Looking back at baseball's biggest meltdowns and tirades

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·8 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Looking back at baseball's biggest meltdowns and tirades originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Baseball players occasionally struggle to channel their emotions. And sometimes, a television gets destroyed.

That was the case Wednesday when Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale took his frustration out on a TV hanging on the wall in the clubhouse tunnel during his rehab start with Triple-A Worcester.

Sale walked five batters, one with the bases loaded, and was pulled after 3 2/3 innings of work. Upset with his lack of command, Sale destroyed the television, which reportedly had already been broken for two weeks, then attempted to rip what was left of it off the wall before kicking it repeatedly.  

Sale apologized the following day and offered to replace the $1,100 flat screen, calling the incident "a 7-year-old temper tantrum." 

It was one of many child-like tantrums by professional baseball players. Here are some of the most memorable meltdowns.  

George Brett - 1983

Arguably baseball's most infamous meltdown, it's known simply as "The Pine Tar Incident."

George Brett hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to give the Kansas City Royals a 5-4 lead over the New York Yankees. Yankees manager Billy Martin asked umpires to inspect Brett's bat and they determined that the amount of pine tar on the bat extended beyond MLB's 18-inch limit. Umpires ruled Brett out, ending the game and giving the Yankees the win. An irate Brett stormed out of the dugout to confront the umpires and had to be restrained. The Royals filed a protest, which they won. The game resumed 25 days later from the point of Brett's home run and the Royals went on to win 5-4.

Roberto Alomar - 1996

It was a regrettable moment in Roberto Alomar's Hall of Fame career. 

The Baltimore Orioles second baseman took exception to a called third strike by home plate umpire John Hirschbeck that appeared outside. Alomar had some words for Hirshbeck as he began his walk to the dugout, leading to his ejection. While being restrained by manager Davey Johnson, Alomar then spit in Hirshbeck's face. Alomar, who claimed that Hirshbeck's use of a racial slur led to the spitting incident, received a five-game suspension.   

Lloyd McClendon - 2001

Stealing first base in Major League Baseball is impossible. Unless it's by an angry manager. 

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon literally stole first base after two of his players were called out on close plays. McClendon came out to argue the call, got ejected and tossed his hat. Before leaving the field, he ripped first base out of the ground and took it with him into the dugout, throwing it down the steps that lead to the clubhouse. A member of the grounds crew brought out a new bag and the Pirates went on to win in 12 innings.  

Lou Piniella - 1990

Cincinnati Reds manager Lou Piniella may have been one of the first managers to steal first base. Only he didn't take it with him – he launched it into the outfield. 

After Barry Larkin was called out on a double-play to end the sixth inning, Piniella let the first base umpire know of his disapproval, leading to his ejection. Piniella responded by ripping the bag out of the ground and throwing it. Unsatisfied with his first toss, he picked it back up and tossed it into shallow right field. "Best base throw I ever saw,” said Reds pitcher Rick Mahler

Ty Cobb - 1912

Ty Cobb was suspended after he jumped into the stands and got into an altercation with a fan who had been heckling him during a game in New York against the Highlanders. 

Cobb knocked him over and began kicking him. The fan being attacked, according to The New York Times, had previously lost all but two of his fingers while operating a printing press. 

“Cobb, that man has no hands!” someone cried, according to The Times.

“I don’t care if he has no feet!” Cobb responded and continued his attack before being pulled away by an umpire and police officer. 

Roger Clemens - 2000

Only in New York. 

The most memorable moment from the Subway Series between the New York Yankees and New York Mets came in Game 2 when the highly-anticipated matchup between Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza resulted in one of the most bizarre moments in World Series history. 

Three months prior, Piazza had been drilled in the head by a Clemens' pitch, following a stretch in which Piazza had homered off Clemens in each of the first three games they faced one another. With the two meeting for the first time since the HBP, Piazza shattered his bat on a foul ball, sending the barrel of the broken bat bouncing right at Clemens. Clemens grabbed the barrell and fired it in Piazza's direction as he ran down the first base line. Piazza looked mystified as he began to approach the mound, the benches cleared, Clemens appeared to shout "I thought it was the ball!" Order was restored and the at-bat continued without incident.

Hal McRae - 1983

Unhappy with a reporter's question during a postgame press conference in his office, Kansas City Royals manager Hal McRae ended the session abruptly and began dropping F-bombs and throwing items off of his desk. One item, long rumored to have been a phone, stuck reporter Alan Eskew in the face, leaving a gash on his cheek.  

Bobby Valentine - 1999

Bobby Valentine's night was over when he was ejected … or so we thought. 

Shortly after the New York Mets manager was ejected in the top of the 12th inning for arguing a catcher interference call on Piazza, Valentine reappeared in the dugout in disguise. He wore sunglasses, a fake mustache, a hat and Mets T-shirt as he lingered in the corner of the dugout. The Mets went on to win in the bottom of the 14th inning on a Rey Ordonez walk-off single. Valentine was suspended two games and fined $10,000 for going incognito. 

Earl Weaver - 1980

Claims of nepotism led to one of the classic manager-umpire exchanges of all time. 

Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver had complained to the American League president that umpire Bill Haller could not objectively call games the Detroit Tigers were involved in because his brother Tom was the team's catcher. Years later, with Haller serving as first base umpire for a game between Weaver's Orioles and the Tigers, he called a balk on Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan. That led to a profanity-laced back-and-forth tirade between Weaver and Haller that seemed would never end as Weaver repeatedly retreated towards the dugout only to return.

Jose Offerman - 2007

Most players drop the bat when they charge the mound. Not Jose Offerman. 

While playing for the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League, the former major league All-Star was hit in the leg with a fastball by pitcher Matt Beech. Offerman ran up to Beech, bat in hand, and swung it at him. Bridgeport Bluefish manager Tommy John said at the time that Offerman took "at least two, possibly three swings. He took one swing at Beech's legs and then he drew the bat back and tried to hit him in the head on the swing." Bluefish catcher Johnathan Nathans, while trying to protect his pitcher, was struck in the head by the back and suffered a concussion that ended his playing career. Nathans was awarded $940,000 in a lawsuit. Three years later, while Offerman was managing in a Dominican winter league game, he threw a punch at an umpire during an argument.

Phillip Wellman - 2007

This minor league meltdown was as good as any ever seen in the majors. 

Double-A Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman was so incensed that his pitcher was thrown out of the game for using a foreign substance that he threw his hat at the feet of the umpire, covered home plate with dirt, threw the third base bag across the field, and then army-crawled to the pitcher's mound and tossed a rosin bag at the home plate umpire as if it were a hand grenade. He finally departed, taking two of the bases with him. 

Dugout Destroyers - Every year, pretty much

Many baseball players have destroyed items in the dugout following a poor inning or a disappointing at-bat. Water coolers, batting helmets, dugout phones, bat racks, benches, and now televisions, all are at risk. 

There have been far too many memorable dugout meltdowns to list, but here are some standouts:

Carlos Gomez attacks multiple water coolers:

David Ortiz smashes a telephone:

Teammates Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon get into a fight: