It’s Only A Game But How We At Times Mourn The Loss of A Hero ………..

It’s Only A Game But How We At Times Mourn The Loss of A Hero ………..

By tophatal

The death of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter from brain cancer can’t have come to a shock for many but what might be all the more surprising might well be the fact that he’d been fighting this disease but for a short period of time and the suffering he had to endure. Chemotherapy and two surgeries simply weren’t enough to stave off this most debilitating of illnesses . Carter will be forever remembered as the hero of the New York Mets’ triumph in the 1986 ….. World Series .

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Slide show for your perusal .

Fans of the game and will surely mourn the loss of this highly loved and regard player whose candor was one that drew the fans to the player. A defensive stalwart behind the plate but his timely hitting that was the thing that set him apart from many of his peers from that era . Alas , the passing of Gary Carter is a sign of the times with the indication that a number of the game’s heroes from a bygone era are slowly seeing their age and ill-health and in the grand scheme of things they are now set for their demise .

Another Hall of Fame player who is said to be undergoing serious health issues just happens to be none other than former San Diego Padres’ great Tony Gywnn . Currently the head coach of his college alma-mater San Diego State (Aztecs) . A multiple All Star on numerous occasions , what set Gywnn apart from the players of his era was his consistency as a prolific hitter. How good was Tony Gwynn ? Well let’s just say that , he perhaps was the most prolific hitter of his generation in terms of his consistency and leadership ability , he may well have been the closest thing that the game has seen since former Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams . And as we all know Williams is the only player in Major League Baseball history to have hit for .400 in a season . Gwynn has come closest to that feat on multiple occasions but was never able to actually break that mark . However, Tony Gwynn’s greatest accomplishment was to simply win the NL batting title eight times over the course of his storied career .

Today, for Gwynn his fight isn’t trying to second guess the pitcher some 60 feet away from but to avert the spread of cancer that has afflicted the right side of the player’s face. Surgical oncologists removed a malignant growth from the player’s right cheek which has now partially immobilized the player’s right side and cause a pronounced speech impediment while he undergoes physical therapy in the aftermath of his operation. Now many will speculate as to the cause of this affliction but it is common knowledge that the player was someone who was enamored with chewing tobacco whilst in the dugout and on the field of play. It is a common activity amongst many players to chew tobacco and it is still a widespread practice within the playing fraternity. And though tobacco advertizing is banned at all of the venues within the game the practice hasn’t been fully been prohibited by the league hierarchy amongst the players . As to how this all will be viewed amongst Tony Gwynn’s fans and specifically those tobacco chewing devotees. The AMA as well as several noted academic universities through their published findings have stated that the practice of chewing tobacco has been a contributing factor and a long-term threat and a cause of cancer , to throat and to the mouth . One might hazard a guess , for Tony Gwynn , that this might not have been a concern but at the same time , it might be only mere speculation to suggest that this may well have been why the reason the player was stricken with this horrific illness . Lymph nodes and the tumor itself were removed from the player’s right cheek and it is my utmost wish that he has a speedy recovery !

In the aftermath of the Boston Red Sox’s now infamous swoon into infamy in the last month of the 2011 season all of the finger-pointing and name calling began . I’m not saying that fallout was akin to Three Mile Island or the Bhopal Disaster in Bhopal , India ____ but this cataclysmic catastrophe was one of self-indulgence and that was of the organization’s own making . Theo Epstein the former general manager , who now holds the position of Head of Baseball Operations with the Chicago Cubs . Epstein’s departure from the ball-club along with the abrupt firing of Terry Francona led to a major upheaval within the front office and coaching staff . Ben Cherington was promoted from within to succeed Theo Epstein but the successor to Francona was something of a major surprise with the hiring of Bobby Valentine .

The real issues for the Boston Red Sox last season and my thoughts as to the primary reason , it is that there was very little leadership from the team in terms of the veterans on this roster and the very fact that many of these self absorbed individuals failed to live up to expectations. The pitching over the course of the final month of the season was woefully inept and it has to be said that John Lackey , Josh Beckett , Jon Lester , Johnathan Papelbon and Clay Bucholz simply never met the expectations sought by the fans and general public . Papelbon , no longer with the team is now plying his trade elsewhere .

If that wasn’t enough with regard to woes for the Red Sox then this once prolific offense simply was nowhere to be seen when it mattered most as Adrian Gonzalez , Dustin Pedroia , David Ortiz , Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youklis simply ” petered ” out in terms of offensive productivity last season . If the team is to have any chance of succeeding within the AL East and specifically within baseball in general then clearly the players on the roster will have to step up to the plate this upcoming season .

With Bobby Valentine’s prolonged absence away from managing a professional baseball franchise I get the feeling that the team’s struggles may well manifest themselves in so many ways far beyond what many of us could very well expect. If Valentine cannot get the Boston Red Sox to contend with the likes of the Tampa Bay Rays , Baltimore Orioles , New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays . Then his return to baseball could very well be a short-lived stint within the professional ranks but given the fact that Ben Cherington and team President Larry Lucchino may well have been under a great deal of pressure to make the hire , a high profiled and experienced successor to Terry Francona . I’m sure that senior managing partner John Henry and co-owner Tom Werner were happy with his hire but I can’t help but wonder whether not it was more of a rush to judgment in making Bobby Valentine the successor to the team’s most successful manager in the last two decades.

It’d be remiss to suggest to overlook the accomplishments of Joe Maddon as the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays . But since his tenure , he has simply turned around the fortunes of this organization and while doing so their small but loyal following of fans have been steadfast in their support of the manager and the team . In the past four years the manager has led the organization to the postseason multiple times with a World Series appearance that ended in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies .

From my own perspective with the off-season moves made by the Tampa Bay Rays ___ the team in its present guise could very well be viewed as the prohibitive favorites within the AL East to win the division this season . Along with the none roster invitees Joe Maddon and his coaching staff could very well be on their way to a very special year that pitching rotation lives up to their full potential . James Shields , Jeremy Hellickson , David Price and the pitching staff this past season simply gave us an indication of what to expect this season .

This year if the Tampa Bay Rays are show any signs of potential then it will certainly be down to the likes of Evan Longoria , BJ Upton , Ben Zobrist , Sam Fuld , Luke Scott , and Carlos Pena will have to show that this offense has the potential to be amongst the very best that the league has to offer . At the same time the leadership of this entire roster will be finally entrusted into the hands of Longoria , himself . It is now or never to prove that he’s an elite player as a third baseman not only within the AL but in baseball altogether .

To my mind Longoria has yet to meet that potential , albeit that he’s well compensated by the Rays and is amongst the highest paid players on the team’s roster and at the position within baseball . Though that distinction is currently held by the New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez > who also happens to be the highest paid player in MLB (baseball).

Now it goes without saying that while the Rays have had their difficulties from a financial . standpoint struggling to compete with the likes of the top salaried teams within the game . Managing general partner Stuart Sternberg , his managing partners and GM Andrew Friedman will be hard pressed this season to keep up with their more renowned competitors within the AL East . With the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees having their own in-house broadcast outlets such as NESN and the YES Network , it has to be said the Rays must feel like that they’re like minnows swimming upstream against the flow of a river , failing to get where they need to be . But such have been the vagaries of this game that it is difficult to imagine that things will ever change for the better !

Clearly when Bud Selig , team owners , general managers and sports agents simply believe that the current climate of the baseball is said to be a healthy one. Clearly that is not the case but you’d be hard pressed to impress upon those who believe that economic template used by the league has been a resounding success . Especially in light of franchise owners such as Bob Nutting , Robert Castellini , David Glass , Jim Pohlad , and Jeffrey Loria who have simply made of a mockery of their roles as they have simply come ” cap in hand “ to feed at the trough of the taxpayers by way of the stupidity shown by Bud Selig and the league hierarchy !

Can someone remind Bud Selig , Mayor’s Michael Bloomberg and Tomas Regalado that simply fucking the taxpayer over repeatedly isn’t always the best way to conduct business ? But yet the all too ignorant assholes out there who complain about having to pay high taxes never seem to complain when resources meant to enrich their lives by way of their local community is simply being used to build monstrous facilities when you have first responders being furloughed , school class sizes being increased , and teachers being cut from the classrooms ____ but yet they simply whine and bitch about having to pay increased taxes , while not having the mendacity to fight what is clearly a misuse of the resources that would be of benefit to them from the outset . It has to be down to the apathy of idiots who state one thing but clearly have no insight as to what is actually happening within their very midst ! Apathy though, it simply rules the American way of life and anyone who believes to the contrary isn’t as intelligent as they make themselves out to be !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

How do you view the loss of Gary Carter from the world of baseball ? What if anything do you envisage may have caused and the current health issues as it relates to Hall of Famer and former player Tony Gwynn ? By by way of the competitiveness of the AL East and specifically as it concerns Bobby Valentine’s return to the game as manager of the Boston Red Sox what do you hope to see ? Are the aspirations of the Tampa Bay Rays simply too much to expect this season given the fact that the Red Sox , Yankees , Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are liable to make improvements as to the persona of their respective games ? By all means simply leave a comment as you deem fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) FILE – In this Oct. 25, 1986 file photo, Boston Red Sox’s Jim Rice is tagged out at the plate by New York Mets catcher Gary Carter during seventh inning action in Game 6 of baseball’s World Series at New York’s Shea Stadium. Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, that Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter has died. AP Photo/Peter Southwick ….

(2) In this Aug. 12, 1989, file photo, New York Mets’ Gary Carter drives a double to center field during a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in New York. Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, that Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter has died. He was 57. AP Photo/Ed Bailey …. ..

(3) FILE- In this July 9, 2006, file photo, Hall of Famer New York Mets catcher Gary Carter is greeted after hitting a three-run homer during the All Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, that Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter has died. (AP Photo/Tom Puskar, File) ….

(4) Retired San Diego Padres players (L-R) Steve Garvey , Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield , and Randy Jones walk onto the field as they are introduced during the jersey retirement ceremony of Trevor Hoffman by the San Diego Padres prior to the game against the Florida Marlins at Petco Park on August 21, 2011 in San Diego, California. . Getty Images North America / Kent Horner …..

(5) Tony Gwynn , seen here speaking to the convened press and dignitaries at Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York . A fifteen time All Star the player was the NL batting champion an unprecedented eight times over the course of 20 year career in baseball . AP /Getty Images …..

(6) From left to right , Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino , GM Ben Cherington , newly installed manager , Bobby Valentine and senior managing partner and principal John W Henry. Chris Robinson / The Boston Globe ……

(7) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon gestures during a season wrap-up news conference, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays lost to the Texas Rangers in baseball’s American League Division Series . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …..

(8) Rays’ third baseman Evan Longoria is seen here in the dugout during a game played against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(9) Pitcher David Price (14) of the Tampa Bay Rays wipes his brow in the dugout against the Texas Rangers during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Getty Images / J Meric …..
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21 thoughts on “It’s Only A Game But How We At Times Mourn The Loss of A Hero ………..

    1. Sam’s Sports Brief

      It’s sad when we lose guys like this under such circumstances ! Hopefully at the start of the Mets home opening for this season they’ll do something special to commemorate Gary Carter .

      As for Tony Gwynn I wish him nothing but a full and speedy recovery !

      tophatal …………

      Like

  1. RIP Gary Carter. Of all cancers, those of the brain got to be the worst…..damn near impossible to excise all of it without making the patient
    a vegetable. Seems the good always die young. Was watching a story about Josh Gibson of the Negro Baseball League who passed from same disease…..was 35 years old. Hall of Famer too. Played for the Homestead (Pgh) Grays and the Crawfords (in Pgh too).

    Like

    1. al clements

      Carter falls to daunting disease and he will posthumously be remembered by all those within the baseball fraternity . Hopefully the Mets’ organization will do something to commemorate not only the man but also the player in their season’s home opener ?

      Gibson I know was a special type of player ! And having read about him I thoroughly respect him as a human being and as an athlete ! Idiots like that asshole Jason Whitlock could learn something rather than using the “race card” at every given moment because he feels that African Americans weren’t being given a fair shake , simply because he’s too much of a fucking asshole …. with the IQ of a gnat ! If he had any damn intelligence then he’d learn something about the likes of boxer Jack Johnson , Larry Doby , Charlie Sifford , Althea Gibson and Lee Elder . Instead bitching about bullshit concerning Serena Williams’ ass being too big !

      What Whitlock knows about sports in general and specifically famed black athletes could be written on the back of a first class stamp ! ‘nough said on the matter !

      I also hope that Gwynn can overcome his illness totally and make a speedy return to coaching at the college level !

      doesa

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  2. Our prayers will go out to Tony Gywnn and his family for a complete recovery and I hope that Gary’s family are comforted by the memory of his faith. amen

    Like

  3. It is always easier to play the race card then it is to investigate what actually occured…..course back when Gibson played segregation was rampant….but seems that athletes mostly respected other athletes no matter what color. Hell locally schools were segregated into the late 60’s Washington Pa
    was a great culprit…hell once as a protest 3 black girls got into the “public” pool…..govt drained the damn pool! This in the 60’s.

    Iffen Whitlock wished he could write some great stuff about great black athletes, Paige, Cool Papa, Buck Leonard and many more.

    Like

    1. al clements

      I understand that but I’d like to think that we’ve come a long way from the days of segregation not just within sports but also along so many lines specifically amongst the US armed services . I mean it wasn’t until almost a decade after WWII that the US military became fully integrated where minorities and Caucasians could actually serve alongside each other . Never mind the fact that the first high ranking officer Gen. Benjamin O Davis (of color ) in the US military didn’t come along until 1941 but even then , those under his command were just African Americans .

      Davis seen here with former President Bill Clinton

      tophatal …………

      Like

  4. I saw where the Montreal Canadians came out for warm-ups with “Carter, #8” on their jerseys after he passed away. I actually remember Gary from his Expo days as much as those Met years. Sad. Prayers for Tony Gwynn as he continues his battle.

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    1. sports’

      For me the scary thing is not so much the death of Gary Carter but the very fact that the practice of chewing tobacco while supposedly on the decline amongst the players is still being practiced in spite of well publicized inherent dangers . Both Carter and Gwynn are said to be known practitioners the habit .

      And while tobacco advertizing has been banned at all MLB stadiums it doesn’t appear that the league hierarchy has actually done anything in conjunction with the union on this matter but they’ve been upfront concerning having all males undergo an annual prostate check which is amongst the biggest killer of males in the demographic area aged between 55-75 years of age . It appears that they’re overlooking this apparent danger about the cause and effect of chewing tobacco and the fact that it can lead to oral cancer which can spread to various parts of the body .

      Like

  5. Tophatal, I concur there appears to be a dragging of the feet when it comes to outright banning of tobacco chewing. Perhaps the compromise is “grandfather” in those current union players who still want to chew against the odds, but eliminate tobacco use for all rookies from a certain point forward, eventually eliminating it from the sport. This could operate similarly to what they did with helmets in the NHL. I guess the issue is if the product is street-legal (like alcohol)…how hard do you want to press this issue aside from ongoing awareness projects?

    Like

    1. sports’

      I look at the MLB owners , league hierarchy and the union as a bunch of blithering idiots to begin with ! Simply put if they and the print & tv media who cover the game seemed oblivious to the rampant and egregious use of PED’s knowing the apparent dangers when there was enough information being provided by academia , then why would anyone be surprised by their snail’s pace approach to the apparent dangers of this particular practice ? I mean to my mind it’s no difference from the initial idiocy shown by the NFL hierarchy when it came to their stance concerning helmet to helmet hits in the league and the concussions and blunt force trauma suffered by the players. Gene Upshaw as the then Exec Director of the NFLPA summed it up best when he said …” my concern isn’t with the players of the past … but with the players now playing “ ……….. in other words to hell with his peers who were in a vegetative state from their playing days because his primary concern has and always was with the players who in the late nineties made the game a multi-billion dollar a year industry .

      As the comedian Paul Mooney says there’s a time when the use of the words “dumb ###ga needs to be used and Upshaw is a clear case in point !

      Both for the NFL and MLB ………. in terms of real concern theirs has only ever been about making an all too quick buck $$$$

      tophatal ……….

      Like

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