Tuesday, August 23, 2005

This Date In Met Infamy

Mark at Mets Walkoffs has put together a comprehensive list of the worst Mets relievers of all time. If you're into self torture, and a bed of hot coals isn't readily available, then use the memories evoked by Mark's well done piece.

The one reliever that Mark didn't mention, yet is a charter member of the Metstradamus Hall of Hate, is Donne Wall. Wall had an unspectacular and undistinguished Met career...0-4 with a 4.85 ERA in 42 and 2/3 innings pitched as a Met in 2001, after being traded here for Bubba Trammell.

But four years ago to this very day is the day that will live in infamy for Donne Wall, Metstradamus, and even Lenny Harris. And although I was going to save this until the off-season, the stars have aligned for me to tell this tale of horror from exactly four years ago.

It was August 23rd, 2001. I don't remember exactly how it happened, but I actually acquired some primo seats right behind third base for the Rockies/Mets matchup. The Mets went in at 58-68, and the Rockies a bit worse at 53-72 (which is probably how my seats were so good.) I was with my friend the jinx, my brother, and a friend of my brother's who laughed at everything I said or did that night (morphine is wonderful, isn't it?)

It hasn't been just this season...the Mets have always been prone to laying big rotten eggs against rookie pitchers. This night was no different, as Jason Jennings made his major league debut against a lineup that included such luminaries as Desi Relaford, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, and Mark Johnson (decomposition row).

This game started ugly (3 Rockie runs in the first), and went downhill from there off of Mets starter Glendon Rusch. Jennings, meanwhile, mowed down Mets hitters as if they were policemen in "Grand Theft Auto". There was no answer for him.

Now a Mets game that's pretty much over from the start, and me in a good seat, is a dangerous combination. And as the game reached the bottom of the seventh with the score 8-0 Colorado and Jennings, the pitcher in his first ever game, with two hits already, I let loose with a fury unmatched by all who have sat in that seat before. A whole season's worth of frustration was coming out of my mouth. Then Bobby Valentine made the one move that could have possibly made things worse.

He brought in Donne Wall.

Wall came to the Mets in a December 11th, 2000 deal for Bubba Trammell, who was a useful spare part for the 2000 National League champs. Wall came to New York and pitched with the intensity and urgency of a Yankee Stadium chicken finger vendor. But all of his past sins and transgressions in a Met uniform were topped by what followed in the top of the ninth inning.

After Wall gave up a run in the eighth, he faced Jennings, who was en route to shutting out decomposition row, in the ninth. Now Jennings has turned out to be a pretty good hitting pitcher (.257 lifetime entering this season) but none of us knew that then. Jennings got his third hit of the night, a deep HR into the right field bullpen for the cherry on top of the sundae of death, and a 10-0 Rockie lead. I let loose with a barrage of heckles aimed at Wall, including one that I borrowed from a local writer:

"Hey Donne! Is that why they call you Donne 'over the' Wall?"

My brother lost it.

The jinx lost it.

My brother's friend had to be carried off to the looney bin.

My wife swears she heard me on television.

But here's the kicker...Mets third baseman Lenny Harris almost lost it. He was seen covering his mouth with his glove in laughter. So what else could I do?

I let Lenny Harris have it.

"Hey Pork Chop! What are you laughing at!!! That's not setting a good example for your teammates, laughing at them like that!"

Then I went below the belt, and told him that he and Michael Jackson both wore a glove for no apparent reason.

What else could I do?

After going back and pounding Wall for five minutes more after that, the game was mercifully over...a 10-0 Rockie win, and a performance that landed Wall into the Hall...the Hall of Hate.


Immediately following that game, the Mets vaulted themselves back into contention (perhaps spurred on by my heckling), going on a 21-5 run which included an emotional win against the Braves in the first New York regular season sporting event since the 9/11 attacks. But then they hit a wall (no pun intended) in the last nine games, including the infamous Brian Jordan grand slam off of John Franco which was pretty much the last straw for the season. The Mets finished 2001 at 82-80.

The following season, after being granted free agency by the Mets, Donne Wall pitched in 17 games and had a 6.43 ERA for the World Champion Anaheim Angels (proof that like crying, there is also no justice in baseball.)

Harris, along with the Mets starting pitcher that night, Glendon Rusch, were part of a large three team trade that winter...and oddly enough the Colorado Rockies were involved. Harris and Rusch went to Milwaukee, Todd Zeile and Benny Agbayani went to the Rockies, and in return the Mets received six players from the Rockies and the Brewers...and none of them were named Jason Jennings. Harris moved from the Brewers to the Cubs in 2003, and then late in 2003 was traded to the Florida Marlins, where not only did he help defeat the Cubs in the 2003 NLCS, but like Wall, won himself a ring with Florida in 2003.
After three stints at the mental health clinic for a condition termed as "fan fatigue", Metstradamus went on to heckle such luminaries as Mark Loretta, Mo Vaughn, and Ken Griffey Jr. before taking the advice of his therapist and starting a blog from the comfort of his own home as a "healthy alternative" to heckling.

Metstradamus, unlike Wall and Harris, has not yet won a World Series ring.


Anonymous said...

I remember that game well. Jennings was brought up like that day or something after "mowing through" AAA. That homer was his THIRD hit. THIRD! What a piece of work. And as fate would have it, never repeated that type of greatness again. Only against our Mets. Say a Happy Birthday to Julio Franco who turn a ripe old 93 today!

Anonymous said...

You know J.C., I remember that game....I think I did hear you from my living room seats....and don't get on Lenny Harris...I think he had the right to laugh. It was funny what you said, he was acknowledging your statement.

Metstradamus said...

Hey I love Lenny Harris! It was all in fun and anguish.

Metstradamus said...

You da man, Dave!