Thursday, February 16, 2012

Farewell, Kid

I'm going to share a not-so-secret thought with you. I hate the New York Mets. Straight-up hatred. Of all of the teams I've watched - in ANY sport - I absolutely loathed the 1986 Mets more than any other.

I never liked any member of that team. They were obnoxious. According to some, they "created" the curtain calls that have come to hang over baseball like a bad smell. Unquestionably, the '86 Mets could hit a long ball in a game they were losing by a wide margin, and they'd still pop out of the dugout.

I despised it. I still do.

By the way, not for nothing, one of the very first curtain calls was by none other than Roger Maris, on the occasion of his 61st home run in 1961. On the TV, Mel Allen called it "unusual." Granted, Maris was pushed out of the dugout, but still.

Back on point, the baseball world lost Gary Carter today. I'll bluntly tell you that I was never a fan of his. I thought he embodied a lot of what I hated about the Mets. The way that he whined about Mike Scott's "cheating" in the '86 NLCS left a bad taste in my mouth.

That being said, he loved the game of baseball. He lived for it. He never took the game for granted. He played hard, but only on the field. Off the field, he was a family man. There was no partying, no exploits. How could anyone not respect him?

I knew the Mets were serious contenders when they got Carter from the Expos in 1985 (who didn't?). Soon they were champions (and I actually rooted for the Red Sox). And I delighted any time that they lost. Still, there was something about Carter that was tough to root against. He had that way. He had that passion. A burning desire to win.

Let's face it, if he had come to the Yankees in the 80's, we would have all loved him. Who wouldn't? Of course, the Yankees needed pitching in the 80's.

So yes, even a cold-hearted, Mets-hating bastard like myself is tonight raising a glass (of water, Carter lived a very clean life) to Gary Carter - a Hall of Famer, a reporters' dream because he never turned down an interview, and a fans' player, because he left it all on the field, and signed every autograph.

There are plenty of fine stories out there tonight. Jeff Pearlmans', in the Wall Street Journal, is as good as any.

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