The Mets made a fool of me this past weekend. After I blew so much sunshine up their collective asses on Friday, they decided that this was the perfect weekend to look like rookies — afraid of the candyassed Braves. And despite the fact that the Mets mostly killed themselves throughout the two losses, they were truly shamed by a a crippled B-teamer named Kelly Johnson.
Hell, this guy forced me to lose face to a reader who calls himself “The Suit.” (Yes, I’m drinking heavily because of this…)
Anyway, come on! How good could this have been? The man’s name is Kelly. As in, “The hot girl in both 90210 and Saved By The Bell” Kelly! As in, “‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, American Idol,” Kelly.
This got me thinking — just how many killer Kellys have there been in professional sports? Putting aside Bears powerhouse Kelly Leak, there have been very few. Just look:
Kelly Gruber - Former Blue Jays and Angels third baseman who was rewarded for a clutch World Series homer by being traded for Luis Sojo. Developed a chronic back condition, and was forced to retire early. Currently runs a Toronto-based sports marketing firm, which is roughly the equivalent of promoting Hudson River seafood.
Kelly Stinnett - A journeyman catcher who has collected enough uniforms to rival Sam Cassell. Started out in the Mets’ organization, and then proceeded to bounce around MLB like a fat kid on Haagen Dazs. Never spent enough time on any one team to make an impact, though they sorta liked him in Arizona. Was a victim of the ultimate indiginity in 2006, when the Yankees decided that Sal “Porn ‘Stache” Fasano was a more reliable backup option behind the plate.
Kelly Kisio - Former NHL center/pest/wannabe badass who had the distinct pleasure of conceding the New York Rangers’ captaincy to Mark Messier. Though he was always a reliable player, no one could take him seriously. Partly because his first name was Kelly. Mostly because his last name had “kiss” in it.
Kelly Slater - Professional surfer. Blonde, blue eyed, shirtless most of the time. Actually, here, Kelly is a perfectly fitting name.
Kelly Holcomb - Former NFL quarterback. His most memorable game came in 2003, in Cleveland, when he marched his squad all over the field, only to lose to an even worse quarterback in Tommy Maddox. Recently just missed the cut after auditioning for the role of “1920s Hack #2″ in Leatherheads.
In fact, now that I think about it, only one professional sports Kelly ever made any significant contribution to mankind…
Kelly Tripucka - Former NBA player and more importantly, the “New Jersey Boys Basketball Player of the Century” (of which century, we don’t know). Tripucka enjoyed a prolific 10-year career in the league, scoring nearly as many points as he allowed off the drive. He also won numerous fan awards for sporting thick chest hair and a rock solid helmet-do throughout his career - a look that has sadly gone the way of the buffalo in today’s NBA. And his first name - as bad as it is - is offset by the fact that his last name roughly translates to “Pukes Three Times.”
Though his wasn’t a terribly long playing career, he did have a number of noteworthy games, and also got himself removed from the Utah Jazz for writing “DICK” across the back of his shoes. It was supposedly to show support for former coach Dick Harter. Supposedly.
Based on the above, this guy should have rewritten the book on guys named Kelly in pro ball, but instead he faded away quietly. He was named to the Polish-American Hall of Fame in 2000, and is now serving as a scout for the Knicks. And I think we all can tell what kind of job he’s doing there. Though he fought it, Kelly Tripucka ultimately fell victim to his own name, and all the setbacks that come with it.
Getting back to baseball, what Kelly Johnson did yesterday was only really annoying and demeaning to the Mets, but will stand up with some of the greatest sporting accomplishments of all time, at least by men named Kelly.