The Ballad Of Joe Moock and other Mets hot cornermen who weren't so hot

June 28, 1998

In their 36-year history the New York Mets have employed an
astonishing 112 men at third base. In other words, the Mets
change third basemen as often as most sportswriters change their
underwear. Which is to say, as many as five times a year,
whether they need to or not.

With that in mind, we commissioned one such housebound scribe to
pen a Homeric epic on the Mets' third base jinx. Composed in
secret (code name: the Flushing Project), the result is a bold
new genre--part Mother Goose, part Dr. Seuss, you might call it
Mother Seuss. Or Dr. Goose. Whatever the case, we think it will
become an important convention in journalism: the epic nursery
rhyme.

WALLY BACKMAN
Was a lousy third sackman
Like 100-odd other Met vets--
From FELIX MANTILLA
To BOBBY BONILLA,
Who cursed like a man with Tourette's.

GARY CARTER
Made third base look harder
Than walking on fresh-waxed linoleum.
BUTCH HUSKEY
Was so often rusty
He whirlpool-bathed in Rust-Oleum.

TEDDY MARTINEZ
And CHICO FERNANDEZ:
Together they gave the Mets nada.
One part rum
And two parts bum
Make a FERNANDO VINA colada.

BILL SPIERS
Seldom inspires
Comparisons to those who played well.
HUBIE BROOKS
Played like a Brooks--
Not Robinson, sadly, but Mel.

CHUCK HILLER
Was worse than KEITH MILLER
Who was worse than ELLIOTT MADDOX.
The two Mr. EDS*
Who played third for the Mets
Were quickly returned to their paddocks.

BOB ASPROMONTE
Was not the full 'monte--
That was his big brother Ken.
TATUM and GRAHAM
Had hands made of ham.
RICH PUIG belonged in a pen.

TIM BOGAR
Was no Humphrey Bogart--
He was not even Lauren Bacall.
And CARLOS BAERGA
Needed Viagra
Just to get wood on the ball.

JACK HEIDEMANN
Was a Flintstone vitamin--
A man who got eaten alive.
As for WAYNE GARRETT,
He never could snare it--
His vanity plates read E-5.

AMOS OTIS
Eluded the notice
Of baseball's elite Hall of Fame.
While ROD KANEHL
Caused Stengel to squeal,
"Can't anyone here play this game?"

JUNIOR NOBOA
Was not a strong throwa,
He played with the greatest of E's.
BILL PECOTA
Had a strong oda
Reminiscent of moldering cheese.

MIKE CUBBAGE
Excelled at ball flubbage--
He simply could not find the handle.
But TIM FOLI--
After two shots of Stoli--
Looked almost as good as LEN RANDLE.

JOSE MORENO
(For all that we know)
Was really his big sister, Rita.
A NAPOLEON (Danny),
An ALEXANDER (named Manny)--
Neither man was a great leada.

CHICO WALKER,
Clean out your locker,
You're as versatile as a cadaver.
JERRY GROTE,
You reek like a roadie
Who's toured for a year with Blues Traveler.

MATT FRANCO
(In Spanish, "El Ranko")
Was inexpressibly vile.
Along with BOB PFEIL
The two had a style
Historians call Rank-and-Pfeil.

SHAWN GILBERT
Not unlike Dilbert,
Simply could not please his bosses.
They knew for more wins
They'd need fewer DOUG FLYNNS,
And fewer JOE FOYS and BOB KLAUSES.

JEFF KENT
Was prudent to rent:
He was in Queens for what seemed like a day.
PHIL MANKOWSKI
May I have your house key?
It seems you've been waived away.

A. ESPINOZA,
Like Lou (the Toe) Groza,
Was famous for booting the ball.
AARON LEDESMA
Had Al Gore's charisma
And the arm of a Gore--Gore Vidal.

RON HUNT--
Shall we be blunt?--
Was not someone we'd pay to go see.
But BOB BAILOR
Was no total failure:
At least he was not JIM FREGOSI.

TIM TEUFEL--
Though German for "devil"--
Still inspired no terror.
JASON HARDTKE?
We're pretty sure he's
A typographical error.

DON ZIMMER
Has X-rays that shimmer
With stainless-steel plates in his noggin.
CRAIG SHIPLEY
Went downhill so quickly
He must have used a toboggan.

KEVIN COLLINS,
Unbothered by pollens,
Was allergic instead to success.
Nor was BILL ALMON
An accomplished groundballman--
He was swiftly shown the egress.

TOMMIE REYNOLDS
Should have been kenneled
And if you think he was a dog,
Then what of AL WEIS
Who couldn't catch flies
If you turned him into a frog?

TUCKER ASHFORD,
Like a drink on a dashboard,
Lasted only about a half minute.
CLINT HURDLE
Wore fame like a girdle--
He never seemed to fit in it.

PUMPSIE GREEN
Had a name half obscene
And so, in a way, did STEVE SPRINGER.
DAVE KINGMAN
Had a terrible swing, man
But could he ever hit a long dinger.

On AMADO SAMUEL
It is best not to dwell,
He will never hear fans chanting, "Sammy!"
And soft KEVIN MITCHELL,
The slightest leg twitch'll
Cause him to blow out his hammy.

TOM O'MALLEY
Inspired no rally
When stepping into the box.
And then there's FRANK THOMAS,
Who wasn't--we promise--
The one who's on the White Sox.

TED SCHREIBER
Is not a subscriber
So we can say he was swine.
To his kemosabe
A young man named Bobby,
We say, "Don't be our VALENTINE."

KEN BOYER
Like a bad lawyer
Never prepared a defense.
MACKEY SASSER
Was so large in the ass, for
Undies he wore circus tents.

GARY KOLB
Could have been sold
As a bobble-handed Mets' doll.
CHARLEY NEAL
Was not a trained seal:
He had no nose for the ball.

JOHN STEARNS
Had hot-corner burns
Over 90% of his body.
LARRY BURRIGHT
Looked skyward one night
And pleaded, "Beam me up, Scotty."

CHRIS DONNELS
And Chris O'Donnell--
The two have something in common:
Like KELVIN CHAPMAN,
Donnels was crap, man,
While Chris O'Donnell played Robin.

If SAMMY DRAKE
Were a T-bone steak,
He'd require a lot of A-1.
Whereas S. FERRER
Would be medium rare:
Nothing he did was well done.

ALEX TREVINO
Resembled El Nino
In the sense that both of them blew.
If CLIFF COOK
Was a bear in a book
They'd call him Losie the Pooh.

AL MORAN
Is in the Koran
As the first sign of the Apocalypse.
The second sign,
Most scholars find,
Is the unspeakable play of MIKE PHILLIPS.

SANDY ALOMAR
Made like Alydar
And sired a couple of studs.
But he was more awful
Than day-old falafel;
Before long the job was JOEL YOUNGBLOOD's.

PHIL LINZ,
Like other fill-ins,
Never really panned out.
RICK HERRSCHER--
We'll get letters, fer sure--
Was both a dog and a kraut.

RICHIE HEBNER
Was bad with the leather--
BOB HEISE was a terrible stick man.
Add 'em together--
No stick and no leather--
And you get the inept JIMMY HICKMAN.

KEVIN MORGAN,
Like Shea, had one organ,
But the Mets themselves had two JOHNSONS.
There was HOWARD (or "HoJo")
And BOB (never "BoJo"--
His temper was worse than Chuck Bronson's).

CHARLEY SMITH
At third took the fifth
Or his every act would incriminate.
About ROY STAIGER
Even Tony the Tiger
Would have to say, "He's not grrreat!"

Your ROSS JONESES
And ELIO CHACONSES,
Joe Moocks and Jerry Buchekses--
If dreadful careers
Were longhorned steers
These four men would be Texas.

JEFF MCKNIGHT
And Slappy White are equally
lacking in gravitas.
You need three e's
To spell JEFFERIES,
Another third baseman emeritus.

LEO FOSTER
Belongs on this roster
Along with RON GARDENHIRE.
Look what the cat dragged in--
SAUNDERS and MAGADAN--
Two other stiffs for our pyre.

KEN BOSWELL
Alighted in Roswell--
He certainly played like a spaceman.
LOPEZ, STEPHENSON,
RAMIREZ and TEMPLETON:
Stop when we've named a third baseman.

The err apparent
To these (RAY) KNIGHTS errant
Was a kid by the name of PAQUETTE.
He's bad, undesirable.
Unwaiverwireable.
In short, he's a future ex-Met.

As for JOE TORRE,
Now there's a short story--
A bleak one, something by Sartre.
And finally, EDGARDO ALFONZO,
Who wasn't in Bedtime for Bonzo--
But we defy you to tell them apart.

*ED BRESSOUD and ED CHARLES

TWELVE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS: ILLUSTRATIONS BY DAVID GOLDIN [Drawings of hapless Mets players enacting woes described in poems]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)