In honour of Milton Bradley’s recent release from the Seattle Mariners organization and the unlikelihood of him ever playing another game of baseball at the Major League level, due as much to his declining skills as his personal problems, it’s my pleasure to present MLB’s unofficial All-Crazy Team.
Starting Pitcher -Mark Fidrych
Injuries robbed Mark Fidrych of a long career in baseball, but his first season as a Major Leaguer is remembered as one of the most unexpected success stories of all time. As a 21 year old in 1976, Fidrych joined the Detroit Tiger’s starting rotation in May only because of injuries to other options. He went on to start 29 games that year, recording a 2.34 ERA and an astounding 24 complete games, including five that went into extra innings. He played parts of the next four seasons, but a torn rotator cuff in his sophomore year never allowed him to reach the heights of his first season.
Despite his incredible numbers, Fidrych was known just as well for his mannerisms on the mound as he was for his pitching performance. When not talking to balls before he threw them, he would “manicure” the mound. After each game, it was his custom to thank all the players on the field as well as some of the umpires.
Enjoy the commentary:
Relief Pitcher – John Rocker
If anything could make people forget that John Rocker once struck out 104 of the 301 batters he faced one season, it would be his ignorance and racism.
When Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman asked Rocker what he’d do if he were traded to the New York Yankees or New York Mets, he replied:
I’d retire first. It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 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. The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?
Despite issuing several apologies shortly after his statements were published, he now claims that the quotes were taken out of context. I’m not entirely certain what context could possibly justify his comments, but believing that there is such a thing as a proper context for offensive language is enough to grant Rocker eligibility for the All-Crazy team.
Catcher -Marty Bergen
Marty Bergen’s short career as a catcher known more for his defensive abilities than his batting lasted between 1896 – 1899. As a member of the Boston Beaneaters, Bergen was known for sudden and unexpected flashes of violence, like the time he slapped a teammate during a team breakfast for no apparent reason. This sort of behaviour worsened after the death of his son in 1899 when he became convinced that enemies were trying to assassinate him and that his teammates were conspiring against him. He even went so far as to begin regularly walking sideways so as to avoid anyone sneaking up behind him.
When he was left off the team in 1900 because of complaints from other players, sadly, Bergen murdered his wife and two children before taking his own life. According to a New York Times obituary, he slit his throat with such force that his head was almost severed from his body.
First Base -Wil Cordero
Sometimes it can be hard to draw a distinction between players with actual mental illnesses and players who are just idiots or assholes. Wil Cordero likely resembles the latter more than the former, but repeated acts of violence against women tends to point to having more than a single screw loose.
Cordero was arrested on June 10, 1997, on domestic abuse charges and later, arrested again for violating a restraining order that was filed by his wife at the time. Shortly after that it was revealed that Cordero’s previous wife had accused the ballplayer of striking her on multiple occasions with enough force to cause bleeding and bruises. Cordero was released by the Red Sox at the end of the year after Boston fans began booing him during every appearance. He played parts of eight more seasons with six different clubs, but never lived up to the potential he exhibited earlier in his career.
It’s hard to remember, but as a 22 year old shortstop with the Montreal Expos, Cordero was an All-Star.
Second Base – Johnny Temple
A four time All-Star, Johnny Temple may not have had the greatest swing (at least with a bat), but the second baseman could get on base with the best of them over his 13 year career, from 1952 -1964. He could also put up his fists with the best of them. Temple was known just as much for starting on field fisticuffs as he was for his skills as a lead off hitter.
My favourite story involving Temple can be found in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract:
For several years Johnny Logan had a running feud with Johnny Temple of Cincinnati. The feud started, Logan recalled, when he was involved in an altercation at second base with Jim Greengrass, a very large man, and all of a sudden Temple, who had reached first base on the play jumped him from behind. “I’m not stupid,” Logan said, “I was fighting this 210 pounder and I see this 155 pounder wants to take me on. I switched to the little man.” Temple and Logan had a terrible fight at second base – not a baseball fight, but an actual street fight, with blood spurting and loose teeth. They were broken up by police and teammates, and Logan was ejected from the game, but as he passed Temple at first he offered a few choice words, and they picked up where they had left off, winding up back near second base.
For years after that, any time Cincinnati and Milwaukee got together the two men could be counted on to have words at the very least. The exchanged blows on many occasions, sometimes in public and sometimes in private. Teammates would get involved, aiming fastballs at their heads and applying tags as enthusiastically as possible. Finally, I think in 1958, Temple pulled into second one day and said, “Johnny, I’m not afraid of you and you’re not afraid of me. If this war goes on, somebody is going to get hurt bad. How about we call it off?” They shook hands at second base, and the trouble never flared again.
This was the norm for Temple who in 1964 was released by Cincinnati after getting into another fight with a coach in the organization.
Third Base – John McGraw
Many athletes have claimed to have a win at all costs mentality, but few, if any, have put that mentality into practice in the same manner as John McGraw. While later going on to become one of the most successful managers in baseball history, McGraw’s playing career is best remembered in a Baltimore Orioles uniform from 1891 – 1899. During that time, McGraw earned a reputation that goes beyond dirty play.
When not tripping, blocking and stomping on opposing base runners, McGraw would literally grab players by their belt to impede them from reaching their goal. His fiery competitiveness often led to fisticuffs, which I believe to be the proper term for referring to fights before the turn of the century.
McGraw’s craziness even started a fire on time. On May 15, 1894, while playing for the Baltimore Orioles, McGraw got into a fight with Tommy Tucker of the Boston Beaneaters. It started when McGraw kicked Tucker in the head as he slid into third base. A fight erupted and as it got more serious a fire started in the right field stands that eventually made its way around to the seats behind home plate and became out of control. The stadium was destroyed and more than 100 adjacent buildings near the ballpark were burned down.
Shortstop – Jose Offerman
As a two-time All-Star, Jose Offerman enjoyed a successful Major League career, but instead of being remembered for his 1,551 career hits, the Dominican native will forever be associated with going bat [Getting Blanked] crazy during an Atlantic League game in 2007 when he charged the mound with a baseball bat in his hand, breaking the pitcher’s finger and concussing the opposing catcher.
Following the game, Offerman was arrested and charged with assault. He was eventually sentenced to two years of probation because the court was convinced that the incident was a one time thing and not likely to reoccur.
Flash forward to Janurary, 2010. Offerman earned himself a suspension for life from the Dominican League after he swung his right hook at an umpire during a dispute as the manager of the Licey Tigers.
Outfield – Elijah Dukes
When not failing to understand the benefits of birth control, former Tampa Bay Ray and Washington National Elijah Dukes is constantly running into trouble with the law.
Dukes has been arrested three times for battery, once for assault, once for failure to pay child support, and had a restraining order filed against him by his wife at the time in 2007 after the former he sent her a voicemail expressing his feelings about their future together.
Some of the language he used is harsh so you may want to cover your eyes while you read:
Hey, dawg. It’s on, dawg. You dead, dawg. I ain’t even bull[Getting Blanked]. And your kids too, dawg. It don’t even matter to me who is in the car with you . . . all I know is . . . when I see your mother[Getting Blanked]ing ass riding, dawg, it’s on. As a matter of fact, I’m coming to your mother[Getting Blanked]ing house.
Just in case she failed to understand his intentions, he also sent her a photo of a gun.
Later that year, it was reported that a 17 year old foster child, living under the care of Dukes’ grandmother, claimed that Dukes had impregnated her. When she informed Dukes of her condition, he allegedly threw a Gatorade bottle at her. Unfortunately for Dukes, electrolyte drinks don’t have the same potency as morning after pills, knowledge that may have prevented Dukes from fathering at least six children with four different women.
More recently, Dukes was arrested for driving with a suspended licence.
Does this sound like a sane man to you?
Outfield – Jimmy Piersall
Despite a successful career as a Major Leaguer, Jimmy Piersall is best known for his battle with bipolar disorder. His struggles with mental illness eventually became the subject of the book and movie Fear Strikes Out.
During the 1952 season, Piersall got into a fistfight with Yankees infielder Billy Martin, who had problems of his own. After the fight, he then got into a scrap with a teammate in the Red Sox clubhouse. After several other incidents, including Piersall allegedly spanking a teammate’s child during a game, the center fielder was demoted to the Minors.
While there, Piersall was ejected from four separate games for a variety of goofball moves including shooting a water gun on home plate. Shortly after this, Piersall went for treatment where he was diagnosed with “nervous exhaustion.” He spent two months in a mental health facility and missed the remainder of the season.
He returned the next year and earned himself MVP votes.
Perhaps the funniest story of Piersall’s career was the time he came to the plate wearing a Beatles wig and playing air guitar on his baseball bat. In Fear Strikes Out, Piersall comments that: “Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was going nuts. Who ever heard of Jimmy Piersall, until that happened?”
Here he is in an episode of What’s My Line.
Outfield – Milton Bradley
Milton Bradley was probably first noted for his bad boy behaviour in 2004 after an altercation with then manager of the Indians Eric Wedge. He was subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers where upon his arrival he branded Jeff Kent a racist (which, let’s be honest, wouldn’t be the most surprising thing he’s ever been called).
In 2007, Bradley may very well have cost the Padres a playoffs invitation when he tore his right ACL while being restrained by manager Bud Black during an altercation with first base umpire Mike Winters. While the video evidence didn’t do Bradley any favours, it’s important to remember that Padres first base coach Bobby Meacham corroborated Bradley’s story of Winters demaning language, and it was Winters who received a suspension, not Bradley, because of the incident.
In 2008, Bradley again caused universal head shaking when he attempted to confront a Kansas City Royals television commentator, who offered a less than flattering comparison between Bradley and the Jesus redeemed Josh Hamilton. He again had to be restrained by coaching staff and ended up breaking down into tears in the clubhouse.
Milton Bradley was suspended by the Chicago Cubs in 2009 when he was quoted by the media as saying that there was a “negativity” that surrounded the club and the city, and the organization and “you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here.” You can imagine how much the people of Chicago appreciated his honest and thoughtful analysis of their team and city.
In 2010 with Seattle, Bradley voluntarily left the team in July to work on “personal issues” and never returned. His .641 OPS on the listless Mariners wasn’t missed by any means. However, this offseason, Bradley was arrested in Los Angeles for uttering threats to cause “death or great bodily injury to another person.” Bradley was arrested at his home at around 10:40 the next morning for making a threat against an unidentified female.
A week after going berserk after a called third strike and earning an ejection, Bradley was designated for assignment before being released by the Seattle Mariners earlier this week.
Designated Hitter – Joe Charboneau
Let’s look over the highlights of Joe Charboneau’s 201 game Major League carreer:
- The Rookie of the Year Award in 1980.
- Several different hair colours.
- Opening beer bottles with his eye socket.
- Drinking beer with a straw through his nose.
- Doing his own dental work.
- Fixing a broken nose with a pair of pliers and several shots of whiskey.
Yep. He’ll fit in on this team just fine.
Manager – This Guy
And obviously this imaginary club is managed by this guy: