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Top 10 Sports Meltdowns

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In the ultra-competitive and highly intense environment that is the world of sports, sometimes tempers reach a boiling point. From Earl Weaver, to John Totorella, to pretty much John McEnroe’s entire career, these hissy fits are too much to handle. WatchMojo counts down ten sports meltdowns.

Special thanks to our users jjrules07 and Dan Paradis for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Sports+Meltdowns.

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Top 10 Sports Meltdowns


In the ultra-competitive and highly intense environment that is the world of sports, sometimes tempers reach a boiling point. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Sports Meltdowns.

For this list, we’re looking specifically at meltdowns that took place during game play, and including both players and coaches. We’re excluding press conferences, however, because we already have a list on that very topic.

#10: Earl Weaver

Earl Weaver won over 1400 games as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles between 1968 and 1986. Perhaps equally impressive, however, is the fact that he was ejected from nearly 100 games during that same time period. One of his most notorious outbursts came in 1980 in a game against the Tigers, when Weaver went toe-to-toe with umpire Bill Haller, who happened to be wearing a microphone. Weaver accused Haller of blatantly cheating the Orioles and even threatened to punch him square in the face.

#9: John Tortorella

Famous for his profanity-filled tirades, Tortorella took things to another level when he attempted to fight Bob Hartley, the coach of the Calgary Flames, in the locker room during the first intermission of a game. Tortorella was furious because he believed the Flames initiated a line brawl to start the game in an attempt to injure one of the Canucks’ players. Flames coaches and players looked on while Canuck players held him back. Needless to say, The NHL was not impressed with Tortorella’s actions and suspended him for 15 days without pay.

#8: Kyle Busch & Joey Logano

Can’t we all just get along? Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough certainly didn’t agree at the 1979 Daytona 500, and neither would Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, as the pair engaged in a full-on fistfight at the finish line of the Kobalt 400 in Las Vegas in 2017. Busch and Logano were fighting for third place on the final lap when Logano made contact with Busch’s car, causing it to spin out. Logano would ultimately finish 4th while Busch dropped to 22nd. Moments after finishing, Busch physically confronted Logano and his pit crew. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately for Busch, he walked away with the loss and a bloody forehead but, surprisingly, no penalties.

#7: Jürgen Klinsmann

Towards the end of his career, Klinsmann joined Bayern Munich and helped lead the team to the Bundesliga title during the 1996-97 season. He didn’t always see eye-to-eye with manager Giovanni Trapattoni, however, and things boiled over during a game against Freiburg. Trapattoni removed Klinsmann from a tie game, much to the star striker’s frustration. He let his coach, and the world, know he was unhappy when he launched an extremely forceful kick into an advertising pillar, leaving a pretty impressive hole in the side.

#6: Phillip Wellman

It isn’t often that the managers of minor league baseball teams become household names. And to this day, you may pause for a second when you hear the name Phillip Wellman. But mention the Mississippi Braves manager meltdown, and almost every sports fan will know what you mean. Wellman gained international attention when he was ejected from a game in 2007, after having covered home plate in dirt, removed all of the bases, crawled across the field in a prone position, and tossed the rosin bag at an umpire. Over the top? Sure. But memorable all the same.

#5: Boston Bruins Go into MSG Stands

If you came across this clip on television, you’d think it’s a scene from Slap Shot rather than from an actual NHL game. The 70s were a different time, however, and fantasy became reality on December 23rd, 1979 during a game between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. What started as a skirmish between the players quickly escalated as fans began throwing things on the ice and reaching over the glass to punch the Bruins players. Several players responded by going into the stands, including Mike Milbury, who wound up beating a fan with a shoe.

#4: Lou Piniella Throws Base


Who would have thought America’s pastime could get people so angry? Despite earning the nickname “Sweet Lou”, Piniella was far from a sweetheart, proven by the fact that he was ejected 63 times during his managerial career. Arguably his most famous ejection came during his best season as manager of the 1990 Cincinnati Reds, the eventual World Series Champions. Piniella, furious about a call, picked up the base and launched it into the outfield. While this move has been seen again, it’s never quite been done with the force or anger as Piniella.

#3: You Cannot Be Serious!

To be honest, we could probably make an entire top ten list of the best John McEnroe meltdowns, considering how many he had. This one, however, is one of his best. In a match against Tom Gullikson at Wimbledon, chair umpire Edward James ruled that a ball McEnroe had hit was out. McEnroe grew more and more enraged, although surprisingly kept it relatively PG. Still, his “You cannot be serious” remains, by far, one of his greatest quotes of all time.

#2: Pine Tar Incident

This game was legendary... for all the wrong reasons. In a game against the New York Yankees in 1983, Kansas City Royal George Brett hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give his team the lead. The umpires took a closer look at Brett’s bat, however, and ruled that there was too much pine tar on it, nullifying Brett’s home run. Brett famously sprinted from the dugout following the call to confront the umpires. The Royals protested the game and it was actually upheld, and Brett’s home run was restored in a game resumed a few weeks later.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Mikhail Youzhny Draws Blood with Racket
- Tuukka Rask Loses It
- Carlos Pérez & the Water Cooler

#1: Pacers-Pistons Brawl [aka Malice in the Palace]


This is perhaps the most infamous brawl in the history of sports, and certainly the NBA. Things took a dark turn on one November night in 2004 at The Palace of Auburn Hills, during a game between Indiana and Detroit. With less than a minute to go, a scuffle broke out between players on the court. Things appeared to be settling down until Pacers player Ron Artest was hit with a drink thrown by a fan in the stands. The fiery Artest then went into the crowd and ignited a huge fight. Following the incident, nine players were suspended for a total of 146 games, while the fan who threw the plastic cup and subsequently punched Artest was charged with assault and battery.
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