The New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers. The Evil Empire. Whatever you call them, you know them. They’ve won 27 World Series, 40 pennants, 26 Hall of Famers inducted in pinstripes, and many more plaudits and awards. Love them or hate them, the Yankees are a worldwide phenomenon. When foreign citizens think of American Baseball, the Yankees are one of, if not the, first thing said individuals recall. Therefore, the news media lights up any time the Yankees do anything noteworthy, from winning the World Series, to signing big name players, to the raucous antics of said players (cough, A-Rod, cough). Ever since the New York Highlanders became the New York Yankees in 1913, the sports fans of the Five Boroughs have never been the same. From Babe Ruth to Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle to Reggie Jackson to Don Mattingly, and finally to the Core Four, Yankees fans have enjoyed the good and great combine for fantastic entertainment and even more gigantic record setting and breaking moments. However, like any organization, the Yankees have their bad moments. Since the Yankees are, well, The Yankees, many of these embarrassments are of mythic proportions. Below are pictures of 20 such instances. These are 20 Pictures Hal and Company would like the media and the public to forget exist. Enjoy!
18. A-Rod and the Mirror
Alex Rodriguez is famous for his ego. Ever since signing the (then) biggest contract in Major League Baseball history ($252 million over 10 years) in December 2000 with the Texas Rangers, Rodriguez has been one of the most visible players appearing on the diamond across the United States. He became a world sensation when he was traded to the New York Yankees in 2003 for Alfonso Soriano, cash, and a player to be named later (Joaquin Arias). He was immediately dubbed A-Rod by the New York press, and continued his monster performances in pinstripes. Ever since donning his number 13 jersey, Rodriguez had a marvellous career with the Yankees. Or, would have, if he didn’t use steroids to achieve his success. His insecurities and need to please anyone and everyone he meets translated into a personality that can be considered charming, belligerent, and just plain weird. The three time MVP certainly has had cringe worthy moments. This picture, taken in 2009 for Details magazine, has been lampooned many times, for good reason. I mean, the guy looks like he’s KISSING HIMSELF. If there ever is a photo only dictionary, the entry for narcissism would be this photo. ‘Nuff said.
17. The Mick with Brewsky
Children, shield your eyes. This next picture isn’t for youngsters, or the faint of heart. That being said: Mickey Mantle is a Yankee legend, and a hero to multiple generations of Little Leaguers. His retired number seven and his inclusion in Monument Park has inspired players on other teams to display their appreciation (Joe Mauer comes to mind) for Mantle’s legendary performance as a Bronx Bomber by displaying his number on their backs. Future Yanks, most recently Mark Teixiera, have used simple addition to venerate The Mick (two plus five equals seven kids). However, this icon of both Baseball and mid century American Pop Culture wasn’t a squeaky clean paragon of virtue. In fact, his vices were quite famous to the well informed persons who covered the Yankees and fellow players and teammates. Like many people in high pressure situations, Mickey needed a way to take the edge off. However, as commercials always remind us, one must drink responsibly. Mantle most definitely did NOT drink responsibly. This picture shows a conflicting image: a clearly tipsy Mantle wearing a kid friendly Yoo-Hoo shirt while holding what at first glance seems a soda bottle in one hand. However, knowing Mantle’s reputation, the liquid inside said bottle probably has more alcohol content than Coca-Cola. The Mick’s substance abuse problems are a sad reminder of how great people are humbled by drugs. Some people say that if Mantle wasn’t inebriated so much, he could have hit over 700 homers, instead of the still massive 536. So, if there’s anything to learn from Mick’s example, it’s that everything is better sober, especially when rounding the bases in Yankee Stadium.
16. Brewers vs. Yankees Fisticuffs
Hockey is known for it’s fistfights. In many video games, such as NHL Blitz, fighting is an enjoyable mini game. However, in baseball, players don’t skate upon frozen water. Instead, the skates are replaced by cleats, the sticks replaced with gloves, and bats, and the puck substituted for a baseball. Therefore, when benches clear and blows are exchanged, it is a much rarer, and sometimes more treasured, moment. One such incident occurred on July 27, 1979. A summer night game in Wisconsin was being played between the Bombers and the Milwaukee Brewers. During that night, in the top of the fourth inning, Reggie Jackson stepped into the batters’ box. Brewers hurler Mike Caldwell was on the mound. The veteran pitcher had become known as a Yankee killer the year before when he pitched three shutouts against the ’78 Yankees. The game was already tight, the score was 1-1 after a Yankees run in the top of the first and the Brewers’ matching the score in the bottom of the same inning with a solo shot from Cecil Cooper. Said homer was met with a warning pitch from incensed Yankee starter Ed Figueroa with Cooper’s next at bat in the third inning. In retaliation, Mike Caldwell sent a brushback pitch to Mr. October. Jackson showed no reaction, and the count eventually went to two-and-two. The subsequent pitch brushed Reggie on the chin, causing the future Hall of Famer to topple over backwards. Jackson simply soldiered on, dusting himself off. The next pitch was a curve that Jackson popped up for an out. After that, the battle was joined, with Jackson throwing his bat near the pitcher’s mound. The reactions of both sides to the flying wood are clearly seen in the above photo.
15. Billy Martin Kicks the Dirt
Billy Martin was famous for both his winning ways, his temper, and his relations with Goerge Steinbrenner. Through four stints as Yankees manager over eight years, Martin led the Bronx Bombers to two pennant winning seasons, not including 1977 when the skipper won the World Series in pinstripes. Martin compiled a legendary record of 556-385 as Yankee manager, even while butting heads with The Boss and getting into storied off the field brawls and on the field temper tantrums. Martin got ejected a total of 47 times as a manager of five teams. The reasons for his ejections range from bench jockeying, to bumping an empire, to kicking dirt, as pictured above. He acted in such a manner four times, less than one would think. Either way, Billy had a lively personality and it showed when he interacted with officials.
14. The Boss and Billy
George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin share this next photo. The Boss had just as much of a legendary temper as did Alfred Manuel (Billy) Martin. Steinbrenner’s feud with Reggie Jackson led to the superstar’s career in pinstripes being limited to five years as Jackson signed with the California Angels before the 1982 season. The Boss’ quarrel with Dave Winfield led to George’s suspension from all baseball related activities in 1990 and Winfield deciding to be inducted into Cooperstown as a Padre. However, this picture isn’t about George’s tussles with his players, this photo portrays a scene of tension between the late Yankees’ owner and his four times hired, five times fired coach. Martin and Steinbrenner locked horns frequently, most notably over the signing of Reggie Jackson. If Martin hadn’t been killed in a car crash in 1989, he might have been hired a fifth time, since it was rumoured at the time Steinbrenner wanted him AGAIN. However, we’ll never know if the Martin/Steinbrenner saga may have continued. One can dream, however.
13. Angry George
George Steinbrenner had a storied career as owner of the New York Yankees. From 1973, when he led a group of investors who bought the franchise from CBS, until his death on July 13, 2010, George Steinbrenner came to symbolize both the terrible side of baseball, and the best aspect of America’s Pastime. Today, the Steinbrenner name is synonymous with the New York Yankees. The family has made the success of the Yankees their livelihood. Unlike many owners of sports franchises, The Boss and his descendants have made running the Bombers their full time jobs, not just an investment that other people manage. George set that standard for his sons Hank and Hal. However, what made The Boss, The Boss was his temper. He was so invested, both fiscally and mentally, with his team that he got mad easily when he noticed real or perceived flaws in his organization. Over his tenure, he went through 14 managers (some like Martin were hired and fired more than once), won seven World Series, 11 pennants, and 16 AL East Division Titles. However, George was also indicted for illegal campaign contributions during the Watergate Scandal, was banned from all baseball activities from 1990 until 1992, and lorded over all Yankees decisions like a dictator. Here he is staring into the cameras with a menacing look in his eyes. The message: don’t mess with the Boss. And those who did mess with The Boss didn’t end up liking the results nine times out of 10. When thinking about his legacy, the Yankees and the Steinbrenner Family really don’t want you to remember these moments of raw rage.
12. Don Zimmer and Pedro Martinez Clash
Pedro Martinez was no doubt one of, if not the, best pitcher in Boston Red Sox history (not to mention the history of baseball itself). With the Sox, Martinez won two Cy Young Awards, a World Series in 2004, and immortalized himself among the few truly hated “Yankee Killers.” So, needless to say, tensions ran high during the 2003 ALCS between the Yankees and the Sox. The Yankees eventually won the series, by one run in Game Seven. As most Yankees and Red Sox fans remember, it was Aaron Boone who scored said run. However, before that, Pedro Martinez was on the mound for Game Three at Fenway. The incident started in the fourth inning after Hideki Matsui doubled to make the score 4-2. The next batter, Karim Garcia, was drilled by Pedro Martinez. Both benches were promptly warned, but Pedro yelled something at the Yankee dugout and Don Zimmer replied with his own verbal jabs. The bottom half of the inning saw Roger Clemens retaliate with a threatening pitch to Manny Ramirez. Manny then, understandably, got very mad. Roger responded with his own insults. Both benches promptly clear, and guess which two individuals find themselves in the midst of the diamond battlefield? That’s right, it was Don Zimmer and Pedro Martinez. Zimmer charged like a Spanish bull and Martinez pushed him down like a matador. It was an ugly moment in Yankees and Red Sox history.
11. Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk Brawl
In the ’70s and ’80s, the Yankees and, the MLB as a whole, were much more prone to brawls and rough housing on the field (as well as off the field). It’s no mystery, therefore, that many of these embarrassing Yankee pics are of shaggy haired, mustachioed pugilists wearing Yankee pinstripes. This one particular incident happened in 1973, the year George Steinbrenner and a group of investors bought the franchise. The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry was going full throttle. An especially intense hatred was centered around two players: Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk. Both were superstars. Both were perennial All-Stars. Both were catchers for Yankees and Red Sox teams that were good. So, it was no surprise that this incident developed between the two best catchers in the AL of the time. It was the ninth inning of a game on August 1, 1973. The Yankees and the Red Sox were tied 2-2 and Thurman Munson was on third base. As Red Sox pitcher John Curtis threw the ball towards Yankee Gene Michael, Munson took off for home, believing the future Yankee Coach and General Manager would successfully pull off the bunt. However, Michaels missed the bunt, and Thurman was caught in his attempted game winning steal. It started as Gene Michaels wouldn’t move away from Fisk to allow the catcher to tag Munson out. The umpire didn’t call interference, so the two catchers collided due to Gene’s reluctance to allow Fisk to play fair. Thurman stayed on Fisk a bit too long since another Yankee, Felipe Alou, was running towards second base. Carlton decided to kick Thurman off him. Then, Munson landed the first punch. The benches cleared, blows were exchanged, and after things were settled down, the Sox went on to win 3-2.
10. Jason Varitek Strikes A-Rod
The first year Alex Rodriguez played as a Yankee, they were once again the perennial World Series contenders. They cruised thorough the season, showing that Alex Rodriguez more than made up for the departure of Alfonso Soriano. During that (almost) successful season, the Yankees and Sox clashed as usual. However, this year, A-Rod was playing in pinstripes. The beginning of 2004 saw rumblings that the reigning AL MVP wasn’t happy playing for a sub-.500 team. So, like many players before him, Alex was courted by both the Red Sox and the Yankees. Ultimately, the bitter battle ended with Rodriguez transferring his (steroid fueled) talents to the Big Apple. So, on July 24th, during the heat of the 2004 season, tensions were running high. The Yankees and Red Sox were in a tight race for the division title, with every game counting. So, when A-Rod got pissed at Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo, words were exchanged. Then, Sox catcher Jason Varitek got in on the verbal joust, and tempers flared. Jason pushed his glove into Alex’s face, benches cleared, and both players were ejected. The Red Sox then went on to win the 2004 World Series, beating the Yankees in the ALCS.
9. Rocket’s ‘Roid Rage
The 2000 Subway Series was something to remember. Both teams, the Yankees and the Mets, had incredible rosters. Andy Pettite, Mike Piazza, Derek Jeter, Mark Leiter, and many more played in the World Series that year. However, it was the infamous moment of pure ‘Roid Rage showed by Roger Clemens that has been memorialized in the recollections of fans worldwide when thinking of the 2000 World Series. It came after a similar incident in July when Clemens drilled Piazza in the head and gave him a concussion, making the future Hall of Famer miss the All-Star Game. The bat throw was just so, well, random. It was also bizarre. It clearly was The Rocket showing a signature symptom of steroid use: the ‘roid rage. It was the second inning of Game Two. Mike Piazza fouled off a pitch offered by Clemens, breaking his bat in the process. Roger, for reasons unknown (other than his juicing) threw the broken piece of the bat in Piazza’s way, possibly trying to trip up the catcher. Of course, Piazza was smarter than Clemens, and didn’t rush the mound. Even though the Mets lost both the game and the series, Piazza has both a clear conscience for his lack of harsh reaction, and his lack of steroid use (despite many rumours to the contrary).
If you haven’t noticed by this point, I am NOT a fan of Alexander Enmanuel Rodriguez. Whether it is his steroid use, his off the field antics, his suing everyone in sight in the aftermath of the Biogenesis Scandal, or any other number of things, I guess there is plenty of things to recommend A-Rod for a negative reputation. As a Yankees fan, it is even worse, since I’m not sure whether or not Mr. Rodriguez took steroids during the 2009 World Series campaign. However, since many of the Yankee teams were infested with Clemens’ steroid use, and a few won World Series Titles, I really can’t complain THAT much. Chances are that those magical years the Yanks would have won their titles anyway. Maybe not by the incredible margins they did during said runs, but with style. However, this isn’t about the history of steroids and the Yankees. This is about Bronson Arroyo and Alex. It was Game Six of the 2004 ALCS. Rodriguez was already a hated figure to Sox fans, for the reasons listed in a previous entry. So, when he hit a ground ball trying to get Derek Jeter to score, he wanted to get to first base. But Bronson Arroyo wanted to tag “Slap-Rod” out. So, like the cheater that Alex is, he tried his hand (literally) at a bit of “slight of hand” action. He simply slapped Bronson’s baseball filled glove away. The move backfired, the umpires rightfully deemed the action interference, leading to an out, allowing the Sox to complete a historic comeback from behind and beat the odds and the Yankees in the ALCS, allowing them to end the Curse of The Bambino.
7. The Giambi ‘Stache
Baseball has a venerable history of facial hair masters. From Dennis Eckersley’s curled whiskers in his heyday, to Mike Napoli’s full bore lumberjack beard, America’s Pastime has featured awesome displays face follicle splendor. However, this entry is not included among those lofty heights of scratch-worthy greatness. Jason Giambi’s mustache was nothing but an embarrassment. The last Yankee first baseman to wear facial hair was Don Mattingly. Donny Baseball had a legendary mustache, rivaling even Dennis Eckersley in its’ majesty. However, Giambi’s caterpillar fuzz spits upon Mattingly’s pristine image of ‘stachely grace and pomp. During the 2006 campaign, Jason decided to sport the one acceptable manly affectation that George Steinbrenner’s grooming standards allowed: the mustache. However, Giambi made himself look more like the insane Kaiser Willy and “Uncle” Joe Stalin than Theodore Roosevelt or Rollie Fingers. Jason, steroids may give you the anger of dictators, but it doesn’t give you the finesse of great leaders, both political and athletic. It’s a good thing you shaved it off. It makes me hate you a tiny bit less.
6. DiMaggio Watched Injured Mick
One of the most infamous moments of Yankees history involves two of its’ all time greatest players: Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio and #7 himself Mickey Mantle. It was 1951, The Mick’s rookie year. The 51 campaign was also DiMaggio’s final season. The Yankees were in the middle of their still record five straight World Series wins (1949-1953). It was the second game of the Series, the fifth inning. A high fly ball was hit by another baseball legend, Willie Mays. Said fly ball soared into right center field. Mantle ran to his right, DiMaggio to his left. But, inexplicably, the Mick’s course was cut short by a trip up. Joe made the catch, but immediately noticed his teammate on the ground, not moving. Mickey was eventually removed from the field on a stretcher. Even though the Bombers won the Series, it deprived Mickey of his first taste of greatness. Some hypothesize that this incident, not his drinking or partying, led Mantle to fall short of his potential. Many blame Joe DiMaggio because he didn’t wave Mickey off. Some blame Casey Stengel because the legendary skipper supposedly told Mick to take the heat off of the older outfielder since he had a bad heel. In any case, DiMaggio wasn’t exactly crestfallen that his younger Yankee got injured. Many people claim that Joe DiMaggio didn’t approve of the younger Mickey Mantle lifestyle choices. There probably was some merit to that. However, that is no excuse to not go rushing over to your teammate when he is clearly in pain. There is much that we still don’t know, so judgment still shouldn’t be passed. Still, it looks bad.
5. Gardy Loses His Glasses
After misspelling the word “loses” many times, I can finally start writing this post. Yes, a college graduate writer for The Sportster got tripped up over spelling a simple word. Get over it. Hey, look, Brett Gardner looks funny in that photo! Yeah, THAT photo! No, I’m not trying to distract you from something else. Why would I do that? That’s just plain silly. Anyways, about the photo. Brett wasn’t at his best when, on April 13, 2013, the Yankee outfielder dove for a catch to rob Nate McLouth of a double. The Baltimore Oriole hit the ball well, and Gardy couldn’t keep track of the spherical object. or the lenses perched upon his nose and ears. This was an embarrassing incident for an otherwise reliable outfielder. He just looks very funny. Everyone, laugh at Brett for his silly goof. Don’t think of anything else, especially not authors and their whimsical spelling errors, of which none in particular come to mind.
4. Sleepy Fan
Sometimes, baseball games can get boring. It’s a slow paced game. Before the past couple of seasons, games were MUCH longer, with batters constantly stepping out of the batter’s box to do everything from stare at the pitcher, meditate on the meaning of the universe, or for all we know, sext their girlfriends. Pitchers would step off the mound to, well, pray? Scratch themselves? Curse the fact that they had to pitch to Gary Sanchez (oh, wait, that’s THIS season, replace Gary Sanchez with, um, well, let’s say Babe Ruth. Yeah, he was pretty good. Let’s go with him. Yup, moving on). During these moments, and many others when baseball can be as entertaining as watching golf (which, let’s face it, unless you’re a golf fan or intoxicated, is BOOOORING). However, this (un)lucky fan was caught red handed, red headed? Red postured? Red napping (Napping during a Yankees game. Apparently, the irate spectator even sued ESPN: the network whose cameras literally caught him napping) for $10 million. Luckily, a judge slapped down the litigious man, stopping a moment that could have provided even MORE reasons for people to hate lawyers. I don’t like that, since most of my family are lawyers. So don’t insert a lawyer joke here, or I’LL SUE YOU, BUDDY! Sorry, sometimes a little Trump slips into my mind, and just like in real life, he can’t shut up, even in my head. But seriously, suing ESPN, the Yankees, and the MLB for showing something stupid he did is just adding insult to metaphorical injury here. Not cool dude.
3. Babe Ruth’s Had Better Days
Let’s face it, even legends get old. Even the most iconic, lasting, memorable humans eventually shuffle off this mortal coil, as the eloquent Shakespeare put it. George Herman “Babe” Ruth was no different. THE baseball player is shown here in his final appearance wearing the famous pinstripes. This photo was taken June 13, 1948. The world famous slugger died just weeks later on August 16. After having clobbered 714 home runs, batted in runners 2214 times, hit the ball 34.2% of the time, and many more accolades not needed to be listed, The Bambino appeared before a packed crowd in The Bronx to bid his farewell. Amidst the beginning of the Red Scare and the tumultuous 1948 Presidential Campaign (Harry Truman won by the way), Mr. Ruth passed the proverbial torch to stars such as Joe DiMaggio (who had just three campaigns left himself) and Yogi Berra. Here he is, an American (not just Yankee or baseball) icon in his twilight years, soaking in the adulation and appreciation from thousands of spectators. Rest in peace, George Herman. Rest in peace my friend.
2. “What the Hell Did You Trade Jay Buhner for?”
That was the famous sentiment made immortal on Seinfeld. Jerry Stiller, playing George Constanza’s father Frank, indignantly asks “George Steinbrenner” (voiced by Larry David) when he comes to visit George’s parents. This question of course refers to one of the stupidest moves made by any baseball organization. Sure, it wasn’t a Babe Ruth traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees or a Pedro Martinez form Dodgers to Expos type blunder, but it was bad. Jay Buhner is no Hall of Famer, unlike the previous two players mentioned. But he had a quality career. He had three years in a row with 40 or more home runs and 100 or more RBIs (1995-1997), was a quality right fielder, and a constant presence in the clubhouse whose experience stood players such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki in good stead. However, it’s more of WHO THEY GOT that matters. That is, they got a nobody. The nobody they got was Ken Phelps. He was a DH and never really did anything significant. He didn’t even last a whole year pinstripes. So definitely a big blunder. Hell, who knows, the Yanks might have won it all in ’95 or ’97 with Buhner. However, they did great, notwithstanding this stupid trade. In this phot, both men appear to be all smiles despite being the butt of a locally televised joke.
1. Hell Freezes Over
I’d rather use this post to talk about a fabulous live reunion album by one of my favourite bands, The Eagles. The Hell Freezes Over album came out in 1994, after a reunion tour so named because when the group broke up in 1980, one of the members mentioned that the only way the band would reunite would be when “hell freezes over.” Hell froze over and nothing but good things came of it. Any fan of The Eagles has listened to this legendary collection of live versions of classic songs such as “Hotel California,” “Take It Easy,” and “Tequila Sunrise.” The tracks from this musical masterpiece have been featured many a time while I wrote articles just like this one. However, this entry is not about the music album. It’s about what happened in 2004. The Red Sox came back from 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees and broke the Curse of the Bambino before wining the World Series. That, for Yankees fans like me, makes 2004 a year we’d rather not remember. Also, George Bush Jr. won his only Presidential election in 2004 (don’t get me started about the 2000 Race) so that year really was a crappy one for me and my fellow Yankee fans. Well, on that note, this list ends. As the famous SNL sketch featuring David Spade goes: “Buhbye.”
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