Today we will look at Major League Baseball players that are jerks. This is the third part of a four-part series about jerks across the sporting world. You can read part two of the NFL section here, and you can read about NHL jerks right here. Yes, there were so many NFL jerks that it took two articles to cover the worst of them!
The requirements to make this list are pretty simple. If you treat a fan poorly, use a bat for anything other than hitting a ball, or beat up a woman, you are a pretty good bet to be included. Of course, there are other things that can be done as well. Basically, anything stupid that is done for the public to view works for me. We have all kinds of characters on this list. From someone who attacked a cameraman, to another player who cheated on and divorced his wife who has cancer. This is perhaps even more proof that just because you're good at a sport, does not mean you are a good person. It's even more unbearable when they weren't even good at the sport to begin with!
So now you have a pretty good idea of what we are going to talk about today. If you can stomach some of the stupid, idiotic things that you are about to read, continue on and learn about some of the biggest jerks in baseball history.
15 John Kruk
John Kruk can be seen on your television talking about baseball just about every night. He is one of the guys that you watch and think to yourself “why is this guy analyzing the games and players?” He was a fat, slow and marginal player that hit more than twenty home runs in a season just twice. He was a liability on the field and you will have a hard time finding anyone outside of Philadelphia who will say that he was a great player. Having him analyze baseball is like giving Barry Melrose credibility when he analyses hockey. Remember when Melrose said that Steven Stamkos wasn’t ready for the NHL? Melrose was fired from his head coaching job in Tampa Bay and Stamkos immediately turned into one of the league’s best snipers.
But that’s not why Kruk is a jerk. Being under-qualified or just plain bad at your job doesn’t make you a jerk. It just makes you annoying.
Kruk also writes columns online called “Chewing the Fat” (great and appropriate name) where he can be pretty critical of players. A few years ago he tore into a bunch of players that were hurt and he was analyzing how much money they were making while either playing hurt or out of the lineup completely. Maybe it’s jealousy, but the whole thing came off bitter and sad.
In 1994, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had one of his boys removed. When his rehab stint in AAA with Scranton Wilkes-Barre was just about over and he was preparing for his return to the major leagues, he was seen walking alone through the empty concourse of the stadium one afternoon. A pair of fans politely approached him and asked him for an autograph. Kruk was extremely rude and tore into them, asking them if they thought that he had nothing better to do than to sign autographs for “retards with no lives.” Congratulations John, you’re a jerk!
14 Frank Viola
When Frank Viola was at the top of his game he was one of the most feared pitchers to take the mound. He went through a seven-year stretch that saw him win as low as 13 games only one time. During that time he won 18 games in a season twice and two other times he won twenty or more games. He should have retired after his 1990 season with the New York Mets when he went 20-12, as the next six seasons saw him pitch very poorly for four different teams.
Viola was never one to hide his emotions when things didn’t go his way. He would tear into umpires and teammates alike and he didn’t always wait until he was behind closed doors to do it. He spoke one time about a meltdown that he had on the field while pitching for the Minnesota Twins against the Boston Red Sox. He made a play at first base and the umpire called the runner safe when Viola thought he was out. He said
"I was a little late getting to the bag. But I was right next to (Wade) Boggs when I got the throw and tagged him. The umpire called him safe and I snapped. I didn't curse, but I went nuts. I didn't get anybody out. I threw 16 pitches to six batters. Everyone scored. It was humiliating. I don't like to say I was the crybaby of the '80s, but I guess I was. I don't know how my teammates played behind me."
And then there was the time in New York when he was riding in an elevator with a fan and the fan requested an autograph from Viola. Frank was kind enough to tell the fan that sure he would give him an autograph…for $20.00! It’s good to know that you are as much of a jerk off of the field as you are on it, Frank!
13 Jim Rice
Jim Rice had a tremendous career for 16 years with the Boston Red Sox. Over a twelve-year span he hit less than twenty home runs in a season just one time. That year he missed almost 60 games or he most certainly would have hit that mark. He topped the thirty home run mark 4 times in his career and had a career-high 46 in 1978.
But Rice is a jerk that has always been known to not think before speaking. Even now that he is retired and in the Hall of Fame he still does it and nobody is off limits. It’s a rare occasion that anyone ever asks him for his opinion, but he is always quick to share it anyway.
Sometimes he will hit on something that he is right about but those occasions are few and far between. He laid into Derek Jeter several years ago and also talked poorly about Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Yount, and George Brett. Those are some of the classiest guys in baseball.
He also didn’t appear to like the fans very much. One time he cussed out a man for asking for an autograph. The man had his young daughter with him at the time and she didn’t need to be subject to Rice’s brutal language towards the man. There was also another incident at Fenway Park before a game when a kid of about ten years old asked Rice for an autograph. Rice asked the kid if he had ten dollars on him. Yup, he’s a jerk.
12 John Lackey
Sometimes athletes do stupid things. We all do. The difference is that they sometimes do them in front of cameras or are not so quiet about things.
Lackey cheated on his wife Krista and divorced her…while she was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Yup, he’s a real stand-up guy. And he filed for the divorce during the season. Now every athlete knows that everything they do during the season is noticed by a reporter somewhere. If he was going to commit such a lowlife act he should have waited until the offseason. Maybe then it wouldn’t have been noticed.
I am in no way justifying what he did. It was a low-class move for sure. But you know that he thought about it before actually doing it so why didn’t he think about waiting and possibly having little to no press coverage of his classless actions? Who knows?
Deservedly so, he was crucified in the press and he eventually married the woman he was cheating on his wife with. In an interview that he did in 2013 he said
"I mean, I was getting criticized for what happened last year, and I didn't even throw a pitch. It was just so tough. People talking about your life, your personal life, and having no idea what was going on. It's something I'll never forget. I went through a lot of crap. And I remember who wrote what, or who said what. But I'm not holding a grudge. You forgive, but you don't forget. Let's just say things are a whole lot better now."
Are they John? It’s something that you’ll never forget? Well, we won’t either. You’re a jerk!
11 Kenny Rogers
In 2005 Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers had a meltdown on a cameraman before a game. The Rangers were on the field preparing for a game and the cameraman was just standing there filming. For some reason Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers told him to get the camera out of his face, which it wasn’t, and then knocked the cameraman over and destroyed the camera.
It was reported that the cameraman ended up in the hospital although I don’t see why. He seemed to be fine while he was standing there, although he did look a bit confused about the attack.
The cameraman was just doing his job and for doing so he shouldn’t be subject to that type of attack. At the time, Texas General Manager John Hart said "Kenny is having anger issues right now. I don't know what's going on inside. We're responding to something that's very unusual." You think?
Rogers was arrested for the assault and he was also suspended by MLB for twenty games.
Attacking a defenseless cameraman who is just doing his job gets you on the jerk list and a special mention in our introduction Kenny!
10 Kirk Gibson
When you have kids they are supposed to be the center of your life. There are a lot of milestones that your kids will reach and a good parent wants to be there for every single one. Sometimes life dictates that this can’t always happen and that’s understandable. But if you work in a profession that allows you to attend these special times in your child’s life, there is no excuse for not attending.
Kirk Gibson has a son named Cameron. When he graduated from High School Gibson was in Texas managing the Arizona Diamondbacks. He could have missed one game to attend the graduation. But he chose not to do so. The reason? Kirk said that “You’re supposed to graduate.”
That’s so stupid that it’s almost comical. He made it seem like it’s not anything special because it’s what is supposed to happen. Yes this is true you are supposed to graduate but not every parent is lucky enough to have a kid that does. Kirk also once said that "I'm not out here to win a beauty contest."
It’s a good thing Kirk, because you lost this one. And because of it you’re a jerk.
9 Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez was one of the most egotistical players to ever step foot on the field. He was never one to shy away from a camera during his career and there isn’t anything wrong with that at all. The problem was the only thing that he ever wanted to talk about was himself. He even came up with a phrase to describe anything that he did. “Manny being Manny” quickly became the joke of professional sports.
Then he got caught cheating by taking PEDs. TWICE. He was the first player stupid enough to get caught twice. Unfortunately, he was just the first of several others to come though. He was suspended the first time for 50 games and the second time he received a suspension of 100 games. But instead of serving the second suspension he took the coward’s way out and decided to retire.
When you add in that he beat up his wife, you can see why he is an easy choice for this list.
8 Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds was a cheater. He also treated anyone that crossed his path like crap. That includes fans, teammates, management or reporters.
In 2001 he cheated his way to 73 home runs, breaking Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record of 70, which by the way was reached by cheating as well. Bonds finished his tainted career with a total of 762 home runs which according to Major League Baseball official records, is the all-time record. But in the eyes of reality, those two records still belong to Roger Maris and Hank Aaron.
The BALCO scandal lasted for years with Bonds at the very center of it. There were plenty of people that were involved but he was the biggest name of them all due to his record-breaking numbers.
He had numerous altercations with people throughout his career and his son even followed in Bond’s footsteps. Nikolai Bonds was charged with several misdemeanors in 2010 after an altercation with… wait for it… his mother! When he made his appearance in court Daddy was standing right by his side. He must have been proud.
When you hear the words dirtbag, cheater and jerk, think of Barry Bonds.
7 Ty Cobb
Ty Cobb is in baseball record books as one of the greatest players in history. But that is based only on the statistics that he put up on the field. They in no way represent the type of person that he was. Because according to countless reports, Cobb was a lowlife.
He was hated by just about everyone that played the game and he had a reputation for being the dirtiest player in baseball.
It was so long ago that it’s hard to tell which reports are accurate and which, if any, might be fabricated. By all accounts that can be found Cobb is said to have been a racist and there is even a report that he once beat up a handicapped fan that was attending a game that he played in. If that’s true that’s enough for him to be on this list alone.
There have also been many reports that he would sharpen his spikes to the point that they were like knives. He would then always make sure that when he slid into a base that he got them up in the air toward an opponent.
There are also plenty of reports that say he was in with gamblers and rigged the outcome of some games as well. Your baseball cards may be worth a lot of money Mr. Cobb but according to many reports you are still a major league jerk.
6 Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper has all of the tools needed to become one of the game’s all-time greats. Unfortunately, for him he also has all of the tools to become one of the game’s all-time biggest jerks. He is still only in his early twenties so he has time to change this but his reputation is already not good.
He disregards coaches on the field and runs through stop signs too many times to count. This makes him a major frustration for his coaching staff in Washington. He doesn’t have a problem running his mouth to umpires and has been known to call out a teammate whenever he feels it’s needed.
Late last season the Nationals had brought in Jonathan Papelbon to close out games for them. Now Papelbon is no stranger to the jerk scene himself. He has been known to be self-centered and runs off at the mouth himself from time to time. But when Harper didn’t run out a fly ball Papelbon called him out on it and he was right to do so. The results weren’t good for Washington as Harper and Papelbon got into a fight in the dugout on national television. It was an instance of one guy being a jerk and not running out the play and another jerk calling him out on it. As the veteran Papelbon was correct in doing so. As the youngster Harper was wrong to get into an altercation over it. But that’s why he is known as a jerk.
5 Alex Rodriguez
He was once one of the most popular players in all of baseball, but Alex Rodriguez is now one of the most hated. Much like in the Barry Bonds case that hatred will probably continue on for generations.
A-Rod spent a good number of years bashing home runs and building a huge fan base. He did so while collecting huge paydays on one of the biggest contracts in the history of baseball. But then it all came crashing down when it came out that he had been cheating for a long time.
He first denied using PEDs but eventually admitted it, but only after the Biogenesis scandal came into public view. He tried to buy the paperwork that proved his guilt so Major League Baseball couldn’t get their hands on it. But they did get the documentation and he was eventually suspended for 211 games. Then he went as far as trying to sue the Players Union. You know, the Players Union that represents umm, players.
Rodriguez’s cousin, Yuri Sucart, who was a long-time personal assistant, eventually ended up serving seven months in prison and six months of house arrest for his role in the scandal. This was after A-Rod had fired him without reason after twenty years of service, and then identified him as a major player in the scandal, to save his own skin. That’s right Alex Rodriguez cheated, sued his Players Union, tried to buy evidence for the purpose of hiding it, fired his cousin for no reason and then turned him in so he himself wouldn’t face jail time. Any one of these actions makes him a lifetime jerk, all of them land you at the #5 spot.
4 Randall Simon
Randall Simon is a special kind of jerk. In 2003, he was playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates and he was in the midst of the second-best season of his career. So you might think that he spent that summer in a pretty good mood right? Not really.
During a series with the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park Simon committed one of the most despicable acts ever witnessed on a baseball field. As every team does, the Brewers had fun things going on to keep fans entertained during breaks between innings. On this particular day a “Sausage Race” was being held on the field. Several people dressed in mascot uniforms were racing around the field. When they ran past the Pirates dugout, for some unknown reason, Simon leaned over and smacked one of the mascots in the head with a bat! Luckily for the college student inside, Mandy Block, the bat connected well above her actual head, on a padded section of the mascot uniform. She lost her balance and fell down and only suffered a scrape to her knee luckily.
Simon was arrested and fined around $432 for disorderly conduct and he was suspended by Major League Baseball for three games and fined $2,000. He was suspended for three games. THREE games! It doesn’t matter that she wasn’t injured, what matters is why in the hell would someone take a baseball bat to a mascot for no reason? What if the padding in the uniform wasn’t as thick as it actually was? Simon had no idea of the thickness of it or the actual placement of the person inside of it.
The real word to describe Simon can’t be printed here so I’ll just say that he is a jerk for his actions. You can add MLB as a jerk as well for handing out a suspension of only three games.
3 John Rocker
Any list of jerks in Major League Baseball that doesn’t include John Rocker is a list that is incomplete. Typically a racist is someone that doesn’t like or discriminates against a certain race. When someone just hates EVERYONE what you have is a racist jerk. Meet Mr. John Rocker.
In 1999, Rocker gave an interview to Sports Illustrated that painted him in a very different manner than people had previously thought of him.
To that point in his career, he had been one of the best closers in the game, despite being a relatively young player. After his interview was published his career went on a very rapid downward spiral and four years later his baseball career was done. That will tend to happen when you offend pretty much everyone in the world.
During the interview, Rocker was asked on his thoughts about playing for one of the New York teams. He said “I would retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing.”
There is a lot more to the interview but you get the picture of how it went. To say that his next appearance against the Mets at Shea Stadium didn’t go very well for him is an understatement. He needed an escort wherever he went and I’m sure the cops wanted to just let people at him.
Oh and on top of that, he admitted that he cheated and used steroids. His exact words were "Yeah, of course, I was [using steroids]. I mean who wasn't? Let’s be honest here, who wasn't?" Plenty of people John. Welcome to the list!
2 Roger Clemens
Some say that Roger Clemens was the best pitcher in baseball history. But that’s like saying Barry Bonds is the best home run hitter in baseball history. It doesn’t count in the eyes of the fans if you cheat. Since their names are still in the record books it appears that it’s ok with Major League Baseball, but it’s not ok in the eyes of the fans.
Clemens has spent a great deal of his life cheating, lying, and treating people like crap. Any one of those reasons would be good enough to land him mention on this list.
But here is another reason. During the 2000 World Series between the Mets and the Yankees, Clemens was pitching to Mets catcher Mike Piazza. Piazza swung at a pitch and hit the ball but his bat broke. The barrel of the bat flew toward the mound at Clemens. This was obviously not an intentional act by Piazza. No man on earth can control where a piece of a broken bat ends up. But Clemens intentionally picked up the broken piece of the bat and threw it at Piazza as the catcher was running toward first base. Both benches emptied but nothing came of it. If you watch the video you can see Clemens yelling at the umpire that “I thought it was the ball!”
Oh, really Roger? If you thought it was the ball then why didn’t you throw it to first base instead of at Piazza? Is it normal practice to throw the ball at the runner while he is running to first base? Umm, no it isn’t. It was an intentional act and since it was during the World Series, the entire world saw it.
Cito Gaston, who was the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays when Clemens pitched there, talked about his star pitcher one time. He said that Clemens is "A complete a**hole". And this is coming from the man that looked to him to be the ace of his pitching staff. That tells you all you need to know about Mr. Clemens.
1 Delmon Young
Delmon Young has a few issues. His attitude is his biggest one and it goes hand in hand with his mouth, which he can’t seem to control. Then, of course, there are the anger issues.
He once pleaded guilty to anti-Semitic charges after an incident at a New York hotel. He runs his mouth every chance he gets and doesn’t give any thought to what’s coming out of it. But that’s not really why he is a jerk.
His anger issues got him on here. In 2006, while playing in the Tampa Bay Rays system in the International League (AAA), Young threw a bat at an umpire during a game. Yup, he really did.
Young took a called third strike during an at-bat and it was obvious that he disagreed with the call. He stood in the batters box for much longer than he needed to. Then as he walked past the umpire on his way back to the dugout he obviously said something nasty because he was tossed out of the game. He then threw his bat at the umpire, hitting him in the arm. The video shows that the bat was thrown pretty hard, so you can imagine that it had to hurt the ump at least a little.
Young was suspended for 50 games which was the longest ever handed out by the International League. Immediately after the incident happened, Young went into the clubhouse and called the Tampa Bay General Manager to tell him what happened. He knew he had just made one of the biggest mistakes in his life.
A few days later Young said that "Fifty is a fair amount, and I'm going to serve it and then I'll be back on the ballfield. No, I really don't think I have anger management issues. I'm competitive. I just let the emotions get a little better than me sometimes. I've got to control that." You don’t think you have anger issues after hitting an umpire with a bat? Yeah right!