By Taryn “the Coop” Cooper
Well, folks, here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the official top 10 Notorious Mets of all-time rankings!
Up to this point, there have been 40 former Mets (and even at least one current) who have made the list, and we are down to the final 10. This has been exhausting and a labor of love, but it’s been a lot of fun, especially to hear the feedback of people who have been reading them. I’d like to thank the Mets blogging rounds and concerned fans who have helped construct this list with their fabulous insight, summaries and overall feelings about certain players. I’d especially like to thank Matt from the Daily Stache, Rusty Jr from Real Dirty Mets, Vinny from Metszilla and Metsblog, Bill Price from the Bitter Bill, Dee from Mets Writer, Ed from Studious Metsimus, Charlie Hangley from Mets360, Joe Spector from Metsmerized Online, Ray Stilwell from Metphistopheles and the Godfather of Hate Lists, Metstradamus. Big shout outs go out to my concerned Mets fan base, Fred “Senor Solly” Solomon and Jay the Dawg.
So let’s reCOOP the players/staff/management/front office/ownership who have made the list so far:
50.) Jim Duquette, General Manager (2003-04)
49.) Steve Phillips, General Manager (1997-2003)
48.) Jeff Wilpon, COO, Sterling Enterprises Buffoon (2002-present)
47.) M. Donald Grant, General Manager (1962-78)
46.) Willie Randolph, Manager (2005-08)
45.) Art Howe, Manager (2003-04)
44.) Jerry Manuel, Manager (2008-10)
43.) Al Harazin, General Manager (1992-93)
42.) Omar Minaya, General Manager (2004-10)
41.) Fred Wilpon, Ownership Group (1980-current)
40.) Anthony Young, Pitcher (1991-93)
39.) Jason Bay, Left fielder (2010-present)
38.) Nolan Ryan, Pitcher (1966-71)
37.) Doug Sisk, Pitcher (1982-87)
36.) Aaron Heilman, Pitcher (2003-08)
35.) Mike Scott, Pitcher (1979-82)
34.) Rey Ordonez, Shortstop (1996-2002)
33.) Jeromy Burnitz, Outfielder (1993, 1994, 2002, 2003)
32.) Gregg Jefferies, Infielder (1987-91)
31.) Lastings Milledge, Outfielder (2006-07)
30.) Mike Bordick, Shortshop (2000)
29.) Mickey Lolich, Pitcher (1976)
28.) Rey Sanchez, Infielder (2003)
27.) Kaz Matsui, Infielder (2004-06)
26.) Jim Fregosi, Third Baseman (1972-73)
25.) Tommy Davis, Left Fielder (1967)
24.) Guillermo Mota, Pitcher (2006-07)
23.) Kenny Rogers, Pitcher (1999)
22.) Kevin McReynolds, Left Fielder (1987-91, 1994)
21.) Juan Samuel, Second Baseman (1989)
20.) Roger Cedeno, Outfielder (1999, 2002-03)
19.) Jeff Kent, Second Base (1992-96)
18.) Dave Kingman, OF/IF (1975-77, 1981-83)
17.) Bret Saberhagen, Pitcher (1992-95)
16.) J.J. Putz, Bullpen (2009)
15.) Duaner Sanchez, Bullpen (2006, 2008)
14.) Steve Trachsel, Pitcher (2001-06)
13.) Joe McEwing, Super-Utility Guy (2000-04)
12.) Francisco Rodriguez, Closer (2009-11)
11.) George Foster, Outfielder (1982-86)
Now, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, the Top 10 All-Time Notorious Mets!!!
10.) Richie Hebner, Third Baseman (1979)
I never saw Hebner play, but he had to make this list somewhere, and it may as well have been in the official Top 10 list. Thirty-some years after the fact, he remains a punch line. In fact, he ended up on many lists, but no one provided a good quote for him. The closest was from Charlie Hangley who described someone as a “lower case Hebner” (someone else who didn’t make the big list, sorry CharlieH!).
Hebner was traded to the Mets in 1979. It wasn’t so much that they gave up a lot for him (Nino Espinosa), he was touted as a slugger and while he had a career high up to that point 79 RBIs, slugger was far from what he was.
He also openly complained about being in New York, didn’t try much in the field making Roger Dorn look like a defensive genius out there, plus for the time he got paid like a superstar and clearly he wasn’t (this ties into the whole “poor man’s version” of something NEVER working in the Mets favor.
Judging by what I have heard from most Mets fans though regarding Hebner is that he was the quintessential Met of the late ‘70s, the underachieving but high hopes player who never amounted to much, and therefore the disappointments of the fans mostly reflected in that player’s style of play.
The piece de resistance to this story is that he dug graves in the family business during the offseason. Telling, because that’s all he seemed to do in his time with the Mets.
9.) Mr. Anna Benson, Pitcher (2004-05)
Also Known As Kris Benson. Kris Benson is a quiet dude, someone who got a bum rap the second he put on a Mets uniform. He was involved in not so much an infamous trade, but a day of trading that became infamous. And for a back of the rotation starter, he was pretty decent. I guess.
For Notoriety purposes though, he mostly got a few bumps up from his notorious wife, Anna. Oh Anna, the former stripper who has a future in Republican politics (an insult to true conservatives out there) by claiming to be patriotic by wearing a red, white and blue colored thong bikini with stars strategically places. By dressing up as Mrs Claus at the Mets family Christmas party while wearing boobie tassels, making Britney Spears look like a Puritan.
Clearly, Anna wore the pants in the family. She had threatened her husband with sleeping with his entire team if he ever cheated on her. She also called out soon-to-be Mets teammate Carlos Delgado (who was traded to the Mets in the offseason leading into 2006) by saying he’s not patriotic and has turned his back on this country.
Delgado, who is a U.S. citizen by Puerto Rican birthright, was protesting U.S. presence on Vieques by refusing to acknowledge “God Bless America” played at ballparks. Anna, the all-American girl she is, doesn’t realize that we technically don’t have to take off our hats or stand in place (despite what Yankees security may try to tell us) during GBA…I probably would have been pissed if he didn’t stand for the Star Spangled Banner, but that didn’t happen. But despite what you might think of Delgado (he was VERY close to making this list but not for these reasons), it’s also his right.
Anna talked her way out of town or rather Kris’ way out of town to Baltimore. Just prior to a salacious spread in Maxim or whatever Playboy-lite magazine was issued. I’m sure that still would have stamped his ticket out of town.
Anyway, Kris was a nondescript pitcher. We got Jorge Julio (turned in El Duque) and John Maine out of the deal w/ Baltimore, notorious pitchers in their own right, but not notorious enough to make the list.
8.) Robbie Alomar, Second Base (2002-03)
“Flushing: where HOF careers come to die” ~ Senor Solly.
Robbie Alomar got his well-deserved call to the Hall this year. His time with the Mets though remains a blip on his otherwise stellar career.
What is it about Flushing that allows players to lose their momentum when they’ve proven otherwise that they can play? Alomar can’t even use CitiField as an excuse since he played at Shea, for crying out loud!
Roberto Alomar is one of those players from a baseball family dynasty, whose only blemish prior to him joining the Mets was having an argument with an umpire and spitting in his face. When the two shook hands and went on to do charity work together, you had to see both sides agreed to it and maybe give Alomar the benefit of the doubt of a bad day.
But when he was traded to the Mets, “good guy” Alomar went on record to talk about how disappointed he was with the trade. He was happy in Cleveland, and he felt betrayed by the trade (in so many words). He showed this by his every day play with the Mets. Defense and offense went out the window. The only thing Alomar had left was his good name when Jim Duquette (#) managed to get a bag of balls for him in a bad contract dump in 2003.
Alomar has come under fire recently. Given his good news of his recent vote into the Hall of Fame (I guess sportswriters can overlook his dismal Flushing years), rumors about his health and putting his girlfriends at risk with HIV leave people wondering just what Alomar is hiding. It’s a shame that we live in a society where in the event he IS ill, he doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it and giving a face to it. But at the same time, if he’s knowingly putting significant others at risk, I have no use for him. And this is even if he had a good career in Flushing.
7.) Luis Castillo, Second Base (2007-10)
“TWO HANDS!!!!” I can’t quote anyone directly here, because, well, basically that’s all anyone had to say about Castillo. Metstradamus did get more in-depth though by saying, “The mere mention of Castillo can give a loving man a murderous heart, and drive him insane.”
Castillo came to the Mets midseason 2007 in a trade that basically sent a nobody prospect to the Minnesota Twins. Rumor had it that then-Twins ace Johan Santana cried when Castillo left, that’s how fond he was of Luis. Of course, we waited around for that sincere nice guy Castillo to show up.
He never did.
I will say this: to Luis’ credit, he did what he had to do on the team when he first got here. He was Slappy McSingleton, he got on base a lot and provided good D in the #4 spot on the field. Problem was, the Mets needed more, a LOT more, in 2008 when offense was nowhere to be found and good D just wasn’t cutting it on the team.
The rumor was that Omar Minaya gave him that 4-year $25mm contract because of one thing: Johan Santana. He needed Castillo to woo Santana here was what some people argued. Well, didn’t Santana realize that all he had to do was show up and Minaya would have given him any money he wanted??
Prior to 2011, when he was subsequently released by the Mets, the common argument from Mets fans who believed he was worth keeping around (though he openly moped, wouldn’t take ground balls during spring training and overall wasn’t pulling his weight when the new management told him he’d have to compete for his job) was that he hit .302 in 2009. This was also a very bad 2009 team so to say he was worth keeping around for the possibility he might have that average again was a poor argument – it was like saying I have the biggest mansion in the trailer park.
Remember what else happened in 2009? It was one of the few times his defensive skills failed him, on the big stage in the Subway Series at Yankee Stadium.
You may not want to read what this is going to say…but a routine pop-up from Alex Rodriguez had Luis confused, he lost the ball and…dropped…it. Causing the Mets to lose on a walk-off error.
I remember watching the game on TV, and as a Mets fan, I just knew, KNEW it wouldn’t end pretty, and I wasn’t going to exhale until that ball was caught. Instead, when he dropped it, I screamed. I was by myself, with the cats in the room, but I screamed out loud…and then managed to miss a call from my dad who left me a message claiming that he would “Never go to a F**KIN game again.”
I know we try to rationalize that the Subway Series games “mean nothing” and that they have jumped the shark and blah blah blah. The fact is, Mets fans need these games, especially games that they should have won. We were pissed, we all were. Yet after this game, despite the amount of injuries they had, the team definitely gave up after that game. What was the point?
All the people who were upset about Castillo being cut? The Mets are still paying him for 2010 and…he is not on a major league roster. Not shocking at all to this Mets fan.
6.) Lenny Dykstra, Outfielder (1985-89)
This is another player who was traded for someone (#21 Juan Samuel) and they both made the list.
Lenny is a fan favorite. Was, is, always will be, for his heroics in the 1986 postseason. Whenever there is a slow Mets news week, though, we can count on Dykstra to do or say something stupid that gets him in the headlines again, and gets us to roll our collective eyes AGAIN.
It seemed as though Dykstra had his crap together. Unlike other 1980s Mets who followed a dark path (like Darryl and Doc with drugs), Dykstra had reinvented himself, as a business owner (chain of car washes), then as an investment “guru,” even getting accolades from Mr. Mad Money himself, Jim Cramer.
I had to applaud Lenny. He seemed to have found his niche, that is according to what everyone was telling me. There are streets with the carcasses of former athletes who didn’t know how to manage their investments or had bad apples doing it for them, only to see it be embezzled, lost or worse. Dykstra seemed like a good guy, no longer the wild child he was portrayed to be in the ‘80s.
Along with exposing the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme that took the Wilpon ownership group down with it, the 2008 market crash also exposed Dykstra, for being little more than an swamp land in Florida advisor.
Seems that he had his own little Ponzi scheme racket going on – sure, his car washes might have been a legit business at one point, but it seems like it was a front for being a boiler room of types for investments, taking people’s money and running, essentially. According to this Deadspin article, he was being sued from multiple sources in 2009.
But the gift that keeps on giving keeps on..well…giving. Earlier this year, Charlie Sheen was making headlines with his crazy rants about Adonis DNA and “winning.” Dykstra went to jail for embezzlement, and Sheen bailed him out. Crazy, right? Now, Dykstra apparently has a website to raise funds for bail money. You can’t make this stuff up folks. In fact, if we ever have a slow news week, look to see what Dykstra is up to. I’m sure he can provide you with a good quote.
As for good quotes, here is one from Metstradamus regarding Lenny: “Look, my mother locked herself in the bathroom during your at-bat in Game 3 against Houston because she was so nervous. And she didn’t talk to me for a whole day because you got traded and I was the one who delivered the news. But you get photographed in handcuffs, you’re on the list. Automatically. Nails, we love you. And we wish you nothing but the best. But infamy just fits you like a glove on this one.”
5.) Tom Glavine, Pitcher (2003-07)
“A Met killer to the very end,” Senor Solly says succinctly. That’s the best characterization of Tom Glavine who never quite endeared himself to Mets fans, at least not till towards the end of his contract, then that all blew up in our collective faces in the very last game he started in a Mets uniform.
You remember that one, right? The one where he could barely record an out in a must-win game in 2007 against the Marlins? Mets Writer says, “Probably his most important start as a Met, and he gives up 7 runs while recording only one out, and eliminating all hope of post-season play.”
To his defense (and you notice, I can be an apologist at times), the fact that season came down to the very last game wasn’t entirely on Tom Glavine. I was willing to let it slide because hey, we all have bad games. (well, players do, but you get the point) Plus there were PLENTY of games down the stretch the team SHOULD HAVE won but DID NOT, but Glavine became the scapegoat pure and simple because of his remarks after the game. Disappointed, not devastated, anyone? Oy.
But then I started to think about his tenure with the Mets. Perhaps it was that he started off on the wrong foot in the Mets home opener in 2003. He easily rounded out his career with just as crappy a game as his first. But he kept me believing in him, even when he made excuses about Questec, even when he made excuses about not getting the calls he would get as one of the Big Three in Atlanta, even when he made excuses about getting his teeth knocked out in a cab ride from LaGuardia (okay, maybe that was bad).
The fact was, Glavine tried to convince us he was one of us (an underdog that we can get behind), and even took to heart advice that Pedro Martinez gave him about him tipping his pitches. There was a Tom Glavinaissance in the middle of his contract…of course, we all later realized he was nothing but a Brave in Mets clothing. So what that he won #300 with the Mets. He was never a “true” Met, even if he wore the uniform. He never came through when the team needed him most, and that’s the hallmark of a guy who could have cared less about his time here in New York.
“What pisses me off about Tom Glavine was that he spent five seasons trying to get me to believe in him after his very first start as a Met where he got shelled against the Cubs on Opening Day where it was 33 degrees (in what was probably the only Met game I ever left early that didn’t involve illness or getting a ride home). Going into his last start as a Met, a game the Mets needed to either make the playoffs or get to a one game playoff, and a game that was the very reason you even sign Tom Glavine in the first place, and he morphs into Eminem from the early part of 8 Mile. Dammit.” ~ Metstradamus
4.) Armando Benitez, Relief Pitcher/Closer (1999-2003)
“Blood is pouring out of my eyes,” says Senor Solly in his recollection of the great Armando Benitez himself. Where would I begin with gigante Armando, who had a big imposing presence on the mound, but an intimidation level of Snoopy during big spots? Perhaps it’s Benitez who has caused the years and years of closer-related post-traumatic Mets disorder to bubble over with fans, that closers have never given us a good reason like them and are only as good as their last save.
But that doesn’t happen, though with Benitez’s “blown save, after blown save,” as Mets Writer recalls.
But here’s the thing with Benitez. He was surprisingly effective, I mean, as far as closers go. It was just the big stages that he BLEW games (like lights out against the Marlins, forgetting how to pitch in the playoffs in 1999 and 2000) that leaves us with the blood pouring out of our eyes as Solly suggests.
Closers are an odd breed. Even Mariano Rivera blows a save every now and then. But there’s something special about a Benitez Blown Save with Mets fans. Metstradamus says, “Closers sometimes suck. Braden Looper, Francisco Rodriguez, Billy Wagner, even Jesse Orosco and John Franco have had their moments. But no closer in the history of baseball has sucked more spectacularly for the world to see on the biggest stages in baseball than Armando Benitez. He owned the Brewers and Marlins. Well good for him. But every big game Armando Benitez has ever pitched in ended in disaster. And on top of that had the nerve to complain that reporters only talked to him when he blew a game. Maybe that was because he blew the games with the most reporters present.”
3.) Oliver Perez, Pitcher (2006-10)
Where do I begin with Ollie? From the panic move that brought him here (we can indirectly blame #15 on the list, Duaner Sanchez, for him and directly blame FO list maker #42 Omar Minaya for keeping him here permanently), to his after-contract-year decline. He participated in the World Baseball Classic in 2009, which gave him the wherewithal to eat everything he wanted and return to Mets camp fat and out of shape. After his contract, he won three whole games in two seasons, and was the most expensive reliever in the bullpen (next to #12 K-Rod of course). The best part? He had to “fake” an injury to essentially take a minor league assignment to get better and subsequently did not return any better or worse for that matter. Then when he STILL sucks not injured (although he wasn’t truly injured to begin with), he refuses to take a minor league assignment again, making Mets Writer spot-on with her assessment that “Anyone who refuses a minor league assignment because he sucks doesn’t even deserve a minor league assignment.”
Being selfish, Perez essentially made Jerry Manuel #44 work with a 24-man roster (23 and ½ if you don’t fully count #7 Luis Castillo either) in 2010 and work short a man in the bullpen. Manuel never complained, but who knows, maybe if he did some action would have been taken. Fact is, Minaya didn’t want to admit he was wrong and have the Wilpons, his friends and secondary family, eat the $12mm when they themselves are in financial dire straits that he was partially responsible for putting them in…and look like a fool but hey whatever. Make a statement. It took Sandy Alderson all of five minutes to cut Oliver Perez in spring training. OP was going nowhere fast.
He is now in the Washington Nationals minor league system, with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. He is doing well, but then again, it’s like pitching to little leaguers. Frankly I’m surprised anyone would want to take a chance on him given his shitty attitude. The only winner in this scenario was agent Scott Boras, who laughed all the way to the bank after getting that deal for Perez.
“When you talk about the failures of the post Adam Wainwright strikeout Mets, Oliver Perez is the symbol of all that is wrong. First off, he should have never been a Met: the only reason Omar Minaya panicked and traded for him was because Cecil Wiggins destroyed Filthy Sanchez’s career. Then, Endy Chavez should have never needed to make that spectacular catch, since a real pitcher would have gotten Scott Rolen to pop up. Then, after signing a three-year $39 million dollar contract, he ate McDonald’s with Teddy Higuera every day at the World Baseball Classic before letting his career go to hell. And last but not least, refused a minor league assignment because he realized during the World Baseball Classic that he liked filet mignon better than he liked McDonald’s.” – Metstradamus
2.) Vince Coleman, Outfielder (1991-93)
I think the quintessential quote about Vince Coleman’s time with the Mets was perfectly summed up by the king of quotations Metstradamus, in his inaugural Hall of Hate, which Coleman is also a member. When Coleman was on the Cardinals, he was one of those punch-and-judy hitters who always seemed to kill the Mets. Then he comes to the Mets and is completely worthless.
I remember chuckling to myself as a 15 year old or however Hell old I was at the time when it seemed like we could finally throw Coleman out stealing (remember? For the longest time, the Mets never threw him out stealing), he was one of ours. Heh. Maybe that should have been our sign: if the METS can start catching Coleman stealing, maybe he’s on the down side of his career.
Couple that with being on the Worst Team Money Can Buy, and it will get you a permanent place on this list.
But of course he wouldn’t be #2 on the Notorious Mets List without a good story, a reason OUTSIDE of the baseball part to make him ultra-notorious. It was his imitation of a Grucci Brother (thanks for the reference, Studious Metsimus and Mets Writer) that made him a sure lock for the Notoriety Hall of Fame.
After a game at Dodger Stadium in 1993, Coleman threw a lit firecracker at a crowd from his vehicle in the parking lot. Two children had second-degree burns as a result of this act, and a woman almost lost her hearing. Even better part of the story: he was with Dodgers outfielder Eric Davis, who was part of the reason the fight broke out that Notorious Met #11 George Foster would not participate in. Talk about your six degrees of separation. (He was also traded to the Royals in 1994 for another infamous Met, #22 on the list, Kevin McReynolds during his second stint.
“Consider what Vince has done for most Met fans: coming up on July 4th, a festive holiday. But Coleman’s dumb stunt of throwing firecrackers at children has ensured that when a news reporter says ‘fireworks,’ Coleman is the first person I think of.” Metstradamus
“Hated him as a Cardinal, amazing hated him more once he got here… gave new meaning to ‘explosive’ and ‘offensive.’” Metphistopheles
His play with the Mets (absolutely useless) plus with his overt acts of being a douche make him a sure fire (no pun intended) member of this list. As Senor Solly said, this was the “wrong kind of spark, Vince.”
1.) Bobby Bonilla, Outfielder (1992-95, 1999)
If the Notorious Mets Hall of Fame truly existed, and all of the people who chimed in had a vote that “counted” in it, I’m certain of one thing: Bobby Bonilla would have been a first ballot inductee. And if that is justification for the Mets paying him for the next 25 years, so be it. Bonilla will literally be the gift that keeps on giving. From hearing about it each year, to thinking about his time with the Mets. Face it folks: Bobby Bonilla is the most notorious Met of all.
Let’s go down the list. From being the “face of the franchise” for the “Worst Team Money Can Buy” (that’s not a good thing), and that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. And when that’s only the tip, well it can only get worse. For some fans, as Metphistopheles said, the reason he’s notorious is because “We’re still paying the sumbitch.” But there’s a Hell of a lot more to it than that.
Yet another one of those illustrious characters who sign a big contract and doesn’t do anything as a Met except suck. (To the new front office: Please take note. Try to develop as many players as you can and don’t use the free agent market. Kthxbye). He signed a contract to be the big bat, and he was no longer the 100 RBI guy he was in Pittsburgh. I mean, it happens. But he had to wear cotton in his ears to drown out the boos he got while he played under par. Not good. Oh and the best part? That book written on the Worst Team Money Can Buy…he threatened that writer Bob Klapisch with showing him “the Bronx.” Classy.
Joe McIlvaine should have never been fired as General Manager for the fact that a) he was able to trade Bonilla in 1995 and b) get something of value for him, like, at all. But then McIlvaine’s replacement, Steve Phillips (#49) found a way TO BRING HIM BACK in 1999. Didn’t Phillips know that we spent all that time trying to get rid of him??? He and his whopping .160 AVG that year should have been, in his own words, been shown the Bronx “because he sucked as a Met” says Mets Writer. (Did I mention he went to the postseason twice after leaving the Mets, once with Baltimore and the other winning a World Series with the Florida Marlins???)
Besides the haircut that Rey Sanchez (#28) received during a game in 2003, one of the most criticized aspects in Mets history occurred in Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS when he and Rickey Henderson apparently played cards as Kenny Rogers (#23) walked in the winning run. Nothing like being a team player.
Bobby Bonilla is still getting paid by the Mets to this day. No, that much is fact. He got an annuity so that the Wilpons could reinvest the money owed to Bonilla (at the time $5mm I believe), they could make their compounded interest on it in 12 years, then have him paid out in 25 years. I actually studied this in one of my business classes and at the time, I said it was not a bad deal and the Mets would have broken even in time-related payments. Well, it sucks that Bonilla is still on the payroll but what can you do? This is business.
Of course, the fact that Bernie Madoff was the advisor they invested it with…had it been anyone else I’d say it was a great deal. Of course, now it’s toilet paper.
So what have we learned today folks about Bobby Bonilla? Metstradamus sums it up with: “From cotton in his ears, to offering to show a reporter the Bronx, to cards with Rickey Henderson during Game 6 of the ’99 NLCS, Bobby Bonilla symbolizes Mets failure that transcends all eras. But it takes real talent to parlay all of this into financial security for the rest of his life. For that I say, kudos to you Mr. Bonilla. But you still suck.”