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The Worst Coaching Decisions in Sports History

American sports fans have witnessed some amazing coaching blunders in recent years. In 2015, we saw a Super Bowl end with the entire world asking itself, “Why?” But alas, the most obvious play is not always the best play, a wily coach might tell you. Then again, that same coach might refuse to admit he made the biggest mistake anyone’s ever seen.

Indeed, sports fans have learned time and again that coaches and managers are just like us — except in the worst way possible. Just when you expect cool-headed thinking to rule the day, you get reckless, bizarre moves instead. The bottom line is that coaches choke just as much as players. In the worst cases, the effects can last for generations. Here are the seven worst coaching decisions in sports history, ranked.

7. 2016 World Series: Joe Maddon medley

Joe Maddon stands on the mound, making pitching changes in Game 4 of the 2016 World Series.

Joe Maddon stands on the mound, making pitching changes in Game 4 of the 2016 World Series. Cubs manager Joe Maddon was not on top of his game during the 2016 World Series. | Getty Images

Sometimes, you win in spite of your manager. Take the 2016 World Series. Joe Maddon’s job was to get out of the Cubs’ way and let them return a title to Chicago after a 108-year hiatus. It didn’t turn out that way. In fact, there were enough boneheaded moves by Maddon to construct a medley.

It starts in Game 6, when he brought in Aroldis Chapman with a 7-2 lead in the seventh inning. Then he left him in for the eighth. Then he had him start the ninth, up 9-2. (Seriously, this happened.) So no one was surprised when an exhausted Chapman blew the save in Game 7. But Maddon wasn’t finished.

In Game 7, he brought in Jon Lester (last relief appearance: 2007) with a 5-1 lead and two outs in the fifth. Lester promptly allowed two runs. Later, with the go-ahead run on third and one out in the ninth, he had Javier Baez bunt with two strikes. (He bunted foul, stranding the runner.) Conspiracy theorists may have thought Maddon was throwing the World Series, but it was just terrible managing.

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