Who's the worst player ever, in a given sport?

I live in Toronto, and it has been seriously discussed in some quarters here that Wade Belak, of the struggling Maple Leafs, may in fact be the worst hockey player in the history of the NHL. I don’t know if you could measure this accurately, but I must admit the Wadester has an argument. Even by the standards of goons, Belak is awful. He looks like a man unfamiliar with frozen water.

Which made me wonder: Who’s the worst football player ever? The worst baseball player ever? The worst basketball player ever? the worst soccer player ever?

Now, to qualify, a player must have played long enough to establish how dreadful he or she truly is. Obviously, Stephen Hawking is an even worse hockey player than Wade Belak, but he’s never taken a single shot in the NBA so he doesn’t count. As bad a basketball player as Yinka (“The Stinka”) Dare was, he obviously was still a better cager than Katharine Hepburn, but Yinka must be considered for Worst Ever, while Ms. Hepburn is disqualified.

Who are your nominations?

Bob “Mr. Baseball” Uecker is generally regarded as the worst baseball player of all time…http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=ueckebo01

Of course, he didn’t have the steroid option available to him.

I dunno… doesn’t it stand to reason that, if a team keeps a player around long enough to put up embarrassing, mind-blowingly bad numbers, it must be because the guy had a lot of talent, some serious athletic gifts, SOMETHING that made coaches think “IF this guy could only get his act together, he could be great”?

I mean, the slowpoke wide receivers, the rag-armed pitchers, the porous goalies… these guys don’t make it past training camp. The bad pitchers who stay around a full season are the Nuke LaLooshes, guys with awesome velocity and horrible control (the kind that make coaches say, “Yeah, his control stinks, but he can LEARN control- you can’t teach a guy to throw 100 MPH”). The bad receivers who stick around a full season are the guys with world class speed (Alexander Wright of the Cowboys comes to mind- he couldn’t catch a proverbial cold, but Jimmy Johnson loved his time in the 40).

So, while I can (and often do) go on rants about highly touted draft picks who turn out to be busts, very few of those guys were utter embarrassments. Rather, most of them had a few mediocre years and were never heard from again. Hardly any were hopelessly, comically inept.

That’s just his shtick. He played for five years in the majors, and while he was bad, he wasn’t that bad.

I don’t know who it might be in baseball.

Ryan Leaf might fit the bill in football, especially considering his hype coming in. Tony Mandarich is another one.

Nikolai Tskitishvili was taken as the fifth pick in the draft by the Denver Nuggets in 2002. He is still in the league, but his career points average is 3. The only other statistic in which he averages over one per game is personal fouls.

Bob wasn’t great, but he wasn’t embarrassingly bad, either. He was a typical third-string catcher- pretty solid with the glove, but not much of a hitter.

He often LOOKED worse defensively than he was because the Braves usually played him when knuckleballers Phil Liekro or Hoyt Wilhelm were in the game.

But Bob learned early on that, when reporters made fun of his play, the best response was to go along with the gag, and make up his own self-deprecating jokes.

The discussion has to start with Mario Mendoza. when your name has become an accepted term for the bare minimum of hitting ability allowable in the MLB you’ve done something special. When Steve Jeltz is compared favorably to you, you’ve really made a mark.

Well then how about Mario Mendoza, the guy that the “Mendoza Line” is named after? He had a fairly long career. As Astorian said, the REALLY bad ones never make to the big leagues.

I just remembered Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, Britain’s ski jumping entry for the 1988 Winter Olympics.

He was truly dreadful.

Formula One: Alex Yoong with Andrea De Cheseris (De Crasheris) are slugging it out for the bottom rung.

Both of em are luckier than I’ll ever be. :frowning:

And then there’s Darko Milicic, a number two overall pick who is STILL riding the pine in his third season. His career PPG average is 1.6, with 1.2 rebounds per contest.
Sure, he’s a young player on an excellent team, but he just can’t earn himself any time. He’s been called “the human victory cigar” because he only plays when a game is completely uncontested. He may have the talent to make it as a pro, but it’s hard to imagine he will.

I’d argue against that. Most of his problems are Larry Brown’s fault IMHO. You can’t kill him too much considering the success he had, but he didn’t do the kid any favors in the development department. Anyways, not sure we have any idea of what his skills are yet.

Mendoza, despite his low batting average, was actually a fairly decent fielder which is why he lasted in the MLB as long as he did. Before it became common to have middle infielders who hit 30 or more home runs a year, nobody really minded it if a shortstop or second baseman hit well below .250 provided he had a good glove. Case in point: Mark Belanger. His lifetime batting average was .228 but he also won 8 Golden Gloves and was thus able to last 18 seasons.

As for the “worst” players ever in the history of MLB, the NFL, the NHL, and the NBA, that’s a pretty relative term. Sports is a long willowing out process that starts in childhood with grade school and the various youth leagues, continues through high school, and then goes on to college and the minor leagues. An athlete who makes it to the majors, the NFL, the NBA, or the NHL, represents the foamy top of the cream of the crop.

I admit there’s obviously a very limited basis on which to judge him. He is, of course, not doing any better under Flip Saunders, who doesn’t seem any more interested in playing him than Brown did. It makes me wonder what he’s seeing in practice. I just think that at the present time, his name might belong in this discussion.

In fairness, Saunders has an excellent team of veterans challenging the all-time wins mark. You’d never imagine that being drafted by a good team would be such a curse for a rookie. Brown has readily admitted to not playing rookies, so I think he started Darko on that road. When you’re the butt of jokes and can;t get off the bench it can create some resentment and attitude issues. It’s tough to say if it’s his attitude keeping him off the floor or if it’s his ability, if the former I’m more apt to blame the situation created by the coach instead of the 18 year old foreigner.

De Cesaris certainly holds enough records:

Most Did Not Finishes in a season: 14/16 in 1986 and 1987
Most consecutive DNFs in a season: 12 in 1987
Most consecutive DNFs: 18 1985-86
Most DNFs in tota:l 135 1980-94
Most Entries without a Win: 214 1980-94

Not that he knew they’d do that at the start of the year. I suppose we’ll see if Darko plays more as the season wears on - the Pistons will wrap up their conference pretty early, and especially if they fall off the pace for 70+ wins, their final total won’t matter. So he may get some time.

Randy Lerch may be the worst baseball pitcher.

10+ years in the majors, losing record, and a career era of 4.53. Darren Oliver may look worse, who is also at 10+ years and had a career ERA of around 5.00, but Lerch’s ERA+ is lesser than Oliver’s. Lerch has a career ERA+ of 82, so roughly 68% of pitchers in the majors were better than him in his playing days. That’s not that bad, but most people who are bested by 68% of the majors don’t get to start games for 7 seasons nor play for 10+, nor do they typically have a chance to compile over 1,000 innings pitched.

I’ll expand on this when I get home from work tonight, but I nominate Akebono, in his current sport of K-1 fighting.

The early Mets set the standard for professional suckatude. Their standard bearer was “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry. Once he actually hit a homerun but the other team appealed to third and he was called out for not touching third base. Casey Stengal started heading for the ump to argue the call when he was stopped by the base coach who told him, “Forget it, he missed second base too.”

:smack: * Thornberry*

Sometimes I’d be better off typing with my elbows.