What in the name of Bill Lee were the Mets smoking before Wednesday’s game against Cincinnati?
In a move reserved for Little Leaguers, the Mets batted out of order in the first inning, a huge SNAFU in a game they would lose to the bottom-feeding Reds 2-1 in 10 innings.
The Mets hardly needed this boneheaded controversy, in that they are in the midst of a huge slump after starting the season 12-2 (they have lost eight of nine in May and are 6-15 since that hot start).
This gaffe occurred due to the fact the Mets announced line-up had 3B Wilmer Flores hitting second and 2B Asdrubal Cabrera batting third. However, the official line-up card rookie manager Mickey Callaway gave the umpires had Cabrera in the two hole and Flores third.
Well, the Mets used the announced line-up — not the official one — and it went like this, according to the rules. Flores struck out and it remained a strikeout. Cabrera then hit a double and that’s when Reds manager Jim Riggleman noticed the error and called the Mets on it. Cabrera’s double was annulled and according to the rule book fourth place hitter Jay Bruce was an automatic out because of the line-up mistake.
This brain cramp moment may not go down in sports history as the worst ever, but it makes the top 100. From management, to coaches to players in the history of sport, there have been many costly mistakes. Here are 20 we have singled out for a particular lack of brain engagement.
20. Fred Brown’s Ill-Timed Pass – 1982 NCAA Basketball Championship Game
Pity Fred Brown, not Downtown Freddie Brown who had an illustrious career with the Seattle SuperSonics, but the other Fred Brown who made of the most boneheaded gaffes in NCAA Basketball history. In 1982, Georgetown point guard Brown and the Hoyas – which included future NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing — made it all the way to the NCAA championship game. On the other side were the formidable North Carolina Tar Heels, who had James Worthy, Sam Perkins and freshman phenom Michael Jordan in the line-up. Late in that game, Jordan — as only Jordan would do many times later — dropped a mid-range jumper to give UNC a 63-62 lead with 17 seconds left. Brown guided the Hoyas back down the court with plenty of time to get the lead back and win it. However, after he faked a pass to who he thought was a wide open Sleepy Floyd, he mistook the Tar Heels Worthy for the Hoyas’ Eric Smith and passed the ball right into his hands for a fatal turnover.
19. Florida Gators Players Block Each Other In Upset Loss to Georgia Southern – 2013
The year 2013 was not a kind one to the Florida Gators football team. Only five years removed from a national championship and one season from a 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance, the Gators were suffering through a miserable season. They began the year on a high note, winning four of five (three straight against SEC opponents), but hit the skids starting with a loss to LSU on Oct. 12. By the time Division I-AA Georgia Southern was due to pay a visit on Nov. 23, the Gators had lost five in a row to fall out of any kind of Bowl contention. The non-major game against the Eagles should have been a cakewalk, but instead the Gators were dominated by the upstart Eagles. With 2:57 to go, current San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon gave the small school Georgia Southern a 26-20 lead that they would never relinquish. If there was a particular moment that defined this huge upset, two Florida Gators players actually ended up blocking each other on a Florida run play early in the second quarter. Oh, the humanity.
18. St. Louis Defenceman Marc Bergevin Throws Puck In Own Net – 2000 NHL Playoffs
Not that long ago, we did a little thingie on how the St. Louis Blues have shot themselves in the foot time and again in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that one of the most vilified general managers in hockey right now, Montreal’s Marc Bergevin, had a hand in deepening the Blues playoff futility. In 1999-2000, the Blues finished with the best ever record, winning the Presidents Trophy with 114 points. With as powerful a team as they had, it was hoped they could erase decades of playoff futility. They lined up against the mediocre San Jose Sharks in the first round and won the first game at home very handily by a 5-3 count. However, in Game 2, the wheels fell off. St. Louis took an early 1-0 lead when Bergevin entered his name in the Boneheaded Plays Hall of Fame. Bergevin was on the penalty killing unit when Sharks defenceman Gary Suter wheeled into the Blues zone. He attempted a soft cross-ice saucer pass, which was deftly and briefly — to avoid a penalty — intercepted by Bergevin’s gloved hand. However, instead of tossing the puck safely into his nearest corner, he threw it towards the goal, right behind goalie Roman Turek. The Sharks would win that game 4-2 and the series in seven games.
17. Hale Irwin Blows A Short Putt – 1983 Open Championship
In his illustrious PGA Tour career, Hale Irwin sealed the deal at three majors, specifically the 1974, 1979 and 1990 U.S. Open Championships. Otherwise, he was a closer, winning 20 other tournaments before heading to the Champions tour in the mid-90s. There is one major, though, that we are sure he’d like a do-over on. In 1983, he was having a pretty good year, finishing tied for sixth at the Masters for his sixth top 10 at Augusta and winning the Memorial tournament by a stroke over Ben Crenshaw, too. He entered the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale later that year, then, as one of hotter golfers on the tour. He golfed well enough over the first three rounds to sit four strokes back of defending and four-time champ Tom Watson. In the last round, Watson would evenutally shoot a 70 in the final group, allowing Irwin a shot at winning it. On the 14th hole, Irwin blew his chance. He nearly holed a key 20-foot putt and then when he addressed the remaining short two-inch tap in, he lost his focus and completely whiffed on it, gaining a stroke and eventually losing by that one lame-brained mistake shot (Irwin finished with a 67).
16. Snowboarder Lindsay Jacobellis Loses Gold Medal While Showboating – 2006 Winter Olympics
It’s oh so cliche, but Yogi Berra put it best, “it ain’t over, ’til it’s over.” That adage applies to all sports, even the relatively new and exciting snowboard events at the Winter Olympics. In 2006 at the Turin Winter Olympics Snowboard Cross was making its debut as a medal event. American Lindsey Jacobellis entered the competition as a heavy favorite, coming in as the reigning world champion. She made it through the heats fine enough and made the final, slated for Feb. 17, 2006 in Bardonecchia. Jacobellis blazed through the course and nearing the end she had a commanding three-second lead on Tanja Frieden of Switzerland. Then she lost her mind. On the second last jump, Jacobellis decided it was a good time to attempt a method grab, which looks good when performed correctly, but was not necessary in the cross event. Well, she landed on the edge of her snowboard and fell, handing the gold to Frieden. Showing off is costly, for sure.
15. DeSean Jackson’s Rookie Showboating Move Costs Him – 2008
Good thing that great athletes aren’t defined by what happens in the first pro games of their careers. Three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson is proof of that. In 2008, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Jackson in the second round, 49th overall, out of the University of California. He would suit up for his very first game against visiting St. Louis on Sept. 7 and on just the second regular season pass thrown his way he made an immediate impression — too bad it was a rotten one. On the second play of the game, Donovan McNabb dropped a long bomb in Jackson’s hands and the speedy rookie wideout was on his way into the end zone for his first touchdown. The euphoria of the moment overcame him and he threw the ball over his shoulder, but, he hadn’t yet crossed the goal line, according to a review of the play. That review negated his first ever TD and made him a candidate for the Boneheaded Plays Hall of Fame.
14. Portland Trail Blazers Draft Sam Bowie Ahead Of Michael Jordan – 1984
We told you that players aren’t the only ones to lose touch with reality and make idiotic and ill-timed moves. In the case of the high minds running the Portland Trail Blazers in 1984, they get harebrained draft gaffe of the century. The Blazers weren’t a bad club in the early 80s, with a superstar in Clyde Drexler running the boards and capable teammates in Jim Paxson and Mychal Thompson riding shotgun. They made the playoffs in ’84, but got bounced in the first round. However, by virtue of a trade they made with Indiana in 1981, the Trail Blazers had second pick in a draft that boasted a ton of great young talent. As expected, the Houston Rockets picked Akeem Olajuwon first overall. Waiting in the wings was national collegiate player of the year and two-time consensus All-American Michael Jordan. But, just when everyone thought Portland would call his name, they went with Kentucky’s Sam Bowie. What a colossal, all-time air-headed blunder that turned out to be. We don’t even need to get into specifics, other than to note that Jordan and the Bulls (who took him 3rd) beat Drexler and the Blazers in the 1992 NBA finals.
13. Ryan Suter Kicks In Own Goal – 2011
Anyone who knows Hockey Night in Canada’s bombastic mouthpiece Don Cherry knows that his favorite admonishment to any NHL player is “if you’re not going to block a shot, get out of the way.” Or something like that. Former Nashville Predators– and current Minnesota Wild — star defenceman Ryan Suter found out the hard way that making a half-assed attempt at blocking a wayward shot, or in this case pass, is foolhardy. Late in the 2010-11 season the playoff bound Predators were hosting Anaheim. Nashville was leading the Ducks 5-3 with just under a minute to go when Suter scored an infamous “own goal.” Anaheim sniper Corey Perry was racing down the left side on his off wing, with Suter between him and the Preds’ net. In desperation, Perry flipped a backhand saucer pass toward a streaking teammate. Suter, who couldn’t get at the flipping disc with anything but his leg, stuck it out. But, instead of the puck dropping harmlessly or skidding into the corner, it fluttered right by Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne for an embarrassing goal that cut the lead to one. Nashville did hang on, good thing.
12. Earl Morrall Fails To Locate Wide Open Receiver – Super Bowl III
Star quarterback Earl Morrall would have many great moments in a NFL career that would span 20 years, six teams and 255 games. He would be part of three Super Bowl winning teams in Baltimore, when he was already well into his 30s. A journeyman for the first part of his career, Morrall ended up in Baltimore in 1968, when he was already 34 and not all that accomplished. He would have his finest season to that point and after a 13-1 regular season would end up leading the Colts all the way to Super Bowl III against Joe Namath and the New York Jets. Morrall started and wasn’t very good, missing a lot of pass attempts and throwing two interceptions, one which would help end his day. Late in the second quarter and trailing just 7-0, Morrall and the Colts ran a flea flicker, which put Baltimore receiver Jimmy Orr wide open at the Jets’ 20-yard line. But, Morrall wasn’t thinking — and not seeing well either — tossing an errant pass away from Orr that was picked off by Jets corner Johnny Sample. Morrall was soon replaced by Johnny Unitas and the Colts lost 16-7.
11. Michigan’s Chris Webber Calls A Fateful Time Out – 1993 NCAA Basketball Championship Game
The Fab Five at the University of Michigan in the early 1990s could arguably be called the greatest starting quintet in the history of college hoops. Chris Webber, a local from Detroit, was part of that group including Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson who would lead the Wolverines to two NCAA Basketball finals. Only problem is, they never did win it, with 1993 hurting the worst. Webber was a big wheel during 1993 March Madness, averaging 18.4 points and 11.4 rebounds as Big Blue rolled through its first five games of the tournament, setting up a final against the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Heels rallied late to take a late 73-71 lead but with 11 seconds to go, UNC’s Pat Sullivan missed a free throw, which was gobbled up by Webber. As per usual, Webber called a time out to give Michigan a chance to set up a play. To his great dismay, though, his team was fresh out of timeouts. His lack of awareness cost Michigan a technical foul and put North Carolina on the line for two in a game they would win 77-71. A candidate for all-time Boneheaded Play Hall of Fame status.
10. Canada Leaves Wayne Gretzky On The Bench For Olympic Shootout – 1998
Even the GOAT sometimes gets snubbed. For the 1998 Canadian Olympic team, it would prove to be a lame-brained move. At the Nagano Olympics in 1998, it was the first year that NHLers were allowed to compete and Canada sent a star-laden squad populated with many great superstars and future Hall of Famers, Wayne Gretzky included. Canada, in Group D with Sweden, the U.S. and Belarus, breezed through the round robin, going 3-0. They beat Kazakhstan easily 4-1 in the quarter-finals to set up a semi-final with the Czech Republic. The two teams battled hard through regulation with Canada’s Trevor Linden beating Dominik Hasek for a goal late in the game after the Czech’s Jiri Slegr got one by Canada’s Patrick Roy in the middle of the last stanza. Overtime settled nothing as Hasek stood on his head, with a shootout looming to settle the affair. Canadian coach Marc Crawford had prepared a list of five shooters prior to game time, and Gretzky’s name, for whatever reason, wasn’t on it. None of those listed, including GM Bobby Clarke’s favorite Eric Lindros, managed to score, while the Czech’s needed a lone tally for a massive upset. Not a swift move, leaving the greatest player in the world on the bench.
9. Chicago White Sox Wear Shorts During a Major League Baseball Game – 1976
No, that isn’t a misprint, baseball fans, the Chicago White Sox actually wore the most hideous uniform ever concocted, complete with short pants like a softball team. In the 1970s White Sox executive Bill Veeck — who never met a zany promotion he didn’t like — was at the tail end of a crazy career overseeing the Southsiders. He is the guy made most infamous for inserting short person Eddie Gaedel — all 3’7″ of him — into a game with the St. Louis Browns in 1951. It was just one of Veeck’s crazier ideas to put bums in the seats of the teams he ran. Veeck had actually sold off his controlling interest in the Sox years before and then got it back in 1975. During the bicentennial year, he pulled out all the promotional stops, including appearing as a Revolutionary War soldier on opening day. His wackiest promo, though, was arranging a pre-season fashion show with several players donning a few new looks. Those looks included turtle necks, pullover jerseys with wide lapels and curiously, shorts. The team actually wore those duds during a game in August of ’76 and despite being the objects of derision by opponent Kansas City, they won. Still, though, they were hideous uniforms that were neither stylish, nor functional.
8. Stanford Band Runs Onto The Field While Football Is Still In Play – 1982
The Stanford-Cal football rivalry hardly needs an injection of drama, given how the schools battle it out in the annual “Big Game.” In 1982, the Cardinal and the Golden Bears squared off in the 85th iteration and it turned out to be a classic, in more ways than one. And the culprits of ill-timed and not well-thought-out mayhem weren’t the coaches or players, but the Stanford band. The Cardinal had taken a 20-19 lead on field goal with just four seconds left in the game. On the ensuing kick-off, Cal used five lateral passes to score an improbable TD in a wild and disputed 25-20 victory. What made “The Play” so controversial was the fact that the Stanford band, thinking the game was over, piled onto the field in glee about midway through the Golden Bears series of laterals. Other than the wild premature celebration, “The Play” remains disputed to this day, as Stanford questioned the legality of two of the lateral passes which the Cardinal believed should have been blown dead (one for a knee down and the other a “forward” pass).
7. Near Riot Rages After 10 Cent Beer Night In Cleveland – 1974
The movie “Major League” wasn’t far off the truth in its comedic depiction of a classicly bad Cleveland Indians team. The 70s was pretty much a lost decade for the Tribe and in 1974, ownership had the grand — but ultimately stupid — idea to hold a “10 Cent Beer Night” to put some more customers in the seats. It was June 4, 1974 and the Texas Rangers were in town. With 10-ounce suds selling for a dime, over 25,000 people showed up. In a game that saw future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins pitching for Texas, the cheap brew and a plodding game made progressively more drunk and hostile fans just a tad restless. In the bottom half of the ninth, the Indians tied the score 5-5 and then all hell broke loose. Fans started throwing batteries, golf balls an all manner of detritus on the field. It wouldn’t be a rollicking 70s brouhaha without streakers and nudity — which were part and parcel of this nightmare promo gone wrong — as well as people stealing equipment and storming the field to do battle with players. In the end, the Rangers were awarded a forfeit, since the officials had no choice but to call it.
6. Nebraska’s Failed Two Costs Them Orange Bowl And A National Title – 1984
There wasn’t a more powerful team in college football in 1983 than Tom Osborne’s Nebraska Cornhuskers. The team went 12-0 and featured star running back Mike Rozier, who rumbled for 2,148 yards that season and 29 touchdowns. The Huskers then entered the Orange Bowl as the no. 1 team in the country and assured of being crowned national champions, even if they happened to tie the underdog Miami Hurricanes. The underdogs, behind the arm of Bernie Kosar, got the better of the unbeaten Cornhuskers through three quarters, taking a commanding 31-17 lead. Undaunted, Nebraska fought back, with running back Jeff Smith running in a 24-yarder late in the fourth to put Nebraska within one point, needing only a point after to tie it — and likely win the national title. Instead, for not-well-thought out reasons, Osborned opted to try for two points and the win. A pass was swatted away and Miami were the most improbable of national champions.
5. All of Mike Milbury’s Big Trades As Islanders General Manager Flop – 1995-2006
For 11 years between 1995 and 2006, former hard-nosed NHL defenceman Mike Milbury was general manager of the New York Islanders. He did nothing to dispel the notion he was out of his depth and kept the Isles the sad sack franchise they had become after winning four straight Stanley Cups in the early 1980s. Just about every trade Milbury made doesn’t withstand the sniff test for not being very well thought out. The lowlights of his tenure include the following questionable deals: Trading Zdeno Chara and a 2nd overall pick (Jason Spezza) for Alexei Yashin; Dealing Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish; Trading Bryan Berard for Felix Potvin; Drafting Rick DiPietro first overall and handing him a ridiculous contract; Dealing Away Chris Osgood and a third rounder for Justin Papineau and a second rounder. It’s a long and very undistinguished list, that’s for certain.
4. Brett Favre And The Vikings Cough One Up In The NFC Championship Game – 2010
The Minnesota Vikings built one heck of a team in 2009, helmed by soon-to-be-retired superstar QB Brett Favre. He led the Vikes to a superb 12-4 record and entering the playoffs the team was a favorite to win it all. Favre, who was 40 at the time, showed no signs of rust and Minnesota whipped Dallas 34-3 in the divisional playoffs, putting the rest of the NFL on notice that they were in fact for real. Their next opponent, the New Orleans Saints, were hosting the NFC championship game but weren’t necessarily the favorites. Favre and the Vikes battled hard against Drew Brees and the Saints, and it took a third Adrian Peterson touchdown with just under five minutes to go to knot the game at 28-28. Minnesota would get the ball back with 2:42 left and then drove the ball to the Saints 33-yard line. This is where the coaching staff’s brains shut off. Among the play calls that close in (within Ryan Longwell’s field goal range) were a couple of stuffed run plays and then a flag for too many men to move the ball back five yards. Wanting to get closer for a winning field goal, the Vikes tried a pass that was intercepted, ending the drive. The game went to OT and the Saints won it, ironically on a field goal.
3. Alabama Loses Iron Bowl To Auburn After Failed Field Goal – 2013
Before anyone canonizes Nick Saban as a football saint above any scorn or scrutiny, we present to you his dubious decision making in the annual Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn back in 2013. With six minutes to go in the big game and the Crimson Tide holding a 28-21 lead, ‘Bama stuffed Auburn on a fourth and short form the Tigers 35, turning the ball over with a chance to virtually ice the game. Alabama didn’t move the sticks that far and instead of kicking a field goal to put them up 10, Saban opted to go for it and this time the Tide lost on that deal. The Tide would have another late field goal attempt blocked and Auburn scored with just a half minute remaining to knot the game at 28-28. However, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon ran the kick-off back to the Auburn 38 and got run out of bounds with one second left. That’s when Saban made the fatal mistake of sending out freshman kicker Adam Griffith to attempt a 57-yarder to win it. He was short and Auburn’s Chris Davis ran it all the way into the Alabama end zone for a crazy and improbable “kick six” and victory. Saban is not a total genius.
2. Robert DiVincenzo’s Erroneous Score Card Costs Him A Green Jacket – 1968
We have chronicled many a golf mishap over the years, from Jean Van de Velde’s epic Open championship meltdown at the Barry Burn to Greg Norman’s many foibles on Augusta’s greens. But, in their cases, most of their mistakes were physical in nature (though Van de Velde gets a vote for being loopy with his shot selection). For Robert DiVincenzo, his own score card would be his undoing. He was the reigning British Open champion and on Sunday he and playing partner Tommy Aaron marked each other’s scores. However, on the par 4 17th hole, where DiVincenzo sunk a two-foot putt for a birdie 3, Aaron mistakenly wrote a four. At the end of his round, DiVincenzo submitted the score card and believed he and Bob Goalby tied for the lead and headed to a playoff. However, having missed the error, it was adjudged that the higher written score stood, handing the green jacket to Goalby.
1. Pete Carroll’s Infamous Play Call At Super Bowl XLIX Costs Seahawks The Win – 2015
If any of the lame-brained play calls or decisions here can be called over-thinking, this one qualifies. Coming into the 2014 season, the Seattle Seahawks were the defending champs and reeled off another great season, going 12-4. They would beat the Carolina Panthers 31-17 in the divisional playoffs and then the Green Bay Packers in a 28-22 overtime thriller in the NFC championship game. Facing them in in a huge Super Bowl XLIX were Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The two teams fought hard, trading two touchdowns apiece to go into half-time tied at 14-14. The Seahawks took control in the third, putting up 10 points and holding that lead until the middle of the fourth. That’s when Brady et al went to work, driving for two TDs to take a four-point lead with two minutes to go. However, Russell Wilson went to work right away, hitting Marshawn Lynch for a huge 31-yard gain and then separate passes of 11 and 33 yards to get the ball deep in Pats territory. After Lynch rumbled the ball four yards from the five to put the ball on the one with 26 seconds left, Carroll, after much consideration, sent in his play call. Instead of going “Beast Mode” and handing off to a fired up Lynch for the TD, he had Wilson try and stuff a pass into the arms of Ricardo Lockette. But, Malcolm Butler got in the way for the INT. Game over.