Friday, June 25, 2010

Santana reminds Mets of bad-boy days

News surfaced this week that New York Mets ace Johan Santana was accused of rape last year. For a team that has cleaned up its image dramatically over the last decade, it's an ugly reminder of the legacy of the 1980s and 1990s teams when abuse of women was a defining characteristic.

Santana is not the first Mets ace to be accused of rape. In the spring of 1992, the team was rocked when Dwight Gooden, Vince Coleman and Daryl Boston were accused of sexually assaulting a woman at Gooden's home. The allegations were particularly scandalous not only because Gooden and Coleman were both married at the time, but the accuser was pitcher David Cone's then-girlfriend. Like in the Santana situation, the case was never pursued, but it left an imprint on the players and on the team forever.

I finished reading Darryl Strawberry's autobiography a few weeks ago and it was clear that the 1980s Mets relished their bad-boy persona, a key trait being the horrible treatment of women. For example, Strawberry openly admits to hitting his wives and having numerous affairs with other women, including fathering a child with another woman while married to his first wife. But he acknowledges he wasn't the only one engaged in this type of behavior, with other Mets players taking pride in sleeping with random women in each city they visited, ostensibly to play baseball, but in their minds to party hard.

Aside from Strawberry, Keith Hernandez was one of the bad guys on the old Mets teams. It's ironic now that Hernandez is in the broadcast booth and talking about how the accusation against Santana won't affect the Mets. That might have been true when he was playing for them because bad behavior was common among him and some of his teammates. But that's certainly not the case with the current Mets, who are choir boys compared to their predecessors.

The Santana situation is different in the sense that this is the only time that the renowned family man has been accused of a crime and mistreating his family. But for a team that has eagerly tried to shed its bad-boy image, it's an ugly reminder of a time not too long ago when this type of behavior was the norm.

Thanks to OlympianX, Andrew Klein via Wikipedia for the photo.

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