There are such things as Mets villains: players on opposing teams whom we hate with the greatest pleasure. Mets players like Bobby Bonilla or Mets front office people like M. Donald Grant or Steve Phillips can never be Mets villains because we hate them with pain and frustration, not with pleasure.
There has to be pleasure. Mike Scioscia and Yadier Molina are not Mets villains. They broke our hearts. But they were simply weak-hitting catchers stepping up for their team. They were Todd Pratts. Would the Diamondbacks be justified in hating Todd Pratt? Of course not.
The pantheon of true Mets villains is a pretty impressive bunch of ballplayers. A villain must be at least a very good ballplayer and he must be guilty of doing more than just doing his job or grabbing his one moment in the limelight. He must be a symbol of his team. And he must diss you. For years, he will be booed with gusto by Mets fans. For years, we will root for him to do badly. He will never be forgiven. The greatest Mets villains of all time are Pete Rose, John Rocker, Chipper Jones, and Roger Clemens. I hesitate to include Jones in this group because I think he is actually a decent enough guy who played well against us and named his daughter after our stadium and was simply ignorant enough to suggest that when we lost to Atlanta we would just go put our Yankees jerseys on – not realizing that if we all found Yankees jerseys in our homes there would suddenly be an awful lot of clogged toilets within a 100-mile radius of New York.
The quintessential Mets villains are Rose, Rocker, and Clemens, really fine ballplayers, two of them hall-of-fame caliber players, who are simply sickening mentally ill assholes of a kind that no Met fan would ever want on their team. I’m not kidding. I would not root for the Mets if they signed Roger Clemens. Certainly not if they had to pay 18 million plus $7.5 million luxury tax for just a few months in which he could just show up at the stadium whenever he felt like it. Rose tried to beat the crap out of Buddy Harrelson just because he was so frustrated that the Reds were losing the 1973 playoffs to the Mets. Rocker was stupid enough to say the kind of thing that stupid guys say about furriners and New Yorkers in front of a guy who he – what?- forgot was a reporter? But Clemens was the worst.
Clemens threw right at Mike Piazza’s head just because Piazza had hit something like five home runs off of him. He wanted to crack his head open and spill his brains. I don’t honestly know if Clemens really wanted to do that. But he’s the kind of guy who would have. What an asshole.
Then his testosterone-addled brain (some of it from his own testes, some of it probably purchased) convinces him that a piece of Piazza’s broken bat is actually a baseball, a really weird baseball, that he should playfully throw back at Piazza (remember the look on Piazza’s face at that moment?). Pete Rose is still alive somewhere complaining about not being in the Hall of Fame. He’s still famous but he’s irrelevant. Who knows where Rocker is? But all of a sudden, Roger Clemens is back in all of our lives.
How do I feel? Delighted, actually. I may eat my words, but I feel something very beautiful coming on. A perfect storm for the Yankee hater. Think of it. The Yankees show signs of very possibly not having a team good enough to make it to the playoffs. In a year in which the Mets probably will. Roger Clemens appears in George Steinbrenner’s box and Suzyn Waldman announces it as if it is one of the greatest moments in baseball history. You get the whole Yankee hype thing. “Oh, what good fortune showers down onto us! Oh, how we deserve it, we champions and our champion fans! We do nothing to deserve such good fortune and yet it comes and comes!”
All it took was a prorated annual salary of $28 million dollars a year. Plus the luxury tax. So all baseball values are shot to hell because the proud pricks in pinstripes are running desperate and scared. Zito now looks underpaid at only $18 million a year. But Yankee fans and Yankee players talk all day about how worth it it all is, because Roger Clemens will win them the championship that this franchise EXPECTS and DESERVES. Are they nuts? Have they lost their frigging minds? The man turns 45 in August. Sure, he has pitched amazingly well the last few years for a guy his age, for anybody really. But he is 45. And he has had no spring training. Is this a savior who gives you a lock on getting to the postseason, when your team E.R.A. is still higher than that of the 1962 Mets and Mariano Rivera has an E.R.A. of 8.38 ?
Do you really expect the old guy to ride in like the cavalry? They are not going to be happy. And I can’t wait to see it. By investing so much in Clemens they are magnifying the scale of the disaster they are powerless to prevent. It’s bad enough to have your first bad year in a long time. But it is so much worse to look so stupid believing that you have bought yourself a savior for only 25 million dollars.
In Latin, “Clemens” means gentle and merciful. That’s very funny when you think about it. This will be fun for Mets fans. We will not be gentle. We will not show mercy. Die, suckers, die.