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12 Athletes Injured During Temper Tantrums

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Temper tantrums often lead to ejections, suspensions, and fines. But these 12 athletes went the extra mile and actually physically hurt themselves, too.


1. Amar'e Stoudemire
When New York Knicks' big man Amar'e Stoudemire punched a glass case housing a fire extinguisher after a Game 2 playoff loss against the Miami Heat, he needed 15 stitches to close the gash.

"Bloody Idiot" declared the next day's New York Post.

The immediacy of social media at least allowed Stoudemire to beat the Post headline to the punch. That same night he Tweeted his regrets:

"I am so mad at myself right now. I want to apologize to the fans and my team. I'm not proud of my actions."

2. Pat Zachry
The Mets' righthander was having an All-Star season in 1978 until his third start after the All-Star break. After allowing a hit to Pete Rose and getting lifted four batters later, Zachry angrily tried to kick a helmet in the dugout, missed and kicked a concrete step instead. He broke his foot.

3. John Tudor

The St. Louis Cardinals' lefthander was an angry man in 1985. Feeling his oats after a 3-0 shutout of Kansas City in Game 4 of the World Series, he lashed out at the media.

Seeing a bunch of reporters in the clubhouse, Tudor said, "What's it take to get a media pass, a license?"

Back on the mound in Game 7, Tudor got lit up. Yanked early from a 11-0 loss, Tudor punched an electric fan in the dugout and cut his hand.

4. Milton Bradley
With the San Diego Padres involved in the pennant race in 2007, Bradley went so bananas arguing with an umpire that manager Bud Black had to restrain him. Manager and player got their legs tangled and Bradley tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, missing the last week of the season.

The Padres lost a one-game playoff to Colorado for a wild-card berth.

5. Kevin Brown
Pitching for the Yankees in 2004, Brown punched a clubhouse wall in frustration and broke his hand.

"Stupidity," he called it. He at least had the presence to punch the wall with his non-throwing hand, but that didn't stop the Yankees from threatening to check into the language of his contract to see if they could dock his salary.

6. Mikhail Youzhny
In a 2008 match at the Sony Ericsson Open against Spain's Nicolas Almagro, the 25-year-old Russian whacked himself in the face with his racket three times after hitting a backhand into the net. Blood oozed from his hairline to his mouth. But unlike Stoudemire and the Knicks, at least he won (although he didn't get out of the next round.)

7. Jason Isringhausen
While in AAA Norfolk in 1997, the Met pitcher punched a dugout trash can and broke his hand, proving it's possible to be sent to the minors for a rehab assignment and injure a completely different body part than the one you're trying to heal.

8. Doyle Alexander
The Yankee righthander punched a wall in 1982 and broke his little finger. Even more misfortune befell Alexander when he offered to forfeit part of his salary. Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner accepted.

9. Henrik Stenson
The Swedish golfer seemed destined to be remembered for undressing to his underwear to hit a shot out of muddy terrain near a water hazard at Doral in 2009. But fighting for notoriety is an incident from the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional when he snapped the shaft of a 7-iron after a wayward shot on No. 15 and suffered a deep gash to his right index finger.

OK, so he's still known more for stripping.

10. A.J. Burnett
After an ugly second inning against Tampa in 2010, the Yankee righthander slammed his open hands into a swinging clubhouse door containing plastic holders for lineup cards. He cut his hands on the plastic edges. He told trainers he slipped and scraped his hands trying to break his fall, but quickly confessed after the game.

11. Bryce Harper
The Washington Nationals 19-year-old made an out in the seventh inning against the Reds earlier this season. Apparently that's not supposed to happen. So he smashed his bat against the dugout wall.

The bat splintered and cut his face, requiring 10 stitches.

12. Troy Tulowitzki
As a second-year player, the Colorado Rockies shortstop missed 45 games with a thigh injury. Finally off the disabled list he shattered his bat slamming it into the ground. He required 16 stitches and returned to the disabled list for 15 days.

Bud Shaw is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who has also written for the Philadelphia Daily News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The National. You can read his Plain Dealer columns at, and read all his mental_floss articles here.

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iStock / Collage by Jen Pinkowski
The Elements
9 Diamond-Like Facts About Carbon
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iStock / Collage by Jen Pinkowski

How well do you know the periodic table? Our series The Elements explores the fundamental building blocks of the observable universe—and their relevance to your life—one by one.
It can be glittering and hard. It can be soft and flaky. It can look like a soccer ball. Carbon is the backbone of every living thing—and yet it just might cause the end of life on Earth as we know it. How can a lump of coal and a shining diamond be composed of the same material? Here are eight things you probably didn't know about carbon.


It's in every living thing, and in quite a few dead ones. "Water may be the solvent of the universe," writes Natalie Angier in her classic introduction to science, The Canon, "but carbon is the duct tape of life." Not only is carbon duct tape, it's one hell of a duct tape. It binds atoms to one another, forming humans, animals, plants and rocks. If we play around with it, we can coax it into plastics, paints, and all kinds of chemicals.


It sits right at the top of the periodic table, wedged in between boron and nitrogen. Atomic number 6, chemical sign C. Six protons, six neutrons, six electrons. It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen, and 15th in the Earth's crust. While its older cousins hydrogen and helium are believed to have been formed during the tumult of the Big Bang, carbon is thought to stem from a buildup of alpha particles in supernova explosions, a process called supernova nucleosynthesis.


While humans have known carbon as coal and—after burning—soot for thousands of years, it was Antoine Lavoisier who, in 1772, showed that it was in fact a unique chemical entity. Lavoisier used an instrument that focused the Sun's rays using lenses which had a diameter of about four feet. He used the apparatus, called a solar furnace, to burn a diamond in a glass jar. By analyzing the residue found in the jar, he was able to show that diamond was comprised solely of carbon. Lavoisier first listed it as an element in his textbook Traité Élémentaire de Chimie, published in 1789. The name carbon derives from the French charbon, or coal.


It can form four bonds, which it does with many other elements, creating hundreds of thousands of compounds, some of which we use daily. (Plastics! Drugs! Gasoline!) More importantly, those bonds are both strong and flexible.


May Nyman, a professor of inorganic chemistry at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon tells Mental Floss that carbon has an almost unbelievable range. "It makes up all life forms, and in the number of substances it makes, the fats, the sugars, there is a huge diversity," she says. It forms chains and rings, in a process chemists call catenation. Every living thing is built on a backbone of carbon (with nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and other elements). So animals, plants, every living cell, and of course humans are a product of catenation. Our bodies are 18.5 percent carbon, by weight.

And yet it can be inorganic as well, Nyman says. It teams up with oxygen and other substances to form large parts of the inanimate world, like rocks and minerals.


Carbon is found in four major forms: graphite, diamonds, fullerenes, and graphene. "Structure controls carbon's properties," says Nyman.  Graphite ("the writing stone") is made up of loosely connected sheets of carbon formed like chicken wire. Penciling something in actually is just scratching layers of graphite onto paper. Diamonds, in contrast, are linked three-dimensionally. These exceptionally strong bonds can only be broken by a huge amount of energy. Because diamonds have many of these bonds, it makes them the hardest substance on Earth.

Fullerenes were discovered in 1985 when a group of scientists blasted graphite with a laser and the resulting carbon gas condensed to previously unknown spherical molecules with 60 and 70 atoms. They were named in honor of Buckminster Fuller, the eccentric inventor who famously created geodesic domes with this soccer ball–like composition. Robert Curl, Harold Kroto, and Richard Smalley won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering this new form of carbon.

The youngest member of the carbon family is graphene, found by chance in 2004 by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov in an impromptu research jam. The scientists used scotch tape—yes, really—to lift carbon sheets one atom thick from a lump of graphite. The new material is extremely thin and strong. The result: the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.


Diamonds are called "ice" because their ability to transport heat makes them cool to the touch—not because of their look. This makes them ideal for use as heat sinks in microchips. (Synthethic diamonds are mostly used.) Again, diamonds' three-dimensional lattice structure comes into play. Heat is turned into lattice vibrations, which are responsible for diamonds' very high thermal conductivity.


American scientist Willard F. Libby won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for developing a method for dating relics by analyzing the amount of a radioactive subspecies of carbon contained in them. Radiocarbon or C14 dating measures the decay of a radioactive form of carbon, C14, that accumulates in living things. It can be used for objects that are as much as 50,000 years old. Carbon dating help determine the age of Ötzi the Iceman, a 5300-year-old corpse found frozen in the Alps. It also established that Lancelot's Round Table in Winchester Cathedral was made hundreds of years after the supposed Arthurian Age.


Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important part of a gaseous blanket that is wrapped around our planet, making it warm enough to sustain life. But burning fossil fuels—which are built on a carbon backbone—releases more carbon dioxide, which is directly linked to global warming. A number of ways to remove and store carbon dioxide have been proposed, including bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, which involves planting large stands of trees, harvesting and burning them to create electricity, and capturing the CO2 created in the process and storing it underground. Yet another approach that is being discussed is to artificially make oceans more alkaline in order to let them to bind more CO2. Forests are natural carbon sinks, because trees capture CO2 during photosynthesis, but human activity in these forests counteracts and surpasses whatever CO2 capture gains we might get. In short, we don't have a solution yet to the overabundance of C02 we've created in the atmosphere.

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

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