Notorious Mets List: THAT Guy???

By Taryn “the Coop” Cooper

Welcome, Konsortium of the Korner of Kiner, to the mid-point of the List of Notoriety…the “All-Star Break” of the All-Notorious Mets List.

The stakes are getting higher here, as these players are where the votes are actually counting, the emotional ties are deeper to certain players, and there’s more of a visceral reaction when hearing these players’ names, especially when in reference to their time with the Mets.

The last two of the week though, will be the highest of the high stakes with the Official Top 10 (ranked in order by how many votes each player received…or how emotionally invested I might have felt with a certain player that may have been tied for votes with another player).

Today’s list is special.  It’s called “THAT GUY???” for a reason.  Okay, several reasons.  One is, Mets fans have several enemies or perceived threats on other teams.  Imagine if Larry Jones ever played for the Mets?  He would make the “THAT guy?” list.  These are guys that may have had their hey-day with another team, or may have been a return on investment for another player, and he never amounted to much with the Mets (which happens more often than we care to admit, right?).  Or simply you just wonder why the Hell he was ever on this team.

Either way, we’re getting down to the wire.  And the list will just get more infamous and notorious from here on out.

30.) Mike Bordick, Shortshop (2000)

I think I might have been the only person to vote for Mike Bordick.  But hey, my list, my rules.

I understand there was a rationale for trading for Bordick.  Rey Ordonez, #34 on our list, got hurt in 2000, and Steve Phillips makes a panic move sending fan favorite and super-utility man Melvin Mora to Baltimore for Oriole-lifer Mike Bordick.

He was okay for the Mets as a midseason acquisition, but provided Ordonez-esque numbers in the postseason, hitting .125 in the big show against the hated New York Yankees.  Perhaps those perceived saved runs in the field would have translated into more wins for the Mets in the World Series…

I guess Bordick didn’t think much of the Mets anyway – the second he was a free agent (right after the 2000 season), he bolted back to Baltimore (where they hadn’t won anything in several years).

I think what I’m most pissed about is that Baltimore got the better end of that deal, as father-of-quints Melvin Mora became a cult hero in Baltimore and Bordick even more so, by becoming a member of their own Hall of Fame.

And Steve Phillips further proved that besides the Mike Piazza trade, he pretty much sucked at everything else.

29.) Mickey Lolich, Pitcher (1976)

This is what happens when you get traded for a Mets fan favorite: you make the All-Time Notorious Mets list.  Lolich was traded for Mets legend Rusty Staub leading into 1976, for no good reason but…yeah, no good reason.  Lolich’s best days were clearly behind him, as he retired after the 1976 season…then made a “comeback” if you will in the late ‘70s.

The biggest Rusty cheerleader in Mets forums would have to be the man who goes by “Rusty Jr” Ed Marcus from Real Dirty Mets, proclaiming the move was a “horrible trade!  Guy was past his prime and didn’t want to play for the Mets.  Rusty still had a few prime years left!”

If you’d like a more objective rant on the move, Ray Stilwell from Metphistopheles says, “Trading Rusty Staub for THAT?  That long after he’d had a shred of decency left in his arm and even smaller remnant of a shred of decency in his attitude.”

Finally, my husband Ed Leyro from Studious Metsimus says Lolich makes the list, “For being a fat turd who the Mets thought was equal value for an in-his-prime Rusty Staub.  Rusty’s number would have been up on the wall beside Tom Seaver’s had he never been traded away.”

28.) Rey Sanchez, Infielder (2003)

I have to admit, I’m not sure Rey Sanchez would make my own personal Notorious Mets list if someone else were writing it, but he ranked highly for several Mets bloggers and on several lists so I felt compelled to include him.  When I asked some bloggers for blurbs as to “why” though, I had a feeling about the reason, but perhaps Charlie Hangley, concerned Mets fan and blogger over at Mets360, summed it up perfectly in one word: “Haircut.”

To be honest, I’d long forgotten about that stupid in-game haircut in 2003 (that Sanchez completely denied and Lights Up a Room Howe claimed they put it behind them), it caught a lot of heat at the time and rightfully so.  I mean, that’s as bad as playing cards as your team is in the playoffs.  Oh wait, that also happened with the Mets.

Oopsie.

Anyway, I think my post-traumatic Mets disorder blocked that out, but Rey Sanchez was “that guy???” for the Mets.  Rey Ordonez never lived up to the hype and was gone, so being that they had the same name, Sanchez was really a poor man’s Ordonez, which is an insult to poor men everywhere.

27.) Kaz Matsui, Infielder (2004-06)

Leave it to the Mets to get the wrong Matsui.  When Hideki (no relation) Matsui was tearing things up on the other side of town, the Mets decided to make a splashy move and get a poor-man’s version of Matsui…hey, the name.  It’s close enough, right?

I mean, haven’t the Mets learned that getting the poor-man’s version of anything just doesn’t work??  I mean, Jason Bay – poor-man’s version of Matt Holliday.  Oliver Perez – poor man’s version of Derek Lowe (though honestly, Perez is a very rich man because of Omar Minaya).

I digress.

Matsui started off with a bang, literally, each season, when he’d lead off with a home run.  Instead of a poor man’s Matsui, perhaps he was a poor man’s Ichiro with his speed and knack for the bat.  Yeah, once again, we haven’t learned the poor man’s route is NOT the way to go.

Especially when you decide to a) displace your shortstop of the future (some dude named Jose Reyes, wonder what he’s up to these days) for this guy and this same guy b) wears a 1986 championship ring in his press junket coming to the United States.

Note to self: don’t ever have a poor man’s version of anything wearing a 1986 World Championship ring.  Ever.  Especially when you finished with a losing record the year before.  Kthxbye.

26.) Jim Fregosi, Third Baseman (1972-73)

Fregosi is not the only person to make the list with his trade partner (Fregosi for Ryan anyone – by the way, Nolan Ryan made #38 on the All-Notorious Mets List)…that’s a set-up right there.  But trade in and of itself was notorious for several reasons.

The Mets had basically given up on Nolan Ryan.  Perhaps one of the most memorable images of Ryan was as a shy kid looking away from the camera by his BFF George Thomas Seaver singing “Ya Gotta Have Heart” on the Ed Sullivan Show.  The erratic Ryan was basically given up on by the big time New York Mets for a not-so-smaller-market-but-less-pressure California Angels (I still call them that, by the way) for Fregosi.  The Mets believed they needed a bat, and with Fregosi’s line of .268/.340/.403, he seemed to be somewhat of an answer, plus they needed a third baseman, right?

So why was Fregosi well-known as a shortstop prior to coming to New York?  As my husband Ed said, Fregosi makes his list “For not being able to say to the Mets, ‘Dude, I’m a shortstop, not a third baseman’ before they traded Nolan Ryan for him.”  Plus it’s funny because Fregosi was also traded to the Texas Rangers and Mets favorite Wayne Garrett played third base in 1973.  This was the Mike Bordick deal before Bordick was born, basically.

As for that offense they thought they were getting, let’s put it this way: Fregosi’s OBP was not just a little below par while with the Mets…it STUNK!  It was .340 prior to joining the team, it went down to .311 in 1972 and his BA went down to .232 which was slightly below his BA in 1971, at .233.  So why did the Mets trade for him again?

Metphistopheles brings it all home by saying Fregosi makes the list because “One piece for being damaged goods, but 30 pieces for who we traded to get him.”

Anyway wanna hear a bit of notoriety with Fregosi and Ryan?  Fregosi ended up retiring and becoming manager for the Angels in the late ‘70s.  Guess who was his ace?  You guessed it: Lynn Nolan Ryan.

25.) Tommy Davis, Infielder (1967)

What I noticed was particularly funny about this rankings and having people make a list is that you got to see distinctly what generation each person was from.  Most likely if you are a Generation Xer, a lot of your infamous Mets will come from the ‘90s and ‘00s, sometimes if you are ingrained in Mets history, you’ll throw in a couple guys from the ‘70s and ‘80s for good measure, especially if they have remained a punchline longer than they were actually playing for the Mets.

So I took pause when Metphistopheles suggested Tommy Davis.  I didn’t know a lot about him, so I decided to listen to someone who knew the era a bit better than I did chime in.

Metphistopheles: “Not so much for what he did or didn’t do, but he was the Big Deal for the Mets going in to my first season following them (1967).  Another dip into the Dodger water of the Gowanus Canal that was promised to help continue their climb from the cellar begun in ’66.  Didn’t happen – his numbers were decent but his leadership wasn’t and the Mets went backward that year.”

Several books have been written about the history of the Mets, and it seems as if a Mets historian like Metphistopheles thinks Tommy Davis might be worthy enough of the list, I should at least take it to heart.  After all, in some of these books, many of them lambast the fact that prior to 1968 (when Gil Hodges was hired as manager) there was no clear direction of the team.  The rookies weren’t developing correctly, and there wasn’t a lot of leadership in the clubhouse, either in player form or managerial.  That changed when Hodges was brought to New York…perhaps Tommy Davis was the beginning of the end for those players lacking in leadership intangibles.

After all, it turns out there was a silver lining for Tommy Davis.  “Trading him for (Tommie) Agee and (Al) Weis the next year was the best thing he ever contributed.”  So I guess at one point, the Mets got value for a guy who was presumed to be dead-on-arrival.  Tommie Agee is a Mets legend; Weis hit .455 in the 1969 World Series for the Mets.  I’d say that deal worked out for them, huh?

24.) Guillermo Mota, Pitcher (2006-07)

Mota was the THAT GUY????? heard ‘round the world when he came to the Mets.  Guillermo Mota is a head case, a guy who has no business as a bullpen arm.  So of course, in 2006, after a panic move to get Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez at the trade deadline in 2006, Minaya must have been smoking some of that wacky tabacky in getting Mota…in other words, why?

Prior to him ever throwing a pitch in a Mets uniform, we had other reasons to dislike Mota.  Mostly because he was a head hunter on the mound and you know how head hunters are treated by Mets fans (see: Clemens, Roger).   But he went for one of our own in 2003, when he went after Mets legend and fan favorite Mike Piazza…the same guy who not only had a bean ball but a bat thrown at him by Roider…I mean, Roger Clemens.  In Spring Training, but still, a head hunter is a head hunter is a head hunter.

When Piazza went after Mota (who played for the Dodgers at the time, Piazza’s former team), Pedro Martinez (who wasn’t even a teammate of either at the time) chimed in and pooh-poohed Piazza’s anger.  Well, not like Pedro is anyone to talk about going after players.  But still, Mota was not very welcomed by Mets fans, to say the least.  At least Piazza was no longer on the team, as if that would have stopped anything.

So how does Mota repay our forgiveness?  By giving up that bloop double to Scott Spiezio in Game two of the NLCS.  That changed the dynamic of the series, I don’t care what anyone says, that stupid double.  As for Mota’s tenure here, he repaid the Mets generosity of a contract by getting a 50-game ban in 2007 for HGH use.

Sounds about right to me.

23.) Kenny Rogers, Pitcher (1999)

In 1999, South Park mania was sweeping the nation.  With its catch phrases, like “Cheesy poofs,” “I Learned Something Today,” or “I Killed Kenny,” it was impossible to run into someone saying those words and not know what they meant.

When I was saying, “I Killed Kenny Rogers” in 1999, it was not to be seen as a compliment.

In 1999, the Mets were exciting and a ton of fun to watch and root for.  A bunch of scrappy players with some big bats like John Olerud and Mike Piazza leading the charge, you’d think a comeback effort against the hated Atlanta Braves, especially with no one really giving the Mets a chance in most circles, would have been enough for Kenny Rogers to keep the momentum going.  Especially since Game 6 had such a rich history in Mets Notoriety (See: Astros, Houston and later, Buckner, Bill).

Leave it to Kenny Rogers who didn’t get the memo that “history of dramatic Game 6’s are supposed to continue,” according to Ed Leyro.

“High and outside to ANDRUW JONES??? You f**king a$$hole!!!”  – Fred “Senor Solly” Solomon, concerned Mets fan since 1984.

To add insult to injury, Rogers became a critical part in the pitching staff (say what?) in the Detroit Tigers improbable run to the World Series in 2006 that they subsequently lost to the St. Louis Cardinals who beat the…oh never mind.

Post-traumatic Mets Disorder kicking in again.  Eh, whatever.  Kenny Rogers is a douche anyway.

22.) Kevin McReynolds, Left Fielder (1987-91, 1994)

I was very torn about including Kevin McReynolds on this list.  For one, I think he gets a very bad rep.  He is a quiet and stoic guy, the reputation of a Carlos Beltran type who just does what he gets paid for, and nothing more.

Big Mac as he was called in his tenure with the Mets was a very good ballplayer.  The fact that he was traded for fan favorite and 1986 legend (…in the offseason leading to 1987) Kevin Mitchell may have left a bad taste in Mets fans mouths.  But his numbers spoke for themselves: .273/.331/.463 and 118 HRs and 435 RBIs.

What stood out most of all was his attitude.  He had a total blasé approach to baseball, a precursor to the strong silent types like Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran, who just play but have a hard time having fans warm up to them (though admittedly his numbers are not as impactful as either of those two players…just an example of good players that fans don’t warm up to).

Mets fans seem to forget that he and Darryl Strawberry were both so good in 1988 that they both canceled each other’s votes out in the MVP voting that year.

What most fans definitely remember is his offhand quote about the Mets going to the World Series.  McReynolds essentially said, Win or lose, he wins.  If the Mets win, he gets to go to the World Series.  If they lose, he gets to go back to Arkansas and hunt.  It was a win-win situation for him.

Perhaps it was, but in a baseball hungry town, especially in the Mets hey-day, you don’t say that, even if you think it!  Senor Solly was a little bitter in his analysis of McReynolds, saying “I hope he was a better hunter than hitter.”

That’s the crime of it.  McReynolds was a good player.  I’m sure if he didn’t return to the Mets, we might have looked back on him more objectively.  Of course, until he returned fat and out of shape, and had his wife call into the WFAN radio to berate Howie Rose for suggesting his weight gain might have caused some gaffes in the field.

Oy.  Ballplayers, please make a note to yourself: if you (#32 Gregg Jefferies) or a family member (Jackie McReynolds) have to call into the WFAN to defend your honor…maybe you should just put the phone down and step away, and ask for a trade.  Seriously, you’re not doing any favors for yourself.

21.) Juan Samuel, Second Baseman (1989)

Back in 2008, my dad and I were in attendance for an Orioles game at Camden Yards (the opponent was the Pittsburgh Pirates).  He was looking at the scorecard and said someone in Mets history was a coach for the Orioles.

It was Juan Samuel.  As soon as I realized it, I shuddered.  This should be all you need to know about Samuel, but he deserves at least a little more of a write up.

I was 13 years old when this trade occurred, and I remember it like it was yesterday.  What I don’t think I realized at the time, though was that Mets General Manager Frank Cashen was dismantling the 1980s Mets, that the official white flag has been waved, by trading fan favorites and 1986 Mets legends Roger McDowell and Lenny Dykstra.   There was no good reason to get rid of those two, except that Cashen wanted them gone.  In fact, the trade that put Cashen’s mark on Mets history (Allen and Ownbey for Hernandez)…this was kind of the opposite of that.

I didn’t get it at the time.  But in a sense, Cashen was waving the white flag for those great 1980s Mets teams…this was the end of the road and it was time to rebuild after a fun trip.  Other fans tend to agree with this sentiment, by the way.

“The worst trade of my childhood” – Senor Solly

“Didn’t we learn from the Tug McGraw trade with the Phillies that you can’t negotiate with terrorists?  We gave up indispensible pieces of our ’86 heritage and got scrapple in return.”  –  Metphistopheles

Actually, Metphistopheles, I disagree…if we’d have gotten scrapple in return, we’d be able to eat.  Scrapple would have been more valuable.  Samuel’s time with the Mets was nondescript as the Mets once again fell short of doing anything meaningful.  A midseason acquisition, he head for the hills – Hollywood, to be exact – and played for the Dodgers after that.  He was traded for a guy who could make the Notorious list himself, Mike Marshall.

The ante will be upped starting tomorrow!  Are you excited about who may be #1????

One response to “Notorious Mets List: THAT Guy???

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