It's a sad day for baseball when this is taken away from us:
I was born in 1984, so I'm too young to remember him play. Since the only substantial happiness I can get from watching the Mets involves me watching footage from over 25 years ago, I've grown accustomed to all of the highlights from that year. The '86 roster has become like folk heroes for Mets fans of my age. We lament on Doc's electric stuff, Orosco throwing the glove in the air, and of course game six, even though we were teething when all that happened.
So rationally it really makes no sense to be as upset as I am about Carter's death. I mean there's the obvious sadness that anyone can understand. 57 is much too young, Cancer is a senseless death, he's leaving behind a wife and three kids, etc. But I never saw him play, I never met him, there's no personal connection to the man (then again, when you think about how worked up we all get over sports, which in itself are essentially meaningless, rationality doesn't come into play here.)
For me though, I think I can rationalize it. You would never know it from the offensive, profanity laden rants in this blog, but I'm a music teacher. I write my posts the way I do because I need shock value and inappropriate rhetoric to be funny, I'm not good enough to write without it. In real life when I'm not putting on a show for this blog, I'm a die hard Mets fan, but my true passion is education. To quote the West Wing, education is the silver bullet to defeat poverty, ignorance, crime, hate, and all the evils that plague our planet. I firmly believe that as soon as we figure out how to afford to turn our schools into palaces, our world will become a better place.
What does this have to do with Gary Carter? It's relevant because I want my students to watch Gary Carter play. I want them to know about the man he was on and off of the field. I want them to know that on a team of drug addicts he maintained his integrity and was accepted because of it (frequently referred to as the "sweetness" of the Mets.) I want them to know about his desire to teach and improve others around him, whether it was the young pitching staff he inherited in New York or the minor league clubs he managed. I want them to know about his over $600,000 raised with the Gary Carter Foundation, and that over $350,000 went to schools.
I want them to know what a responsible, good man does with the fame and fortune he earned.
I am so sick of my kids coming into school with Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger jerseys. Sick of Santonio Holmes, Pacman Jones, and any other athlete who has caused substantial harm to others.
I am sick of people like Chris Brown, and equally sick of people who cheer for Chris Brown and endorse his music.
I'm sick of athletes like Hanley Ramirez, who forgets that he plays baseball for a living and is earning more money than any of the rest of us will ever see in our lifetimes.
I'm sick of celebrities like the Kardashians who are inexplicably famous and do nothing with it.
I am sick of my kids looking up to these people who either through hard work or dumb luck have the world at their feet and are in position to do something about it, and don't do a fucking thing with it.
This world can be cold and cruel. There are a lot of legitimately angry, vengeful, and selfish people out there that can make our lives exceptionally difficult. At one point or another we all feel broken or down, and if you're anything like me, need the compassion of others to occasionally pick you back up. I'd like to think that Gary Carter understood all of this, understood the extraordinary position he was in to help countless people with his celebrity, and honored that responsibility to the best of his ability on a daily basis. It's the only explanation I can come up with as to why so many people only have fond memories of the man.
I am not only going to miss Gary Carter - the final piece of the puzzle for the Mets to win it all, but also Gary Carter - the personification of a good man. I hope that his character is relayed to impressionable young fans with as much emphasis as his hall of fame career.
Rest In Peace Gary.