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The Five Worst Moments In New York Mets History

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This should surprise no one but this was a tough list to put together. As Frank The Tank screams daily, the Mets have had so many things go wrong, it does seems like they are cursed at times. It's impressive that a franchise that had a year where they have lost 120 games as well as three different World Series and none of those seasons will make this list. I think you could ask 100 Mets fans to make this list and you'd get 100 different variations but here's my Top 5 Worst Moments In Mets History:

5. Carlos Beltran Called Third Strike Ends NLCS (10/19/2006)

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It's not so much the called strike itself. I think Beltran gets way too much shit for that. They wouldn't have gotten that close to the World Series without Beltran who was phenomenal that year. Also, there is no shame in striking out against Adam Wainwright (who is a borderline Hall Of Famer). It's not the at bat itself but more the season ending when it was a year they absolutely should have won the World Series.

You're not going to see Terry Collins leaving Matt Harvey in the 9th inning of Game 5 in the 2015 World Series on this list because I think this loss is more painful. The Mets were already down 3-1 in that series when that happened. However, the 2006 Mets had the best team in baseball for most of that year without question. Then the pitching staff broke down and they lost the NLCS to a team that went 83-78.

Mix in the Endy Chavez catch and it still seemed it was our year. When Beltran struck out with the bases loaded in the 9th, it felt like the closest thing to getting blindsided on Survivor. For Mets fans, the torch got snuffed and it was all over so suddenly. 

4. Bernie Madoff Gets Arrested (12/11/2008)

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If you are someone that doesn't think Madoff's Ponzi scheme and relationship with the Wilpons didn't have a direct impact on the Mets on the field, I've got a stat for you. From the moment Madoff got caught, the Mets had six losing seasons in a row. The four years before he got arrested were all winning seasons.

I don't personally think the Wilpons were in on it but that they relied so much in this one guy absolutely destroyed the franchise for years.  When Madoff got caught, the payroll was in the $150 million range. From 2012-15, it wouldn't go above $100 million. The only silver lining in the Madoff/Mets connection was that it did quicken the Wilpons into selling the team.

3. Tom Seaver Traded To The Reds (6/15/1977)

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This was a nightmare situation for so many reasons for the Mets. They traded away the man whose nickname was literally "The Franchise". It was also the end of the era of winning for the Mets as they also traded away their best slugger Dave Kingman in a separate deal the same day. Finally, they didn't get enough back for Seaver. But the impact was the greatest player the Mets have ever known was gone and it should never have happened.

The 1977 Mets were a mess on and off the field. The original owner of the Mets, Joan Whitney Payson, had died after the 1975 season and her daughter Linda became team president but she was never a baseball fan. Because of this vacuum of leadership, a man named M. Donald Grant wound up running the team and promptly ran it into the ground.

Grant was a nasty guy who planted a story in the Daily News about how Seaver's wife hated New York. This was during heated contract negotiations with Seaver and was the last straw. When Seaver saw the story, he was enraged and demanded being traded. The Mets rushed a trade because it was literally trade deadline day and Seaver wound up pitching for the Reds in his next start. The Mets wouldn't have a winning season again until 1984.

2. The Mets Trade Nolan Ryan (12/10/1971)

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This is an unpopular opinion but I think the trade of Nolan Ryan had more negative impact than the Seaver deal. When the Mets traded away from a washed up Jim Fregosi, they were still a very competitive team. The argument you'll hear from old baseball fans is that Ryan had to leave the Mets to be successful and I think that's bullshit. A big reason he was never able to become the great pitcher with the Mets that he would be with the Angels had nothing to do with baseball.

Ryan had military commitments (he was in the Army Reserve) throughout his entire Mets career. He missed the 1967 season entirely to serve and even until 1971, he had to go Houston every other weekend to train with the Army. It wasn't until 1972 that those commitments were fulfilled and he could focus entirely on baseball. I do believe that if the Mets had simply hung onto Ryan one more season, he would have been an elite pitcher for the Mets. 

They made the 1973 World Series without Ryan. Imagine if they had hung onto a pitcher that, while not as good as Tom Seaver, did finish his career with more wins and more strikeouts. For me, the impact of losing Ryan on a good Mets teams is a worse thing than losing Seaver on bad Mets ones.

1. Dwight Gooden Discovers Cocaine (sometime in 1986)

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I am going with Gooden (and only Gooden) here. I didn't include Darryl Strawberry's issues because he was a great player his entire career with the Mets. His career didn't fall apart until after his first season (where he made the All-Star team and was in the Top 10 in NL MVP voting) with the Dodgers. As sad as Strawberry's fall from grace was, it didn't happen until he was already long gone from Queens.

Maybe it was a coincidence but Gooden's fastball wasn't as effective the very season he started doing cocaine. He was still only 21 so I don't think it was age related. I have to imagine it was the drugs. Whatever it was, that velocity never came back. After the 1986 season, he would only strike out 200 batters in a season one more time (in 1990).

So if the thinking is true that not only did the drugs destroy Gooden's life but also effect his pitching ability, it's hard to choose anything else as the number one worst thing to ever happen to the Mets. It's difficult to even explain how great Gooden was in those first couple of seasons. He literally had one of the greatest pitching seasons in baseball history (24-4, 1.53 ERA) when he was only 20 years old. You think of other greats like Pedro Martinez or Greg Maddux and it took them both years to figure it out and become great. Gooden was that good immediately. 

The 1980's Mets teams were among the most talented rosters of any team in my lifetime. GM Frank Cashen did a masterful job using the draft picks from the losing teams after the Seaver trade to build a super team. That they only went to a single World Series is almost hard to believe. There are many reasons why but for me, the clearest reason is the downfall of Gooden.