The Rise and Fall of Aaron Heilman: A Tribute to the Ex-Met Reliever
This name will be forever emblazoned on any Met fan who has endured the past three seasons.
A product of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Heilman came up in mid-2003 and was used predominantly as a starting pitcher for the last place Mets.
He struggled at first but did manage to show some promise by putting up a few good games as a starter.
But midway through the 2005 season, the Mets put Heilman in the bullpen, primarily because he struggled mightily on his second and third time through batting orders.
This was due to the fact he only had two dominant pitches, his fastball and change up, and teams were better able to time his pitches the longer he stayed in the game.
This decision appeared to be a great one at first, as the Heilman produced superbly in the pen, posting one of the lowest ERAs in the league after the 2005 all-star break.
Heilman would eventually solidify the 2006 New York Mets' bullpen, which was the team's strength at the time. When Duaner Sanchez, their fantastic setup man, got into a taxi-cab accident, Heilman stepped up and performed decent in the eighth inning until...
The 2006 National League Championship Series Game Seven
This is one of the most painful sport memories for me to reflect on.
Once Endy Chavez made that spectacular catch over the AIG sign, NO Met fan on earth thought we would lose that game.
But after the miracle, the Mets could not get anything going offensively to rally their team to the World Series.
But it is not the offense, or even Carlos Beltran looking at three straight pitches with the bases loaded, fans remember most about this game.
What they all remember is Aaron Heilman giving up a MOON SHOT by none other than Yadier Molina, a catcher known for his arm but certainly not for his bat.
That ball still has not landed.
But even though the baseball still orbits around the earth, Heilman's tenure with the Mets has crashed and burned.
Heilman gave up a TON of big home runs in crucial spots, which caused the already frustrated fans to boo Aaron to oblivion.
He struggled in the 'pen in 2007 and even more so in 2008 as fans soured on him.
His body language became frightening, as he always wore a dark serious expression on the mound as if he'd rather be anywhere else on earth then on the Shea stadium mound.
Aaron reiterated his desire to become a starter, but the Mets' brass were too stubborn to deny even the possibility of his use in the rotation.
They believed that the way he pitched would lead to severe arm problems like Kerry Wood.
After the Mets went on to lose their 162nd game to keep them out of the post season, one of the biggest desires of fans to improve the team for next year was to get rid of Heilman.
Well, last week, they got their wish as the Mets traded Heilman away to Seattle, thus ending his tenure in New York.
I really pitied Aaron Heilman. I remember a few games this year where he DID come up big for this team, but fans booed him relentlessly, never forgiving him for the debacle in 2006.
A lot of the players in the Mets club house all say that Heilman is one of the classiest guys on the team, and that no one in the 'pen works harder then him.
Fans may look at his demeanor on the mound and focus on all of the home runs he has given up, but the organization never gave him the chance to start again, which is what the kid has wanted for years now.
We all booed Aaron, when we should have been booing the Mets brass for not allowing Aaron to start, and Omar Minaya for signing LUIS CASTILLO to a four-year contract.
Aaron will get his chance to start in Seattle, and I think he's going to be a great pick up for the Mariners.
Good luck Aaron Heilman, I wish you well, but I will be enjoying watching J.J. Putz in the eighth a lot more than I watched you!
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