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Transactions that broke our hearts - a look back


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Oh how things are different now. I was just looking around because the Dykstra trade was bothering me this morning and found this. Not making this out to be negative but just how things have changed. This article was written before the Scott Kazmir trade btw.



check this out, some mailbag reactions. It can be linked on the main page of the article.




Sports fans love to reminisce over the days where it all went wrong: the wasted draft pick, the tragic trade or the defecting hero. These may not be, by definition, the worst roster moves ever made, but they were the ones that affected us on a personal level. These are the events that caused -- and still cause -- us to sit on our bar stools and lament the cruel twists of life.


CNNSI.com's David Vecsey, born 20 minutes from Shea Stadium on the day the Mets clinched their first postseason berth in 1969, looks back on a few of the dark days for die-hard Mets fans. His suggestions: the ill-fated Lenny Dykstra trade in 1989; the trade of Tom Seaver in 1977; the no-hit curse left by the Nolan Ryan trade in 1971; the Amos Otis trade in 1969; and the day Darryl Strawberry left in 1990.



June 18 1989 N.Y. Mets trade OF Lenny Dykstra and P Roger McDowell to Philadelphia for OF Juan Samuel


Lenny Dykstra Lenny Dykstra's one-handed home run swing was one of his many quirks. Allsport

Never mind that Dykstra was better than Samuel, this trade was devastating to Mets fans on a purely personal level. With one phone call, GM Joe McIlvaine gutted the team of its heart. Not only did the Mets lose Dykstra and McDowell, who were both goofy and gutsy enough to thrive in New York, but this trade also created a negative atmosphere in the clubhouse and in the stands. Going to Mets games became decidedly less fun. It became readily apparent that management was looking to change the maverick attitude that had defined the '86 Mets.


Things went wrong for Samuel from the start. His home was burglarized. His car was broken into. His wife hated New York. And New York didn't much care for him. Fans booed him from his first at-bat. After hitting .262 with an average of 18 HRs and 78 RBIs over his five full seasons with the Phillies, Samuel batted .228 with three homers and 28 RBIs in 86 games before being traded to the Dodgers during the offseason.





All Dykstra did was earn his first All-Star bid by hitting a career-high .325 in his first full season with the Phillies. Three years later, he hit .305 with 19 home runs and 66 RBIs as the Phillies went to the World Series.



Dykstra was the scruffy little dude who hit two of the biggest home runs in the history of the franchise. He saved the third game of the 1986 league series with a two-run homer that meant the Mets could avoid Mike Scott in a seventh game, and he saved the World Series that year with a leadoff homer in Boston after the Mets had lost the first two games at home.


Some fans had learned to love Lenny even before that, for his belly-whopper slides and his dives in center field, some of which were even necessary. To the end, he played out of position on some hitters and never learned to run up on a fly ball so he could unleash a throw to home.


He was neither Willie nor Mickey nor the Duke, but today his legions are heart-broken.


Tom Ponticelli, Elmwood, Park, N.J.

There is one day that I will always look back on with great lament. I had just gotten my uniform for my 6th grade traveling all-star team and had chosen No. 4 for my favorite Met, Lenny Dykstra. I ran home to show my father and he shook his head in confusion while saying, "You may want to see what other numbers are available -- Dykstra was just traded for Juan Samuel." "Juan Samuel?!" I shouted. "Why would the Mets want Juan Samuel?" More than 10 years later I am still asking myself the same question.


Steve Groark, Nanuet, N.Y.

It was June 18, 1989, when the New York Mets traded Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell for the infamous Juan Samuel. Not only Dykstra was one of my all-time favorite Mets ... would you believe it was my birthday!



June 15 1977 N.Y. Mets trade P Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for OF Steve Henderson, P Dan Norman, IF Doug Flynn and P Pat Zachry


The Mets have the distinction letting "The Franchise" slip through their fingers not once, but twice. Instead of paying Seaver what he was worth, Mets chairman M. Donald Grant orchestrated this hideous trade. Even though Seaver was never quite "Tom Terrific" with the Reds, he did throw a no-hitter there ... a feat that still eludes Met pitchers.





The Mets made a much-ballyhooed trade to bring Seaver back in 1983 ... then they promptly left him unprotected in the offseason and he was unceremoniously claimed in the compensation draft by the White Sox. He returned to New York to win his 300th game ... at Yankee Stadium with the White Sox. The ultimate insult would have come in the 1986 World Series, but the Boston Red Sox left Seaver off of their postseason roster.


Dave Coelho, Toronto

For me the most traumatic trade was seeing Tom Seaver leave for the dreaded Reds. I still have the Newsday article that reported on the trade -- the most memorable picture being of Seaver sitting in front of his locker, crying. To this day that will always be the worst trade for me -- it was like ripping the soul from the team I loved.


Ramon Guevara, Somerset, N.Y.

I was heartbroken for weeks. Did not eat, did not sleep and I threw my Mets hat in the garbage. I was lucky that my mom took the hat out of the garbage. It was not until 1983, six long years later, that I started to become a Mets fan again. That was when the Mets got Keith Hernandez.


Noah Levine, Rockville Center, N.Y.

[The Seaver trade was] when I realized that fans never come first.



December 10 1971 N.Y. Mets trade P Nolan Ryan (and 3 others) to the California Angels for IF Jim Fregosi


Nolan Ryan For you younger Mets fans who can't believe this ... here's proof: Ryan's 1970 Topps baseball card as a Met. Topps

It's not exactly the "Curse of the Bambino," but the Mets' inability to throw a no-hitter is often attributed to this seemingly ludicrous deal.


At the time, there wasn't much to complain about. Fregosi was a light-hitting infielder with a decent fielding percentage and looked to be a solution for the Mets' continuing problems at third base; Ryan was a wild fireballer with a 29-38 record, 344 walks and 493 strikeouts in 390 innings over five seasons. Frankly, the Mets didn't think he would amount to much more than a .500 pitcher.


Of course, that's exactly what he turned out to be, except for the fact that on seven glorious days over the course of his career, he transformed himself into the most dominant pitcher of our lifetime. He led the league in strikeouts and walks in six out of his first seven seasons with California.




Ryan has seven of the 20 no-hitters thrown by one-time Mets. He joins Seaver, Mike Scott, Dwight Gooden and David Cone as former Mets to do it. Eight other pitchers, including current ace Al Leiter, have thrown no-no's before coming to the Mets.


Rich Haelig, Wallingford, Pa.

In 1970, I was a 9-year-old Little Leaguer and Nolan Ryan came to our banquet in Middlesex, N.J. He was friendly, affable and signed all the autographs that were asked of him. It was a great day and I thought I met a rising star that would join Seaver and Koosman and make the Mets perennial champs for years to come.


When the Mets traded Nolan Ryan I was left with 20-plus years of torture as I went from an adolescent to an adult to a husband and father being tortured by seven no-hitters and the most strikeouts of all-time being pitched by a great man who was unfortunately not a New York Met.



December 3 1969 N.Y. Mets trade OF Amos Otis and P Bob Johnson to the Kansas City Royals for 3B Joe Foy


Third base has been a death trap for the Mets since the day they trotted Don Zimmer out there for the inaugural game in 1962. More than 100 Mets have been fried at the hot corner, including Joe Foy in 1970.


Riding high after their '69 championship, the Mets felt they needed to replace the right-handed hitting Ed Charles with somebody who could platoon with lefty Wayne Garrett.


They could have tried Otis, who had played third for the Mets' Instructional League team and received high marks from then-Mets' director of player development Whitey Herzog, who would later manage Otis for five seasons in K.C.


In 14 seasons with the Royals, Otis hit around .280, led the league in doubles twice, led the league with 52 stolen bases in 1971. Foy made 18 errors in 99 games and hit .236 in one season with the Mets.


By the way, the Royals parlayed the other player in the deal, pitcher Bob Johnson, to acquire longtime shortstop Freddie Patek from Pittsburgh.



November 8 1990 OF Darryl Strawberry signs 5-year, $20.25 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers


Darryl Strawberry Darryl Strawberry was the 1983 Rookie of the Year. Allsport

Whether Darryl Strawberry knew it or not ... whether he knows it yet ... Mets fans always thought of him as one of their own.


Through all his trials and tribulations, he was always the prodigal son of the prodigious talent. Through all the back page barbs, there was always a soft spot for Darryl in the hearts of Mets fans, always the hope that he would launch one more moon shot off of the scoreboard, and more importantly, always the hope that this time he meant what he said.




The trail of broken hearts reaches from Roosevelt Avenue to Elysian Park Avenue, from area code 718 to 213. Darryl Strawberry always leaves 'em weeping.


What are the Mets without him? What is he without the Mets?


He remains most clearly a mixed bag -- a puzzle wrapped in an enigma. Why should it be any different that he broke so many hearts when he chose to leave the Mets, when he broke so many hearts while he was here?


Paul Harris, Union City, N.J.

If you didn't follow the Mets in the mid-to-late '80s, then you couldn't have any idea what Darryl meant to Mets fans, especially younger ones like myself. In hindsight, and in light of Darryl's numerous legal problems, the move turned out to be a blessing in disguise (from a public relations standpoint).


But I can remember how angry I was that the Mets not only refused to sign Darryl, they also let him go to the hated Dodgers. If Darryl never left the Mets (it killed him to leave), maybe he would never have let things get so out of control. Who knows?


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