Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top 5 Baseball Scandals

I watched Melky Cabrera for a few years as a Yankee.  The guy did not have all-star talent.  That's why, after he spent most of the year leading the majors in hits, I wasn't surprised to learn he'd abused banned substances then planned to lie about it on appeal.  But his is far from the worst offense in Major League Baseball history.  Below are the top 5 scandals the MLB (or it's predecessors) have ever dealt with.

5: Benny Kauff is a thief; or isn't.  You don't know Benny Kauff because he hasn't played baseball for almost 100 years.  But he was good--he played 8 years to a .311 career batting average.  In 1919 he was arrested for operating a car-theft ring.  He was acquitted in 1921, but baseball's Commissioner, Kenisaw Mountain Landis, decided that the acquittal was "one of the worst micarriages of justice," and promptly banned Kauff from baseball for life.  You decide which was the scandal here.

4: All-Stars lie to Congress.  In 2005 and again in 2008, some of baseball's top players stood in front of Congress, some under oath, and lied about steroid use (or evaded questions, or didn't lie) in baseball.  Jose Canseco, a once baseball star, author of a book expose about steroids in baseball, and bitter, bitter man sat--somewhere--smiling.  And probably homeless.  After the 2005 testimony, Congress confirmed the sham-concern of the event by eagerly awaiting photo ops with their favorite cheating ball players.

Real picture.  Rose should be banned for this and this alone.
3: Pete Rose bets on baseball.  In 1987, Pete Rose bet on baseball.  He was the Manager of the Cincinnati Reds at the time.  In addition to his unreported winnings, Rose--baseball's career leader in all-time hits--also took home the coveted "banned from baseball" moniker.  His lifetime ban means he will never be honored in the Hall of Fame (at least, not during his lifetime).

Sharpened cleat to the groin.  That isn't a slide, it's a jump-kick.
2: Ty Cobb is a douche.  Not a scandal per se, but a scandalous career.  Ty Cobb might be the best player in history.  When he was elected to be among the first class of Hall of Fame inductees, he received the most votes.  That's more than Babe Ruth.  He received more votes than Cy Young and Lou Gehrig combined!  He was also a giant douche.  He sat out games toward the end of a season to preserve a minuscule lead in batting average over an opponent.  He sharpened his metal spikes so he could injure players when sliding into bases.  He was an unrepentant racist who slapped a black elevator operator then stabbed a black security guard for trying to intervene.  He was accused of fixing games on multiple occasions.  He went into the stands and beat up a heckling fan who had no hands; the fan "deserved" it for calling Cobb's mother "half-black."  He also strangled an umpire until fans forced him to stop.  He was a dick.  A scandalous dick.

1: The Black Sox cheat.  The 1919 Chicago White Sox went to the World Series, and lost behind a bunch of bungled plays and missed opportunities at the plate.  Several players were quickly accused of throwing the game for cash and brought up on criminal charges.  Although eventually acquitted, eight players received lifetime bans from baseball immediately following their acquittal.  Among them was one of the best players ever to live--"Shoeless" Joe Jackson--much to Ty Cobb's probable delight.  The team 's dirty deeds earned them the nickname "Black Sox."

Man, I wish I could add how Ruben Rivera of the New York Yankees once stole Derek Jeter's glove from his locker and sold it to a memorabilia dealer, but there wasn't enough room.  Oh well.  Can you think of any scandals I missed?  Share in the comments below, and please like our Facebook page for daily updates sent right to your Facebook feed!


  1. Pete Rose, MY EYES!

  2. Good list BUT Cobb. He wasn't the only one who was doing the same things. I can name 10 more players. Not really scandal. Just being a douiche doesn't do it

  3. Thanks. I think the argument for Cobb is that in addition to being a douche (along with many other players), he was generally regarded by his fellow players as a douche (which most douche's weren't) AND he's arguably the best player of all time, so it's a unique case. But I understand your point.

  4. What do you think about Shoeless Joe's stats in the world series? Think he actually was part of the scandal?

  5. Not sure. His overall series stats were good (batted high .300s), but were far worse in the losses than in the wins. He's a career .350 guy, and hit in the .280s in the losses, so he was well below his personal average. Of course, the decline could be due to any number of factors. His defensive stats were good, but they don't measure things like range, so you can't tell how well he really performed without seeing the games. There's an argument that he wasn't in on throwing the games since he was illiterate and didn't understand what was going on. I reject this--illiterate isn't stupid or ignorant, it just means he couldn't read. I haven't heard yet that he was mentally deficient. The people in the best position to judge at the time made the call that he was involved, so I guess I have to accept that unless new and better evidence comes along. Of course, those "people" were primarily Landis (see #5 above), so who the hell knows if these guys really got a fair shake.

    He should be in the Hall regardless. How you have a Hall of Fame without one of the top 3 hitters of all time, and without the all-time career hits leader, is beyond me.

  6. If you want to see a sympathetic player portrait of the Black Sox Scandal, check out "Eight Men Out," a fantastic John Sayles movie from 1988.

    Another couple of scandals that I can remember are Albert Belle's corked bat...

    (as written up on ESPN.com) "On July 15, 1994, Belle's bat was confiscated by umpire Dave Phillips after White Sox manager Gene Lamont voiced his suspicion that the bat was corked. The Indians knew it was corked, and set out to replace the bat, which Phillips had put in his locker. During the game, Indians pitcher Jason Grimsley wriggled through a crawl space above the ceiling above the umpires' locker room, dropped through an escape hatch, and replaced the corked model with a conventional one. "My heart was going 1,000 miles a second," said Grimsley. "I just rolled the dice, a crapshoot." But the caper was easily found out -- the faux Belle model Grimsley had put in Phillips locker had Paul Sorrento's name on it."

    And, of course, the Yankee wife-swap of the 70's (slated to be made into a movie). Not an on-field issue, of course, but a bit of a scandal nonetheless...

    (from the New York Post) "The amazing drama started in 1972 after Yankee Mike Kekich and fellow pitcher Fritz Peterson, old friends, joked about swapping wives. They followed through on it, although word didn't get out until the spring of '73. Marilyn Peterson moved in with Kekich, but it didn't last. Susanne Kekich and Fritz are still married and live in New Jersey and Colorado. Kekich reportedly remarried and had another daughter."

  7. I really enjoyed Eight Men Out; one of the better baseball movies out there.

    I remember the corked bat episode, but didn't remember the bat-and-switch routine! On a somewhat related note, remember Sosa's bat exploding and a bunch of hi-bounce balls falling out? I don't think I am making that up...

    Never heard of the wife-swap scandal, but sounds crazy. I will see the movie if it ever sees airtime.