The year was 1993. Bill Clinton took office and the Buffalo Bills lost their third straight Super Bowl. The World Trade Center was bombed, and two days later a fifty-one day standoff began in Waco, Texas between Federal law enforcement and a religious cult. On top of all of that, the New York Mets were about to have one of the worst seasons any baseball team or its fans ever experienced.
The team lost a pathetic 103 games in 1993, coming in dead last in the National League East (then comprised of seven teams), thirty-eight games behind the East Champion Philadelphia Phillies. But the incredibly poor play on the field simply set the tone for the derailing of the entire organization by several disastrous off the field incidents.
In April, outfielder Vince Coleman, who would play a pivotal role in the sinking of the franchise, accidentally injured pitcher Dwight Gooden's arm while carelessly swinging a golf club in the Mets clubhouse before a game. Gooden, the one time ace and one of only three remaining players still with the club from the 1986 World Championship team, would go on to lose 15 games and be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which published a story about him titled "From Phenom to Phantom." Gooden would be suspended from baseball the following year for testing positive for cocaine.
Coleman made headlines again in July when he tossed a lit firecracker into a crowd of fans waiting for autographs at Dodger Stadium, injuring three children, including a two year old. Coleman was arrested and the Mets suspended him for the remainder of the season and traded him to Kansas City that winter.
Which Mets team is worse?
That same month, pitcher Bret Saberhagen admitted to spraying bleach on a group of reporters and was forced to apologize and donate a day's pay to charity.
As if July 1993 wasn't bad enough for the Mets and their pitching staff, pitcher Anthony Young set a Major League record on July 24 for consecutive losses in games in which he had the decision, with an unbelievable twenty-seven straight.
In keeping with the Vince Coleman-inspired firecracker theme, Saberhagen threw a lit firecracker under a table full of reporters in the clubhouse, which he explained was a "joke."
Then there was Bobby Bonilla. The Mets outfielder threatened writer Bob Klapisch, who wrote the book "The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Collapse of the New York Mets" (ironically, the book is based on the 1992 version of the team) telling him he would "show him (Klapisch) the Bronx." One has to wonder if Klapisch wished he would have waited a year to write the book. The 1993 team certainly would have given him extensive new material.
What does this have to do with the 2010 version of the team? Well, we all know that the 2010 Mets are self-destructing on the field, and it appears that they are following the '93 club's blueprint for off the field antics as well.
Ace pitcher Johan Santana was accused of sexually assaulting a Florida woman on a golf course in October 2009, and reportedly offered her $1 million in "hush money" after the mysteriously delayed police report was made public by TMZ in June. The unidentified woman also alleged that Santana impregnated her during the encounter and is suing him for sexual battery, sexual assault, and false imprisonment. The Lee County Sheriff declined to press charges against Santana.
Reliever Francisco "KRod" Rodriguez was arrested on August 11 on charges of assaulting his father-in-law outside the family room of the Mets clubhouse at Citi Field. The Mets suspended the closer for two games, adding that he will not be "on the roster, with the team, or be paid" during the suspension before referring the media to the NYPD because it was a "police matter now."
The 2010 Mets will not lose 103 games, and there has so far been no throwing of explosives or dousing reporters with chemicals. But the path to oblivion that this version of the team seems to be heading down is eerily similar to the 1993 squad. You have to wonder what's next for this bunch of misfits and malcontents.