Each MLB Team's Player with the Most Eccentric Ritual
Major League Baseball has been full of players throughout its history that tended to be eccentric. From Rube Waddell to Turk Wendell, many who played the game were either very superstitious or eccentric, and as fans we got to see it all.
Even nowadays, every team has at least one player that has something a bit off about him. Whether it's something done as he heads to the plate or a pregame ritual, all teams know someone like that.
Here is the player from each team with the most eccentric ritual.
Baltimore Orioles: Vladimir Guerrero
Vladimir Guerrero is one of those players that doesn't clean his helmet. For whatever reason, he keeps it dirty, a practice which was most recognizable during his time with the Angels.
In fact, he had a chunk of pine tar on his helmet back in 2005 which caused a bit of a stir.
Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz
David Ortiz definitely has his own superstitions heading into the batter's box. When there, Ortiz rests the bat on his leg, spits on his right hand and claps before batting. It makes his at-bats a bit longer, though he has been successful at the plate doing that.
New York Yankees: Jorge Posada
The longtime Yankee catcher Jorge Posada was certainly the most eccentric of the core four. Like Moises Alou before him, Posada urinates on his hands when it's cold to keep them from hardening over the course of the season.
Tampa Bay Rays: Dirk Hayhurst
Dirk Hayhurst only played in the minor leagues for the Tampa Bay Rays, but due to the Rays' short history, I'm including him. Hayhurst had an imaginary animal called the Garfoose, which was introduced to the baseball world and became a cult hit.
It's likely that he's known more for that than his brief MLB career now.
Toronto Blue Jays: Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia
Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia have quickly established a great relationship with each other. This is thanks to the two of them having breakfast each game before the two are on the field together.
It's not all that eccentric, but it is worth noting, and honestly it's something that should happen more often.
Chicago White Sox: Adam Dunn
Adam Dunn is a laid-back player, and his ritual fits that; it also looks more eccentric after his horrendous season. During the offseason, he does not pick up a bat at all, even to do a bit of batting practice.
After this past season, perhaps he should change that.
Cleveland Indians: Josh Tomlin
Josh Tomlin has admitted to being superstitious, and has some of the typical ones you'd expect. One that stands out is that after a win, he will wear the same outfit that he did last time on the mound. When he has a good-luck season like he did last year, that can add up on the dirty side.
Detroit Tigers: Jose Valverde
There's no question that Jose Valverde is an entertaining closer to watch to begin with, but when it comes to rituals, he's the most eccentric pitcher the Tigers have had since The Bird himself.
After wrapping up a save to end a game, he hops around a bit and lets out a primal scream, letting out his energy.
Kansas City Royals: Jeff Francoeur
Jeff Francoeur's ritual isn't very eccentric, but he is very adamant about the ritual. When at home during the offseason, the outfielder eats Chick-fil-A every day, going so far as to eat the same meal in the same seat.
Minnesota Twins: Justin Morneau
Justin Morneau is someone who's a creature of habit to begin with, ordering the same thing for lunch pretty much every day. It's what he has to drink that comes as a surprise.
With it, he has a Slurpee, which can only be made by Nick Punto—a half-Mountain Dew, half-red or -orange liquid hybrid. If Punto doesn't show up, that's when Morneau gets worried.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Jered Weaver
Like Tomlin, Jered Weaver is one of those players that does not change his attire, owing to superstition. This past season, he actually did change it in August due to very humid weather, and not too far later his season ended with a whimper.
He's also one of the many who eats the same meal each start; in his case it's a California Turkey sandwich at Hector's Restaurant.
Oakland Athletics: Bob Melvin
There's no question that Bob Melvin is easily the most eccentric manager of any current major league manager. He has his route planned to the ballpark every day, and after a win he uses the same route. After a loss, he changes it.
Seattle Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro's ritual at the plate is one of the most well-known in baseball, where he brings his bat out straight up at arm length. It has clearly worked, since he has had 200 hits nearly every season.
Texas Rangers: Yorvit Torrealba
Yorvit Torrealba may have one of the craziest rituals of anyone on the list. Before leaving the dugout, he tosses a paper cup. If he hits it with the bat, then he knows he'll likely get a hit in his next at-bat. He does the same with gum in the on-deck circle.
Atlanta Braves: Eric Hinske
Eric Hinske hasn't had the opportunity to hit home runs too often, but when he does, what he does after is certainly eccentric. Aside from taking a long look at the ball, he gently places the bat down in front of the plate before making his run through.
Miami Marlins: Ozzie Guillen
Ozzie Guillen's not a player anymore, but I'm going to make an exception, on the count of it being Ozzie Guillen. Can one consider it a ritual to always speak your mind, even if you really shouldn't? Maybe, maybe not, but it definitely makes him an eccentric figure in baseball.
New York Mets: Turk Wendell
This list is intended to be about active players in the majors, but how can anyone ignore Turk Wendell? There's no question that he was possibly the most eccentric guy in baseball history, and was named the most superstitious athlete in history.
For information on his superstitions, see here.
Philadelphia Phillies: Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee doesn't seem to consider himself superstitious, and compared to others on the list he is not, but he still has his rituals. During his time with the Rangers, he wore the same hat, glove and spikes throughout the season.
Part of it was due to the frequent trades at the time, but I think he felt that it was helping him out.
Washington Nationals: Jason Marquis
Jason Marquis is one of the players that is fine with spitting in and of itself, but he will never do it on the mound. Instead, he'll move off of it, or dry off the mound where he had to spit.
Chicago Cubs: Matt Garza
Matt Garza is not exactly Wade Boggs, but the Cubs pitcher isn't all that far off. Before every game he pitches, Garza treats the team to Popeye's Chicken, and yes, that's every day that he pitches.
Cincinnati Reds: Brandon Phillips
There are a few minor examples of rituals throughout the Reds clubhouse, but many involved one-time things, such as Edinson Volquez cutting his dreads to break a slump.
In Brandon Phillips' case, he varies how he wears his uniform. If he's struggling, he'll move his usual baggy pants and the like to higher socks and a tighter uni, and will bounce back if there are struggles the other way after a while.
Houston Astros: Clint Barmes
When a ballplayer sprains their ankle, they either take time off or tape the ankle up and continue playing. Barmes chose the latter, and after improving in the hitting department, he kept his ankle wrapped up for a long time afterwards out of ritual.
Milwaukee Brewers: Nyjer Morgan
Nyjer Morgan is an eccentric player to begin with, but his alter ego, Tony Plush, can come out when Morgan's playing well. This has turned him into a fan favorite in Milwaukee, something I did not see coming.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Jason Grilli
Jason Grilli doesn't do this anymore, but back in the day, he had a very interesting game-day ritual that's worth noting. He put a two-sided baseball card of Nolan Ryan and Ken Griffey Jr. in his shoe, with Ryan being face up on the days Grilli pitched.
St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols
This is perhaps not all that eccentric, but when Albert Pujols hits a ball that is clearly going to be a home run, he stares it down. It doesn't seem to be in admiration as others are. Instead, it almost looks as if he is intimidating the ball to make it go over the fence.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Jeff Motuzas
The Diamondbacks' bullpen catcher is certainly able to change players' mindsets with his eccentricity. He is someone who will eat nearly anything for money, and as a result is someone Diamondbacks players can have some fun with.
Colorado Rockies: Jason Giambi
Jason Giambi obviously makes the list, though I'm not sure if he does the same superstition he did in New York.
As a member of the Yankees, whenever Giambi was in a slump, he would wear a golden thong, which actually seemed to work. In fact, some teammates ended up borrowing them when they were in slumps.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jamey Carroll
Jamey Carroll's ritual is more of a team-based one, since the Dodgers were all in on it. For a time, the Dodgers had gnomes in their clubhouse due to a late winning streak in 2008.
During a five-game losing streak this past season, Carroll smashed one of the gnomes to help break the streak.
San Diego Padres: Brad Hawpe
Brad Hawpe is a spitter, as are others on this list, and it's not something that's all that eccentric in and of itself. That being said, he does it right on the plate, in spite of umpires trying to discourage him from doing that.
San Francisco Giants: Brian Wilson
From his eccentric behavior in general to growing out the beard since before San Francisco won the World Series to crossing his arms after saving a game, there is no question that Brian Wilson is deserving of a spot on this list.