There were enough real villains in sports this year to fill a bigger list than this. Rather than focus on them, this list highlights those whose malfeasances were on, or regarding, the field of play. From a blow-up in a major final to incompetent management, here is Yahoo! Sports Blogs' Top 10 sports villains of 2011.
10. The Boston Red Sox rotation
When the great Red Sox collapse of 2011 is remembered (and likely commemorated by at least a dozen different books by various authors), the antics of starting pitchers Jon Lester, John Lackey and Josh Beckett will be the microcosm of a disastrous season. They were said to be indifferent to training and anemic with their work ethic. And their penchant for eating fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse during games is the stuff of which sports villains are made. Forget the fact that such behavior would have been endearing if the Sox could have gone 8-18 in September and made the playoffs instead of finishing 6-20 and blowing a late lead in the season finale against the Baltimore Orioles. The fried chicken prevails over all.
9. Jeff Kessler
The Washington D.C. lawyer managed to get kicked out of not one, but two negotiating sessions during sports labor talks. Kessler is said to have almost sunk the NBA negotiations when he referred to David Stern as a plantation owner. That came on the heels of Kessler being accused of stalling NFL labor talks this summer.
8. Carlos Tevez
There's high maintenance and then there's Carlos Tevez. The disgruntled Man City forward was stripped of his captaincy after demanding a trade, refused to come off the bench during a Champion's League game because the coach had the gall to ask him to warm-up twice and has traveled back to Argentina against the team's wishes to play in golf tournaments.
7. Steve Williams
It wasn't the racial comment about Tiger Woods that got Williams on this list (although it certainly could have), it was the caddie's complete lack of appreciation for all Woods had accomplished with his help during their 12 years together. When the two parted ways in July, Williams went on Adam Scott's bag and proceeded to act like an ungrateful jerk while remembering his time with Tiger, even saying that Scott's win at Firestone was the "best week of my life." Yeah, winning that tournament was definitely better than those 13 majors and other tournaments for which Tiger won you millions.
6. Vityaz Chekhov
Despite the rough exterior, many hockey goons can be quite lovable. The goons populating the Russian team Vityaz Chekhov don't fit the bill. Puck Daddy has detailed the squad's goonery in full this year, from goalie fights to wrestling matches to wedding brawls. How bad is it? The KHL instituted a rule effectively banning Russian teams from having more than two "goons" per squad.
[Related: Puck Daddy's top 10 Jersey Fouls for 2011]
5. Chael Sonnen
A one-man MMA goon squad who has ripped on Octagon girls, stormed out of interviews and makes WWE declarations to beaten opponents. The highly-ranked American middleweight had off-octagon problems as well. In January, he pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud and received two years probation.
4. Numerous high school and middle school coaches
Take your pick from among these coaching heroes zeroes: The middle school coach who led his basketball team to a 100-2 victory. The racist who looked at a player and called him a "future welfare recipient." Or the guy who pulled a Buddy Ryan and put a bounty on a high school opponent. I particularly enjoyed the high school principal who banned her soccer team for performing The Bernie (a dance ripped off the epic film "Weekend at Bernies II.") But the biggest high school coaching villain is the junior varsity coach who brought his team to a cemetery after losing a game, made them lie on gravestones and told them that "the people below you would love to trade places and have another chance!" Once again, this was a junior varsity coach.
3. Sepp Blatter
Just when you thought the president of FIFA couldn't top his 2010 when he oversaw a "fair" voting process that sent the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, Blatter stepped up his game in 2011. He ran unopposed as president in an election that made the old ones in Iraq look fair, became frazzled when members of the press asked questions about the alleged bribes involving the Qatar bid and later uttered a four-word sentence that showed how out of it he really is: "There is no racism" in soccer, he declared. Phew! Glad we solved that problem!
2. Serena Williams
Things were going so well for Serena. After a trying year in which she injured her foot and suffered blood clots in her lungs, the tennis superstar was back to her dominant self on the court this summer. She entered the US Open as the prohibitive favorite, having won two straight tournaments entering the year's final Grand Slam, and cruised to the final without dropping a set. But at the first sign of trouble, she snapped. Two years after she threatened to kill a lineswoman and shove a ball down her throat, Serena took exception with the chair umpire's ruling that her shriek had interrupted the swing of Serena's finals opponent, Sam Stosur. Serena lost it once again, saying umpire Eva Asderaki was "a hater" and "ugly inside" and essentially telling her not to walk past her in a hallway, lest the umpire get beat up. During the whole tirade, Serena confused Asderaki with Louise Engzell, the umpire who sanctioned her during that infamous blow-up in 2009. Engzell also has blonde hair worn in a high ponytail but she is not Eva Asderaki.
1. David Stern and Billy Hunter
The entire NBA lockout should have already been forgotten. The schedule started up again on Christmas day and, by the time it concludes in early summer after a 66-game schedule and full playoffs, people wouldn't have remembered all the drama that got us to that point. And then David Stern vetoed the Chris Paul trade, ostensibly because he "owns" the team, but more realistically because other owners, who couldn't negotiate a desirable labor deal for themselves, thought this was a better way to push through their agenda. Stern's legacy will forever be an honored part of the NBA, but these last few, sordid months will always dog him too. It didn't have to be this way though. Forget the Paul veto; if Stern wasn't so bullying and Hunter had better prepared the player's association for the lockout, this whole mess could have been avoided. You'll notice Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith didn't make the list.
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