Friday, June 03, 2011

Should the Mets Retire Gary Carter's Number?

Yes, that's an Expos jersey.

I was going to stay away from this one, until I saw a post written by Paul Lukas, who runs the site Uni Watch.  Paul is a big Mets fan (one of just a few - sorry, couldn't resist).  I wanted Mets fans to have their say, but Paul's post was wonderfully honest, and it got me to me keyboard.

Over at Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest, the author gives his takeMike Vaccaro of the New York Post also chimes in.

Of course, this isn't my team, but so far, Lukas is the only one saying "no."  Tyler Kepner of the Times weighed in via Lukas' column to also say yes.

My take?  No.

Look, for those who want to offer the "Reggie only played five years for the Yankees" debate, I've been crystal clear on that.  Reggie Jackson's number - under NO circumstances - should ever be retired by the Yankees.  Ever.  I've also been clear that the Yankees (and the Celtics and Canadiens and perhaps even the Bruins) have gotten uttterly out of control when it comes to this topic.

Mike Silva says that the Mets should retire the numbers of Carter, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, John Franco, and Mike Piazza.  I will gladly offer a reason why EACH of them should NOT have the numbers set aside.  Paul Lukas has already done the dirty work for me regarding Carter.  Gooden and Strawberry are both obvious (ummm...shall we recall the rap sheets?).  Hernandez doesn't even have number retired in St. Louis, where he won an MVP and a World Series.  Franco?  Come on.  REALLY?  And then there's Piazza, perhaps the most obvious choice.  I've got my own simple reason...think of the era.  That's all I'm saying.

Plus in the case of many of those players, there really isn't a long body of work, which returns us to the argument that Paul Lukas made about Carter.

But again, this is my take.  I'm more curious what the Mets fan thinks.

I'll repeat my stance on the Yankees.  One: Billy Martin's number should have never been retired (or it should be shared by Bobby Murcer and perhaps Bobby Richardson and Earl Combs - based on lower standards that others seem to have and "players that defined the uniform").  Two: Obvious.  Jeter (it will be retired very soon).  Three: Duh.  Ruth - should be retired across the sport.  Four: Gehrig.  Five: DiMaggio.  Seven: Mantle.  Eight: the catchers, Yogi and Bill Dickey.  Nine: Roger Maris...honestly, as much I like Rog, this one is highly suspect.  Ten: Scooter and I wouldn't retire it.  Sorry.  It was only retired when he wasn't making the Hall of Fame.  Fifteen: Thurman Munson.  Let's be honest...August 2, 1979.  That's it.  Sixteen: White Ford.  Fine.  Twenty-three: Don Mattingly.  No argument from me, but I understand if you disagree.  Thirty-two: Elston Howard.  See Robinson, Jackie and come back to me.  Thirty-seven: Casey Stengel.  Sure, we could debate that one.  Forty-two is for Mo and Robinson.  Forty-four: Reggie.  No.  Big No.  Forty-nine: Ron Guidry.

Nor would I add 51 (Bernie), 24 (Tino), 46 (Pettitte), 20 (Posada) and I might not even add 21 (O'Neill).  It's just too much.  This is what Monument Park is for and I think the Yankees come up empty when it comes to adding new names out there.  They instead used the space to create a HUGE memorial to King George.

But this is a Mets issue.  I don't think the team has been as bad as others think at retiring numbers.  To be sure, I credit them (note this date, folks) for being prudent.  Not every team retires them like Tom Seaver did (nice, right?).  Look at the New York Rangers: for years it was only Rod Gilbert and Eddie Giacomin.  Since then they've added Messier, Leetch, and Richter, and Graves before dipping into their past to honor Harry Howell and Andy Bathgate. 

Make the honor be fit for the true legends - those who did the uniform proud.  It doesn't have to be a gold-standard Hall of Famer (like Mattingly, who is purely a fan-favorite).  But overall, it should be the icons of the franchise.

So Mets fans (and others), have your say.  I'm curious.

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