25 Biggest Screw-Ups in Baseball History

Kyle BrownCorrespondent IIIOctober 12, 2011

25 Biggest Screw-Ups in Baseball History

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    In MLB history, which players have had their names tainted by that one botched play? It's unfortunate, because these players who made a monumental mistake are likely to be remembered for nothing else.

    Case in point, Bill Buckner and the infamous ground ball that went under his legs at first base. Even though Buckner was deemed the scapegoat for the Red Sox's loss in the World Series, his legacy is now tainted despite the successful career he had.

    Everyone makes mistakes, and that includes baseball players. If someone were to tell you otherwise, they would be lying. However, the baseball players on this list just happened to make a mistake at the most inopportune time.

    Here is a list of the 25 biggest screw-ups in MLB history.

25. Luis Castillo

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    What Luis Castillo did against the New York Yankees with two outs in the bottom of the ninth is exactly what little league baseball coaches tells their kids not to do.

    "Use two hands!"

    It seems so simple, yet we see professional baseball players fail to preform the simple task every time they catch the ball.

    Sure, professional baseball players catch the ball with one handed on a consistent basis, and they do it successfully 99-percent of the time. However, Castillo is the prime example of what happens that one-percent of the time.

    I wonder if he finally started using two hands after that?

24. Milton Bradley

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    Milton Bradley is simply a troubled baseball player.

    He has thrown temper tantrums all over the field, and even threw a bottle at a heckling fan.

    Even when Bradley is in a calm and collected state, he still finds a way to make the headlines by doing something wrong.

    Somehow, Bradley forgot how many outs there was in an inning after he caught a fly ball. His catch made it two outs, but Bradley thought it was the third out.

    So what does he do?

    He poses for the camera and throws the ball into the stands. Classic Bradley...

23. Robin Ventura Gets Pounded

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    Robin Ventura's first screw up was to charge the mound against Nolan Ryan.

    His second mistake was ramming his head right into Ryan's headlock.

22. Benny Agbayani

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    The New York Mets' outfielder Benny Agbayani sure had his ups and downs with the club.

    One of his finer moments came when he hit a walk-off home run against the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the 2000 NLDS.

    However, one of his more embarrassing moments came in a regular season matchup against the Giants. Bobby Estalella fouled out to Agbayani for what he thought was the final out of the inning. It happened to only be the second out, but Agbayani realized that shortly after he handed the ball to a child in the stands.

    He quickly tried to correct his mistake by taking the ball back from the child, and hurling the ball into home plate. But unfortunately for Agbayani, the ball had already left the field and the play was called dead.

21. And Poof Goes the Bird

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    What was that bird thinking?

    Why the bird thought it was safe to fly in front of a 95-MPH Randy Johnson fastball is beyond me.

20. The AstroTurf

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    It was a horrible day in 1966 when the Houston Astros decided to implement artificial grass into their field.

    Baseball is meant to be played on the grass, not some artificial substitute. However, artificial turf is a dying breed, as the Rogers Centre in Toronto and Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay are the last two stadiums with field turf.

    Additionally, turf causes more injuries than it prevents, so what is the point of it anyways?

19. Chuck Knoblauch

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    Chuck Knoblauch's bone-headed mistake is the perfect example of why you should never stop playing until the play is ruled dead.

    In Game 2 of the 1998 ALCS, Knoblauch and the New York Yankees were knotted in a 1-1 tie with the Cleveland Indians. With the Indians at bat with a runner at first, Travis Fryman laid down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by the pitcher who threw it to first base.

    However, the ball hit the runner who was on his way to first base, and scooted away from Knoblauch who was covering the bag.

    That's when Knoblauch's brain stopped working.

    Instead of picking up the ball and preventing the runners from advancing, Knoblauch decided to argue with the umpire. Rather than a tie ballgame with runners at first and second and no outs, the Indians took a 2-1 lead and had another runner in scoring position.

    Thankfully for Knoblauch, the Yankees would go on to win the series. However, he still remained public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of the Yankees.

18. Jim Joyce

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    Yes, umpires can be included on this list as well.

    MLB umpire Jim Joyce is known as being one of the better umpires in the game, so it was shocking to see him make such a blatant mistake at such a crucial time.

    With two outs in the top of the ninth, Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga had a perfect game stripped right out of his hands.

    Galaragga knew he was out. Miguel Cabrera knew he was out. Everyone in the stadium or who was watching the TV knew he was out. Heck, even Jason Thompson, the one who was called safe, looked like he thought he was out.

    However, Joyce being the exceptional man that he is, owned up to his mistake. You can't help but feel sorry for him.

17. Heads Up, Rayburn!

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    Detroit Tigers Ryan Rayburn tired to do his best Jose Canseco impersonation, but without using his head.

    The worst part about Rayburn's play was that this ball wasn't even close to going over the fence until he came into the picture.

    The only explanation for this is that Miguel Olivo must have woken up on the right side of the bed that morning.

16. Ty Cobb Attacks a Fan

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    Despite being one of the best players to ever play the game, Ty Cobb's nickname of "The Georgia Peach" signified nothing about him, since there was nothing peachy about him.

    This was put on display when Cobb climbed into the stands and attacked a handicapped man who had been heckling him all game. While allegedly the heckler called Cobb a "half-nigger," the smack talking had been going back and forth during the first three innings of the game. 

    When fans tried to restrain Cobb by telling him the man he was assaulting lost an entire hand and three fingers on the other, Cobb responded with, "I don't care if he got no feet!"

    I wonder how the sports writers in today's generation would have handled this situation? If they thought Barry Bonds wasn't nice to the media, they would have been in for a rude awakening when dealing with Cobb.

15. T Plush

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    You either love or hate Milwaukee Brewers' outfielder Nyjer Morgan. There is no in-between.

    That decision is largely dependent on his charisma, or his split-personality that tends to get under people's skin.

    However, what Morgan did after he misplayed a fly ball to center field irritated all baseball fans. Although, I'm sure he made Adam Jones a happy camper since he was awarded with the inside the park home run.

14. Brooks Conrad

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    The Atlanta Braves' Brooks Conrad made a name for himself during the 2010 season when he hit a walk-off grand slam against the Cincinnati Reds in late May.

    Then when the Braves played the Giants in the NLDS, he made another name for himself: the choke artist.

    Conrad made three errors in Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, and a record four overall throughout the series.

    One could argue that the Giants wouldn't have beaten the Braves in the NLDS if it wasn't for Conrad, so the Giants should have done the right thing and given him a World Series ring for his efforts.

13. There Are No Ties in Baseball!

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    Bud Selig became public enemy No. 1 after his unpopular decision to declare the 2002 MLB All Star game a tie if the home team didn't score a run in the bottom of the 11th inning.

    Sure enough, Giants All Star catcher Benito Santiago struck out to end the game, and baseball fans everywhere started calling for Selig's head.

    Chants like "let them play," and "refund," echoed throughout Miller Park in Milwaukee as fans protested Selig's call.

    "The decision was made because there were no players left, no pitchers left," Selig stated. "This is not the ending I had hoped for. I was in a no-win situation."

    Guess again, Selig. Unless I am mistaken, there were baseball players on the diamond that day. Make one of them pitch and let a team score before you call the game a tie.

12. $30,000 Muff

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    Fred Snodgrass' dropped fly ball in the 1912 World Series was one of the most notorious errors in baseball history.

    Even though he was considered to be one of the best outfielders in the game at the time, Snodgrass dropped a routine fly ball that set up the game winning runs.

    This eventually cost the Giants the World Series, and deprived his teammates $30,000, because that's what the team would have earned if they won the game.

11. Say It, Alomar. Don't Spray It

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    Didn't anyone ever tell Roberto Alomar not to spit in anyone's face? He must have been tuning his parents out at the dinner table that night, because Alomar never got that memo.

    After being called out on strikes by home plate umpire John Hirschbeck, Alomar proceeded to argue the call and spit in the ump's face.

    It doesn't stop there.

    The next day, Alomar proclaimed that Hirschbeck was never the same umpire after his son passed away a year prior. As you can imagine, Hirschbeck wasn't too fond of Alomar's comments, and reportedly had to be restrained by a fellow umpire after he went into the Baltimore Orioles' clubhouse looking to share some words with Alomar. 

10. Joe Niekro's Long Fingernails

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    Say it ain't so, Joe.

    Joe Niekro was always known for having one of the filthiest knuckle balls in all of baseball, and that was largely due in part to his father, Phil Niekro.

    Or was it?

    During a game in 1987, home plate umpire Steve Palermo discovered a nail file in Niekro's back pocket. Niekro claimed that he needed to file his nails in order to throw his knuckle ball, but the umpires wouldn't buy it.

    He was later suspended 10-games for his actions, a costly price for a man who was just trying to keep his fingernails in check...

9. Ruben Rivera Baserunning Blunder

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    Ruben Rivera's base running debacle left every Giants fan either shaking their head, or rolling on the floor laughing.

    Not only did Rivera actually think for a second that running across the baseball diamond was okay, the fact that he tried to score from third even though the ball was right in front of the shortstop was mind-boggling.

    John Miller's call of "That was the worst base running in the history of the game" was spot on, and Giants manager Felipe Alou's reaction was priceless.

    It should be no surprise that Rivera was cut from the team shortly after this play.

8. Goose Talks a Big Game

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    It's always an embarrassing moment when someone declares dominance over someone else, and it comes back to bite them in the butt. That's exactly what happened to Goose Gossage after he refused to walk Kirk Gibson in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series.

    With the Detroit Tigers up 5-4 and threatening again, an intentional walk to Gibson seemed to be in order. However, Gossage persisted to his manager Dick Williams that he could strike the slugger out. Prior to the game, Gossage proclaimed to a teammate that he "owned him," when referring to Gibson.

    After the visit to the mount, Tigers manager Sparky Anderson was heard yelling from the dugout, "He don't want to walk you!" Anderson then signaled the "swing away" sign to Gibson, and the rest was history.

    Gibson smacked a three-run home run, which won the game and eventually the series for the Tigers.

    Looks like Gossage should have walked him after all.

7. Sammy Sosa's Corked Bat

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    Sammy Sosa's corked bat was just another notch in his successful, yet tainted career.

    During his 40 home run season in 2003, the spotlight shined brightly on Sosa after umpires found some cork in a severed bat head. And that wasn't even the worst part about it.

    Sosa then proceeded to play the innocent mistake card, and declared that he simply picked up the wrong bat. He admitted that he possessed a corked bat, but only used it during batting practice to put on a show for his fans.

    Sure, Sammy. Sure.

6. Steve Bartman

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    You can't have a list of the 25 biggest screw-ups in baseball history and not include the infamous Steve Bartman.

    However, It's hard to blame the man since it's only natural instinct for a fan to go after a foul ball. But 'cmon man, be aware of your surroundings!

    But hey, at least Bartman was welcomed to live in Florida since the Marlins' fans sure love him.

5. Denkinger's Call

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    After watching this video, I have no idea how Don Denkinger got that call wrong.

    In Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, Todd Worrell came in to pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was facing the Kansas City's leadoff man Jorge Orta, who hit a slow roller to the first baseman Jack Clark.

    Clark flipped the ball to the covering Worrell and apparently beat him to the bag by at least a half of a step.

    But Denkinger thought differently. He called Orta safe, which would eventually be the blown call that cost the Cardinals the World Series.

4. Trading Babe Ruth

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    When the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, it was only the start of a 86-year curse that prevented them from winning the World Series. 

    While riding themselves of arguably the best player to ever play is a mistake in its own, it's what the Red Sox got in return that left Boston fans pulling their hair out.

    Boston's owner was an avid theater owner who found himself in some financial problems when he couldn't pay his creditors.

    His solution?

    To sell "The Bambino" to the Yankees for roughly $500,000.

3. Merkle's Bone-Headed Play

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    Some call Fred Merkel's bone-head base running lapse the worst play in baseball history.

    It was an old-fashioned pennant race matchup between the New York Giants and the Chicago Cubs. 

    It was also the first game that Merkel started all season, and in hindsight, he probably wished he never even stepped on the baseball diamond that day.

    Giants' Moose McCormick was the baserunner at third base, and Fred Merkle stood at first. With the score tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Al Bridwell hit what many thought to be the game winning single to center, and the fans at the Polo Grounds proceeded to rush the field.

    As McCormick crossed home plate, Merkle stopped halfway between first and second and decided to walk towards the clubhouse in center field.

    However, Cubs' players acted quickly and retrieved the ball that was supposedly thrown into one of the dugouts. Merkle was then called out after the Cub' second baseman Johnny Evers stepped on second base for the force out.

    The umpires declared the game a 1-1 tie, and the game would only be replayed if it was necessary. Then at the end of the year, the Giants and Cubs were in a deadlock tie, and that final game was in fact necessary.

    The Cubs were victorious over the Giants in the one-game playoff, which eventually lifted them to the World Series Championship in 1908.

    Coincidentally, it was the last World Series the Cubs have won.

2. Jose Canseco's Big Head

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    The ball that bounced off of Jose Canseco's head and over the fence for a home run was just another chapter in his storied career.

    Canseco always had a pretty big noggin, but no one ever imagined that it was big enough to propel a baseball over the fence.

1. Through the Wickets

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    It was the play that defined the career of Boston Red Sox's first baseman Bill Buckner. In Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Buckner let a ground ball go through his legs, which was the play that eventually lost his team the World Series.

    If you are a 10-year-old and you let a ground ball go through your legs, it's definitely an embarrassing moment. One can only imagine how it would feel to be a 37-year-old and let a ball go through the wickets in an important World Series game.

    Remember kids, stay down!