So Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez has apologized-- after much coercion--for not running after a kicked ball and then lashing out at his teammates and manager Fredi Gonzalez. He's been reinstated into his God-given spot in the lineup, where he promptly collected three hits. But the ugly episode set the always-contemplative Riptide to ruminating: Boy, this guy's a giant asshole, isn't he? The type of guy who won't offer to help a good friend move. An eight-percent tipper. He probably voted for Ron Paul.
But where, we thought next, does he rank among baseball's historic pantheon of assholes?
Not very high up, by our determination. In fact, he didn't make our All-Asshole historic team, consisting of the most egregious racists, egomaniacs, degenerates and cheats to ever play the game. We know Ozzie Guillen is managing, so our only question remains: Who's in the owner's box, George Steinbrenner or Marge Schott?
Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski
He's widely considered the dirtiest player in the Major Leagues, the type of guy who will spike a first baseman's foot if he's in a foul mood. After taking a pitch to the groin during a Spring Training game, he put his knee hard to the nuts of the trainer who came to help him so he could feel his pain. Players around the league cheered when fellow catcher Mike Barrett socked him in the face. As a player once told GQ: "You just want to choke him. You want your pitcher to hit him in the head."
Designated Hitter: Jose Canseco
This pride of Miami did boatloads of steroids, introduced scads of teammates to his magical syringe, then ratted them all out for book profits and expected to be congratulated as a hero. He's also an accused wife beater who periodically offers to hang out with fans for a thousand dollars. The Miami-Dade County Commission recently voted to strip his name from a commemorative street.
First Base: Rafael Palmeiro
Raffy could have just pled the fifth like Mark McGwire or pretended to not speak English like Sammy Sosa when Congress came calling about steroids, but instead he had to point his finger and vehemently deny ever using 'roids-- a lie that was soon exposed with a failed substance-abuse test. Never trust a man with a Geraldo Rivera moustache.
On the bench: Mark McGwire
Second Base: Rogers Hornsby
The St. Louis legend was a mean, bitter gambler who was reportedly a member of the KKK. Team captain candidate?
On the bench: Roberto Alomar
Shortstop: Jose Offerman
Toiling in the minor leagues in 2007, Offerman attacked a pitcher with a bat. Catcher John Nathans stepped in and received a blow to the head that effectively ended his career. Three years later, he punched a Dominican League umpire, earning him the distinction of being banned from playing professional baseball in the Dominican Republic.
Third Base: Pete Rose
Charlie Hustle -- who played several positions for the Reds but, hey, we had a plethora of assholes elsewhere -- pretty much ended Indians catcher Ray Fosse's career by plowing him over in a play at the plate during an All-Star Game. He denied gambling on baseball for decades until finally admitting it in his memoir, My Prison Without Bars. Now he sells autographed balls reading "I'm sorry I bet on baseball" for $50. He is the O.J. Simpson of baseball.
He antagonized fans, tortured reporters from the comfort of his locker room recliner, and stole a million children's souls when he beat Hank Aaron's home run record. Most loathed asshole in modern baseball, no asterisk needed.
A chain-smoking, pistol-toting, heavy-drinking, hard-fighting racist, he once slapped a black elevator operator for being "uppity" and then stabbed the bellhop who attempted to intervene. He also whipped his son -- literally -- when the kid dropped out of Princeton. He checked into the hospital carrying a Luger and a paper bag full of $1 million in bonds. We get the feeling he'd be the only player on this list who would be pleased to be included.
The very definition of cantankerous, he feuded with Boston fans and reporters his entire career, famously refusing to tip his hat to a roaring Fenway Park after hitting a home run in his last at-bat. But he was a war hero who advocated for blacks in baseball. He was the asshole everybody wants to be.
On the bench: Albert Belle, Reggie Jackson, Milton Bradley
Starting Pitcher: Juan Marichal
A Jose Offerman predecessor, Giants' ace Marichal smashed Dodgers' catcher Johnny Roseboro in the head with a baseball bat several times during a brawl. This game just won't function if the players can't be trusted with bats.
On the bench: Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens
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Closer: John Rocker
As the Braves' closer and the Mets' arch-nemesis, this thick-necked goon, who later was exposed for using Human Growth Hormone, lamented riding the New York subway "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." Which is almost as offensive as a stadium-full of people doing the "Tomahawk Chant" every game.
On the bench: Ugueth Urbina