In my short time sending out words to the interwebs, I have written exclusively about baseball. And that makes sense, with this being a baseball website. However, this week I’m breaking from the norm to talk about The Donald. Kind of.
I won’t hide my distaste for the man. In my humble opinion, he simply cannot be our next president. In the last year, he has offended Mexicans (“They’re bringing drugs, crime and rapists”), Muslims (“I think Islam hates us”), and even his own supporters (“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters”). He has threatened the Wall Street Journal (“They better be careful or I will unleash big time on them”), promised to bring back “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” and inexplicably implied that Ted Cruz’ father was with Lee Harvey Oswald the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. Even in just the last week, he has managed to offend Hispanics (taco bowl tweet) and Evangelicals (Russell Moore), while also changing his economic policies three times.
As New York Times columnist David Brooks put it, “He [Trump] insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.”
With Trump and baseball on my mind, I recently began to think about the most Trump-like baseball figures. To make my list, one must display the following three Trump characteristics:
Although he was one of the greatest second baseman of all time (377 HR, 560 doubles, 1,518 RBI), Jeff Kent scores favorably on the Trump characteristics listed above. While playing for the Giants, Kent made up a story that involved him slipping at a car wash to cover up the fact that he hurt his wrist while riding his motorcycle recklessly (which violated his contract). The following year, Kent was caught on TV physically fighting with Giants LF and MVP Barry Bonds in the dugout during a game. After moving on to the Astros, Kent’s demeanor didn’t change much. “I don’t do dinner,” he once told a teammate in Houston. Later in his career while playing for the Dodgers, Kent accused legendary announcer Vin Scully of talking too much. After retirement, he went on to do great things...
One of the greatest players to ever live (highest career average of .367, 12 batting titles, and inaugural member of the Hall of Fame), Ty Cobb was also one of the meanest. As Larry Schwartz put it in Cobb’s Sport Century feature, “The Georgia Peach was a southern Protestant who hated northerners, Catholics, blacks and apparently anybody else who was different from him.” In 1907, Cobb got into a physical altercation with a black groundskeeper (and groundskeeper’s wife) over the condition of the Tigers’ fields at spring training. Speaking of racism, Cobb also reportedly hit a black elevator operator in Cleveland for being “uppity,” and when a security guard intervened, Cobb cut the guard with a knife. In 1912, Cobb shockingly went into the stands and beat up a heckling fan who was disabled (missing one hand and part of the other). After baseball, Cobb reportedly argued frequently with waiters, cashiers, and policemen. His lasting impression: “Only four people from baseball attended his funeral.” As Ray Liotta said in Field of Dreams, “Ty Cobb wanted to play, but none of us could stand the son of a bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it.”
The five-time All-Star outfielder that played for the Indians, White Sox, and Orioles was crazy. In 1996, he knocked down Brewers second baseman Fernando Vina for blocking his way between first and second. He once chased down a group of trick-or-treaters on Halloween (who were throwing eggs at his house), eventually hitting one with his car. He was also considered to have one of the worst relationships with the media of any ballplayer. Buster Olney (then writing for The New York Times), wrote in his book The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty that, “It was a taken in baseball circles that Albert Belle was nuts... The Indians billed him $10,000 a year for the damage he caused in clubhouses on the road and at home, and tolerated his behavior only because he was an awesome slugger... Few escaped his wrath: on some days he would destroy the postgame buffet...launching plates into the shower... after one poor at-bat against Boston, he retreated to the visitors' clubhouse and took a bat to teammate Kenny Lofton's boombox. Belle preferred to have the clubhouse cold, below 60 degrees, and when one chilly teammate turned up the heat, Belle walked over, turned down the thermostat and smashed it with his bat. His nickname, thereafter, was "Mr. Freeze.'"
Where to begin with Rocker? Perhaps making more over-the-top controversial statements than anyone outside of The Donald, Rocker offended almost everyone he came into contact with. He once said the “biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners…how the hell did they get in this country?” He went on to explain that he would rather retire than ride the subway with “some queer with AIDS.” He referred to author Jeff Pearlman as “a liberal Jew from New York.” He backed White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen after he referred to sports writer Jay Mariotti as a “fag.” What’s he up to these days? Rocker still carries on his “Speak English” campaign, while arguing that the Holocaust could have been stopped if there weren’t gun control laws in Germany. Making matters worse, Rocker himself endorsed Trump’s candidacy for president earlier this year: “I think Trump has really woken America up.”
That's quite the list. Trump would do well to choose his VP running mate from that group. Or he could go with his buddy, Mr. Christie.