On to the fourth circle of Met Hell, reserved for minor Mets who committed major sins. If there's a bias toward recent Mets here, it's because minor Mets with major sins tend to get forgotten after a few years. Thank goodness.
Mickey Lolich: Rusty Staub was coming off a 105-RBI season in 1975, but M. Donald Grant packed him off to Detroit, and got back hefty lefty Mickey Lolich, fresh off losing 18 games. Lolich pitched to a decent 3.22 ERA, but only won eight games, fought with Met coaches over running (I'm going to take a wild guess and say he was against it) and made little secret of the fact that he hated New York. As with Mike Hampton, that's OK — Gotham's not for everybody. What wasn't OK was Lolich sitting out 1977 running a doughnut shop in Detroit to escape his contract, then coming back in '78 with the Padres. My 1977 Topps Lolich card still says RETIRED across it in a child's scrawl that fairly oozes bitterness 28 years later. Rusty Staub was my first favorite player, and while it's important for any young baseball fan to learn his favorite player can get traded, that's not the same as learning one's favorite player can get traded for a bloated, cheating weasel.
Tony Tarasco: Ah, 2002. The summer of drugs at Shea Stadium. Tarasco and Mark Corey got caught smoking pot blocks from the park, with Corey having either an anxiety attack (lame) or a seizure (scary) after toking up. That was neither the beginning nor the end of it — the photo of Grant Roberts with a bong had already been published, Newsday was quick to brand the whole organization as a den of potheads, and Bobby Valentine helped engineer his downfall with an idiotic imitation of a stoned batter at a press conference. If not a bad guy, Tarasco is clearly a disaster magnet: As an Oriole he got a ball snatched from him by Jeffrey Maier, and as a Yankee he came to the plate to the Lox's “Tommy Theme,” a song featuring about 67,000 motherfuckers. Oops. Corey got dumped on the Rockies, but Tarasco lingered for the rest of the year for some unfathomable reason. My favorite part of the 2002 pot imbroglio? It was the news that the druggie Mets were smuggling their pot into the clubhouse in jars of peanut butter. Given the collective tonnage of that fat, unmotivated, terrible team, couldn't Steve Phillips have saved trouble on multiple fronts by simply banning peanut butter?
Jim Leyritz: No, he was never actually a Met. But it was close enough that I still shiver about it — in some parallel Met universe, I had to go round up Jim Leyritz cards for The Holy Books and hear far too much about his heroics in the '96 World Series and look at Jim Leyritz and think of Jim Leyritz, and just knowing such horrors were possible makes me want to hide under the bed. (At least word of his invitation to St. Lucie provoked my wife's all-time-funniest reaction to an awful thing done by the Mets.) Jim Leyritz, March Met though he was, earns his spot here as a lucky charm to ward off horrible spring-training visits in the future. No arthritic, kneeless Chipper in 2014. No Jorge Posada as an aged backup catcher. No last go-round for an enormous Armando Benitez who can't hit 88 anymore. Back! Back! You see this, evildoers? It's the sign of Jimmy the King! Look upon it and begone!
Jose Offerman: A surly waste of a roster spot who cursed at the press when asked about his lousy defense — at least Gerald Williams is universally praised as a nice guy. Committed one of the more inexplicably stupid plays in recent baseball memory on September 13th, when he somehow managed to break back to first on a single to center and got forced at second. (The batter, of course, was the perennially luckless Kaz Matsui.) Let's go to the archives and dig up the revised rule Greg came up with to celebrate Jose's achievement: A runner occupying first base is entitled to second base when the batter hits the ball safely into centerfield unless the runner's head is occupying 50.1% or more of the inner portion of his own ass.
Rey Sanchez: The Robin to Roberto Alomar's Batman of Suck. The funny thing, except that it's not funny at all, is Sanchez was brought in for 2003 because he was such a great clubhouse presence. He was a clubhouse presence, all right: At the end of April Mike Stanton came into the clubhouse while the Mets were getting pounded by the Cardinals and found Sanchez present getting a haircut. Adding insult to injury, the story was broken by the loathsome Michael Kay; Art Howe promised the issue would be dealt with (just as soon as he came out from under his desk), and Sanchez lied about the whole thing. Even more incredibly, it wasn't the worst thing he'd done that month: On April 12th he was late covering second on a comebacker to Jae Seo and showed his leadership by blaming the rookie. Oh, and Rey Sanchez drives a Bentley. That's really all you need to know about modern baseball: Crappy utility infielders drive Bentleys. Here's hoping Rey's toodling down some country road and his neighbor lends him some Grey Poupon dosed with Ex-Lax.
Karim Garcia: Anger-management problems, anybody? In Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS Karim jumped the outfield wall at Fenway Park to assist Jeff Nelson in beating up a Fenway groundskeeper. (Because groundskeepers are wily — it takes more than just a bullpen full of professional athletes to battle one to a standstill.) The Mets decided someone with Karim's fire would be a fine addition to the roster; while in St. Lucie Karim and Shane Spencer distinguished themselves by getting into an altercation with a delivery boy for Big Apple Pizza after Garcia decided the parking lot was a fine place for a piss. Oh, and their wives were there. Classy! (Speaking of Garcia, his pal Shane should really stay out of St. Lucie: He was sent there on injury rehab after cutting his foot on broken glass in a bar, then got caught going 98 MPH one night after “six or seven” beers. Shane escapes this list because he did beat the Yankees with a two-run double and a 40-foot dribbler.) Words of wisdom from Pedro Martinez: “Who's Karim Garcia? I have no respect for Karim Garcia. I have no respect for that guy.”
Mike DeJean: Arriving when the Mets tired of Karim Garcia, DeJean salvaged his 2004 by being serviceable for the Mets after a wretched year in Baltimore. It turned out to be fool's gold: DeJean was horrendous in 2005, and showed his true colors at the end of the May, when he lobbied the official scorer in Miami to give David Wright an error on a Juan Pierre hit. Perhaps he knows Rey Sanchez?
Don Zimmer: Enough said.
Next up: The fifth circle of Met Hell, home of Mets we don't exactly hate but sure dislike.