Rooting for Immortality

8The troubling news on Gary Carter’s health is raising anew the question of whether — and when — the Mets will get around to retiring No. 8. Thanks to a tip from MBTN commenter “Gored82” in the below story I clicked over to Mike Silva’s Baseball Digest which was running a poll on fan opinions on the matter. Those readers overwhelmingly approved the idea by a 92% margin, seemingly agreeing with Mike that Carter’s contributions to the 80s success merited the honor even though his tenure was relatively short and his good seasons in a Mets uniform even shorter.

It’s obvious to me the Mets intended to retire No. 8 upon Carter’s enshirement in Cooperstown — they took 8 out of circulation upon his 2003 election — but I suspect they lost their conviction to when Carter went to the Hall “as an Expo” not a Met, and subsequently eschewed an offer to manage the Mets’ farm club in Binghamton. Following that, Carter made remarks in the press that were interpreted as “campaining” for Willie Randolph’s job. Petty squabbles with players? These Mets? In the meantime the re-emergence of Darryl Strawberry and to  a lesser extent, Dwight Gooden into the Mets graces, and the ever-growing legend of Keith Hernandez, who becomes a greater Met personality with every broadcast, made the idea of singling out Carter seem unwise. I would guess that the same poll a few years ago would have produced less dramatic results, although still probably favorable, since in my experience, fans just like to see numbers retired. Immortality is something to root for.

I’ve suggested before the Mets “retire” No. 86 as a tribute to the lot of them. I’ve argued long and hard that they re-issue these numbers to appropriate candidates. But what seems more likely right now is they ultimately resolve this by tackling Hernandez and Carter at once.

I discussed this with Mike on his radio show the other night (I follow Steven Travers discussing his Tom Seaver book). Click here to listen to a replay.

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One comment

  1. Jon Springer says:

    Submitted by Tomswid (not verified) on Wed, 01/25/2012 – 10:25am.
    I wish they would re-issue #24. Give it to one of the kids like Niewenhuis, dan Dekker, Harvey, Wheeler, etc., and retire 8, and 17. I also like the idea of retiring 86, and 69.

    Submitted by EdgyDC on Wed, 01/25/2012 – 1:00pm.
    I think part of the problem is that the question is framed so that a no answer is seen as an insult. And you have to remain almost clinically detached to insult a man hanging on to life.

    But there are other honors, great and noble — many of which Carter has worthily received — and Greg Prince at Faith and Fear in Flushing suggests one that’s perhaps more appropriate.

    So, let’s not think the Kid struggles on insulted or dishonored. Number 8 didn’t hit a single homer for us. Gary Carter did. Even as we filter our experience of baseball through numbers (as this great site attests), it’s important to remember that.

    (And while I’m on it, number 42 didn’t break the color barrier. Jackie Robinson did. A statue of a number falls short to me. Honor the man.)

    Submitted by Jon Springer on Wed, 01/25/2012 – 11:36pm.
    yup, yup and yup.

    Submitted by gored82 on Thu, 01/26/2012 – 8:27am.
    The Mets have honored Robinson at Citi Field, and people complain about it because he wasn’t a Met. But he played in NY, and the Mets exist because the Dodgers left.

    Submitted by Jonathan.M on Mon, 01/30/2012 – 3:42am.
    I think leaving it up to the fans is a good thing to do. Honoring the player is always important though. You do a really good job in separating the man from the number but retiring the number in honor of the man is a good thing.

    There are always questions surrounding the laws and regulations as to whether or not sports numbers should be retired or left to carry one with another player and there are always different answers.

    Submitted by Michael (not verified) on Tue, 01/31/2012 – 7:34am.
    I love the fact that Gary Carter came to New York and helped the Mets win their last World Series. With that being said, he only played here for 5 years, with most of his best seasons across the border. Plus, he is enshrined in Cooperstown as an Expo. Being honored in the Mets Hall of Fame is sufficient. Retiring his #8 is a bit too much.
    Regarding Keith Hernandez, player-wise, I would not have retired his number. However, when a player of his caliber comes back to the team, and then becomes an iconic broadcaster, I think that makes a difference. It happened across town, with Phil Rizzuto, and in the Windy City, with Ron Santo. So, I vote Yes to Mex’x #17 going up on the left-cener field wall.
    #s 69 & 86 should be worn by the bat/ball boys.

    Submitted by (not verified) on Tue, 01/31/2012 – 9:43pm.
    When the biggest talk of the winter is about retiring a uni number, you know the team is hurting. I agree with Michael above. If they retire 8 it looks more like it’s because of his health than what he did for the Mets. This sounds strange to say for a team that screws up everything, but I think–and Jon articulated his point well on Mike Silva’s Show–the Mets are handling the number situation the right way. I thought Keith’s number would be retired back in 1997 when he went into the Mets Hall of Fame, and I think when he retires from the Mets booth–as long as it is amicable–I think the team will retire his number. Maybe give it the same treatment as 8 and 24 in the meantime. Or even more significant, give it to a worthy prospect. If such a beast exists in the Mets universe.

    Submitted by jrgame (not verified) on Wed, 02/01/2012 – 8:43pm.
    retiring 8 to honor Yogi as well?

    Submitted by Ranjrz5 on Wed, 02/01/2012 – 10:25pm.
    Cannot see any rationale in the Mets honoring Berra.

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