top of page
file.jpg
  • Writer's pictureTamar Chalker

Musings on Controversial Players

by Tamar Chalker

December 20, 2023

***

As we wait for the off-season’s next move - or more specifically, for Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s decision, I found myself thinking about past exciting signings or trades that seemed amazing at the time but turned out to be duds. There are plenty of examples of those and they certainly don’t need to be relived now, while I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about 2024. Instead, I found myself thinking of those players who contributed to the success of the Yankees but have left behind more dubious legacies.


Every sport has its quota of controversial characters and they come in a variety of flavors. There are those larger-than-life personalities who are great athletes but always bring their fair share of drama. Think of Dennis Rodman, Reggie Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, and John McEnroe types. As a Yankees fan, I’ve always enjoyed Reggie, and he certainly became a great ambassador for the game and the Yankees later on - and there is no doubt he was one heck of a hitter.


Adjacent to that group are “the cheaters” - players who are/were fun to watch play, but whose legacies are tainted by gambling or PEDs. These controversies continue to live on in Hall of Fame voting and arguments. The most obvious example of the gambling category is Pete Rose, who I think should be in the HOF. He is too good to be excluded and - assuming he never threw a game - his crimes, in my opinion, aren’t nearly as egregious as how some owners have treated their teams and fans, but that’s a rant for another day.


The PED group of controversial players is tough because it has become so arbitrary. Players like Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez went from sure-fire HOF players to the poster boys for punishing the sport for the widespread steroid use under Commissioner Bud Selig - who found his way to Cooperstown in 2017. 


Players like Bonds, A-Rod, Roger Clemens, and others were already the best of the best before they started to juice. It’s not a popular opinion, but I enjoyed watching A-Rod play and I thought that in his last couple of years, he let himself have fun and it showed positively. Of course, he cannot get out of his own way, and had he not juiced he still would have been one of the most hated players in baseball. And then there is David Ortiz, who walks on water. 


Of course, there are plenty of players that are controversial for good reason, no matter how great they were on the field. We know who they are and they don’t need revisiting. Instead, I’m curious to know what “controversial” players (any sport, any team) you find yourself cheering on. Personally, I have a soft spot for Dennis Rodman. Growing up in the 90s, I couldn’t help but respect the way he just let his freak flag fly and didn’t seem to care what people thought. He was a rebounding genius and while he does plenty of things that I disagree with, I think he is one of the most fascinating characters in sports. When it comes to the Yankees, I liked A-Rod and another one of my favorite players growing up was Gary Sheffield. 

23 comments

23 comentarios


Alan B.
Alan B.
20 dic 2023

The Mitchell Report is the most corrupt thing that baseball ever sanctioned. Not a single Red Sox named in that Report. Oh yea, George Mitchell had an interest in the Red Sox at the time. Talk about villains, I'd love to add Alex Cora to the top of the list. Gets caught in Houston, gets caught in Boston, but only has to sit out 60 games and doesn't lose his job. Hell, he just doesn't lose his job, according to many Boston & MLB reporters, he is the defacto Team President too.

Me gusta
Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
21 dic 2023
Contestando a

"The Mitchell Report is the most corrupt thing that baseball ever sanctioned."


Yeah, it was much worse than MLB's ban on Black players and the Reserve Clause.

Me gusta

Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
20 dic 2023

"assuming [Rose] never threw a game"


There is no evidence Rose threw any games nor that he ever bet against his team. But that's irrelevant. Betting on games in which one is performing or managing damages the integrity of the game. Suppose Manager Rose has bet on his Reds to win. It's tied after the 9th inning and continues to be tied in extra innings. There is tremendous gambling pressure on Rose to keep his closer in the game, even if it damages his arm, rather than bring in a lesser pitcher who would make it more likely that Rose would lose his bet. In that case, the best strategy for winning the bet is at odds with th…


Me gusta
Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
20 dic 2023
Contestando a

I agree, but that doesn't argue for letting the whole skulk in.

Me gusta

Len
Len
20 dic 2023

I believe your assumption that Rose never threw a game, is dead wrong. I think he threw many. As a player and manager, there are many ways to do this.

Me gusta
Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
20 dic 2023
Contestando a

Not even the Dowd Report claimed Rose bet against the Reds; indeed, it explicitly said there was no evidence of his doing so. https://web.archive.org/web/20160625220526/http://www.thedowdreport.com/report.pdf See page 6 of the pdf at footnote 3.

Me gusta

etbkarate
20 dic 2023

Laurence Taylor was the bad guy I cheered on. I met him while he was still playing, and he only reinforced my opinion. But, on Sundays no one was in his league. He was the best, and i was glad he was a Giant!

Me gusta

fuster
20 dic 2023

I still chuckle over the "intestinal parasite" excuse

Me gusta
dr sem.png

Start Spreading the News is the place for some of the very best analysis and insight focusing primarily on the New York Yankees.

(Please note that we are not affiliated with the Yankees and that the news, perspectives, and ideas are entirely our own.)

blog+image+2.jpeg

Have a question for the Weekly Mailbag?

Click below or e-mail:

SSTNReaderMail@gmail.com

SSTN is proudly affiliated with Wilson Sporting Goods! Check out our press release here, and support us by using the affiliate links below:

587611.jpg
583250.jpg
Scattering the Ashes.jpeg

"Scattering The Ashes has all the feels. Paul Russell Semendinger's debut novel taps into every emotion. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll reexamine those relationships that give your life meaning." — Don Burke, writer at The New York Post

The Least Among Them.png

"This charming and meticulously researched book will remind you of baseball’s power to change and enrich lives far beyond the diamond."

—Jonathan Eig, New York Times best-selling author of Luckiest Man, Opening Day, and Ali: A Life

From Compton to the Bronx.jpg

"A young man from Compton rises to the highest levels of baseball greatness.

Considered one of the classiest baseball players ever, this is Roy White's story, but it's also the story of a unique period in baseball history when the Yankees fell from grace and regained glory and the country dealt with societal changes in many ways."

foco-yankees.png

We are excited to announce our new sponsorship with FOCO for all officially licensed goods!

FOCO Featured:
carlos rodon bobblehead foco.jpg
bottom of page