The stickiest stuff: 10 podcasts about sports’ greatest scandals

Sports July 29, 2021

While the MLB’s new “sticky stuff” rule is designed to prevent scandal, the outrage against it remains the same. This new rule in baseball is allowing umpires to check pitchers for illegal sticky foreign substances that will enhance a pitcher’s grip on the ball, thus increasing its spin and the difficulty to hit it.

Frustrating players, coaches, and fans alike, the new policy is already causing problems. It is majorly changing the pace of the game and increasing the chance of injury to pitchers. The rule also leaves it to the umpires to make determinations on what, exactly, is illegal “sticky stuff”. All in all, only one pitcher so far has been ejected and suspended without pay for foreign substances. Can we constitute this new rule change as a scandal yet?

In the meantime, scandals in sports are nothing new. In fact, they often capture the attention of the world. People on the tallest of stages cheating their way to victory. Beloved athletes who have extended themselves to near inhuman ability taking a hard fall from grace. From the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox”, to Deflate Gate, to the 2017 Houston Astros World Series title, we have gathered the best podcasts about the greatest sports scandals in history.

The Edge: Houston Astros

Listen to ‘The Edge: Houston Astros’

Sign-stealing is not inherently against the rules of baseball, in fact, in some cases it is even admired. But the MLB has long disapproved of the use of technology when it comes to sign stealing. While speculations of sign stealing by the Astros had been rampant for a number of years, after their 2017 World Series win, other teams wanted to prove these suspicions correct. It wasn’t until 2019 that the scandal broke fully, revealing that the Astros had been using a live camera feed from centerfield to see the opposing catcher’s signs. From Cadence 13 and Prologue Projects, “The Edge: Houston Astros” takes us deep into one of the biggest scandals to ever rock baseball.

Hall of Shame

Listen to ‘Hall of Shame’

For a more episodic take, “Hall of Shame” talks a different sports scandal every week. Whether it’s cheating, gambling or sex, hosts Rachel and Rachna are getting to the bottom of these stories. Learn about Rosie Ruiz’s marathon cheating scandal, Tiger Woods’ fall from grace, the Rugby Bloodgate scandal, the 2000 Spanish paralympic basketball team and more. Crooked Media analyzes why these scandals happened, how they almost got away with them, and why they still matter today.

The Sneak: Season 3: The Disappearance of Mario Rossi

Listen to ‘The Sneak’

The third season of “The Sneak” investigates the disappearance of one of NASCAR’s most brilliant engineers, Mario Rossi. USA Today and Wondery bring you a sensational true crime story from NASCAR’s drug smuggling scandal in the early 1980s. Rossi was considered one of the most genius mechanical minds in racing, building cars that were both the fastest and safest on the track. His mysterious disappearance in 1983 still haunts detectives, NASCAR, and his family to this day.

Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.

Listen to ‘Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.’

Scandal, murder, tragedy. Aaron Hernandez was a football star: an All-American at the University of Florida and a tight-end on the New England Patriots. He was also a convicted murderer. In 2013, after the Patriots Super Bowl XLVI loss, Hernandez was arrested for the murder of the semi-professional linebacker, Odin Lloyd. He was found guilty and was also indicted for the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Although he was acquitted for that in 2017, days later he was found dead in his cell, ruled a suicide. The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team and Wondery aren’t asking if he did it, but instead, what made him do it? Did his football battered brain contribute to his violence? Did coaches and teammates look the other way as he began to spiral out of control? Find out the answers in “Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.”


Listen to ‘Whistleblower’

From Tenderfoot and Cadence 13 comes “Whistleblower”, a podcast about the biggest scandal in American sports history. NBA referee Tim Donaghy had been betting on and rigging games he officiated for years. He was finally caught in 2007, revealing that this conspiracy ran deeply through organized crime. Despite the scandal being so huge, it faded quickly from the limelight. In this story, everyone has something to hide as it goes much deeper than just one bad referee.

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You’re Wrong About

Listen to ‘You’re Wrong About: Tonya Harding Part 1 and 2’

Since the 2017 release of the film I, Tonya, the sports world has become re-obsessed with the scandal between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. The film had exposed the many abuses Tonya suffered at the hands of her own family, making her involvement in the attack on Kerrigan hazy. The “You’re Wrong About” hosts dive even deeper into this Olympic-sized scandal with their 2 part episode special on Tonya Harding.


Listen to ‘Crushed’

The Steroid Era of baseball produced legends, stars, and some of the best games ever played. Those golden years came crashing down, though, when it was revealed that the most exciting home run hitters had been using anabolic steroids for years. Sportswriter and Mark McGwire fan Joan Neisen revisits this era, untangling the many truths and myths that surfaced. What happens when the best of the best have their secret to immortality revealed? And what happens to their legacy? “Crushed” from Religion of Sports and PRX examines it all.

We Came to Win

Listen to ‘We Came to Win’

Every four years, The World Cup captures the world’s attention, excitement, and affection. “We Came to Win” from Gimlet tells stories of football’s heroes and villains. And one Argentinian midfielder claims the hearts and the hatred of millions of fans: the late Diego Armando Maradona. Regarded by many as the greatest player to ever live and regarded by many others as a cheating scoundrel. His Hand of God goal in the 1986 World Cup is still hotly debated, and episode 4 of “We Came to Win” covers it all.

American Scandal: BALCO

Listen to ‘American Scandal’

The first season of “American Scandal” covers the BALCO drug scandal that spread across numerous American sports leagues. The scandal involved the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) by professional athletes across football, baseball, and track and field. From Wondery, this podcast digs into one of the most corrupt crimes to ever shake professional sports. Filled with backstabbing, ambition, and secrets, this podcast leaves no stone unturned. Also, listen to season 3 of “American Scandal” for Lance Armstrong’s PED scandal, too.

It Seemed Smart

Listen to ‘It Seemed Smart’

“It Seemed Smart” from Vox Media Podcast Network and SB Nation covers the smaller scandals that didn’t make the front page. Host Spencer Hall tells the most ridiculous stories of stolen bats, pirating play calls, and the hailed Cannonball Run. While there are only 6 episodes, all of them are pure gold.


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