Baseball manager Leo Durocher is famous for his ‘Nice guys finish last’ quote, but he’s wrong, of course. Sidney Crosby’s a nice guy and he’s won a couple of Stanley Cups. Jordan Spieth signs more autographs than the average PGA Tour pro, and he’s won three major championships and 15 or so other titles. Derek Jeter is beloved for his fan-friendly approach to baseball.
But while the ‘nice guys’ are everywhere in sports, the jerks and bozos are probably more famous (infamous?) because they make headlines for their nefarious deeds.
It was too easy to compile a top-10 list of sporting jerks. My list might differ from yours, but goes:
(Honourable mentions: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Antonio Brown, Aaron Rodgers, Conor McGregor and Pete Rose).
10. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins — Being called a ‘pest’ is almost a compliment; Marchand is more than an irritant. Licking the faces of opponents a couple of seasons back was a new low for him.
9. and 8 (tie): The NHL’s only two ‘Kanes’ fall into this category. Patrick of the Blackhawks has a history of out-of-control partying, a couple of assaults, including using a taxi driver as a punching bag over a fare dispute; and Evander, now of the Oilers, has had a checkered career including charges of assault, ignoring huge gambling debts, alleged domestic violence, and most recently, using a fake vaccination card.
7. Patrick Reed: Video proof of Reed cheating at the Hero World Challenge a couple of years ago was only one of a number of rules violations of which he is accused.
6. Mike Tyson: The one-time heavyweight champion of the world has been accused of taking his fistic skills to the street, or nightclub, but he’s most famous as a big time jerk for biting off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a title bout.
5. Oscar Pistorius, Olympic-calibre sprinter with prosthetic legs (his limbs were amputated below the knee as an infant), Pistorius was acclaimed for his victory vs. adversity, and then he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day of 2013 and is now currently serving a 13-year prison sentence.
4. and 3 (tie): Aaron Hernandez and O.J. Simpson — Football players whose names show up when the word ‘murder’ is Googled.
2. Barry Bonds: Owner of baseball’s most prominent asterisk, Bonds is the “all-time home-run leader” (yes, that’s in quotation marks for a reason) but many of his big blasts came during the steroid era, during which Bonds was king.
1. Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France cycling champion (1999-2005) and cancer survivor, had his world fall apart and his clean-cut reputation destroyed when he was found to have been a big-time doper after years of denying use of performance-enhancing drugs.
• Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: “A Twitter analysis by betonline.ag has named the most hated players in MLB. They are, in order, Manny Machado, José Altuve and Bryce Harper. Congrats, guys!”
• Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, after a fan was robbed — twice — while leaving Yankee Stadium: “You mean he had money left?”
• Norman Chad, on Twitter: “Nothing worse than sitting down in a Las Vegas sports book for the first time since before the pandemic and seeing the Yankees winning, 10 – 2, and the Mets winning, 10 – 1. I’d rather walk into Popeyes and they tell me they’re out of chicken.” • Comedy writer Bill Littlejohn: “The Cleveland Browns are reportedly looking for a site to build a new stadium. The lease on their current home, First Energy Stadium, runs out in 2028 or whenever Deshaun Watson’s legal problems are resolved, whichever comes first.”
• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “ABC News recently reported clowns carrying baseball bats had been terrorizing people in Bakersfield, California. The first people I’d be questioning are the Oakland A’s.”
• PGA pro Max Homa, on Twitter, on his next road trip: SCOTLAND BOUND! Never been and I can’t wait for the next couple weeks. Finished my Rosetta Stone and practised eating eggs without cooking them at all. I’m ready to rock.”
• Some guy named Mark, on Twitter: “Saudi Arabian Goofy Golf will last as long as Saudi Arabia is willing to give windfalls to has-beens, ham-and-eggers and heels.”
• Comedy writer Torben Rolfsen of Vancouver, after a flurry of draft-day trades by the Chicago Blackhawks: “The Blackhawks just tried to trade Denis Savard for draft picks.”
• Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha, on hot-dog-eating champion Joey Chestnut: “Joey needs to apologize to his colon.” • American tourist John Dowd, to AP, on hand for Pamplona’s first Running of the Bulls in three years: “We have been looking forward to it. And, oh yeah, where is the hospital again?”
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com, on Kevin Durant angling for his fourth NBA team in the past eight seasons: “Durant is turning into the Taylor Swift of basketball. But at least her breakups result in good songs.” Care to comment? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
by Bruce Penton