the future Hall of Famer has always vehemently denied it.

And so Is Brian Anderson

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    As brain dead as Smoltz must have been the moment he tried to iron a shirt he was actually wearing, it's still got nothing on former pitcher Brian Anderson.

    There are many ways to check if an iron is hot. A person should be able to feel the heat just by getting within inches of it or if they must, quickly tap a finger on it to see if it's toasty.

    Anderson bypassed all laws of common sense by actually pressing the iron to his face. His face!

    As Ron White would say—you can't fix stupid. 

Pete Rose Lying About Betting on Baseball

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    Whether Pete Rose bet against his own team doesn't matter at this point—lying about it for nearly 15 years is the real issue. Heck, I don't care if a manager today bets on his own team to win every game as Rose now claims he did with the Cincinnati Reds for years.

    I'm not sure if he figured it would all just blow over at some point, but you can bet his chances at the Hall of Fame would be much better had he come clean right away.

    I still think he'll end up in the Hall of Fame. It'll definitely become a hot topic once players connected to steroids are being enshrined. 

Black Sox Scandal of 1919

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    It's one thing to bet on your own team to win on a nightly basis, but the Black Sox scandal of 1919 will forever leave a dark spot on the game.

    Personally, I can't stand to lose at anything—let alone a competitive sport—so I can't even begin to understand their thought process when deciding to throw the World Series.

    Was it worth risking everything they had worked for to pocket a few extra bucks? And did they honestly believe it wouldn't be obvious to anyone with baseball knowledge that something fishy was going on?

    In the end, Major League Baseball gave eight members of the team lifetime bans.

Johnny Pesky Gives Way to the Mad Dash

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    Johnny Pesky has spent 60 years with the Boston Red Sox organization, even having the right field pole at Fenway Park named in his honor.

    Pesky may be best known, however, for a split-second of his time with the team during Game 7 of the 1946 World Series.

    As Enos Slaughter rounded third during his iconic "Mad Dash" from first base, Pesky has been accused of holding the ball on a relay from the outfield. His hesitation allowed Slaughter to score what would prove to be the winning run.

Ty Cobb Jumps into Bleachers, Beats Up Fan

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    Ty Cobb never had swagger—he was just pure mean.

    During a game in 1912, Cobb was growing increasingly impatient with a heckling fan in the stands. He even went so far as to warn the opposing manager and the umpires that if the fan wasn't ejected, he would end up taking the matter into his own hands.

    Shortly thereafter, the fan called the extremely racist Cobb a "half-(bleep)." As you can imagine, this didn't sit well with Cobb and he was quickly up in the stands laying a beating on the fan.

    When bystanders made Cobb aware of the fact the man he was beating had no hands, Cobb shouted "I don't care if he's got no feet!" and continued to pummel him mercilessly. 

Wayne Huizenga Destroys World Championship Squad

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    After winning the 1997 World Series, Florida Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga held perhaps the largest fire-sale in Major League Baseball history.

    Seriously, what was the man thinking?

    Days after their World Series victory, Huizenga traded Moises Alou to the Houston Astros. By May of 1998, Al Leiter, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla and Charles Johnson were also shipped away.

Babe Ruth Sold to Yankees

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    Can you imagine how different baseball history might look if former Red Sox owner Harry Frazee wasn't such a pansy?

    In his defense, $100,000 was no chump change back in those days. For comparison purposes, I was able to find the value of a dollar as far back as 1930, which was 10 years after Ruth went to New York.

    It was the equivalent to $1,204,420 in today's dollars. Obviously that still seems ridiculous for the likes of Babe Ruth, but that was a ridiculous amount of money if you consider how juvenile Major League Baseball was at that point.

Barry Bonds Denies Steroid Usage

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    If a picture is worth 1,000 words, why does Barry Bonds continue to deny using steroids? 

    Bonds must believe we, the public, are brain dead ourselves, considering even a blind man can tell the slugger was juicing.

Frank Francisco Throws Chair in Stands

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    With Frank Francisco and the Texas Rangers in Oakland for a series with the Athletics, As fans were being persistent with their vulgar insults toward the Rangers' bullpen.

    Francisco lost his cool and his mind for a brief moment as he threw a bullpen chair into the stands. The chair would strike a woman, lacerating her face.

    Francisco was arrested and later suspended for the remainder of the season.

Rickey Henderson Gets Frostbite

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    Rickey Henderson must have been a very deep sleeper, so much so that he was able to remain in wonderland through the painful feeling of ice burning on his skin. 

    Of course, the burning sensation was only momentary, as soon his foot would be completely numb. By the time he awoke, Henderson had severe frostbite—in the middle of August, no less.

Fred Merkle's "Bonehead" Play

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    Fred Merkle made one of the most juvenile mistakes a ballplayer can make in 1908, when he failed to touch second base on what could have been a game-winning hit by his teammate. It would cost his New York Giants squad dearly.

    Amid chaos, the 19-year-old Merkle headed toward the dugout after the winning run had scored. The umpires later determined that the run didn't count and the game would be replayed in its entirety.

    The Cubs would win the make-up game and soon after they'd secure the NL pennant over the Giants—by one game.  

Manny Being Manny

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    The list of brain dead moments involving Manny Ramirez goes on and on, although many would blow the incidents off as "Manny being Manny."

    One of the most ridiculous moments in Manny's career was when he was seen talking on his cell phone inside the Green Monster between innings.

Steve Trout Falls off Stationary Bike

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    Even though Manny had (has) plenty of issues, he was still bright enough to know a "stationary" bike is meant to sit idle.

    Steve Trout was like the "Little Engine That Could" when he jumped on a stationary bike. He worked the little bugger so hard that he became the first numskull in history to lose control of a stationary bike.

    Even more embarrassing—the infamous plunge landed Trout on the DL.

Bill Buckner's E-3

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    Bill Buckner's temporary mental lapse is arguably the most famous error in Major League Baseball history.

    Up 3-2 in the 1986 World Series, the Red Sox squandered a two-run lead in the 10th inning during Game 6. With the winning run on second, Bill Buckner misplayed a ground ball to first base to allow the run to score.

    The Mets would win Game 7 as the "Curse of the Bambino" struck again.

John McNamara Deserves Some Blame, Too

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    John McNamara was manager of the Boston Red Sox during the 1986 World Series, and a mental lapse of his own contributed to their meltdown.

    During the three Red Sox victories in Games 1, 2 and 5, McNamara used Dave Stapleton as a defensive replacement at first base late in the games. For some reason he chose to keep Buckner at first in Game 6, paving the way for the infamous "E-3."

Roberto Alomar Spits in Umps Face

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    Roberto Alomar was always known as something of a hothead, which partially explains why the Hall of Famer played for seven teams over his 17-year career.

    Alomar decided to get nasty during a heated exchange with umpire John Hirschbeck, spitting directly at the umps face. Verbal abuse continued, with Hirschbeck eventually trying to get after Alomar in the Orioles locker room.

Sosa's Corked Bat

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    In 2003, with his best years behind him, Sammy Sosa "accidentally" decided to use a corked bat during a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    Major League Baseball tested all 76 of Sosa's other bats, plus five that were already in the Hall of Fame, and they all came back cork-free, so this incident may very well have been a single moment of minimal brain activity.

Bret Barberie Forgets to Wash His Hands

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    Bret Barberie never panned out as a Major League Baseball player. 

    In the midst of one of the few "hot streaks" of his career, Barberie decided it was a good time to spice things up with some homemade chili.

    Unfortunately, Barberie forgot to wash his hands before burning his eyes and ripping a contact lens, forcing him out of the Florida Marlins' lineup. 

Babe Ruth Caught Stealing to End World Series

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    There's not much a person can knock on Babe Ruth for, but his decision to attempt stealing second base ended the 1926 World Series wasn't the brightest.

    Ruth wasn't known for being swift on his feet, as he stole bases at a 50-percent clip throughout his career.

    With the Cardinals leading the Yanks 3-2 in Game 7, Ruth took a walk with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to bring Bob Meusel to the plate. Ruth took off as Meusel swung and missed, while Rogers Hornsby made the tag to end the World Series.

Milton Bradley Tears ACL

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    I haven't picked on Milton Bradley in a while, so now seems to be the perfect time to include one of his many brain farts.

    While Bradley argued a call at first base, San Diego Padres manager Bud Black ran up to contain his fiery player. In a fluke moment that some may consider karma, Bradley slipped and tore his ACL to end his season.

Later Throws Ball into Stands with Two Outs

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    A few years and teams later, Bradley became a member of the "let's throw the ball into the stands with two outs" club.

    It has happened many a time throughout baseball history, yet there is never a logical excuse for not knowing how many outs there are.

Fred Snodgrass Drops Routine Fly-Ball in World Series

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    Fred Snodgrass was known as one of the best center fielders in baseball while helping the New York Giants to three consecutive World Series trips from 1911-1913.

    Although the Giants would lose all three, the 1912 series was the one he'd most like to forget.

    Snodgrass committed one of the most famous errors in baseball history during the 10th inning of the deciding game, as a routine pop-fly bounced off his glove to put the tying run on second base.

    The White Sox would score two runs en route to a World Series championship.

Grady Little Sticks with Pedro

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    I understand that Pedro Martinez was arguably the best pitcher in the game during the 2003 season, so at first it made sense for Grady Little to keep his ace in the game after an eighth-inning mound visit during Game 7 of the ALCS.

    The Red Sox were up 5-2 heading into the eighth when Pedro gave up back-to-back one-out hits to narrow their lead to 5-3. At this point Little came to the mound, although he elected to keep him in the game.

    Little just sat and watched as the Yankees hit two more run-scoring doubles to tie the game, which the Yanks would later win on an Aaron Boone 10th-inning home run.

    Enjoy the video, Yankees fans.

Mickey Owens Passed Ball

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    During the 1941 season, Mickey Owen set a Major League Baseball record for most errorless fielding chances by a catcher with 508 perfect attempts.

    With his Brooklyn Dodgers facing the Yankees in the World Series that season, New York jumped out to a 2-1 series lead before a pivotal Game 4.

    The Dodgers held a 4-3 lead with two-out in the ninth inning as the Yanks Tommy Henrich stood at the plate in a 3-2 count. He swung and missed for what appeared to be the final out of the game, except Owen let the ball get by him and Henrich beat the throw to first.

    The Yankees would score four runs to win the game 7-4, and the next day they became World Series champs.

Umpire Drew Cobles Botches Call

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    The 1991 World Series is known as the greatest in baseball history, with five of the seven games decided by one run.

    The Minnesota Twins took down the Atlanta Braves in the epic series, but not without the help of first base umpire Drew Cobles.

    After Ron Gant rounded first on a single, Twins pitcher Kevin Tapani surprised him with a quick throw to the bag. Although it was a nail-biting play, Gant was visibly safe to everyone except Coble. The ump didn't realize first baseman Kent Hrbek actually forced Gant off the bag when tagging him.

    Who knows if it would have changed the outcome of the series, but it was still a botched call during a very important moment.

And so Does Jim Joyce

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    Armando Gallarraga's near-perfect game will live on in a way no perfect game ever has before.

    We all remember the infamous "safe" call from last season, along with the emotional and classy apologies that ensued.

    Jim Joyce is a great umpire, but he's proof that even the best can have a bad day.

But Neither Are as Visibily Obvious as This One

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    This photograph says it all.

    Regardless of the fact the Red Sox were down seven runs to the Yankees during Game 4 of the 1999 ALCS, it is blatantly obvious that Chuck Knoblauch in no way, shape or form came within arm's reach of tagging Jose Valentin.

    Umpire Tim Tschida saw it differently, I guess, as he ruled Valentin was tagged and the game ended on a double-play.

Mark Smith Attacked by A/C Unit

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    Mark Smith played for seven different teams over his 12-year career, including a Japanese and a South Korean team.

    I've never been to South Korea but I did spend one year in Japan, and from what I can soberly remember, the A/C units were pretty much the same.

    So I have to ask—where did Smith learn that it was OK to insert his hand into a semi-running A/C unit? Apparently he learns best by going to the School of Hard Knocks, as Smith suffered a broken hand to put his baseball career on hold.

Jeremy Giambi Forgets to Slide

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    This picture shows the precise turning point of the 2001 ALDS. Trailing 1-0 late in Game 3, the Athletics held a 2-0 series lead over the Yankees.

    A Terrance Long hit appeared to drive in the game-tying run, but Jeremy Giambi forgot to slide into home plate. It was a great turnaround play from Derek Jeter to make it close, but no way is Giambi out if he slides.

    The Yanks would go on to win the series 3-2.

Rick Honeycutt and the Tack

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    While struggling to perform on the mound during the 1980 season, it reached the point where Rick Honeycutt felt it was necessary to tape a thumb tack to his finger to put some extra scuffs on the baseball.

    After cutting his forehead, the tack was discovered by an opposing player and Honeycutt was routinely ejected.

    Cheaters never win, folks.

Cancellation of 1994 World Series

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    Although Bud Selig was merely the "acting commissioner" from 1992-1998, I still blame him for the 1994 strike. My guess is that the MLBPA had their suspicions about Selig right from the get-go.

    It had been 90 years since the last time there was no World Series played, but Selig and Co. decided to cancel the Fall Classic on September 14. The labor strike began on August 12.

    The biggest losers were the Montreal Expos, who sat at 74-40 with a chance at their only World Series title. Had it not been for the strike, Stephen Strasburg could be playing his home games in the Great White North.

2002 All-Star Game Ends in a Tie

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    I understand that having both the AL and NL squads run out of players while the game was tied was a tricky spot for Selig, so I don't necessarily blame him for ending the game after 11 innings.

    The aftermath, however, is where I've got some beef.

    I am all for having the All-Star Game be meaningful, so I have no issue with the winning league getting home-field advantage in the playoffs. But you can't let fans choose players to represent each league when it could play a huge role in determining the eventual World Series champion. It's common sense, Bud!

Another Team in Florida?

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    After the Marlins proved to be such a hit with Floridians during their first five years as a franchise (sarcasm), Bud Selig thought it would be a good idea to add another team to the Sunshine State.

    On-field success won't bring fans to either ballpark, which really isn't all too surprising.

    This season alone, there are about 12 teams whose average home attendance is greater than both the Rays and Marlins combined. Good call, Bud.

Marty Cordova Gets Burned

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    While Marty Cordova always appeared to have a lot going on with the ladies, it's pretty clear he didn't have much going on between his ears.

    Without setting an automatic shutoff timer, Cordova hopped in a tanning bed and fell asleep. He burned himself so badly that team doctor's wouldn't allow him to play in day games for the foreseeable future.

Chan Ho Park's Drop-Kick

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    Chan Ho Park was the first South Korean-born player in Major League Baseball history, so it was only fitting that he introduced the league to some Tae Kwon Do shortly thereafter.

    Park made minced liver out of the Angels' Tim Belcher during a game in 1999. After a heated exchange led to a few punches, Park performed one of the coolest drop-kicks of all time—although I doubt Belcher's face was too fond of it.

    Here is the video.

Steve Sparks Rips Phone Book, Dislocates Shoulder

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    At one point during Steve Sparks' tenure with the Milwaukee Brewers, the team opined for a motivational speaking seminar for their players.

    Sparks was so motivated (or brainwashed) by the seminar that he later attempted to rip a phone book in half, which subsequently dislocated his shoulder.

    Lesson Learned: Sometimes it's OK to give up!

Roger Clemens Throws Bat at Piazza

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    The 2000 World Series between the New York Yankees and New York Mets was very memorable thanks to former superstar Roger Clemens.

    As Mike Piazza's bat shattered while making contact on an inside fastball, the barrel plopped out towards the mound. Clemens quickly grabbed the broken barrel and threw it in Piazza's direction as the slugger was running to first base.

    Clemens later claimed he mistook the barrel for the actual baseball.

Joe Niekro Doctoring Baseball

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    Joe Niekro had some good seasons over his 22-year-career, but it became clear to the world it was time for the pitcher to hang up the spikes after he was caught doctoring the ball in 1988.

    An umpire discovered a nail file in Niekro's pocket, used to scuff up the baseball. He claimed he used it to treat his nails in the dugout.

    Niekro was suspended for 10 games before being released and retiring.

Johnny Cueto's Roundhouse

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    Tensions soared between the Reds and Cardinals during the 2010 season, as both teams were making a run at the NL Central title.

    While most baseball brawls end before they even begin, Johnny Cueto made sure this particular clash would last forever.

    During the brawl, Cueto went "Chuck Norris" and kicked Jason Larue in the head. Larue was placed on the 60-day DL while Cueto was handed a seven-game suspension.

Adam Eaton Stabs Himself

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    Watching Adam Eaton attempt to open a DVD must be similar to the scene in Zoolander where Hansel asks, "It's in the computer?"

    Eaton stabbed himself in the gut while attempting to remove the wrapping.

    While I admit, at times, it may be frustrating to get the silicone wrap off of a DVD case, I'm pretty sure I learned in elementary school that I shouldn't force a knife in the direction of my body.

Delmon Young Throws Bat at Ump

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    As a highly touted prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays system back in 2006, Delmon Young was still learning how to control his attitude.

    Young would hit rock-bottom after an argument with an umpire over a called third strike. He continued to flap his jaws while walking back to the dugout, so the umpire gave him the boot. This is when Young threw his bat at the umpire, hitting him square in the chest.

Bert Campaneris Throws Bat at Pitcher

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    Young wasn't the first ballplayer to throw his bat and he surely won't be the last. The most famous bat-throwing incident belongs to Bert Campaneris.

    During Game 2 of the 1972 ALCS, Campaneris came to the plate in the seventh inning with three hits in three at-bats.

    Tigers pitcher Lerrin LaGrow set off a storm after nailing Camp's ankle with the first pitch. Campaneris took a step toward the mound and then heaved his bat at LaGrow.

    Check out this video: it takes three players to hold back Tigers manager Billy Martin.

Jose Canseco Loses Last Ounce of Brain Activity

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    Unlike most of the events that make up this list, Jose Canseco's incident sheds a possible light on how he actually became brain dead.

    That's not to say Canseco was ever bright, but I can guarantee you taking a 400-foot bomb off the noggin surely wouldn't make him smarter.

Nyjer Morgan Gets Closelined, Throws Ball at Fans

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    Before he became known as "T-Plush," and maybe even after, Nyjer Morgan had a rap as having a bad attitude.

    Just last September, Morgan charged the mound after Marlins pitcher Chris Volstad threw a pitch well behind him. Of course, Gaby Sanchez would clotheseline Morgan before he made it near the pitcher.

    Morgan's dumbest moment, however, was when he threw a ball at some fans as he was leaving the field.


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    Sticking with T-Plush for one more outrageous video, how is it possible for a player not to realize it's a tie game when they step up to the plate in the ninth inning?

    Aren't those the moments most players live for?

    Either way, the interview is hilarious.

Kevin Brown Punches Wall

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    Kevin Brown was once regarded as the best pitcher in baseball, making him the first player in MLB history to land a deal in excess of $100 million.

    After getting lit up by the Baltimore Orioles during the 2004 pennant race, Brown walked to the dugout and punched the wall. At least he was bright enough to use his non-pitching hand.

    Either way, he landed on the DL with two broken bones before coming back to blow Game 7 of the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Steve Lyons Drops His Pants

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    Steve Lyons was eccentric, to say the least. Whether he was playing tic-tac-toe or hangman while playing in the infield, he never quite seemed to be "all there."

    Lyons' most famous incident occurred after a hustling slide into first base following a bunt. In front of 15,000 bewildered fans, he pulled down his pants to brush himself off.

Juan Marichal Cracks a Skull

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    The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers' violent history began all the way back in 1965.

    Dodgers catcher John Roseboro was making his return throws awfully close to Juan Marichal, until one actually grazed his ear.

    That was the last straw for Marichal, who unthinkably smashed Roseboro over the head with his bat. Roseboro would need 14 stitches to close the gash.


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    Am I the only one who feels bad for Steve Bartman?

    The Cubs entered Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS with a 3-2 series lead. They held a 3-0 lead with one-out in the eighth inning when Steve Bartman grabbed a "playable" foul-ball away from Moises Alou.

    The Florida Marlins would go on to score eight runs in the inning and later won Game 7 to go to the World Series.

    Jeffrey Beckmann is a MLB Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Jeffrey on his new  Twitter account for all of his latest work. You can also hear him each Friday at 1 p.m. EST on B/R Baseball Roundtable.