Tony LaRussa and the Lamest Excuses in Sports

Matt MartinezCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2011

Tony LaRussa and the Lamest Excuses in Sports

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    We all know a lame excuse when we hear one. We were spouting them out when we were nine years old and wanted to stay home from school to play Tecmo Bowl.

    But we never verbalized our excuses publicly. Maybe it's because we're not famous, or maybe it's because our excuses aren't as epically poor as the ones you're about to read about.

    Here they are: the lamest excuses in sports.

20. Alberto Contador: Carnivore

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    It's the 2010 Tour de France, and there's man meat in skin tight spandex everywhere. Enter: Alberto Contador. The accomplished road bicycle racer from Spain is caught with traces of clenbuterol in his urine.

    It would have been alright if Contador was an asthmatic. But since he was racing at high altitudes through France, it's considered cheating. Contador had a super lame excuse for the dirty test: bad meat.

    The problem? After an extensive study, only one case of animal meat came back positive...out of 83.203 samples tested. Sorry, Al, we don't belive you. 

19. Scottie Pippen's Head Hurts

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    This one is more bizarre than it is lame. Scottie Pippen may have been the second best overall player in the league during his unbelievable run in Chicago. It's too bad he was overshadowed by the best player of all time. But, in a huge game, Scottie couldn't perform.

    It's the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, and the Bulls are trying to get past the hard-nosed Pistons. After six games of back and forth basketball, a deciding seventh game is necessary. Scottie and company play Detroit to a less than competitive half. But, Pippen never returns to the floor; he's got migraines.

    Scottie described them as "extremely severe." And for those of you who have experienced migraines, they can be debilitating. But Pippen had never complained of migraines before Game 7. Maybe Scottie was tired of Detroit's overwhelming front court.

    I'm certainly not questioning Scottie's toughness, but it was a bizarre time to be struck with migraines.

18. North Korea: Full of Oppression and Inclement Weather

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    North Korea is a weird place. Kim Jong-il, their oppressive overlord, assumed the humble position of Supreme Leader back in 1994. He's also the best golfer in the world, claiming he shoots "three or four hole in ones per round." Yeah, me too. That is, when I'm mini-golfing. But let's talk about the 2011 Women's World Cup (I know, sorry).

    After the North Koreans took a 2-0 loss to the Americans, their head coach, Kim Kwang-Min, had an interesting excuse:

    "During training [in North Korea] our players were hit by lightning, and more than five of them were hospitalized."

    I'm not even going to get into how absurdly unlikely the aforementioned statement is, but you certainly can in the comments below.

17. Urban Meyer Misses His Family

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    You can't deny Urban Meyer's success at Florida. He led the Gators to two BCS Championships and an overall record of 65-15. He went out with a win (though not a very prestigious one) over Penn State in the 2011 Outback Bowl. So, what's he doing on the list?

    Meyer left Florida after the 2010 season for health reasons and to "spend more time with his family." Then, months later, he accepts a position with ESPN.

    You would think a guy who wants to spend time with his family might stay retired for more than a few months. You would think he would spend some time sitting around the house and improving his health. Or maybe, just maybe, Urban Meyer has a naggy wife. Now, that's not a stretch at all.

16. Vladimir Radmanovic: No Shaun White

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    There are plenty of ways to hurt yourself in Park City, Utah. Slipping on a patch of ice may be possible, but anyone from Serbia knows how to handle themselves on said surfaces.

    Well, maybe if you're 6'10", friction can be a harsh mistress. Anyway, Vladi claimed he merely slipped on some ice during the 2007 All-Star break. The "slip" sidelined him for eight weeks.

    Update (in Unsolved Mysteries' Robert Stack's voice): Radmanovic finally admitted his injury was sustained while snowboarding. Now that we can believe since a low center of gravity is helpful on a snowboard. 

15. Sammy Sosa Corks His Bat

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    Forget about the "juice." Forget about his sudden inability to speak English in front of Congress. Sammy's lamest excuse came in 2003.

    In a interleague contest with the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Sosa was caught with some serious contraband. In his first at-bat, Sosa splintered his stick. But something looked a bit funny. Sammy had corked his bat.

    Instead of owning up to his misdeed, Sammy did what almost every ballplayer of the late 90's and early 2000's did: he made up an excuse. Sosa proclaimed that he had "accidentally" grabbed his batting practice bat. That bat was used to impress fans before the game as the 'roided-out outfielder smashed balls into different time zones. It wasn't supposed to be used for actual at-bats.

    But Sammy made an "honest" mistake, and for that, he was suspended seven games.

14. Glenallen Hill's Biggest Fear

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    This one dates back more than 20 years, guys. Back in 1990, Glenallen Hill wasn't exactly setting the American League on fire. At 25, Hill hit just .231 with 12 homers and 32 RBI. He definitely wasn't hitting well enough to come up with preposterous excuses.

    On July 7 of the same year, Hill showed up to the ballpark on crutches. His claim? Glenallen told his manager and the media that he had had a bad dream. In the dream, he was surrounded by his biggest fear: spiders. In an attempt to get away from the imagined arachnids, Hill had suffered from scratches on his toes and elbows and carpet burns on his knees.

    I'll let you imagine what really happened...

13. Monta Ellis vs. the Moped

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    Monta Ellis is good. Over his first six seasons, Ellis has averaged nearly 20 points per game, and almost two steals. He's an underrated scorer and an overlooked zero-time All-Star. Conversely, he sucks at riding mopeds.

    His left ankle ligament injury was initially credited to a workout mishap. Later, Ellis claimed it happened during a pick-up game in his hometown in Mississippi. Finally, it was revealed that Monta wrecked his ankle while riding a moped.

    Since moped riding is considered dangerous, the Warriors opted to suspend Ellis for 30 games to save money. Because he was injured, Ellis would have been receiving a pay check. But since the accident violated his contract, Monta had to walk around with a hole in his pocket and a really lame story.

12. Carlos Boozer Needs To Clean Up

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    The Bulls were stoked when they struck a deal with the Jazz to receive Carlos Boozer. He's big, physical, can score and is an apt rebounder. He doesn't keep a very clean house, though.

    OK, so he might not appear on the next episode of Hoarders, Boozer still hurt himself and his new team in 2010. Carlos claimed that he tripped over a gym bag in his house. Whilst tumbling to the ground, Boozer landed on his pinkie finger on his shooting hand.

    The Booze missed 23 games because of his fall. We're a little skeptical of his explanation.

11. Jeff Kent Hates His Truck

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    Not really, Jeff Kent loves his truck. Maybe I should have titled this slide "The Giants Hate Jeff Kent's Truck." Regardless, Kent broke his wrist during spring training. His excuse? He broke it while washing his truck.

    Now, that's some serious scrubbing.  

10. Aaron Rowand Hates Being "It"

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    Aaron Rowand's batting stance looks like it would lend itself to some injuries. It's squatty and pigeon-toed. In short, it's ugly. But his "hovering dump" stance isn't what sidelined him in 2007.

    No, Aaron Rowand claims he was playing tag with some neighborhood kids and "tweaked" his left shoulder. First of all, there's not a whole lot of shoulder activity in tag, unless you're tagging your opponents with some serious authority. And lastly, what's a grown man doing playing tag, let alone a professional athlete.

    For his sake I hope it wasn't traditional tag. Even kids get sick of traditional tag. I hope it was TV tag or my personal favorite, freeze tag. 

9. Stevie Johnson: Heathen

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    When did the Bills get competitive? Answer: when Stevie Johnson became a premier receiver. Johnson went for over 1,000 yards in 2010 and added 10 scores. He should have had 11.

    Buffalo had a game won in overtime against the always impressive Steelers. A tight spiral pass to your best receiver in sudden-death overtime—that's a win! Or, maybe not. Johnson dropped the pass and Pittsburgh went on to win the game. But, Johnson's didn't blame himself, his faulty hands or his unfocused mind. He blamed the man upstairs:


8. Brian Griese: Super Clutz

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    Brian Griese wasn't an elite quarterback. He was average. He was a game manager. He only eclipsed 3,000 yards passing twice and threw for more than 20 TDs in just two of his 10 seasons under center. What he wasn't in a quarterback, he made up for in spades as a clumsy buffoon.

    Griese made two inane proclamations when he turned up for practice injured. In his first altercation, Griese said he was climbing a friend's inordinately steep driveway and tripped. The trip knocked him out.

    His second would have made Goofy look coordinated. While ascending his stairs at home, Griese's dog came barrelling at him and clipped him, causing him to twist his ankle.

    Brian seems like the kind of guy who has knocked himself out by stepping on the wrong side of a rake.

7. John McEnroe's Crazy Wife

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    John McEnroe isn't exactly known for being even-keeled. The seven-time Grand Slam singles title holder loved to yell at the chair umpire, the linesmen, the ball boys and whoever would listen to his classic rants. But why was Johnny Mac so angry?

    Easy; his wife. During the 1978 U.S. Open, McEnroe was in rare form. He was screaming and yelling like always, but this time he had a reason. Mac went on to explain that his wife was pregnant. Because of this, McEnroe was extremely tense. Because of his tension, McEnroe claimed "temporary insanity." Good thing he didn't have a deadly weapon handy.

    See ladies, you do make us crazy.

6. Roger Clemens: Bat or Ball?

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    Roger Clemens has said a lot of stupid things publicly. His constant denial of alleged steroid use has sounded stale since the jump. And who could forget his abscess-causing B-12 shots? Not us!

    My favorite Clemens excuse came in the 2000 World Series against the Mets. After Mike Piazza split his bat against Clemens, Roger picked up the settled bat head and flung it in Mike's direction. Roger's explanation: "I thought it was the ball."

5. Richard Busquet and "Pamela"

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    Say "no" to drugs, kids. Also, say "no" to kissing women who are snorting cocaine in your company. Richard Busquet should have taken heed.

    In 2009, Busquet withdrew from a tournament in Miami and then tested positive for cocaine. The positive test led to a suspension, but Busquet says he never touched the nose candy.

    Busquet claims he made out with a woman at a music festival and the small trace of cocaine entered his system via smooching. Busquet identified the woman as "Pamela." She was never located based on the detailed description.

4. Brian Cushing and the Rarest Disease of All Time

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    Doesn't that haircut say it all? Brian Cushing may be able to rip my arms off and beat me to death with them, but he sure doesn't know how to formulate a plausible excuse. The subject? Overtrained Athlete Syndrome.

    When the 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year tested positive for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, Cushing and his doctor decided to make up a disease. Apparently, Overtrained Athlete Syndrome is contracted when a guy (like Cushing) works out a lot and then suddenly stops. According to Brian and his "doctor," the testosterone in his body increased due to the inactivity.  

3. Tony LaRussa vs. Alexander Graham Bell

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    Tony LaRussa was a really bad player. He hit under the Mendoza line for his career and drove in just seven runs in parts of five seasons. As a skipper, he's been extraordinary. Three AL Manager of the Year Awards, an NL Manager of the Year Award and two World Series rings are Larussa's key accomplishments. He's third all-time in wins and only trails Hall of Famers Connie Mack and John McGraw. But, Game 5 was embarrassing.

    LaRussa and his bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist couldn't get on the same page late in the contest. While LaRussa claimed he had asked for both lefty Marc Rzepczynski and righty Jason Motte to start warming up, only Rzepczynski began to throw. When Rzepczynski came into the game and LaRussa needed Motte, he realized no one was getting loose. So, LaRussa made another call to get his guy up.

    This time Lilliquist told Lance Lynn to begin tossing. Again, Lynn isn't Motte. The series of miscommunication forced Rzepczynski to face righty Mike Napoli. His two-run double proved to be the difference. But LaRussa's real beef is with Alexander Graham Bell.  

2. Claudell Washington and the 4-Day Nap

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    From 1974 to 1990, Claudell Washington played right field in the big leagues. He hit 164 career homers, made two All-Star teams and has a World Series ring. He also can sleep like a college kid home for the summer.

    After being dealt from the Rangers to the White Sox for Bobby Bonds, Washington failed to report to his new club—for four days! When asked where he had been for half a weeks, Washington came up with a doozy:

    "I overslept." 

1. The Many Lies of Mike Marshall

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    One would think, to become a professional athlete, you can't be a wimp. Mike Marshall sure proves that line of thinking dead wrong. Check out these lame excuses over an 11-year MLB career.

    Marshall missed one game because he had the common cold. He missed a game because he had a nerve removed from between his toes, another for a sprained wrist, two with a strained back and one more with "general soreness."

    Thinks those are lame? Here is the Michael Jordan of lame excuses. Marshall (I'm not making this up) missed a game because he had a wart on his right index finger. Anybody else think they can take this guy?