Josh Beckett and the 10 Most Selfish Players in Baseball
Five years ago, Josh Beckett could do no wrong in Boston. Red Sox fans loved him.
That's what happens when you win 20 games throughout the course of the season and then dominate in the postseason. Beckett is a key reason why the Red Sox won the World Series in 2007, and that season is a key reason he still has a job in Boston.
Nowadays, Beckett's status in Boston is shaky, and Red Sox Nation is fed up with him. This is thanks in part to Beckett's decline as a pitcher, but it's mainly due to his attitude. He's never been a particularly likable player, but these days, he's coming off as just another selfish baseball player.
Goodness knows there have been plenty of those over the years. We like to think of baseball players as fun-loving individuals who just plain love to come to the ballpark every day, but there have been hundreds of players who cared only about themselves. It's about them first and the team and everything else second.
Here's a look at the 10 most selfish players in baseball today.
10. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Cleveland Indians
The Colorado Rockies had more than enough excuses to trade Ubaldo Jimenez last season. He wasn't pitching well, and the club was well out of the postseason race. Getting something for him while he still had trade value was the smart thing to do.
It took a while, but Jimenez eventually opened up about his tenure in Colorado this spring. He admitted (see The Denver Post) that he was annoyed with Rockies management for not signing him to an extension after they had been quick to sign Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to extensions. They got theirs; he wanted his.
Tulowitzki shot back, telling the Post that Jimenez was a problem child toward the end of his tenure in Colorado:
"If someone doesn't want to be here, we always say, 'Please, go up to the manager and tell him you want to leave or that you don't think this is the best place for you.' That was kind of the case with him."
Jimenez must have caught wind of Tulo's comments, as he greeted Tulo in a spring training game by drilling him in the elbow with a pitch. Per the Associated Press, Jimenez said the pitch got away from him, but Tulo said "it just seemed like he wanted a little more" after Jimenez hit him with the pitch.
So, long story short, Jimenez whined, Tulo called him out for whining, and Jimenez decided to retaliate by drilling him directly in the elbow, and then, exacerbated the situation.
It doesn't get much more childish than that. The Rockies look a lot smarter for trading him.
9. Cole Hamels, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
If I had put this list together a week ago, Cole Hamels probably would not have been on it. Until recently, he'd always been a generally likable individual.
Hamels is on here because of that monumentally stupid stunt he pulled on Sunday when he plunked Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper and then admitted he had done it on purpose.
"I was trying to hit him. I'm not going to deny it. It's something I grew up watching. That's what happened. I'm just trying to continue the old baseball. Some people get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie, the strike zone was really, really small and you didn't say anything. That's the way baseball is. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players. It's that old-school prestigious way of baseball."
Two questions came to mind. One, since when is Hamels an authority on old-school baseball? Two, who died and made him steward of the old-school throne?
The answer to the first question: He's not. The answer to the second question: Nobody.
Hamels did what he did simply because he felt like it, and he felt like it because he was clearly envious of the attention Harper was getting. In hitting him and then boasting about it afterwards, Hamels came off looking like a complete punk and a bully, not to mention an attention-seeker.
Way to go, buddy.
8. Nyjer Morgan, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Nyjer Morgan became a fan favorite in Milwaukee last season, and it was pretty strange to watch it all unfold. He went from being one of baseball's most hated players to being something of a cult hero.
The key difference was how Morgan went about grabbing the spotlight. When he was with the Washington Nationals, he found himself in the spotlight by being an instigator. With the Brewers, he put himself in the spotlight with his play on the field, and he endeared himself to baseball fans with eccentric television interviews.
This is where Morgan's selfishness comes into play, and that's what makes him different from the other players on the list. While he did indeed show during his tenure with the Nationals that he has it in him to be a bad teammate, Morgan's biggest shortcoming over the last year or so is that he's been an insufferable attention hog.
Put Morgan in front of a camera, and he'll give you a performance. He ceases to be a ballplayer, and becomes a cartoon character. He sees a chance to take to the stage and entertain the masses, and he seizes it.
He's not representing the Brewers franchise in these moments. He's representing himself—or Tony Plush or whoever the hell else he's supposed to be.
7. Hanley Ramirez, 3B, Miami Marlins
Hanley Ramirez seems to be a changed man this year. A report from the Miami Herald in February that Ramirez was on the fence about moving over to third base cast some doubt on his future with the new-look Marlins, but he's handled the switch from shortstop just fine.
More importantly, Ramirez is in a better place psychologically this season. The last two seasons were pretty rough for him both on the field and off of it.
The struggles Ramirez went through in those seasons can be chalked up to his own immaturity. Then-Sports Illustrated writer Jon Heyman wrote a damning piece about Ramirez in 2010 after a recent on-field incident. Heyman wrote that Ramirez was establishing himself as a "prime example of the selfish, spoiled, egotistical ballplayer."
The next season, Jack McKeon began his second tenure as the manager of the Marlins by benching Ramirez right out of the gate. The reason for Ramirez's benching was mysterious, in part because McKeon didn't give him a reason when they spoke face to face.
The indication was that McKeon wanted to let Ramirez know who was in charge, which was the smart thing to do in that situation given Ramirez's history.
Has Ramirez truly grown up since then? It's hard to say for sure. He looks happy-go-lucky for the most part, but somewhere inside him is the guy whose selfishness nearly tore apart the Marlins in 2010.
6. John Lackey, SP, Boston Red Sox
The John Lackey signing has been a complete disaster for the Red Sox. He's started 61 games for Boston over the last two seasons, compiling an ERA of 5.26 and a WHIP of 1.50. He's currently on the shelf recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Lackey is not the most likable guy in the majors when he's off the field, but the reason he's on this list is because of how he carries himself when he's on the mound.
More often than not, he doesn't act like a professional. He acts like a spoiled child.
Lackey has the worst body language of any pitcher in the major leagues. It's common for him to throw temper tantrums when things don't go his way, and he's particularly demonstrative when his fielders let him down.
ESPN's Buster Olney had the truth of it when he tweeted this last July:
John Lackey's body language after repeated mistakes by Marco Scutaro is the type of stuff that would get you punched in some clubhouses.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 16, 2011
It's one thing for a player to put himself before his teammates. Lackey's problem is that he puts himself before his teammates by showing them up in front of the cameras for the whole world to see.
His antics don't scream, "You're hurting the team!" They scream, "You're hurting me!"
5. A.J. Pierzynski, C, Chicago White Sox
My understanding is that fans of the Chicago White Sox are cool with A.J. Pierzynski, and that makes perfect sense. He's one of those guys who's a nightmare when he's not on your team and a blessing when he is on your team.
Then again, this is giving Pierzynski too much credit. He's known for being a complete jerk to players from other teams, but he's not exactly an angel in his own clubhouse.
A couple incidents come to mind. There was the time (see ESPN.com) he kneed San Francisco Giants trainer Stan Conte in the groin to simulate how he felt after he fouled a ball off his groin during spring training, which is both funny and, well, not funny at the same time.
More recently, there was the time Pierzynski threw White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd under the bus for his inability to hold baserunners.
"We all know where we stand with the running game when Gavin is out there,’’ Pierzynski said of Floyd, via the Chicago Tribune. “Everyone knows where we stand, and it’s just part of the game.’’
A good (see "normal") teammate would have stood up for his pitcher and taken on some of the blame. Pierzynski basically said, "Hey, don't look at me. It's Floyd's fault!"
Admit it, White Sox fans. It's pretty hard to defend this guy.
4. Josh Beckett, SP, Boston Red Sox
Things started going south for Josh Beckett in Boston toward the end of the 2011 season when he went into a decline that everyone later found out was fueled in part by chicken and beer.
Beckett's reputation has taken even more hits this season, and he hit finally rock bottom on Thursday night. After allowing seven earned runs in 2.1 innings against the Cleveland Indians, Beckett had to sit down in front of the press and answer questions about his recent golf excursion.
Beckett kept it simple, saying (via Boston.com) that he spends his days off "the way I want to spend them."
It seemed to matter little to Beckett that the concern wasn't over the fact that he had been playing golf. It was over the fact that he was playing golf just a couple days after he was deemed too hurt to pitch. As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com argued in an outstanding column, the whole incident was proof that Beckett just doesn't get it.
To be more specific, what Beckett doesn't get is that he's not just a member of the Boston Red Sox on days when he pitches. He should always put the team's best interests ahead of his own. And whether we're talking about chicken and beer in the clubhouse or a day out on the links, that's something that he hasn't been doing. Away from the mound, he's done whatever he's wanted to do.
Instead of helping the sinking ship that is the Red Sox, Beckett has tried to escape it.
3. Carlos Zambrano, SP, Miami Marlins
I know what you're thinking. Carlos Zambrano is in Miami now, and everything seems to be all peaches and gravy. The change of scenery is working.
It's too soon to assume that Zambrano is a changed man. He's been a model citizen through six starts with the Marlins, but that shouldn't overshadow the fact that he was an absolute nightmare with the Chicago Cubs.
For a good portion of his tenure with the Cubs, Zambrano was completely out of control. He famously got into fights with Michael Barrett in 2007 and Derrek Lee in 2010, and last season, he briefly decided to retire after he had been ejected from a game.
Zambrano has a temper—no doubt about that. And honestly, I sympathize with any player who had to get through a 162-game season with the Cubs in recent years.
But in Zambrano, we're talking about one of baseball's all-time headcases. Any time he got the slightest sense that things weren't going his way, he was liable to explode. Oftentimes, he did explode.
Every time he exploded, Zambrano hurt the Cubs. They did their best to control him, but he was never able to control himself. He was never able to bring himself to get in line.
2. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees
Alex Rodriguez will go down as one of the most hated players in Major League Baseball history—and for good reason. In addition to his admitted steroid usage, baseball fans are going to remember A-Rod for his arrogance.
A-Rod's arrogance reached a new pinnacle in 2007. On October 28th of that year, Rodriguez decided to opt out of his contract with the New York Yankees. Scott Boras, A-Rod's agent, announced the news himself.
The problem is that this announcement came right in the middle of Game 4 of the 2007 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. Instead of waiting until the series was over, A-Rod and Boras moved to steal the spotlight from the World Series and place it directly on themselves.
Want a good example of the term "bush league?" There you go.
The announcement could have waited a couple of days, but A-Rod decided that he was bigger than the World Series, which conveniently featured New York's most hated rival. As if that wasn't bad enough, it wasn't hard to decipher the message that was being sent:
"A-Rod is opting out because he doesn't think baseball's richest contract is good enough for him."
All future major leaguers should take note: Your own personal financial gain is your business, and it's certainly not more important than the Fall Classic.
1. Manny Ramirez, DH, Oakland Athletics
Manny Ramirez is without a doubt one of the most selfish players in baseball history. Fans of every team he's played for—the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays—can all agree on that.
Indians fans will forever remember Ramirez as a selfish player for the way in which he left Cleveland for the money.
Red Sox fans will forever remember Ramirez for his frustrating tendency to check in and out of ballgames, and he demanded a midseason trade on more than one occasion. The Red Sox finally granted his wish in 2008, and it was an easy call to make seeing as how Ramirez had alienated himself from his teammates by getting into a fracas with Kevin Youkilis and by shoving a team employee to the ground.
Manny's first half-season with the Dodgers went fine, but he let the team and its fans down when he tested positive for PEDs in 2009 and was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball. He had fallen out of favor with the Dodgers by the middle of the 2010 season and was eventually placed on waivers.
Last season, Ramirez signed on with the Tampa Bay Rays only to retire after five games. Word came out shortly after he rode away into the sunset that he was about to be suspended for yet another positive PED test.
After all he's been through, I think we have a pretty clear idea of what "Manny Being Manny" really means. Throughout his entire career, he's done what he's wanted to with no regard for the consequences.
In doing so, Manny has disrespected the good names of every team he's played for, and the A's are next.
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