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The Kid

[ 22 ] May 31, 2011 |

Very sad news.

I will admit that, as someone whose love for baseball started with the Dick Williams-era Expos, that Carter was never one of my favorites. His rah-rah and theatrical hustle, while not as extreme as Pete Rose’s, were still pretty irritating, and he was easy to hate if you weren’t rooting for him. But it also made him one hell of a player, one who waited way too long to get into the Hall — Ivan Rodirguez, for example, was never the player Carter was in his best years. And while we think of Game 6 as a Red Sox loss, the Carter hit that started the rally should be remembered. What made him irritating ensured that he never quit. I’m sure he’ll bring the same spirit to the disease he’s been inflicted with.

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    I was never a big fan of his. I was a Thurman Munson guy, and Carter was a bit too showy for me.

    Still, it’s hard to say that he wasn’t a truly great catcher – he was. And I’m glad he made the HOF. He earned it.

    I wish him luck in this battle. And Scott, I agree with you that he’ll bring the same spirit to this fight as he did to the game.
    Never say die…

  2. John F says:

    In the Book the Bad Guys Won, it was noted that his Expos teammates hated him, they all believed he was a phony (That Expos clubhouse was bad place BTW, that team had issues above and beyond what was prevalent in MLB back then).

    His Met teammates were all prepared to hate him on the same grounds- they (mostly) came around- he wasn’t a phony (like Garvey et al), the persona he projected was in fact real.

  3. I was at Shea on opening day when he made his Mets debut– they won the game on his extra-innings single as I recall. Of course we already knew that he was the real deal, but that was just perfect.

    As for Game Six, although I can understand how someone might think that the Sox lost it, to me it looked like the Mets– starting with Carter– refused to quit, and won on pure grit. Carter probably never got the credit he deserved for starting that rally.

    • howard says:

      bill, i think we can assume that scott meant “the folk memory of the game is that the red sox lost it,” which is, i think, true.

      but it’s also true that every met fan i know remembers that as a game they won, as you suggest.

    • actor212 says:

      I agree that Carter (and Mitchell, Knight, and Wilson after) won game 6, as opposed to Boston losing it. After all, the Series was supposed to be the Mets coronation, and the Sox were to be a mere afterthought to a 116 win season/postseason. To say the Sox lost the game to a far superior team is, well, kind of silly.

      What people forget is the Mets were behind as late as the eighth inning, when Carter hit a sac fly to tie the game and send it into extra innings.

      Mac could have sent up Don Baylor to bat against Roger McDowell, who had struggled ever since game 6 against the ‘Stros (he pitched five innings in that game and never was the same).

      The image of Carter on first, clapping his hands and pointing back at Mitchell remains, to me, even more iconic than Wilson leaping over Stanley’s pitch as the moment the Mets would prevail. At that moment, the leader that Carter had to become for a team that for three seasons had underachieved (with first Hernandez and then he and Carter) came to the surface.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        My revisionist question is why McNamra pulled Schiraldi. He gave up three singles, none hit especially hard (and Knight was jammed.) He has throwing strikes. Why not let him finish? Whether it mattered or not we don’t know — and I think the Stanley “WP” was on Gedman — but it was a panic move.

        • John F says:

          T — and I think the Stanley “WP” was on Gedman —

          Just saw this game again on SNY, and have to disagree on the Stanley WP- he just basically threw the ball away-

          WRT the 3 singles off Schiraldi- you are right, none was hit hard, in my memory they were all hard hit liners, but re-watching the game – nope, all bloops.

          My memory also said that Mookie was going to beat Stanley to the bag anyway- re-watching it? (and specifically watching for that play)- no, Stanley began pulling up because Buckner screwed the pooch- it would have been interesting though given the foot-speed disparity between the 2- if Buckner hadn’t booted the ball a risk of collision between Mookie and Stanley was definitely present.

        • howard says:

          scott, if you’d followed schiraldi all season that year, you’d know that schiraldi pitching induced panic attacks….

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            And the Steemer didn’t?

            • howard says:

              scott, of course if the sox had mariano rivera, they would have won the damn thing: when your choices are schiraldi or stanley, you don’t have a dominant bullpen.

              and of course, schiraldi had been the pitcher in the epic meltdown against the angels in game 4 of the alcs.

              but truth be told, i went back and checked the stats, and although i remember sox fans as being high-anxiety about schiraldi, his numbers were better than i remembered in 1986….

              • jeer9 says:

                Maybe it was the exaltation of ’04 and ’07, but the pain of ’86 has become little more than a vague recollection of something painful. Schiraldi? Stanley? Buckner? Who is this manager McNamara that you speak of? Did he make mistakes like Zimmer? What time does the Bruin/Canuck game start?

                • Henry Holland says:

                  but the pain of ’86 has become little more than a vague recollection of something painful

                  For us die-hard Angels fans, 1986 is an ache that will never go away. I wish I could remember who said it but the line was “As soon as I saw Gene Mauch poised on the top of the dugout steps, I knew the Angels would lose”.

                  That Moneyball-before-Moneyball stat head presided over three of the biggest collapses in baseball history with his shitty game management skills.

                  /Bitter
                  //Oh, bitter like you wouldn’t believe

  4. actor212 says:

    I remember the struggles Carter went thru as a Met to his his 300th HR. I had partial season seats to Shea that season and we kept pulling for him, at-bat after at-bat.

    Say what you will about him as a person or a player, but the man had the fans’ hearts and that, in the end, is all that matters in a game that has become a marketing device.

    I’m deeply saddened by his illness and will mourn his passing.

  5. Fighting Words says:

    I was too young for Carter’s Expos years. I only remember him as a Met, and for his one year as a Giant. And even then, I never really payed attention to the East Coast teams.

    I read “The Bad Guys Won,” and I was surprised to find out how many people just hated the guy. I never remembered his “antics” but he always seemed to be a really popular player. It’s sad because he seemed pretty sincere, but everyone seemed to think that he was a bit of a phony. I think it was more of a “he’s not a team player, he’s a ‘me first’ player” than anything else.

    Anyway, it’s sad what is happening to him though. I wish him the best of luck.

  6. Linkmeister says:

    Wikipedia tells me the MacNamara wanted Buckner on the field to celebrate the win; that’s why he didn’t replace him with Stapleton as he usually did in the late innings. I find that hard to believe.

    I do think Billy Buck has gotten a bad rap; the game had already been tied due to the pitchers’ mistakes.

  7. 3B Keith Moreland? says:

    Hated him on the Expos because he always seemed to tear up Phillies pitching. Loved him when I read an SI profile of him that talked about how he was a baseball card collector. It’s a cliche said of many players, but was very true of Carter: he loved The Game. Here’s hoping for a miracle.

  8. CJColucci says:

    True story: several years ago, I was talking to a friend when the news came that the Mets and Cards had made a major trade — names not yet announced. I said to my friend, “That makes no sense. The only player the Mets would be interested in is Keith Hernandez, and the Cards wouldn’t trade him.” Some months later, talking to the same friend, I said the Mets were really only a player away from being a big-time contender. The friend sneered, “Yeah, but the player is Gary Carter.”

  9. Henry Holland says:

    Scott, Canucks 1-0. Three more to go.

  10. actor212 says:

    BTW, I just saw this and thought I’d share.

    Seven of the players from the 1980 World Series have died of brain cancer.

  11. [...] wrote a bit about the Kid when he received the diagnosis last year. He was a really great one; his career was a little short [...]

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