“Worst” depends on the context. The early-1990s pinned their post-Worst Team Money Could Buy hopes on three pitching prospects — Paul Wilson, Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen — who’d laid waste to minor-league hitters. Two elbow tears and a shoulder surgery later, “Generation K” became less popular with crotchety Mets fans than Millennials. Those injuries sucked. “Worst” can also mean “dumbest,” like when former Met and then-Giant Jeff Kent claimed he broke his wrist “washing his truck.” It turned out Kent probably did so when popping wheelies on his motorcycle. — Scott D. Simon (@scottdsimon)
Ruben Tejada Versus Chase Utley
Seventh inning, Game Two, 2015 NLDS. The drama started early during last year’s playoffs when Chase Utley controversially broke Ruben Tejada’s leg following a questionable take-out slide at second base. To add insult to injury, Utley was deemed safe upon review. To add further insult to injury, the Dodgers ended up coming back to win Game Two to even up the series.
The injury itself wasn’t the most gruesome thing you’ll ever see, but it was still not fun to watch – nor to see Tejada get carted off the field, with his hopes of post-season play nixed. The play led to high-level debates over the legitimacy of Chase Utley’s slide and the breakup slide in general. The ensuing discussions led to the “Utley Rule,” new guidelines for sliding enacted for 2016. Setting aside the injury’s playoff context, the controversy, and Tejada writhing on the ground, it’s because the Rule will undoubtedly be adjusted over time that Tejada’s injury will never be forgotten. — Tyler Plofker (@)
Bob Ojeda Versus The Electric Hedge Trimmer
As vital as Ojeda’s pitching was to the 1986 Mets, the 30-year-old was also really good in 1988, posting the best FIP and SO/BB ratio of any starter in the rotation. With a 94-win Dodgers team on deck in the NLCS, Ojeda was already penciled in as the No. 4 starter for the playoffs. The Mets would be heavy favorites to secure their second World Series appearance in three years. Alas, Ojeda nearly lost his left middle finger when he was trimming his honeysuckle bushes in late September and the hedge clippers got the better of him. Davey Johnson heard on the car radio driving to Shea and couldn’t believe the news. Kevin McReynolds, weirdly enough, was already at the same hospital when Ojeda’s ambulance arrived; his wife was being treated for a cut caused by an electric fan.
Five hours of surgery later, Ojeda’s finger (and career) was saved but he missed the rest of the season. Sid Fernandez was called back into starting duty and got shelled in a Game Five loss in LA that put the Mets down 3-1 in the series. David Cone’s five-hitter in Game Six only gave way to Orel Hershiser’s five-hit shutout in Game Seven. You could argue that Ojeda’s absence made all the difference. — Erik Malinowski (@erikmal)
Orlando Hernandez Versus Jogging
There are a lot of what-ifs that run through your head in the decade since the Mets were cruelly eliminated from the 2006 playoffs by an 83-win Cardinals team. What if Billy Wagner had pitched the eighth? What if Jose Valentin or Endy Chavez could have lifted a medium-depth flyball. What if Billy Wagner could get So Taguchi out? What if Wilie Randolph hadn’t pinch-hit with a clearly compromised Cliff Floyd? And — yeah, fine — what if Carlos Beltran had swung the bat? (He probably ain’t hitting that pitch, you guys.)
But here’s another one: What if El Duque didn’t hurt himself before Game One of the Dodgers series? Hernandez was actually quite good as a Met (when he was healthy, the standard caveat for all of #OmarsTeam). He also had a deserved reputation as a big-game pitcher. But after he injured himself jogging, the Mets cobbled together starts from Steve Trachsel, John Maine, and Oliver Perez because Hernandez missed the entire playoffs. Now, Maine was fine. In fact, his Game Six performance against the Cardinals gets overlooked as one of the great Met starts of recent years. Ollie was serviceable, more or less. So yeah, for this to work, you have to believe that Willie wouldn’t have kept starting Steve Trachsel. And, well…I’ll stick with Billy Wagner being able to get out So Taguchi for my baseball fantasy life.
Of course the worst part of all of this is it happened before the advent of Twitter dot com, spoiling what would have been the greatest #LOLMets moment of all time. — Jeffrey Paternostro (@jeffpaternostro)
David Wright Versus Spinal Stenosis
David Wright is the greatest Met position player of all time, but the majority of his career has been wasted away by incompetent management and crooked ownership. In 2015, it seemed like Wright would finally have a chance to be part of a competitive team again, an honor he had more than earned. As we all know, he left a mid-April game with what seemed to be a mild hamstring strain, but that injury turned into a devastating spinal stenosis diagnosis for Wright at 32. Not only will he deal with this condition for the rest of his life, but it has likely robbed him of his last few chances to be a big part of a World Series club, a reality that has to be as heartbreaking to him as it is to Met fans. — Lukas Vlahos (@lvlahos343)
Duaner Sanchez Versus a Drunk Driver
The 2006 season was a great one for the New York Mets, having won the division for the first time since 1988. For reliever Duaner Sanchez, it was his best season but also the season in which he suffered the injury that ultimately cost him his career. On the morning of July 31st, Sanchez was involved in a car accident as a passenger in a taxi in Miami when he went out early in the morning to grab food. He was the passenger in the taxi when a drunk driver veered into their lane and hit Sanchez’s taxi. Sanchez suffered a serious shoulder injury, ending his 2006 season and the 2007 season before it started.
When Sanchez finally returned in 2008, he was not the same pitcher. The Mets subsequently released him in 2009 Spring Training. Unfortunately for the Mets, they could have used the home-grown Sanchez during the 2006 postseason and in subsequent years when their relievers struggled. The bizarre injury ultimately forced the Mets to trade Xavier Nady to the Pirates to acquire Oliver Perez and reacquire 41-year old Roberto Hernandez (the reliever), both of whom had less than memorable Mets careers after the trade. Sanchez ended up pitching 12 games for the Padres in 2009 but finished the season with a FIP of 8.73, ending his Major League career. — Seth Rubin (@sethrubin)
Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports