By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper
We all know it, folks. We cringe in fear each time we hear about the next and newest brightest star to come up through the ranks with the Mets. Alternatively we also hear about guys who are young and have a lot of upside that come to the Mets as youngsters and turn into absolute crap.
I believe the children are the future, Whitney Houston and Randy Watson may have once sang. But when they start with the Mets it is almost like they are doomed for failure. What’s worse: they sometimes go on to better careers with other teams AFTER leaving the Mets.
40.) Anthony Young, Pitcher (1991-93)
I feel bad for Anthony Young, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a notorious or infamous Met. You mention his name to any Mets fan, be it casual or die hard, and you’ll get the same response.
No, not his age or number of years on his contract. As Mets Writer Dee Winter says, “How many consecutive decisions can one guy lose? Apparently, 27.”
Some fans will go to their grave defending the honor of Young (including myself, my cousin Jay the Dawg, and Ed Leyro), though. What’s worse than losing 27 consecutive decisions in the time between May of 1992 through July of 1993? Having a not-so-horrific ERA of 3.98 in that time period with the Mets. Putting the team in a position to win each time he went out on the mound. Perhaps the most notorious of all were the teams he played on, that couldn’t score in a brothel.
39.) Jason Bay, Left fielder (2010-present)
Jason Bay was voted Rookie of the Year in 2004. But many Mets fans didn’t realize this bright future star was in the Mets organization prior to this. In fact, when we saw who (Steve Phillips) traded Jason Bay for what (Steve Reed….Steve Reed??? Seriously???), it was a foregone conclusion that Phillips was a moron and easily gave up on a kid in the Mets system who could have been a missing piece to the puzzle for mid-2000s teams.
Until he came back to the Mets. See, in the offseason going into 2010, I was excited because this seemed to be righting a wrong, getting Jason Bay back into the Mets system. He was always a great hitter. He could always hit for average, he drove in a bunch of runs and was an overall good guy who people liked to root for.
Then CitiField comes in, where guaranteed home runs turn into 400 foot outs under the Mo’s Zone. And his protection in the lineup was strikeout happy David Wright the first year. THEN to top it all off, he gets a concussion! It seems like Bay is finally coming around, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t gun shy about him still.
Jason Bay signs a four-year contract with the Mets and for the past year and a half has either a) sucked or b) was hurt. I’m convinced he’s somewhere between the two but has been showing some glimmers of hope ever now and then. That’s not enough for Concerned Fan Fred “Senor Solly” Solomon (“Quite possibly, the worst free agent signing in Mets history, and he’s only a year and a half into his deal“)and Miss Dee (“Sure let’s pay the guy $18 mm a year to be hurt and strike out. WOO!”) though.
38.) Nolan Ryan, Pitcher, 1966-71
You may wonder why Nolan Ryan, one of the best pitchers of his generation, is on this list. After all, he was hardly notorious or infamous in his time with the Mets. Mostly, he was just underwhelming and meh, which does qualify for infamy in his own right since he went on to throw 7 no-hitters (no perfect games) and is the all-time strikeout leader with 5,714.
Why would the Mets ever trade someone like that, you may ask? Well, I wasn’t alive for that, but my dad did tell me that Ryan never impressed him till the ‘80s which was really his hey-day. But during his time with the Mets, he wasn’t…bad. He had an underwhelming record of 29-38, 3.58 ERA and a WHIP of 1.398. Not terrible, but not great. But here’s the kicker, and how a saber might have been able to see Ryan’s undervaluing: his K/9 innings were off the charts. But he was perceived as erratic, and not to mention, the small town boy wasn’t happy playing in New York.
But Fregosi for Ryan is one of the most infamous trades of Mets history. Not to mention…Ryan left the team hexed with its inability to pitch no-hitters. Seriously, with the pitching talent this team has had, no no-hitters and Ryan has SEVEN? Burn, baby, burn.
37.) Doug Sisk, Pitcher (1982-87)
From most accounts, Doug Sisk is the nicest guy you will ever want to meet. But that doesn’t mean he’s not vilified and has a primal impact on Mets fans when referring to him. In Jeff Pearlman’s The Bad Guys Won, during the team’s 1986 championship run there was a simulated game between the 1986 Mets and 1969 Mets. The winning pitcher? Doug Sisk. And even in simulation, Sisk was booed to the nth degree.
Sure, to the man himself, it hurt. But the only thing he had to do was, you know, not suck, or as Senor Solly so eloquently said, “Even at 10, I knew this guy sucked big hairy donkey nuts.” (PS When Senor Solly and I were 10, it was also his worst year as a pitcher, with an ERA of 5.30. No wonder my dad and uncle booed him till the cows came home)
36.) Aaron Heilman, Pitcher (2003-08)
I will state up front that I think Aaron Heilman gets a bad rep. I feel like in his time, he was misused by the management and front office, dangling the carrot of starting, a role he was better suited for, and keeping him in the ‘pen when it was clear he was not a candidate for that role. To this day, I am convinced the Mets ruined his career.
But I was outnumbered, of course. Aaron Heilman made several lists from people who submitted them to me. Perhaps because of his inability to come through in a big spot, namely Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS (another thing I think he gets too much crap for, but that’s besides the point). As Senor Solly said – using a line that I created – Heilman’s antics have contributed to a lot of post-traumatic Mets disorder for a lot of fans. And that is why he makes this list.
35.) Mike Scott, Pitcher (1979-82)
Just say Oy Vey. Mike Scott, as Metstradamus said in his inaugural Hate Hall of Fame, was dubbed the Human White Flag during his time here, and decides to cheat AFTER he leaves the team. See, the Mets can’t even get their names tarnished by actual cheaters (just actual felons), they can’t even get that one right!
In Pearlman’s The Bad Guys Won, a future Houston Astro teammate of Scott said that the player he was traded for, Danny Heep, was a kid with a lot of upside and pop and Scott was blah. Considering the Mets almost lost the 1986 NLCS to the Astros BECAUSE of Scott and almost in spite of Heep not being very good was enough for me. Mike Scott is a Notorious Met.
34.) Rey Ordonez, Shortstop (1996-2002)
It’s funny how the bloom falls off the rose when you are not a good hitter but a good defenseman. Take Ordonez, who could barely hit his weight, but always made a decent play in the infield. The argument was he was saving as many runs as he wasn’t driving in, brainwashing fans into thinking that defense was everything (see: Castillo, Luis, don’t see: Murphy, Daniel) and getting hits wasn’t all that important. Until, you know, getting hits were important.
Ordonez was a darling when he was protected in the lineup by the likes of John Olerud and Mike Piazza. As offense started to decline, Ordonez’ shortcomings were magnified. But also, when that started to happen, his defense also started to go downhill. To which he only spoke English once in an interview, as Metstradamus said, and called Mets fans “too stupid.” Gee, thanks for nothing there Rey-Rey? Remember how we supported your ass even though you sucked during the late ‘90s?
33.) Jeromy Burnitz, Outfielder (1993, 1994, 2002, 2003)
Oh, this f’ing guy right here. He is on the Mets, and sucks. He becomes a journeyman, basically, playing with several teams and gets a rep as a good hitter and monster masher. Comes back to the Mets when they desperately need another slugger in the lineup? NOT HAPPENIN’. I think the only he was ever any good was when he challenged Dallas Green to a fight.
32.) Gregg Jefferies, (1987-91)
One word: WAH! (That was from Ed Leyro). Even more words: “Swinging bats in a pool? Funny, he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat” (that was from Senor Solly).
Being 12 years old or whatever I was, I was in LOVE with Gregg Jefferies. He had a gorgeous smile and was really pumped up to be this next big thing for the Mets. I owned his likeness on a button, I even had his jersey. I was way too young to understand but a lot of the veterans on the team had a distaste for him, since Frank Cashen (who loved his prospects) basically forced Davey Johnson into getting rid of the vets he had grown accustomed to and coddle Jefferies at every step of the way.
Where shall I begin with his notoriety? He was bratty, to say the least and had a typical entitlement complex reserved for guys who have paid their dues. Went running home to his daddy each time there was a conflict. Funny how Jefferies was part of Gen X but he was kind of pursued by a helicopter parent reserved for Millennials of these days.
In spite of the hype machine that worked 24/7 for him, Jefferies never lived up to his hype and was subsequently let go after losing clubhouse support by leaking out that his clubhouse was NOT supportive of him. He had some modest success in other cities later on his career, but for someone who was a phenom before he even came up to the bigs and caused a lot of havoc in his time with the Mets clearly gets a nod for a Notorious Child of the Future.
31.) Lastings Milledge, Outfielder (2006-07)
I’m not sure if Lastings Darnell Milledge’s notoriety has to do with him directly, how Omar Minaya overvalued him or how his teammates were quick to portray him in the media. We heard this kid hyped up to the nth degree, and then when he came up to the Mets to hold Xavier Nady’s spot warm while he went under the knife for appendicitis, he won Mets fans over by hitting a game tying home run against former (and notorious in his own right) Met Armando Benitez…but then high-fiving fans down the line as he ran out to position?
Bringing fun back? No, he was thrown under the bus by his teammates and the media. Milledge didn’t really help himself in that department either by (whether bad timing on his part or what) releasing a very misogynistic rap song to capitalize on his hype or being disrespectful to his elders on the team (though to his credit, some of the teammates did defend him and said it was overblown, whatever).
Fact is, Milledge makes this list for being a stupid young kid, but also for Minaya overvaluing once again his own talent. How bad was it? In 2005, Milledge could have been used a trade chip for the likes of Manny Ramirez. By the time he was traded, his stock was so low that the Mets got Ryan Church and Brian Schneider in return, two guys that together can’t hold Ramirez’ jock strap, but had ties to Omar Minaya’s time with the Montreal Expos organization.
Where is he now? He is now in Triple A Charlotte within the Chicago White Sox organization. Wait, you mean another prospect who was rushed within the Mets organization and is still working himself out in the minors? You don’t say…