I’m pretty down on Halloween.
I didn’t mind the cartoon-like ghosts and pumpkins. But decorations have just become too realistic. It would be nice to be able to walk down an aisle of my supermarket without seeing assorted plastic severed heads in states of decay in the spots that previously held Ritz crackers with Rachel Ray on the boxes.
I even had an unpleasant moment in The Store That Has No Faults, otherwise known as Costco. Walking past the snacks I saw one of those life-sized witches holding a ball containing yet another severed head.
I didn’t realize it was one of those robotic things with motion sensors, and jumped so high that I almost dropped my Sweet and Salty granola bar sample. The cashiers were all laughing as I was clutching my chest. I went back for another round of samples because, well, I earned them.
Of course, as Mets fans, we are not strangers to scary moments.
My Halloween pumpkin design each year typically salutes some aspect of the Mets or the Homeland. This confuses the neighbors.
This year’s abrupt end to the season inspired a horrifying design, and that would be catcher Paul Lo Duca’s complete meltdown and ejection after disagreeing with balls and strike calls in a close game.
Paulie’s contorted face showed his rage as Willie tried to drag him back to the dugout. Clearly a Met completely out of control. It probably made the front office to decide to find another catcher for next season. We'll have to see.
Alas, the Mets short history is just full of tales twisted and terrorizing.
Here are the five scariest moments in Mets history, not counting Tom Galvine’s first-inning disaster in the last game, which I’m not over yet.
Suzyan Waldman’s Tom Seaver tribute.
Look, I like Seaver as much as the next Mets fan. OK, maybe a little more. There’s a chance Seaver would seek a restraining order if he ever saw the shrines – you’ll note the plural – in my baseball room.
But even I was close to hiding under my seat at Shea in 1988 at Tom Seaver Day. At the conclusion of the ceremony where Tom’s No. 41 was forever retired, the team directed our attention to the Jumbotron for a video tribute by Waldman, who at that point was still pretending to be an unbiased sports reporter.
It started with scenes of Shea, then a twinkling piano with Waldman breaking out with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Bad enough, to be sure. But then she started warbling modified lyrics intended to pay tribute but were so grossly over the top that even I was cringing.
I realize there is bad, and then there is Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park So-Bad-That-it’s-Good bad.
But by the time Waldman got to the 300th win mothers were covering the ears of their crying children to protect them from further trauma. I’m very sure that had there been even one more verse most of the upper deck would have hurled themselves into the box seats.
Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron collide on Aug. 11, 2005
Nothing funny about this one. A ball fell in between center and right in San Diego and both players dove, striking head-to-head.
Beltran, in his first season with the Mets, slowly rose to his knees, but Cameron barely moved and was removed on a stretcher. He fractured of both cheekbones and broke his nose.
Many baseball observers said it was the worst collision they had ever seen. Luckily, both recovered.
The 1993 “Wardrobe of Failure”
Even in their darkest days, the Mets could always say they looked good. The classy script Mets across the front of the jerseys was an established and proud look that was virtually unchanged from 1962 even as the team added sleeve stripes and collars, removed and restored buttons and tinkered slightly with the blue in the uniform.
So I nearly went into shock during a 1993 spring training game when I flipped through the program and found a photo of players modeling new uniforms with a thick, floppy tail underlining the team name.
Yup, they were going to discard the style worn by Hodges and Ashburn, Seaver and Mays, and Doc and the Kid and replace it with something that looked like it was rejected by a softball team sponsored by a bar.
Of course the team went into a tailspin and finished in the standings below the expansion Marlins, who, even wearing teal, could say they both played and looked better than our boys.
As the brilliant Metstradamas branded it, the uniforms were the wardrobe of failure. Very scary costumes, indeed.
Vince Coleman hurts kids
Among the bad things to happen during the tailed-uniform era was Vince Coleman, whose everyday play was frightening enough.
But following a game at Dodger Stadium on July 24, 1993, Vince allegedly thought it would be funny to toss a lit firecracker at fans from a car after the game, harming two children and a woman. He was charged with endangerment and sentenced to 200 hours of community service.
The thing I don’t understand is how he found Dodger fans after a game, since everyone knows the stadium empties out after the seventh inning.
Anna, the under-dressed elf
With stores starting to put Christmas decorations on display in mid-October, it’s easy to see how some people might confuse the holidays.
Kris Benson was known as much for his outrageous wife as his mediocre pitching.
And in 2006 the team decided to ask him to play Santa Claus at the annual Christmas party, where little kids are invited to sit on Santa’s lap and bask in the glory of all things Mets.
Anna decided to come to the party to help Kris distribute presents. But she apparently got the whole Christmas party/costume party thing all confused. I’m guessing Anna couldn’t decide whether she wanted to dress up like a naughty stripper or an elf – so she decided to do both.
A lot of kids – and grown-ups, too – had long lists that they wanted to share with Santa and his helper.
But Mets management was so frightened by the stunt that they banished both Bensons to the House of Horrors known as the Orioles before Opening Day.