Commentary

All the feuds fit to print

Originally Published: November 17, 2009
By Patrick Hruby | Page 2

Maybe you've heard: Sarah Palin's political memoir "Going Rogue" drops today, bringing with it a firestorm of she-said, they-said public sniping between the score-settling former vice presidential candidate and John McCain's incredulous campaign advisers.

Of course, this isn't the first time an autobiographical tome has touched off a raucous feud. Particularly not in sports. Herein, ten showdowns produced by controversial jockographies:

1. Jose Canseco vs. Baseball

Book: "Juiced," 2005
Feud: A list of the big-time home run hitters the self-proclaimed Godfather of Steroids didn't finger as PED cheats in his scorched-Earth tell-all: Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey, Jr. and ... that's about it. Canseco blew the whistle on MLB's look-the-other-way drug culture. Baseball's defenders tarred and feathered him as slimy and self-serving. And in the end -- after the failed tests and Congressional hearings and grand jury investigations and a season of "The Surreal Life" and celebrity boxing -- both sides were mostly proven right.

2. Tim Donaghy vs. David Stern

Book: "Blowing the Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA," 2009
Feud: A disgraced former referee who was convicted on federal wire fraud charges rooted in gambling and point-shaving, Donaghy alleged that NBA officials favor superstars, gamble amongst themselves over in-game calls, personally feud with players and owners and manipulate games outright. The league vehemently denied the allegations, and Donaghy's publisher nixed the book's release due to liability concerns. Advantage (as always): Stern.

3. Magic Johnson vs. Isiah Thomas

Book: "When the Game Was Ours," 2009
Feud: In a book co-authored with Larry Bird, Johnson admits to blackballing Thomas from the 1992 Dream Team and accuses Thomas of questioning and spreading rumors about his sexuality following Johnson's 1991 HIV diagnosis. Thomas fired back with anger and sadness, claiming he felt "blindsided" and that he would never gossip about Johnson's illness because his own brother died of AIDS. Bitterness all around.

4.Yuan Weimin vs. The International Olympic Committe

Book: "Yuan Weimin: Winds and Clouds of the World of Sports," 2009
Feud: The former head of the Chinese Olympic Committee, Yuan claimed that Beijing landed the 2008 Summer Games by cutting a secret, back-room deal with the IOC, promising to support the candidacy of wannabe president Jacques Rogge in return for his support for China's bid. The IOC denied the charges -- you were expecting a full confession? -- while a nongovernmental Chinese Olympic association said it would file a civil lawsuit against Yuan's publisher.

5. Richard Esquinas vs. Michael Jordan

Book: "Michael and Me: Our Gambling Addiction ... My Cry for Help! Vol. 1," 1993
Feud: Esquinas, a San Diego businessman and former manager of the city's sports arena, claimed that the basketball star owned him as much as $1.25 million in golf gambling losses that was settled for $300,000. Jordan admitted to golfing and betting with Esquinas (technically illegal, by the way) but said the amounts were "preposterous." Days after Jordan's first retirement, an NBA gambling investigation concluded that Jordan did not violate league rules, prompting a raft of conspiracy theories.

6. Charles Barkley vs. Himself

Book: "Outrageous!" 1993
Feud: The outspoken NBA player slammed Philadelphia 76ers owner Harold Katz and fellow players Manute Bol, Charles Shackleford and Armon Gillian in his own autobiography, claimed he was "misquoted," told his agent to stop publication of the book, then changed his mind by stating, "the majority of the book is correct, and I stick by it." Got that?

7. Wilt Chamberlain vs. Basic Math

Book: "A View From Above," 1991
Feud: Pro basketball legend claimed to have slept with 20,000 women in his life -- a number that would have required him to bed 1.14 women per day from age 15 to the day of his death at age 63. Other relevant numbers: Chamberlain collected 23,924 career rebounds, the Battle of Antietam produced just 12,400 Union casualties and Viagra was first offered for sale in the United States in 1998, one year before Chamberlain passed away.

8. John McEnroe vs. Tatum O'Neal

Book: "You Cannot Be Serious," 2002
Feud: Tennis star alleged that O'Neal, his ex-wife, was a temperamental drug user and an unfit mother to their children.; O'Neal fired back that McEnroe was a "cruel, cruel man," a "sexual and physical bully" who was violent at home and used steroids during a 1988 comeback attempt. McEnroe expressed "disappointment" in O'Neal's statements and denied striking her. No winners here.

9. Joe Torre vs. The New York Yankees Tabloids

Book: "The Yankee Years," 2009
Feud: Former Yankees manager revealed that he felt betrayed by team GM Brian Cashman and that teammates referred to Rodriguez as "A-Fraud" -- spurring the Gotham tabloids into a "Torre Tells All" frenzy, even though the actual book is a mostly milquetoast third-person account.

10. Jim Bouton vs. Baseball

Book: "Ball Four," 1970
Feud: The mother of all sports tell-alls, Bouton's no-holds-barred, name-naming chronicle of the 1969 Seattle Pilots' season depicted drinking, drug use, womanizing, obscene joking, small-time cheating and -- say it ain't so! -- Mickey Mantle's liquor problems. For his candor, Bouton was summoned to meeting with then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who asked him to sign a statement claiming the book was entirely fictional. Many of Bouton's teammates and peers subsequently turned on him, with Pete Rose memorably yelling "[Expletive] you, Shakespeare!" from the dugout. According to Bouton's subsequent book "I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally," he also took on-field grief from a young St. Louis Cardinals player named ... Joe Torre.

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2.