Wednesday, August 13, 2008

These Met-lympians brought home the gold

Well, Met pitcher Brandon Knight fared better against the Cardinals than he did today against the Koreans in Olympic action.

Amazingly, Knight is not the only Mets player to have a connection with the Olympics. In honor of the Beijing games starting on 8-8-08, we now should take a look at our top eight Met-lympians. And that’s not counting skipper Davey Johnson, who is guiding the American team as we speak.

We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up to the gold “Met-al” winner.

No. 8) Doug Mientkiewicz, 2000 Team USA.

Dougie Eye-chart had a decent Olympics, even hitting the game-winning home run against South Korea in the semi-finals in Sydney. That team went on to win the gold medal.

And he’s not even the worst player on the list. But he’s No. 8 because he’s a punk. Mientkiewicz started out decently enough with the Twins, and ended up on the Red Sox because he can flash the leather and the Sox didn’t want another Buckner moment.

And sure enough, Douggie caught the final out, then famously pocketed the ball. All of Red Sox Nation was pissed off, which, granted isn’t hard to do. After much bickering, Doug allowed the ball to tour New England with the trophy, then be sent to Cooperstown. Then again, Doug says it’s the game ball. With this guy, you never know.

Mientkiewicz then came into his Metdom the next year, giving good quotes to the press but hitting a measly .240 with 11 homers and showing that he defense was over-rated.

Then after the season, Doug burned his bridges, saying all kinds of unkind things. Since then, he’s made the tour of teams of stink and evil, spending time with the Royals, the vile Yankees and currently the Pirates, where he seemingly had more hits against the Mets on Monday than he did the entire year at Shea.

No. 7) Braden Looper, 1996 Team USA

Looper was part of the bronze medal winners in Atlanta and became the Marlins’ closer before Trader Jack lost confidence in him. So who knows why the Mets thought he could close for them? I’m sure Pedro was asking that very same questions when two Reds fired bombs to blow Martinez’s Mets debut.

Loops then came back to haunt us in the 2006 NLCS and openly mocked the Mets during the post-game celebration.

No. 6) Mike Kinkade, 2000 Team USA

Kinkade came to the Mets from the Brewers’ farm for Bill Pulsipher in 1988,and left with Melvin Mora in late 2000 in the trade for Mike Bordick. He enjoyed only cups of coffee at Shea, hitting just .196 with a couple homers in 46 at-bats for the 1998 team.

But unlike Looper and Mientkiewicz, he didn’t tick anyone off.

No. 5) Kris Benson, 1996 Team USA

Benson didn’t tick anyone off, either. But his bombshell wife Anna sure did. Kirk arrived in a deadline deal in 2004 – not that deal – and really didn’t pitch too poorly. He just wasn’t all that great either; at least not great enough to deal with the headaches his wife caused the front office.

On the bright side, Omar sent him to the Orioles in a deal where John Maine was a throw-in, one of our GM’s best heists.

No. 4) Dae-Sung Koo, 2000 Team South Korea

Koo also played in Sydney, and had one year with the Mets, logging 33 games without a save and unimpressive 3.90 ERA.

Ah, but Koo had one golden moment. He had just two career at-bats in the majors. One was an expected strikeout. But the other was a glorious double hit off a shell-shocked Randy Johnson in a Subway Series game. That Johnson remained on the team even through the end of that game was proof that George Steinbrenner was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations.

Bronze Met-al) Hideo Nomo, 1988 Team Japan

Nomo was a member of the Japanese team long before his 1995 American debut and all that ensued.

Alas, he seemed done when jettisoned to the Mets for spare parts Greg McMichael and Dave Mlicki after starting 2-7 in LA in 1988. Nomo was a little better at Shea, going 4-5 with a 4.82 ERA,

We released him the next spring, and naturally Nomo went on toss a no-no while playing for Boston – and he pitched all the way through this season, making an appearance with the Royals.

Silver Met-al) Orlando Hernandez, 1992 Team Cuba

El Duque earned gold in Barcelona, escaped from the oppressive regime in Cuba to the vile regime in the Bronx.

He was finally liberated in 2006, swiped from the Snakes for Jorge Julio, back in the days when Omar could do no wrong. Hernandez added 9 wins before the end of the season and gimped to the playoffs.

Duque won 9 more games in an injury-filled 2007, and is spending this season vacationing in Port St. Lucie, allegedly still on the roster while awaiting Nike elves to produce some alleged magic cleat that will bring comfort to his aching bunion.

Gold Met-al: Robin Ventura, 1988 Team USA

Rockin’ Robin and his gold medal came to the Mets as a free agent in 1999 and made Steve Phillips look brilliant, finishing sixth in the MVP voting that year. Of course he was robbed.

His glorious Grand Slam Single against the Braves should have already earned him a bust in the Mets Hall of Fame.

He’s such a good guy we can overlook that he rediscovered his stroke after we sent him to, of all places, the vile Yankees, where he earned his second All-Star appearance.

There you go, Met-lympians can claim their medals and stand atop the podium while “Meet the Mets” plays to a misty eyed house.


Anonymous said...

I always liked Ventura, it is amazing the evil empire thinks they own NY, yet I would bet they picked up more Met's over the years then the Met's picked up Yankees. Do you know the facts, oh great guru of gothem basball?

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Well, I did some research back in 2005. At the time, there were 25 players who went from Yankee to Met, and 60 from Met to Yankee.

Since then, the Yankees have picked up Douggie Eye-chart and now Xavier Nady. We've picked up Orlando Hernandez, and that might be it.

Maybe the Yanks are interested in Pedro Feliciano?

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am surprised by that, I thought it would be heavily favored the other way.

Michael Leggett said...

Looper hid an Injury in '05:

He's on my All Time "Chit" List