Tempers are always bound to flare in the competitive environment of sports. However, it’s not always opposing players who have disagreements as some teammates do not always see eye to eye. This usually occurs when a player criticises a teammates performance or when someone makes a mistake that proves to be costly for the team. Some have even gotten into conflicts due to jealousy over another player’s success while some feuds usually tend to have nothing to do with the game. While some feuds end up being temporary, others tend to last for quite a while, thus leading to a tense environment among the team. One of the problems that arises from such situations is that they may lead to a dip in performance by the involved parties or even end up affecting the team as a whole.
Baseball is no exception to such situations as there have been quite a number of feuds over the years. While some of these feuds are usually quite public, others tend to be a bit more low key with little snippets of information being given out by those who are privy to the matter. Whether private or public, feuds tend to pique people’s curiosity and have been known to provide a form of side entertainment that has elevated some of them to legendary status. The following are 15 MLB teammates who absolutely hated each other.
15. A.J. Pierzynski and Teammates – Boston Red Sox
A.J. Pierzynski’s personality always made it difficult for him to get along with others. Pierzynski himself was well aware of this and once thanked his team’s personnel for putting up with him. However, things apparently went very differently for him when he joined the Red Sox. The Red Sox were having a frustrating season and bringing in Pierzynski did nothing to improve their situation for he wasn’t playing as well as they thought he would. On top of that, some teammates apparently complained to the higher-ups claiming Pierzynski was a negative influence on the team. This was because of his perceived indifference towards his teammates, especially at a time when the team was having difficulties and the players needed to be extremely supportive of each other.
When the team decided to part ways with Pierzynski after a couple of months, they probably had a good reason for their decision, and certain disgruntled teammates had made sure to do their part to steer management towards this direction.
14. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees
These two became pretty close during the early stages of their career and even appeared together on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1997. However, their relationship began to turn sour after Rodriguez made some ill-advised comments about Jeter in a magazine interview. Thus, they struggled to get along when Rodriguez joined the Yankees and they became teammates, as Jeter reportedly didn’t like the former’s attitude. As rumours of a rift between the two star players continued to spread, both the public and the media became more interested in knowing the exact state of their friendship.
This was further highlighted when the two players sat for an interview together to talk about a charity event a few months ago. Even though they’re both retired, they were still asked about whether they’d patched things up with each other. This resulted in an uncomfortable exchange as they both evaded the question, which only made it seem as though all might still not be well between the two.
13. Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett – Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano’s performance in the early stages of the 2007 season had been underwhelming and the Cubs weren’t doing too well either. It was June 1 when the Cubs met the Atlanta Braves and found themselves trailing. The Cubs had lost all four of their previous games and seemed to be heading for their fifth straight loss. Thus Carlos Zambrano was understandably frustrated, with his mood getting worse after his team allowed the Braves to score five runs in the fifth inning. However, it was Michael Barrett’s errors that seemed to anger him the most, prompting him to start a nationally televised fight with Barrett in the dugout, which led to both of them being dismissed for the afternoon.
The game might have been over for them but the fight wasn’t for they picked up from where they had left off in the clubhouse, with Zambrano punching Barrett’s lip. Both players were fined by the league and Zambrano admitted fault for the incident. Barrett later stated that they’d resolved their differences, probably after his trip to the hospital to receive stitches on that cut lip.
12. Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire – Oakland Athletics
While playing for the Oakland Athletics, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were known as “The Bash Brothers” due to their home run hitting abilities. However, it was a very different kind of bashing that came about after Canseco wrote a tell-all book in 2005 titled, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big”. In the book, Canseco claimed that he and some of his former teammates had been using steroids. He specifically identified said teammates (McGwire included) and even admitted to personally injecting them with the steroids. Most of the named players denied these allegations, with McGwire refusing to answer any questions on his alleged use at a congressional hearing.
McGwire eventually admitted to using steroids in 2010. Canseco, who admitted to feeling remorse for writing the book has repeatedly tried to reach out to his ex-teammates especially McGwire, but to no avail.
11. Bobby Valentine and his Team – Boston Red Sox
Bobby Valentine coached the Red Sox for just one season. The reason he only lasted one year is because he was the anti-Terry Francona and his hiring by Boston was an overcorrection due to the team wanting to change the culture. Following their 2011 late season collapse, Red Sox management felt like the clubhouse had turned into too lackadaisical an atmosphere, so in came the hard-nosed Valentine. However, things got even worse in Boston and Valentine was fired after just one year. Ortiz wrote some scathing comments about Valentine in his new book that echoed how many of his teammates felt:
“The drama began almost immediately in spring training. I remember fighting the thought, very early, We’re going to have an absolutely terrible year.
It was all about him in the spring. It was as if he wanted to prove how smart he was by running us through all these drills he’d used while managing in Japan, drills we had never done before. Bobby was in his own bubble, and I just wanted to get him out of it and tell him, “F— you.”
10. Prince Fielder and Avasail Garcia – Detroit Tigers
Reports came out following Prince Fielder’s surprising trade to Texas back in 2013 that the reason Fielder was traded was because teammate Avasail Garcia was having an affair with Fielder’s wife. This was back in 2013, which coincided with Fielder filing for divorce from his wife.
Fellow teammate Torri Hunter made some comments on Detroit radio following the divorce news that implied there was something else to Fielder’s struggling play: “This guy’s a strong guy, he’s out there everyday, won’t come out of the lineup, no matter what’s going on off the field or on the field,” Hunter said about Fielder. “I mean, he’s a strong guy and us, as players, we know what’s really going on, and we appreciate him going out there every day despite … .”
9. Lenny Dykstra and Mitch Williams – Philadelphia Phillies
When two disgraced former teammates who had almost clashed publicly two years prior are invited for a roast, things are bound to get heated. Add in a World Series loss that occurred over twenty years ago and you have a recipe for drama. Thus when Lenny Dykstra and Mitch Williams showed up as special guests for the second annual Sports Roast Philadelphia back in 2015, they made sure to deliver on the entertainment front. Williams, who in 2013 had to be stopped from getting into a fight with Dykstra at an autograph signing held at a mall, chose to attack with words this time around, reciting some of Dykstra’s many criminal allegations (Dykstra had a stint in prison back in 2013 due to some of these charges). This was after Dykstra’s had referenced Williams’ exit from the MLB Network (caused by Williams’ outburst at a youth baseball tournament).
While their expletive-filled exchange may have been exaggerated for the sake of the audience, Dykstra must have been somewhat truthful when he claimed that playing with Williams had been torturous. This was a reference to the last pitch of the 1993 World Series, which saw Williams throw away his team’s lead, gifting the championship to their opponents.
8. Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent – San Francisco Giants
Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent were a magnificent combination in the six seasons that they played together for the Giants. However, things only seemed to work out when they were on the field. Both players were known for their difficult personalities and they never got along well. This was proven in 2002 when tempers flared resulting in the two having an altercation in the dugout during a game. The two began shouting and shoving each other as Bonds grabbed Kent and pushed him against the dugout wall. They were separated and went on to play as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Kent decided to join another team and has said that he never cared about his relationship with Bonds as all that mattered to him was winning.
7. Milton Bradley and Jeff Kent – Los Angeles Dodgers
Following on from his infamous altercation with former Giants teammate Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent got into another public feud with a different teammate. In 2005, Milton Bradley failed to score from first base on Kent’s double during a game against the Marlins. Despite the Dodgers being the victors, Kent decided to confront Bradley in the clubhouse about his performance. Their argument didn’t go well and Bradley ended up in a meeting with the manager. The next day, Bradley who had singled in the first inning, proceeded to run faster than was required on an inning-ending pop-up to third base, then angrily pointed into his team’s dugout.
Having taken the feud outside of the clubhouse, Bradley accused Kent of not knowing how to deal with African-American people in a pregame interview a few days later. He also claimed that Kent was a terrible team leader, saying he didn’t make an effort to mingle with the team. In reply, Kent said Bradley’s comments were absolutely pathetic.
6. Eric Karros and Ismael Valdes – Los Angeles Dodgers
In April 1997, Eric Karros criticised Ismael Valdes for his pitching performance during a 35-minute team meeting. Karros thought Valdes was passive during his performance after the latter lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs. Valdes remained passive during the incident as he reportedly lowered his head and stayed quiet the whole time, with several players and coaches consoling him. However, the day was not about to end without him being heard. Thus when he met Eric Karros in the shower area, an argument broke out between them. Just as the exchange started to become heated, the two were separated before things got physical. Hopefully, Karros learnt that if he was going to publicly criticise and embarrass someone in front of their teammates, he better watch his back later.
5. Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez – New York Mets
The media had a field day when Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez had a confrontation infront of the cameras with several reporters and TV crews in attendance. It was team photo day for the Mets and Strawberry was asked to sit next to Hernandez in the second row so that their jersey numbers (17 for Hernandez and 18 for Strawberry) would be side by side. Strawberry then said that he would rather sit next to his real friends, with Hernandez responding by telling him to grow up. This prompted Strawberry to charge at Hernandez, throwing a punch. He missed and soon the two players had to be restrained as they tried to break loose from their teammate’s grip.
The cause of the feud was Hernandez’s criticism of Strawberry’s very public contract negotiation. Strawberry, who wanted an extension on his contract with the Mets had been threatening to walk out of camp if his demands were not met by the team. However, Strawberry also admitted that there had been some bad blood between them and that the confrontation was bound to happen. The two had a talk later that day, with Hernandez claiming that everything was fine between them.
4. Jose Mesa and Omar Vizquel – Cleveland Indians
World Series losses seem to be one of the major causes of feuds between teammates, as was the case for Omar Vizquel and Jose Mesa. In 2002, Omar Vizquel published his autobiography in which he appeared to criticise Mesa’s performance in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Mesa famously blew the save in the ninth inning and the Florida Marlins ended up winning the game plus the series. Mesa ended up being traded midway through the following season, but apparently, there was already a rift between him and Vizquel. Mesa didn’t take the criticism too well and as he and Vizquel were now on separate teams, he vowed to hit his former teammate whenever they faced each other in the future. Mesa made sure to deliver on his promise, managing to hit Vizquel on three separate occasions.
3. Jose Iglesias and James McCann – Detroit Tigers
In August 2015, Tigers teammates Jose Iglesias and James McCann were involved in an altercation during a game in which they lost to the Red Sox. It all started when McCann approached Iglesias in the dugout while gesturing towards the infield. Whatever he said seemed to have angered Iglesias who then shoved McCann. As teammates intervened, Iglesias proceeded to throw his glove at McCann. Earlier on, Iglesias had failed to dive for a ground ball up the middle and though it wasn’t confirmed, this might have been the cause of the conflict between him and McCann. Both players remained in the game with McCann describing the incident as an in-house subject that had been taken care of. When asked whether he wished the matter had been handled privately, Iglesias said that he did what his instincts told him to and that he didn’t mind the altercation being captured by the cameras.
2. Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon – Washington Nationals
A day after being eliminated from playoff contention back in September 2015, the Nationals were in for another dissapointing game. As Bryce Harper returned to the dugout during the eighth inning, Papelbon yelled at him for his perceived lack of hustle in running out a flyout. The two exchanged words before Papelbon grabbed Harper by the throat and shoved him backwards, before teammates stepped in to break up the fight. Following the incident, Harper hit the showers while Papelbon went on to pitch in the ninth inning, in a disastrous display that saw him give up five runs as the Nationals went on to lose the game. Papelbon took the blame for the altercation and apologized for his part in it while Harper brushed it off saying he didn’t care.
1. Don Sutton and Steve Garvey – Los Angeles Dodgers
Don Sutton felt that Steve Garvey got too much attention from the media. He made his opinion public in a Washington Post story going so far as to name another teammate whom he thought should have been the one named MVP the previous year. As expected, Steve Garvey wasn’t particularly happy when he found out about the quote from his teammate. Garvey decided to confront Sutton about the comments right before a game, with the latter admitting his actions. According to Garvey, things got worse when Sutton made a disrespectful comment about his family, then poked him in the chest. That was enough provocation and soon their argument turned into a pushing and shoving match as they both landed on the floor. They were eventually pulled apart by teammates several minutes later. Not a pleasant sight, especially for Garvey who had gotten scratched in the eye.
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