The Tampa Bay Rays haven't let a little controversy sway them from signing free agents over the past two seasons. Last year, it was outfielder Manny Ramirez, who was long cited as a prima donna for his behavior on and off the field in Los Angeles, Boston and Cleveland.
This year, the team has signed designated hitter Luke Scott, who created a stir in Baltimore last season by expressing doubts about Barack Obama's birth certificate.
"(President Obama's) birth certificate has yet to be validated," the Kansas City Star quoted Scott as saying in May. "If they can counterfeit $100 bills, I think it's a million times easier to counterfeit a birth certificate, if you ask me. … So, all it is, let's just see if it's real. Anybody can produce a document, so let's check it out."
The president's 1961 birth in Honolulu was questioned by some as long ago as 2005, despite an abundance of evidence to discredit claims that he was born outside the United States, or as a foreign citizen. The Baltimore Orioles were quick to distance the organization from Scott's comments.
Scott later told the Baltimore Sun he felt it was his duty as an American to use the platform available to him as a professional athlete to question authority.
"We all have that responsibility as Americans," Scott said. "Whatever platform you have, large or small, fight for what's right. Fight for what's right and fight for the principles of honor, integrity, accountability, being a person. Responsible. Hard work. Discipline. Honesty. Things like that, try and pass those principles on to the next generation. Be a voice for that. Maybe being a baseball player and having a little bigger platform than the next (person), then my responsibility should be to stand up for those principles. If I was in construction or working in an office I should stand up for those principles as well."
Scott also drew barbs from then-Ray Matt Garza in September 2010, when he quoted the Bible after Garza expressed satisfaction in a win after a previous rough outing against the Orioles.
Scott chastised Garza for boasting, using the verse: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
Garza responded the next day by saying he thought it was inappropriate for Scott, a devout Christian, to bring religion into baseball. "My feeling is that God has a lot better things to worry about than if I'm going to throw a strike on a certain pitch. A lot of other things," Garza said. "I'd rather (Scott) not bring it up."
Scott later defended his comments.
"He's just saying religion is not something you bring into baseball," Scott said. "It's all a matter of choice. That's not how I view it. I consider it a blessing to be here, and I am thankful for the opportunity to play. And that's just my personal beliefs."