Discover more from Meditations in Panic City
Broken the zip again. Drowning in my id.
The Mets signed Jonathan Villar, Kevin Pillar, Thomas Billar, Argus Dillar. The first two names are real. Perhaps the latter two as well, just not in MLB.
The second name once got suspended for a homophobic slur. He said it to reliever Jason Motte, whom I always confused for reliever Tommy Hunter, whom the Mets also signed. I get my heavy-set relievers confused. It’s part of my charm.
Seth Lugo is out for a bit and that stinks. The Yankees signed Jay Bruce and that is kind of funny – Scooter’s dad will give the Subway Series an Oedipal sheen this year. Matt Harvey signed with the Orioles and that is I don’t know what exactly, there is no English word for Matt Harvey signing with the Orioles just yet.
PECOTA likes the Mets and it is Bill Pecota’s birthday today. English fails us yet again.
I missed about a week or so and changed the name of the newsletter to nod in Frank O’Hara’s general direction. This might not be a daily newsletter. For awhile I figured since I never flat out wrote this was intended to be a daily event I could just pretend like nothing happened, but that would not be honest.
Truth is once Tim Britton gave this newsletter the famous Britton Bump I got a panic attack. Fortunately I was Zooming with my therapist at the time, and was able to figure out my chest pains might have had to do with downing coffee too fast because I was sleep deprived. February is always a tough month for me because my birthday pops up at the end of it, reminding me how I have not lived up to my impossible standards. Why do I have these standards? Well I’m in therapy to answer such good questions.
I had to make four phone/Zoom calls on Monday, a personal one-day record by at least two. One was to my psychiatrist, the one who is kind enough to say things like the specialized high school I went to where I failed multiple classes is known to her as a place that eats all its students alive, let’s up your Zoloft, and even though this is over Zoom I can tell you are a lot more present than the first time we spoke (about a year ago.)
If you want to tell me I’m sensitive, tell me something I don’t know, like where you got that stupid face.
Oh snap. This is you, on the bottom, right now.
And I am the glove, hovering over you, and the internet is Howie Kendrick, and your high school guidance counselor is the umpire.
Jared Hughes retired on Monday. I am still killing it at segues.
Gary Carter died from brain cancer nine years ago today. When he was with the Expos he was called “Camera Carter” and “Teeths”. Yes they were meant to be derogatory.
He was traded to the Mets before the 1985 season and instantly made their lineup much scarier and harmonious, lefty Keith Hernandez, righty Gary Carter, lefty Darryl Strawberry, righty George Foster 3-4-5-6 was not so oddly satisfying to pencil into the lineup every day, after Dykstra and Backman if a right-hander was on the mound.
Keith and Gary had a complicated relationship. Carter hurt Keith at least twice. You might recall seeing a replay of Carter accidentally smacking Mex’s nose after the Mets clinched the 1988 NL East title.
The other time was in ‘85, after he homered off of Mike Scott and he almost ripped Keith’s hand off.
Carter had not homered in 22 games, and as he said on
a month later, Scott “has a tendency to doctor up the ball a little bit”. Yes, he said this a year before Scott won the Cy Young scuffing the hell out of the baseball and everyone knew it and nothing was done about it.
The curtain calls the Mets were known and despised for back then was something Carter took credit for in his memoir. So he was kind of disliked by everyone, even though he was a Hall of Fame player who almost always played hurt. Ron Darling wrote that he once caught Carter’s children with a ton of All-Star Game ballots voting for their father on the hood of the family car and thought to himself “Yeah, that sounds about right.” Ralph Kiner once said to Carter on
he thought Kid appeared on the show more than he did. (Ralph!) Carter conducted six interviews prior to Game 7 of the World Series — his teammates yelled “Hey Kid, we got a game to play.” A few hours later, Carter apparently got upset at Keith for getting forced out at second on his game-tying
poke job to right,
even though the umpire was late determining Dwight Evans trapped the ball. Carter apparently believed it cost him the World Series MVP award. When Keith was named Mets captain in ‘87, Carter was hurt. He allegedly didn’t understand why a man who admitted to doing cocaine for years would be considered a leader, as opposed to someone like him, an open man of faith. To appease Kid, Keith and Gary were named co-captains in ‘88.
The two signaled who they wanted to project themselves as in their attire. Keith wanted you to know he was a bad boy who didn’t give a damn, as long as you knew he was also a smart person who did the New York Times crossword puzzles daily, and Gary was Mister Rogers’ understudy. Here they are congratulating Sid Fernandez on striking out his 200th batter of the year to finish up the 1986 regular season.
And here the two are lifting up the World Series trophy at City Hall a month later — Keith in jeans yet again, Carter the only Met that day in a suit.
In Roger Angell’s 2001 book
A Pitcher’s Story
, a collaboration with David Cone, Keith said, “I didn’t like Gary all that much, come to think of it, but he called a great game.”
After Carter died, Keith cried on SNY in an interview seemingly scrubbed from the internet. Newspaper accounts and my memories of it live on.
"When George was let go, Gary and I were pretty much the veterans on the team. I had great respect for him, the way he approached his life and the game," Hernandez said, breaking down again. "I'm sorry. I'm very sad.
"He always had a love for life and a love for baseball. He always played in a lot of pain. . . . He was a very brave man, a man of faith. He walked the walk as well as talked the talk when it came to his faith."
He told Mike Francesa the next day he
did not know why
he was so emotional about the passing. Some of it probably had to do with regret. Keith in 2008 was open about his disdain for Carter openly pining for the Mets managerial job when Willie Randolph
technically still had it
, and that was the last time him and Carter were in contact with one another. I think Keith also realized over the years a man who was devoted to a higher power and his family and played his heart out on the field but suffered from the sin of vanity and not much else was not someone to dislike so much as admire and occasionally roll your eyes at and feel cool and a little dirty about later.
It’s funny: Keith can never escape Garys. His only brother is a Gary — when Keith refused to talk to his father, which was fairly often, he would call Gary during games for hitting advice. And there’s Gary Cohen, aka Gare, who next to Ron Darling has been his teammate longer than anyone.
To assume he was destined to be paired with a Gary is to assume the existence of a Higher Power with a sense of humor that smiles often enough where a weaker being would get unnerved. Cameras love people like that.