I've said all along I would comment on the Mets (or people connected to the Mets) involved in the Mitchell Report, and though we're long past the release of the document, I think it's still relevant (see: Roger Clemens on '60 Minutes' Sunday night). I think the fairest way to do this is in little chunks, so this might carry us through a bit more of the off-season, and I think I'll label each of these on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being 'most', and 1 being 'least', in terms of 'surprise', and 'disappointment'.
Surprise: 0 (8)
There's not much surprise involved with Dykstra - if anyone saw him playing for the Phillies, he looked a lot different than the skinny kid who came up with the Mets. The real surprise is that he started taking steroids with the Mets - I don't remember him looking bigger in 1989, as the Report suggests. Perhaps that's why the Mets dealt him and Roger McDowell - because 18 years later, I'm still looking for the reason. The disappointment is at 5 because even though Dykstra admitted to Major League Baseball that he used steroids, he refused to aid the Mitchell investigation, helping to make it a mostly disappointing document.
Part of me feels that anyone on the Mets during the Radomski employment (1987-1994) should be a 0 on the surprise scale. But the Mets were so bad during the Josias Manzanillo years (1993-1995) that it is surprising that anyone was taking performance enhancers. Manzanillo rates unusually high on the disappointment scale for a player of his caliber because I always really liked him, and looked forward to games in which he played (as a reliever). He was an animated type.
I think this was the biggest surprise on the list for me, but after thinking about it, it becomes more obvious, and goes down a few pegs on the surprise scale. The disappointment is partly in Hundley, partly in me for not seeing it sooner. This is a guy who went from never hitting more than 16 homers in a season (as it says in the report itself) to a team-record 41 the year he allegedly started juicing. As a former catcher, I always find myself partial to the Mets catchers in my rooting life...so Hundley was always one of my favorites, making this a bigger blow.
Matt Franco goes down as one of the bigger surprises/disappointments on the list. First of all, he was quoted in the report as denying knowing Radomski or taking anything. So there's that, for what it's worth. But if it's true, it stinks. Franco was an everyman, just an average-seeming guy, which made him easy to root for. When he did poorly, he got away with it, because he was never very good. But when he succeeded, it made it all the more exciting. To think that a player like this may have cheated - it's one of those instances where someone else may have been cheated out of a job. And throw this in there - Franco was always one of Bobby Valentine's favorites...even to the extent of playing for him in Japan (maybe even still). If Valentine even had a hint of this going on, it makes you wonder what else he knew about/who else he knew about. (Also, the timing of this is surprising - because this was alleged to have happened in 2000 - well after Radomski's employment with the Mets was up.)
Pratt was always a hanger-on type. I saw him speak a couple of times, and he was working at baseball camps and such in between tryouts for major league teams. So, again, it's a shame if the report is correct, and maybe he had an edge. (He refused to speak to Mitchell.) It also makes you think - he won the 1999 Division Series for the Mets with a walk-off homer against Arizona....what happens if he was on steroids? That ball just barely cleared the center fielder's glove and the center field wall...maybe it would have been a routine out. Maybe the Mets don't get to the 1999 NLCS that year. Maybe I still like Kenny Rogers as a result, because he never walks in the winning run. All kidding aside, this is where steroids could be having an effect on the game of baseball, where you question everything.
PAUL LO DUCA
The more you think about it, the less you're really surprised by this one. There's the explosive rage and his quotes from Sports Illustrated quoted in the report. But it still makes the Mets look bad. To make it worse, Hundley appears again as the person who allegedly hooked Lo Duca up with Radomski.
That's a wrap for Part I - I think I'll conclude my thoughts on the Mitchell Report with Part II sometime next week...then put this behind us. There's only about 7-8 other players with connections to the Mets that I want to mention.
FANTASY SPORTS: So last year, as a way to bridge the gap between the Super Bowl and March Madness, I got into Fantasy NASCAR, which I wrote about on the site. I'll be doing that again for sure in about a month, I think. But one thing I heard about which had always intrigued me was fantasy golf, which I was able to slide under the wire in creating a team when I realized Thursday morning that Thursday evening was the beginning of this year's PGA Tour season. So I'm excited about that. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.