Al Leiter in happier times.
Robin Ventura, be careful. John Olerud, watch your back.
Because if the sad tale of Jeff Reardon reminds us of anything, it’s that bad things happen to people who proudly wear the blue and orange of the Mets then descend to the depths of the Evil Empire. His demise was as predictable as a Benitez big-game meltdown
It’s a curse, if you will. The pattern is too great to be ignored.
Reardon, you’ll remember, was arrested after robbing a Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. jewelry store. His attorney blamed the action on a reaction to antidepression drugs and the tragic death of Reardon’s son in 2004.
Reardon, you’ll also remember, started his career with the Mets in 1979 and was traded for Ellis Valentine two years later. Sadly, he closed out his career in 1994 by pitching nine innings for the Yankees, posting an nasty 8.38 ERA.
The sad part is that he's only the latest example. Oh sure, you know about Doc and Darryl trading their pinstripes for orange jumpsuits, and Bubba Trammell stricken by depression.
But research shows us that 85 people have played for both the Mets and Yankees.
There are 25 who sought to redeem their Yankee-tainted careers by switching their allegiance, even if it was a last-ditch attempt. A good example is Yogi Berra. He spent his career in pinstripes, retired, managed the Yanks for a year then sought redemption by coming out of retirement to play a handful of games for the Mets. The result? Yogi went on to become a quote-making folk hero and everyone's favorite sports gnome.
But what about the rest, who go from Met to Yank? Friends, it's not pretty. Here are their stories and all are true.
Juan Acevedo: Played with the Mets in 1997, drawn to the dark side in 2003 where he went 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in 25 innings before being unloaded on the Blue Jays and ending his career.
Neil Allen: A true Mets martyr. Allen left the Mets so Keith Hernandez could come rescue the franchise. We knew that Allen had his personal demons, evidenced by his two subsequent tours with the Yankees. He was even their bullpen coach before getting demoted to Triple-A Columbus.
Sandy Alomar: Had a cup of coffee with the Mets in 1967 then spent four seasons with the Yankees. Spawned Roberto, who came to torture Mets fans by suddenly losing all of his skills after donning the Mets jersey.
Jason Anderson: Here is a sad case. Came up with the Yankees and was traded to the Mets for Armando Benitez. Sadly, he was released and signed again with the Yankees, sealing his fate.
Armando Benitez: Speaking of Armando. Even the Yankees knew he was trouble and quickly dumped him on the Mariners.
Daryl Boston: Had parts of three nice seasons with Mets, went to Yankees after a year in Coors and promptly forgot how to hit, showing a career-killing .182 average.
Tim Burke: We actually cursed him ourselves, trading him for Lee Guetterman in June 1992. Burke finished the season with the Yanks and hung ‘em up.
John Candelaria: Spent about two weeks with the Mets at the end of the 1987 season, then signed with the Yankees as a free agent for the next season and a half, starting a tailspin that sent him to five teams and retirement.
Duke Carmel. You have to feel for this guy. He was a happy little member of the 1963 Mets when the Yankees came and swiped him in the Rule V draft. Traumatized, he got 8 at-bats in 6 games without getting a single hit for the Yanks.
Alberto Castillo: He spent four years backing up assorted Mets catchers, got regular playing time with the Cards and Blue Jays before crashing with the Yankees in 2002, the first year they weren’t in the World Series since the mid-1990s.
Tony Clark: Look over your shoulder, Tony! Clark had a nice year as a Mets sub in 2003, flirted with the dark side in 2005, escaped to the D-Backs last year and remembered he is a power hitter with 30 bombs. But we all know the curse catches up with you at some point.
Billy Cowan: Cowan hit a horrible .179 as part of the revolving door that was the 1965 Mets. Amazingly, he hit even worse -- .167 -- as a member of the Yanks in 1969.
Kevin Elster. Elster fell out of favor after appearing in Sports Illustrated talking about how athletes face the danger of AIDS for their activity on the road. Appeared with the Yanks, then somehow in 1996 became a power hitter, belting 24 bombs in 1996 with the Rangers. Wonder how that happened?
Tony Fernandez: Ruined a nice career by spending a year with the Yanks in 1995 after a short, crappy stint as a Met in 1993.
Tim Foli: Foli was a Met twice before he ended up in Yankee pinstripes, where was traded to Pittsburgh with Dale Berra, who promptly got himself involved in the drug scandal.
Rob Gardner: Talk about cursed. Gardner played two years for the Mets, they got stuck in a revolving door with the Yankees, A’s and assorted Alou brothers. Check this out. On April 9, 1971, the Yanks traded him to the A’s for Felipe Alou. Six weeks later he was traded back to the Yanks for Curt Blefary. Then the following November he was headed back to the A’s for Matty Alou.
Paul Gibson. Talk about a glutton for punishment. Gibson signed with the Yankees as a free agent three times after the Mets sent him packing.
Doc Gooden: Perhaps the most tragic case of them all. Gooden hooked up with the Yanks for two tours. And we all know what happened. Booze, drugs, police chases, jail.
Greg Harris: Started with the Mets in 1981, and for reasons unknown appeared in three games for the Yanks in 1994 before getting dumped mid-season.
Stan Jefferson: Had a cup of coffee with the 1986 World Champs, was a part of the Kevin McReynolds deal and ended up with the Yanks in 1989, where he hit a horrid .083 BA.
Lance Johnson: Was an All-Star with the Mets in 1996, but the Yanks released him midway through 2000 despite hitting .300!
Tim Leary: The Mets made him the second pick in the nation, then blew out his arm on a miserable day in Chicago. He had some success with the Dodgers before heading to the Yankees and nearly losing 20 games in 1990.
Al Leiter: Why, Al, why? We redeemed him once, casting aside his Yankeeness and making him a star in the Apple. But his defection last season can only mean bad things for our hero.
Dale Murray: Spent some time as a serviceable reliever with the Mets. Went across town, had a couple OK years then bammo! He posted a 13.50 ERA in three games and they cut him loose.
Bob Ojeda: Why did he do it? Ojeda tarnished a nice career by appearing in two games with the 1994 Yankees, posting an obscene 24.00 ERA and driving him into retirement.
John Olerud: The distinguished ex-Met joined the Yankees just in time to catch their historic choke job against the Red Sox.
Jesse Orosco: In his apparent bid to play with every team in baseball, our favorite glove-tosser spent part of his final year with the Yankees, giving up 6 runs in just 4.3 innings.
John Pacella: Remember the guy who lost his cap every time he threw a pitch. The Mets traded him to the Padres, who spun him to the Yanks before he could play in a game. Of course it ended badly, with the Yanks shipping him off to Minnesota after just three games.
Len Randle: At least he never punched anybody. Dumped by the Mets, Randle went to the Yanks had hit a robust .179 before they cut him loose.
Jeff Reardon: We know all too well the events of the past few weeks.
Rey Sanchez: The 2003 Met is another guy so traumatized by his time with the Yanks that he played part of a season, then quit.
Rafael Santana: One of the few trades between the Mets and the Yanks. The starting shortstop for the 1986 champs was jettisoned to the Yanks after the next season for bums Darren Reed and Phil Lombardi. Naturally the Yanks ruined him. After a year he went to Cleveland and lasted seven games.
Don Schulze: After a brief stint with the Mets, Don was drawn to the dark side. He appeared in just two games, even winning one of them. Of course, they soon traded him to the Padres with Mike Pagliarulo for ex-Met Walt Terrell, ruining his life.
Charley Smith: This infielder played for the Mets in 1964 and 1965. He went to the Yanks then the Cubs in 1969. The Cubs, sensing the Yankee stench, eliminated him after two at-bats.
Roy Staiger: This one is our fault. Staiger spent parts of three seasons with the Mets before we traded him to the Yanks for Sergio Ferrer. He appeared in only four games for the Yanks, ending his career.
Darryl Strawberry: This hurts. Straw is among the Mets' all-time studs. Went to the Yankees, got cancer, went to jail.
Darryl as an ex-Yankee.
Bill Sudakis: Spent part of 1972 with the Mets, headed to the Yanks in 1974. How badly did they screw him up? The next year he was released by the Angels in June, then released AGAIN by the Indians two weeks later.
Ron Swoboda: Rocky, no! The Met hero was traded from the Expos to the Yanks in 1971 where they sucked the talent out of him and he hit .116 in 1973, driving him to a career in television sportscasting. Ouch!
Frank Tanana: We traded Frank to the Yanks at the end of the 1993 season. He appeared in three games, losing two of them, and was out of baseball.
Walt Terrell: Traded to the Yanks in 1989, Walt managed to escape at the end of the season. Sadly, he was forced to spend the remainder of his career with the Pirates and Tigers.
Ryan Thompson: Traded with Jeff Kent for David Cone, Ryan stunk it up with the Mets. Appeared with the Yanks in 2000 then bounced through the hell that was the 2001 Marlins and 2002 Brewers before being done.
Bubba Trammell: The 2000 Met joined the Yankees in 2003 and left the team after 22 games saying he was suffering from depression. Heck, can you blame him? I’d be depressed, too.
Robin Ventura: The saddest thing ever is that we traded him to the Yankees for David Justice, who never appeared in a game for the Mets.
Jose Vizcaino: Played for the Mets, then later appeared for the Yanks at the end of the 2000 season and drove one of the stakes through our hearts in the Subway Series.
Claudell Washington: Spent just a part of 1980 with the Mets. Later bounced between the Yankees and Angels, hitting well below the Mendoza line and getting run out of the game.
Allen Watson: We traded him to the Mariners in 1999, who promptly released him, allowing the Yanks to sink their claws into poor Allen. The next year? A 10.23 ERA and a ticket home.
Wally Whitehurst: Pitched four seasons with the Mets. Hooked up with the Yanks, who sent him packing after two games and a 6.75 ERA.
In Other Words
Happy New Year! This is as close as I could come to finding a Mets new year's baby. May this year bring you happiness and health.