'Hotheaded' Yordano Ventura should heed these cautionary tales

Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura's mid-90s fastball and wipeout curve make facing him one of baseball's least comfortable at-bats, but he's starting to get a reputation for more than his pitching arsenal. If his histrionics persist, Ventura is going to give new meaning to the phrase "swing-and-miss rate."

Ventura has been a central figure in three bench-clearing incidents already this season. That's not quite as impressive as Cincinnati manager Bryan Price's profanity-per-second rate, but give Ventura time.

After precipitating a dustup with the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Ventura is perilously close to getting tagged with a label as a "hothead." And in a sport that values consistency and an even temperament over the course of 162 games, that's not a good place to be.

As Ventura concedes the importance of showing more maturity and keeping his emotions in check, as he did after Thursday's game, some past examples of players with a similar bent might prove instructive. With apologies to John Rocker, Delmon Young, Carl Everett, Carlos Perez, Vicente Padilla and the granddaddy of all hotheads -- Ty Cobb -- here are five players who found themselves in the middle of the action for the wrong reasons too often in their careers.

Joaquin Andujar

Andujar is, of course, remembered for his colossal meltdown as a St. Louis Cardinal in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series, when he was ejected after a confrontation with plate umpire Don Denkinger and subsequently took a bat to a toilet in the visiting clubhouse at Royals Stadium. In an interview five months before that incident, Andujar acknowledged that his reputation for hothead-ery was firmly established.

"I tell you what, 85 percent of the sports writers think I'm stupid or a clown or something. They think I'm crazy," Andujar said in May of that year. "I don't know why sports writers always have to write bad things about Joaquin Andujar.

"If I was crazy, I'd throw the ball into the stands with the bases loaded. Now, that's crazy. If I was stupid, I'd throw the ball into center field with the bases loaded and a 3-2 count on the hitter. Now, that's stupid."

The sports writers in attendance neglected to ask Andujar how he came up with the figure "85 percent." They were probably too entertained by his colorful imagery and that third-person reference.

Milton Bradley

A recent Sports Illustrated story revealed the dark side of Bradley's personality, chronicling his volatile relationship with his wife through years of domestic abuse before her death in 2013.

For 12 seasons in the big leagues, Bradley was known as a player whose fuse could blow on the field at any moment, with or without provocation. In interviews, Bradley often came across as introspective, intelligent and thoughtful. In 2005, the Los Angeles Dodgers nominated him for the Roberto Clemente Award.

But all too often, Bradley's inner turmoil manifested itself in clashes with umpires, reporters, TV commentators and anyone else who got in his way. TThe definitive Milton Bradley moment came in late 2007, when he tore a ligament in his knee while being restrained by San Diego manager Bud Black during an argument with umpire Mike Winters. Bradley retired in 2011 with a .271 batting average, 125 home runs and a reputation as one of the most self-destructive and tormented players in baseball history.

Rob Dibble

Dibble averaged 12.2 strikeouts per season in the big leagues, and almost as many tantrums. Fellow Nasty Boy Randy Myers kept paramilitary gear and copies of "Soldier of Fortune" in his locker stall, and Norm Charlton hunted alligators in his spare time. Compared to Dibble, they were the reasonable and rational ones.

Dibble was ejected by umpire Joe West for throwing a bat against the screen after an RBI single by Terry Pendleton and ejected again by West for intentionally drilling Cubs infielder Doug Dascenzo in the back after a squeeze bunt. Dibble tore off his jersey in frustration after a blown save, dumped a bucket of ice water over an unsuspecting beat writer's head and reacted to a mediocre performance at Riverfront Stadium by flinging the ball into the center-field seats -- and injuring a first-grade teacher in the process.

Dibble also helped generate a future YouTube clip for the ages in 1992, when he provoked then-Reds manager Lou Piniella to heights of rage that were impressive even by Sweet Lou's Vesuvian standards.

Carlos Zambrano

Zambrano experienced a quick rise and an equally rapid fall with the Chicago Cubs. He logged five straight 200-inning seasons and was selected for three All-Star Games by age 27.

But the man known as "Big Z" also had a penchant for wearing out opponents and his fellow Cubs. When Zambrano wasn't breaking a bat over his knee, ripping closer Carlos Marmol or calling the Cubs a "Triple-A team" after one dispiriting loss, he was getting into spats with teammates Michael Barrett and Derrek Lee over perceived injustices. The Cubs sent Zambrano for anger management after a dugout blowup in 2010.

Zambrano's volatility didn't do much for his staying power. In 2007, he signed a five-year, $91.5 million contract extension with the Cubs. In 2012, he threw his final big league pitch -- as a member of the Miami Marlins.

Nyjer Morgan

Morgan, a former hockey player, prided himself on being part ballplayer, part entertainer. He referred to himself by his alter ego, "Tony Plush," and preached the value of "Plush-damentals" while playing the game with nonstop energy and aggression.

In the summer of 2009, Morgan was at the center of a series of home plate collisions, bench-clearing brawls and other bizarre incidents, earning him an eight-game suspension and a $15,000 fine from Major League Baseball. Two years later, he allegedly flipped off some Giants fans in the bleacher seats during a vigorous back-and-forth in San Francisco.

Morgan wore an ever-present smile off the field and disputed the notion that he was a serial agitator or a flake. When a reporter suggested that he had a touch of Mark Fidrych in him, the artist known as Tony Plush demurred.

"The Bird Man was a little quirky," Morgan said. "I ain't that out there."