Feb 17

What is a hero?

We use the words hero and great in sports to the point where they become cliche and lose their meaning and impact.

CARTER: Lived a life of inspiration.

Gary Carter was a baseball player, who made a good living playing a game most of us played as kids and only dreamed of having the fraction of talent he possessed. We cannot use the word “hero,” in describing Carter and any other athlete when compared to a soldier who saves his comrades in a firefight, or a policeman who risks his life in protecting a person from peril, or an act of unselfish bravery by a nondescript man who runs into a burning building to save a child or stands up to a thug in a subway while coming to the aid of a stranger.

Or a parent who goes through the daily grind to set an example of morality to his child.

Carter would be the first to say he’s not a hero or great when compared to those examples.

In reading over the past 24 hours of testimonials from teammates, opponents and fans who never met him we get a glimpse into the player and man who meant so much to so many. He came to many of us as an athlete, but captivated our imaginations and captures our respect with the intensity he played the game and the dignity and integrity in which he lived his life.

With his faith, his genuine goodness as a human being, and his compassion for others, he touched many in a way that went beyond his hitting and ability to handle a pitching staff.

With the way he lived his life, Carter molded the lives of an adoring family and inspired many he never met. The ultimate testament came from teammates who said they wish they led their lives as Carter did his.

In that way, he was truly heroic. It is said a man with friends is truly rich, and Carter was wealthy in which many of us can only dream.

 

 

Feb 16

Gary Carter passes away.

It is with great sadness I report Gary Carter passed away a little over an hour ago.

CARTER; Lived a full, loving life. Rest in peace.

“I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 pm.,” daughter Kimmy Bloemers posted on the family’s website. “This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know. He is in heaven and has reunited with his mom and dad. I believe with all my heart that dad had a STANDING OVATION as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus.”

Carter was diagnosed with four brain tumors last May, but several new tumors were found in January.

Carter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 after retiring in 1992. In 19 seasons, he hit .262 average, with 324 home runs and 1,225 RBI and was an 11-time All-Star.

“When you think of the great baseball field generals, you think Gary Carter,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said in a statement. “He ran the game from behind the plate with strong leadership and passion. The Kid’s contribution to our national pastime is big, but his heart was even bigger. We’ll always remember his caring way, ever-present smile and strong devotion to family, community and the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Carter was an integral member of the 1986 World Series championship team. He handled the pitching staff with a firm hand and was clutch when the Mets needed a hit with the game on the line.

The Mets just released this statement: “On behalf of everyone at the Mets, we extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Gary’s family — his wife Sandy, daughters Christy and Kimmy and son D.J.  His nickname ‘The Kid’ captured how Gary approached life.  He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field.  His smile was infectious. He guided our young pitching staff to the World Series title in 1986 and he devoted an equal amount of time and energy raising awareness for a multitude of charities and community causes.  He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did.”

I’ll always remember Carter on the field as a clutch hitter, but off it I’ll remember his smile, his sense of humor and his accommodating nature to myself and other reporters. I always checked him on my Hall of Fame ballot and was pleased with he was finally inducted.

Rest in peace, Gary.

Feb 16

Duda Hoping To Get It Right

Andrew Keh of the NY Times says the Mets have replicated the new dimensions at Citi Field at the team’s spring training complex in Florida. Field 6, which was initially constructed with fences that mimicked the original shape of Citi Field, was altered this winter to match the stadium’s new design.

So far, it has been left unused by the players who came here this week for voluntary workouts, and no one is expected to practice there before the team officially opens spring training next week. But when they do, the first fly balls there will carry with them a significant dose of intrigue.

Good call by the Mets in my opinion and it will be interesting to hear what kind of feedback we get from the players once they start playing some games there.

In addition to getting a feel for what it will be like to hit at Citi Field, it will also be useful Lucas Duda who really needs to elevate his play in right field.

Mark Simon of ESPN shared some insight on Duda’s defensive problems last season:

Duda had trouble coming in on balls and he had trouble going back on balls too. Duda had four Defensive Misplays for failing to anticipate the fence, which rated his biggest defensive issue. Pro-rated over a full season, Duda’s misplay rate would come equate to nearly 60 Defensive Misplays & Errors for an everyday player over a full season. That would be about as bad as could be. Last year’s major league leaders, Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks and Mike Stanton of the Marlins, had 49.

Yes, Duda emerged as a viable hitter with power for the Mets after he replaced Carlos Beltran in right field last season. But he looked like a train wreck defensively. Now with the new dimensions, he can gain some valuable reps out there that could make his job easier. Duda told Keh that he is eager to start the process.

“I can’t wait to get out there,” Duda said of Field 6. “My routes have to get a lot more precise, so it’ll be a good thing to go out there and start to get used to the dimensions.”

By the way, Mets outfielder instructor Tom Goodwin is already in camp and working with Duda on getting a better jump on balls.

Duda is going to be an important piece of the puzzle in 2012, and this focus on fielding his position well, should pay some nice dividends for Terry Collins and the Mets this season.

Collins, incidentally, sees the situation with Duda like this:  “This guy is going to be a monster.”

Written by Craig Lerner of Mets Merized Online.

Feb 15

Encouraging news about Ike Davis

Several key Mets enter spring training coming off significant injuries. When it comes to injuries, I fall into the “I’ll believe it when I see it” category.

DAVIS: Ankle feeling better.

What Ike Davis is seeing – and feeling – is progress in his recovering from last year’s ankle injury which kept him out of most of the season. He told reporters “he’s good to go,” and that he’d be apprehensive if he felt any discomfort.

His most telling comment was: “If I play horrible, it’s not my ankle’s fault. It’s just because I’m not very good.”

Nobody is expecting Davis to be horrible, or even just average for that matter. Davis was stroking the ball when he sustained a bone bruise in a collision with David Wright. His seven homers and 25 RBI in just 129 at-bats had him on pace to hit 30 homers with 110 RBI.

Remember, that was on-pace, not numbers he’d previously reached. It’s exciting to think about Davis’ potential power production, but he’s never had a full season where he’s hit 30 homers, so we can’t say for sure he’ll reach that plateau.

There’s a lot to like about Davis. He has raw power and has gotten better around the bag. This is a guy teams would hope to build around. We know Wright can hit and Bay has hit in the past. If all three live up to their potential, the Mets could have an imposing middle of the order.

 

 

Feb 14

Not worried about Tejada.

One of the Mets’ many questions entering the season is whether Ruben Tejada will be able to replace Jose Reyes at shortstop.

TEJADA: It's his show now.

I’m not worried about the transition because frankly, few players are capable of replacing Reyes’ offensive production. Let’s assume right now he won’t post Reyes-like numbers. If Tejada can hit the .270 to .280 coach Chip Hale hopes for him, then I’ll be satisfied. I just don’t want Tejada to be overwhelmed or an easy out in the eighth spot in the order. If the latter is the case, the Mets would have almost certain back-to-back outs which would put a black hole in their line-up.

Tejada hit at times last season batting .284 with 36 RBI, but we’ll need to see how pitchers adjust now that they have a book on him. I’d sign up for another .284 right now.

Defensively, Tejada proved he could handle the position, so maybe that’s a wash. That’s also the most important part of his job.

The Mets have so many other issues to concern themselves with, that if shortstop is capably handled defensively, that’s a load off Terry Collins.

The Mets are a team in transition, not expected to contend. If things were different, they’d be worried about shortstop. Hell, if things were different, Reyes would be here.

For where this team is now, if Tejada can hold his own, that’s all you can ask.